NORRIS, William (c.1545-79), of Rycote, Oxon. and Yattendon, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1545, 1st s. of Sir Henry Norris I and bro. of Edward, Sir Henry II and Sir John. educ. Eton c.1557. m. c.1577, Elizabeth, da. of (Sir) Richard Morison of Cassiobury, Herts., 1s.2

Offices Held

Capt. in Ulster 1573; temp. marshal of Berwick 1576; receiver of the Exchequer, Essex, Herts., London, Mdx. Apr. 1579.3


As a young man Norris spent some time in France, where his father was ambassador, and on his own account reported to Cecil about the activities of the Huguenots. At the end of 1569 his father sent him home to serve the Queen during the northern rebellion. By October 1573 he was serving in Ireland, he and his brother John being commended by Essex, in whose favour they clearly were. On 3 Feb. 1576 he was returned to Parliament for Berkshire at a by-election but it is doubtful whether in fact he took his seat in the Commons, for in May 1576, two months after the session of that year had ended, he was paid 100 marks for the extra expense of his voyage home from Ireland, which had taken seven weeks through bad weather. He was dead before the next session of the Parliament. On his marriage Norris became a Berkshire landlord in his own right, for an indenture between his father and Elizabeth Morison’s stepfather, the 2nd Earl of Bedford, settled on the couple a score of manors in the county. In the autumn of 1579, a year after the birth of his son, to whom the Queen was godmother, he was busy mustering troops for Ireland and dealing with complaints by the corporation of Stamford of the unruly conduct of his men. He sailed from Chester in October or November and died at Newry on the morning of Christmas day, of ‘a violent fever’ by which ‘his heart was utterly consumed’ and ‘his spleen corrupted’.

The lord justice of Ireland was ordered to estimate, but not pay, the sums due to Norris for his service, since he owed ‘a round sum’ for the post as receiver which he had held for barely nine months. He was succeeded by his son Francis, who was also heir to old Lord Norris in 1601, and was later created Earl of Berkshire. The widow married Sir Henry Clinton, 2nd Earl of Lincoln.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. CP; Wards 7/20/190.
  • 3. CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 526; Camden, Annals (1635), 563; HMC Hatfield, ii. 247.
  • 4. CSP For. 1566-8, pp. 374, 565, 586; 1569-71, pp 96, 143, 153; CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 525; 1574-85, pp. 5, 188, 201; R. Naunton, Fragmenta Regalia, ed. Arber, 39-41; N. J. O’Conor, Godes Peace and the Queenes, 36-7; Wards 7/20/190; APC, ix. 117; xi. 23, 186, 235, 259-60, 264, 340, 426; Genealogist n.s. ii. 295; Cal. Carew Pprs. ii. 183, 191, 193; SP12/131/81.