NORTON, Sir John (by 1512-57), of Northwood in Milton, Kent.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1512, o. s. of Sir John Norton of Faversham by 1st w. Jane, da. and coh. of John Northwood of Northwood. m. by 1533, Alice, da. and h. of Edward Cobbe of ‘Cobbesplace’, 1s. suc. fa. 8 Feb. 1534. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547.1

Offices Held

V.-adm. Kent 1550; commr. relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; other commissions 1541-d.; j.p. 1554.2


John Norton came of a long-established Kent family and succeeded to the lands both of his father and his father-in-law in 1534: the elder Norton’s first wife had also been an heiress and his second had been the widow of Sir Richard Fitzlewis. Norton had many namesakes including one of East Tisted, Hampshire, who was with him on the French campaign of 1544 and who later sat for Hampshire in two Marian Parliaments, and another of Upchurch, Kent, who was active in shire administration.3

Norton evidently adopted his father’s profession of soldiering; in the month after his knighthood he sued for the captaincy of Cap-Gris-Nez and at the same time his ‘friend’ William, 13th Lord Grey of Wilton, whose acquaintance he may have made in 1544 and who was governor of Boulogne, tried to obtain for him the office of marshal there. Apparently unsuccessful in both these suits, in September 1549 Norton replaced Sir Henry Palmer at the castle of the Oldman, Boulogne. Earlier in 1549 he had raised a force of 300 soldiers and conducted 200 foot to Boulogne. In July 1550, however, when he received a reward of £400 from the crown he was said to have been ‘maimed’ on service and seven months later he was excused from going to Ireland because of sickness, although he was well enough to accompany the 9th Lord Clinton on an embassy to France in the winter of 1551. He probably owed his return for Rochester to the Parliament of March 1553 to the influence of Sir Thomas Cheyne, whom he was to name overseer of his will, and perhaps also of his friend Lord Grey who was in favour with the Duke of Northumberland. If, like Cheyne and Grey, Norton supported the duke in the effort to alter the succession to the throne in the summer of 1553 he evidently made his peace with Mary and in 1554 he was for the first time appointed to the Kent bench. It may, however, have been another namesake of Norton Conyers, Yorkshire, who in the same year was described as the Queen’s servant when he received a licence to export beer.4

By his will of 6 July 1557 Norton bequeathed £5 to the poor of Calais and 40s. to each of the six parishes of the hundred of Milton. He left his wife all his household stuff in England, Calais and Guisnes and ‘the curtilage of Milton’ and the rest of his lands and goods to his only son Thomas, then aged 23, naming him executor with a cousin Richard Norton. Norton died on 9 July 1557 and the will was proved on 20 1558. His widow married John Brooke alias Cobham.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 79-80; DNB.
  • 2. HCA25/1; CPR, 1553, pp. 355, 414; 1553-4, pp. 20, 28; LP Hen. VIII, xvi.
  • 3. Arch. Cant. xli. 107-8; LP Hen. VIII , vii, xiii, xiv, xvi, xix.
  • 4. CSP For. 1547-53, pp. 322-3, 354; APC , ii. 305, 314; iii. 89, 212; Strype, Eccles. Memorials , ii(1), 507; CPR , 1553-4, p. 330.
  • 5. Canterbury prob. reg. A31, f. 163v; E150/506/4.