NORTON, John (?1497-1561), of East Tisted, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. ?1497, 1st s. of Richard Norton of East Tisted by Elizabeth, da. of William Rotherfield alias Lyndhurst of Rotherfield. educ. prob. L. Inn, adm. 12 Feb. 1516. m. by 1530, Anne, da. of George Puttenham of Sheffield, 7 or 8s. inc. Richard 6da. suc. fa. 17 Feb. 1537.2

Offices Held

Recorder, Winchester by 1538-48; j.p. Hants 1538-47, q. 1554, western circuit 1540; commr. relief, Hants 1550, proclamations 1551, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, piracy 1556; sheriff 1556-7.3


John Norton, whose family was long established in Hampshire and also owned property in Essex, Surrey and Sussex, had many namesakes especially in Kent and Yorkshire, some of them better known than himself: one was involved in the administration of the Hampshire estates of Viscount Lisle. The nature of Norton’s appointment presupposes a legal training, and he is probably to be identified with the member of Lincoln’s Inn who had a chamber there in 1518 and was fined 40d. for a misdemeanour in the following year, rather than with the man admitted to the Inner Temple in 1519. After marrying within the county and succeeding his father, he took his place in local administration and on circuit and was for ten years recorder of Winchester. He was among those appointed for military service in the Netherlands in 1543 and was in the vanguard of the army which captured Boulogne. In 1545 he mustered and marched 600 men to Portsmouth when a French raid on the Isle of Wight was mistaken for the start of an invasions.4

Norton’s father, to judge from his will, had been a man of exceptional piety, and the son was to cling to Catholicism. How early he became a follower of Stephen Gardiner is not known; East Tisted lies midway between Winchester and Farnham, and Norton probably saw Gardiner regularly and perhaps entertained him when he visited the diocese. In 1539 Sheriff Kingsmill noted his support of the bishop in the electoral contest of that year, and he may himself have entered the Commons before the death of Henry VIII: as a nominee of Gardiner’s he could have been returned for one of the episcopal boroughs (Downton, Hindon and Taunton) to any or all of the last three Parliaments of the reign, for which the names in question are lost. When Gardiner was brought to trial in January 1551 Norton was one of those who testified for him. Although not removed from the bench under Edward VI, he was passed over in 1552 for the shrievalty, as he had been several times before. The quarrel which had earlier brought Norton into the Star Chamber against his fellow-justice George Rithe may not have been unconnected with religion.5

With Mary on the throne and Gardiner made chancellor, Norton could aspire to the knighthood of the shire. The senior place became the preserve of his neighbour Sir Thomas White, but Norton was twice returned as White’s fellow-Member: he was helped by the absence of Sir John Mason as ambassador at Brussels, for Mason both preceded and followed him in the seat. The Journal does not mention him. In 1556 he achieved the shrievalty which had so long eluded him, but this was to be the climax of his career for in 1558-9 Elizabeth removed him from the Hampshire bench.6

Norton was well connected, especially within the circle of Gardiner’s followers. Oliver Vachell, who sat for two of the bishop’s boroughs, was his brother-in-law, and it was as Sir Richard Cotton’s ‘well beloved’ friend that in 1556 he was entrusted with the residue of Cotton’s goods. Norton made his own will on 4 Jan. 1559, providing for his wife, children and grandchildren, but overlooking an alienation for which his widow had to secure a pardon in 1561. He appointed as executors his wife, his son Thomas and his sons-in-law Charles Bekinsau and William Knight, and the will was witnessed by another son, John, and by Henry Knight and Henry White. Norton died on 5 July 1561, leaving the 31 year-old Richard Norton as his heir. He was buried in East Tisted church.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/58/118, and at Gardiner’s trial, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 226-7. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 14; VCH Hants, iii. 31; PCC 4 Crumwell, 9 Streat.
  • 3. Black Bk. of Winchester, ed. Bird, 161, 196; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xv; CPR, 1547-8, p. 84; 1550-3, p. 142; 1553, pp. 353, 361; 1553-4, p. 19; NRA 10665; APC, v. 335.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, vi, xviii, xx; CPR, 1550-3, p. 179; Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 185; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 45.
  • 5. PCC 4 Crumwell; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; Foxe, vi. 130; St.Ch.3/1/76; 4/89.
  • 6. PRO Lists, ix. 56 mistakenly gives Norton as pricked sheriff in 1552. He was one of those nominated in that year, but he was passed over in favour of William Keilway, CPR, 1553, p. 387.
  • 7. PCC 23 Ketchyn, 9 Streat; C142/131/184; CPR, 1560-3, p. 400; VCH Hants, iii. 31; Pevsner, Hants, 203.