NORTON, Edward (1654-1702), of Ashe, Stourpaine, Dorset.
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Family and Education
Capt. Ld. Mordaunt’s ft. Nov. 1688; maj. of marines 1691-9.
Norton’s ancestors were originally Bristol merchants, two of whom represented the town in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Abbots Leigh was acquired in 1559. Norton’s father, the ward of Sir John Strangways, remained neutral during the Civil Wars, but Charles II was concealed in his house after the battle of Worcester, which won him a knighthood after the Restoration. Norton, a member of the Green Ribbon Club, stood for Westbury on the interest of his brother-in-law, William Trenchard, at the second general election of 1679, unseating a court supporter on petition. He left no trace on the records of the second Exclusion Parliament, but doubtless supported exclusion. In the next Parliament his place was taken by John Ashe.2
After Shaftesbury was acquitted by the Middlesex grand jury in November 1681 Norton led a triumphant mob round the City ‘crying no Popish successor, no York, a Monmouth, a Buckingham, and God bless the Earl of Shaftesbury’. After the Rye House Plot his arrest was ordered as one ‘having a very deep hand in that treason’. The Dorset deputy lieutenants discovered arms and papers in his house at Ashe, but he had sold his wool and hay ‘for ready money’, and after lying hidden in London escaped to Holland. On his outlawry two ladies of the Court petitioned for his estate, but withdrew their claim when they discovered that he was ‘a younger brother of very small fortune, which will but defray their charges in recovering it’. After the accession of James II Norton was pardoned on the petition of his elder brother, who described him as being
unfortunately drawn into the late conspiracy, but was never in arms or acted anything that the petitioner ever heard of, otherwise than by being amongst them, for which he expresses a most hearty sorrow.
Norton had returned to