NORWICH, Sir Roger, 2nd Bt. (1636-91), of Brampton Ash, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. 14 Sept. 1636, 1st s. of Sir John Norwich, 1st Bt., by 1st w. educ. Gretton; Christ’s, Camb. 1654; M. Temple 1655. m. 12 May 1663, Catherine (d. 28 May 1681), da. of Sir Hatton Fermor of Easton Neston, wid. of Sir John Shuckburgh of Shuckburgh, Warws., 1s. 5da. suc. fa. 9 Oct. 1661.1
Capt. vol. horse, Northants. Nov. 1660-?63, commr. for assessment 1661-80, 1689; verderer, Rockingham forest ?1661-d.; j.p. Northants. 1662-?66, 1667-Feb. 1688, dep. lt. 1662-6, 1667-87, lt.-col. of militia by 1680-7, commr. of oyer and terminer 1682.2
Norwich, unlike his father, was a firm Anglican. His name appeared on the list of knights of the Royal Oak after his father’s death with an income of £2,000 p.a. As captain of a troop of volunteer horse, he helped to supervise the demolition of the defences of Northampton. In 1666, however, his estate became liable to forfeiture for murder; but he was presumably pardoned, as he was restored to the lieutenancy in the following year at the King’s command. He first stood for the county at a by-election in February 1678 when he was commended as one likely to serve the King faithfully, but was defeated by Miles Fleetwood by 190 votes after an exceptionally heavy poll. But he was successful at the next general election, and was surprisingly marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. He was moderately active in the first Exclusion Parliament, in which he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and to those to report on expiring laws, to bring in a bill regulating elections and to consider a bankruptcy reform bill. He voted against exclusion, and lost his seat in August 1679, though it is not known whether he went to the poll.3
In spite of indifferent health, Norwich shouldered most of the burden of re-establishing government control after the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament. It is to his credit that he disliked sending young women to prison for interrupting Anglican services; but in general the violence of his methods provoked resentment, and even threats against his life. ‘No man,’ he wrote, ‘can act briskly for the King’s service in this county, where there are so many ill-affected gentry (though at present all are loyal, or seem so), but must be hated or evil spoken of, or sneak to them and suffer authority to be abused and trampled on.’ On 27 Dec. 1681 he was commended for his care and vigilance, and he followed this up by entertaining most of Northampton corporation to dinner with a brace of bucks at his own expense, after which they were so mellowed that they agreed to surrender their charter at their next meeting. There can be little doubt that he was primarily responsible for the presentments of the grand jury in 1683, demanding the suppression of coffee houses and the tendering of the oaths to Roman Catholic and Protestant nonconformists, ‘both extremes being equally dangerous’, and denouncing all the leading Whigs in the county as disaffected. He defended his militia officers who had searched their houses for arms after the Rye House Plot against the complaints of William Harbord. He prosecuted at his own charge Fleetwood and two other Whigs responsible for the address to the knights of the shire in 1681, thereby eliminating his chief opponent at the next election. Nevertheless there was so hot a contest in 1685 that his colleague, Sir John Egerton, withdrew before the poll, and Norwich himself was challenged by an election petition from Edward Harby. He was listed among the Opposition, but was named only to the elections committee in James II’s Parliament, and with a grant of leave to go into the country on 17 June his political career, and the brief parliamentary history of his family, came to an end. He gave negative replies to the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, and was removed from local office. He was a non-juror after the Revolution, but asked Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt., to inform the new Government that he was peaceably disposed, and too ill with the palsy to travel. He died on 23 Sept. 1691, and was buried at Brampton Ash.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: E. R. Edwards / John. P. Ferris
- 1. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 156-7.
- 2. SP29/26/75; Add. 34222, f. 14; CSP Dom. 1667, p. 167; 1682, p. 78.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 354; 1677-8, p. 630.
- 4. Ibid. 1680-1 p. 648; 1682, pp. 559, 564; Jan.-June 1683, p. 86; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 299-300; 1683-4, pp. 200, 253; Somers Tracts, viii. 409-10; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1525; Northants. RO, 1C 1450, Norwich to Isham, 14 July 1690.