NORRIS, William (1522/23-91), of Fifield, Berks.

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. 1522/23, 1st s. of John Norris of Fifield by Mary, da. and coh. of Henry Staverton of Bray. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1544. m. 1547/48, Mary, da. of Sir Adrian Fortescue of Shirburn and Stonor Place, Oxon., 6s. inc. John 6da. suc. fa. 30 Jan. 1577.2

Offices Held

Gent. usher, the privy chamber by 1553; gent. pens. by May 1558-d. ?steward, Bray and Cookham, Berks. 1567; comptroller of works, Windsor castle, and keeper of Foliejon park, Berks. 30 Jan. 1577-d.; gent. usher of the Black Rod and the order of the Garter ?1577-d.3


William Norris, a well-connected courtier, had recently received a grant of the reversion to his father’s offices at Windsor castle when he was returned for the town to the third of Mary’s Parliaments. Unlike his fellow-Member Richard Ward I he was not numbered among those found absent when the House was called early in January 1555, and neither he nor Ward was among the opponents of a government bill in the Parliament which met later that year.4

On the accession of Elizabeth, Norris retained his place in the royal household, of which his wife’s stepfather, (Sir) Thomas Parry, became comptroller. It was, perhaps, his role as an usher appointed to attend upon Parliament that explains why Norris did not sit in the Elizabethan House of Commons. He died on 16 Apr. 1591, leaving lands in Berkshire and Oxfordshire to his eldest son John. A brass was set up by the widow in the church of St. Michael at Bray, showing Norris wearing the badge of the Garter, since the gentleman usher of the Black Rod was also usher of the order, and with an inscription recording that he had been ‘ever of honest behaviour and good reputation’.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. 219/24/6. OR gives ‘Merryes’.
  • 2. Aged 68 at death according to MI, Ashmole, Berks. iii. 11. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 184-6; W. H. St. J. Hope, Windsor Castle, i. 271, 274.
  • 3. Stowe 571, f. 30v; CPR, 1553-4, p. 116; 1566-9, p. 125; E407/1/1-20, E351/542/18v, all ex inf. W. J. Tighe; The King’s Works, iii. 415.
  • 4. CPR, 1553-4, p. 116.
  • 5. APC, vii. 4; Lansd. 3(89), f. 197v; E351/542/18v; C142/228/30; Ashmole, iii. 11-12.