NORDEN, John (c.1612-69), of Rowde, nr. Devizes, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



27 Apr. 1660
3 Dec. 1666 - c. June 1669

Family and Education

b. c.1612, 2nd s. of William Norden of Rowde by Mary, da. of Richard Lybbe of Hardwick, Whitchurch, Oxon. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. ?1628, BA 1631; M. Temple 1630, called 1638. m. lic. 29 May 1647 ‘aged 30’, Elizabeth, da. of Edmund Skinner of Cradley, Herefs., 3s.; 3 other ch. suc. bro. 1641.1

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. 1646-53, 1657, Mar. 1660-d., commr. for assessment 1657, Jan. 1660-d., militia Mar. 1660; alderman, Devizes 1662-d.; solicitor for aids, Wilts. 1667.2


Norden’s grandfather settled in Wiltshire on an estate just outside Devizes which he leased from the Hungerfords. Norden was bred to the law, but succeeded his brother shortly before the Civil War. He later claimed to have neglected his profession, endangered his life and spent his estate in the royal cause, but he does not seem to have been active, and, probably under the protection of the Earl of Pembroke, served intermittently on the commission of the peace during the Interregnum. With the assistance of William Yorke he was returned for the county ‘by the disaffected’ in 1654. He was involved in double returns at both Old Sarum and Devizes in 1660, and on 27 Apr. was allowed to take his seat for the former, in which he was a burgage holder. He made no recorded speeches, and was named to only two committees, one for St. Nicholas hospital, Harnham, the other to consider a decree in Chancery during the Commonwealth against the defiant Royalist, Judge Jenkins. Norden obtained a grant in reversion of the registry of bankrupts, and later a letter from the King recommending him as clerk of assize for the western circuit, but does not seem to have benefited from either place.3

The Old Sarum seats were required for more prominent Royalists in 1661, and in the general election Norden acted only as agent for the Nicholas interest. He was unable to re-enter the House till after the purge of the Devizes corporation by the commissioners in 1662. He was proposed as a knight of the Royal Oak and credited with an income of £800, probably an over-estimate, as a few years later he was said to have been worth only £500 p.a. Meanwhile he had become embroiled in a Chancery suit with the father of John Hawles over Pembroke’s lucrative warren in Aldbourne chase, and some of the tenants, whom Norden described as his servants, were imprisoned for contempt of court. Shortly after his return to the House, at a by-election for Devizes, he claimed protection for them, but it does not appear that he obtained it. He was again an inactive Member in the Cavalier Parliament, with only four committees, the most important of which was to consider the petition against Lord Mordaunt. On 23 Feb. 1668, without leave of the Commons, he petitioned the Lords successfully for a writ of error over his suit with Hawles; but when the registrar of bankrupts died a few months later he was in no position to challenge the lord keeper’s determination to obtain a share in it for his own son, William Bridgeman. When the Lords finally gave judgment for Hawles, Norden ‘fell down in a swoon, and within a week afterwards died, as supposed, of grief’. Unfortunately for the truth of this story, his will was dated 29 May 1669, during a recess, and a new writ was ordered on the first day of the next session. Legal costs had increased his liability from the original £500 to £2,700, and his executors, who included John Ernle I and Jeffrey Daniel, refused to act. Rowde soon passed into other hands, and he was the only member of his family to enter Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: M. W. Helms


  • 1. Wilts. N. and Q. i. 424; Wilts. Inquisitions (Index Lib. xxiii), 318-19; Al. Ox. 1074.
  • 2. Add. 32324, f. 149; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 213.
  • 3. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv), 146; VCH Wilts. vii. 219; ix. 12; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 207; 1661-2, p. 153; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 824; Thurloe, iv. 610; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 10, f. 80.
  • 4. Thynne pprs. 10, ff. 80, 86; Hoare, Repertorium Wiltonense, 16; VCH Wilts. iv. 18; HMC 8th Rep. 117, 162-3; CJ, viii. 676, 677; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 500; 1668-9, p. 114; 1670, p. 281; T. Vernon, Cases in Chancery, 142; C6/198/34.