NORTON, Richard I (c.1530-92), of Rotherfield in East Tisted, Hants.

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.1530, 1st s of John Norton of East Tisted by Anne, da. of Sir George Puttenham of Sherfield. m. (1) by 1564, Elizabeth, da. and h. of William Wayte of Wymering, Hants, 2s. inc. Richard Norton II; (2) Catherine, da. of Sir John Kingsmill of Sydmonton, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1561. Kntd. by 1577.1

Offices Held

J.p. Hants from c.1561, sheriff 1564-5, 1588-9; 'officer’ of bp. of Winchester by July 1587.2


In the course of the sixteenth century the Nortons became one of the leading families in Hampshire, buying a number of estates in the vicinity of East Tisted, where they had been settled since 1308. Norton’s father was twice knight of the shire during Mary’s reign, and Norton himself twice represented Hampshire in Elizabeth’s. So far as is known he took no noteworthy part in the business of the House, but the great activity of Thomas Norton who was also a Member in 1571 and 1572 makes it impossible to be certain.

On the death of his father, Norton entered into possession of lands his father had bequeathed to his mother over and above her jointure. These, she complained, Norton had persuaded her to assign to him when she was ‘in great heaviness and sorrow for the death of her late husband’ and unaware of what she was doing. Through his second wife, Norton was related to the Giffords of Kings Somborne and the Kingsmills of Sydmonton, with whom he was involved in suits and counter-suits brought in the Star Chamber about the county by-election held at Winchester in 1566, following the death of Sir John Mason. Norton was classified in 1564 as a favourer of religion, and ten years later was one of a commission appointed to search places where it was thought the mass was still celebrated.3

His father had at one time been a servant of the bishop of Winchester and Norton himself held an office in the bishopric, possibly throughout his career, although there is no evidence of this before 1587. Bishop Horne appointed him an executor of his will. After the bishop’s death in 1580, Norton sent two certificates to Walsingham about lands belonging to the bishopric in Hampshire and Surrey. Horne’s successor, John Weston, died in January 1584 and was followed by Thomas Cooper, who wrote to Lord Burghley asking for greater authority against papists and suggesting that Norton, among others, should be included in any commission appointed for that purpose. The two men, however, did not remain on good terms. On 3 July 1587, Cooper complained to Burghley that Norton was ‘of a great stomach and useth broad speech, thinking belike to make me afraid as he doth some others’. He had apparently alleged that Cooper was ‘hard and covetous’. During these years, Norton also served on a large number of commissions, including those to view St. Andrews and other castles in the county, to control grain supplies and to muster trained men for service in Ireland. In 1586 he was ordered to alert soldiers for the defence of Portsmouth following rumours of a French landing in Sussex, and in 1588 he served on a commission of musters.4

In his will, made 3 Aug. 1586, he asked to be buried at East Tisted without any pomp. To three sons he left amounts of money, dividing between them the manors of Overton and Old Alresford, granted to him by the Queen after they had been devised to her by the bishop of Winchester. Another son, Henry, received £100, but no land. To his daughter Constance he bequeathed 1,000 marks as well as the manor of Rotherfield, which she was to enjoy until her elder half-brother, Richard, agreed to pay her a further £500 on her marriage or at the age of twenty. His wife Catherine was the sole executrix. He died a year later, 11 Mar. 1592, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. C142/131/184; CPR, 1560-3, p. 365; 1563-6, p. 274; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 2, 14, 17; APC, x. 16.
  • 2. Lansd. 52, f. 177.
  • 3. VCH Hants, iii. 9, 28, 31, 34, 39, 99, 264, 459; iv. 16, 85, 424, 630; C3/132/17; St. Ch. 4/P7/18, P30/32, W36/33, W45/38; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 55; APC, viii 257-8.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiv(1), p. 332; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 662; Strype, Annals, ii(2), 378; Lansd. 42, f. 101; 48, f. 136 seq.; 52, f. 177; APC, x. 16, 342, 417; xii. 223, 255; xiv. 212.
  • 5. PCC 22 Harrington; C142/233/118.