NORRIS, Sir Henry II (c.1554-99), of Rycote, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1554, 4th s. of Sir Henry Norris I and bro. of Edward, Sir John and William. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1571. unm. Kntd. Sept. 1586; KG Apr. 1592.1

Offices Held

Capt. English volunteers at Antwerp June 1583; capt. Berks. contingent for defence of England 1588, on Portugal expedition 1589, in Brittany 1591; col.-gen. of infantry in Ireland 1595.2


Norris and his five brothers were all soldiers, and comprised the most distinguished military family of their time. Norris followed the second-born, ‘General’ Sir John Norris, to the Netherlands, Portugal, Brittany and Ireland. He was knighted by Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester at Zutphen in 1586, and returned to England a year later to help in the preparation of defences against the Armada and lead the Berkshire contingent in Leicester’s army at Tilbury. In April 1588 Norris received an honorary MA at Oxford. That autumn he was chosen knight of the shire for Berkshire and Sir John was elected for Oxfordshire. Although he was not mentioned by name in the journals of the 1589 Parliament he may have attended the subsidy committee to which the first knights of the shires were appointed on 11 Feb. 1589. Soon after the end of the Parliament he took part in the Portugal venture, and he was not, in fact, in England for any length of time until 1596. In December of that year he was ordered by the Privy Council to bring to London the ringleaders of the recent insurrection against enclosures in Oxfordshire, whom his father had examined. In 1597 he was again elected for Berkshire and was appointed to committees on bills concerned with the gentry’s obligation to maintain armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the punishment of rogues disguised as soldiers and mariners (20 Dec.), maltsters (12 Jan. 1598) and the relief of mariners and soldiers (26 Jan. 1598). As knight for Berkshire he was entitled to attend the committees concerning enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the town of Wantage (10 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.). He was apparently served with a subpoena while in Parliament, a breach of privilege which Sir Edward Hoby brought to the attention of the House on 16 Jan. 1598. He was sent to Deptford in December 1597 to receive and escort to London the governor of Dunkirk, captured by Sir Edward Norris.3

By the summer of 1599 he was back in Ireland. Serving under Essex in Munster, he and his brother, Sir Thomas Norris, who had become president of Munster on Sir John Norris’s death two years before, both received mortal wounds. The deaths of Sir Thomas on 16 Aug. and of Sir Henry, after the amputation of his leg, on 21 Aug. were reported as an ‘infinite disaster’. The Queen wrote to console Lord and Lady Norris ‘in this bitter accident’, in which she proposed herself as an example of fortitude, ‘our loss being no less than yours’; and promised to recall from the Netherlands Sir Edward, the last survivor of the six martial brothers. No will or inquisition post mortem survives for Norris.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. DNB (Sir Henry, Baron Norris); Lansd. 94, f. 110.
  • 2. HMC 2nd Rep. 73; HMC Foljambe, 47, 49, 51; CSP For. 1589 (Jan.-July), 119; APC, xxi. 25; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 397; Cal. Carew Pprs. iii. 113.
  • 3. VCH Berks. iii. 105; HMC Hatfield, iv. 202; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 13, 318; D’Ewes, 431, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 575, 578, 581, 588; APC, xxviii. 11, 165.
  • 4. CSP Ire. 1599-1600, pp. 66, 128; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 82, 84; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 319.