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Thomas Norton was the eldest son by his first marriage; the mother dying, the father, when advanced in life, married a second wife—a lady who had been brought" et amplius," in March, 1582-3. m., taken at Luton 27th December, 26th Elizabeth, on his father's death. There is reason to suppose that he was our author's father. They were connected by marriage with the Plumptons, Mortons, Thurlands, Tanckerdes of Boroughbridge, and other Soman Catholics of the North. They are of different blood, and are the family of Nortons referred to in Strype's up in the family of Sir Thomas More—and by her he had several sons.1 He was still living, though extremely ill when he lost his second wife in the year 1581: and died at Sharpenhoe, 10th March, 1582-3,2 having witnessed nearly all his sons' career. 1741-2 This ancestor of the second branch of the family was one of the leading citizens of the Vineyard and its first representative to the General Court of Mass. He was sheriff of the county in 1699 and was commissioned as Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1702.
The first has not been met with in print.4 The Psalms, with Norton's initial afterwards varied, versions by other hands appearing instead of Norton's. 132, has the initial M., and differs in some few words from Norton's version, in that Bible and in the recent edition of the Common Prayer, 1800, numbers 75 and 108 are Hopkins; and in the same edition of the Common Prayer, 101, 102, 105, 106, 109, 110, 111, 115, 116, 117, 118, 129, 131, 132, 135, 136, 138 to 145 inclusive, 147, 149 and 150, are the twenty-seven ascribed to Norton; but 109 is a different version from Norton's, and he did not write 111 or 132.
It is one thing to mislike the state and doctrine of our Church, as they do, and another thing to dislike the corrupt ministration of justice, and evil executing of the laws as they be.
Which is the fault of men, and may without slander of our Church, but rather with honour thereof, be reformed. God keep the Church from being troubled with greater things.
But when he saw the scribbling humour of the other side, that they would not be quiet, then he told Whitgift plainly, that this keeping up the quarrel was on their part, and their fault, not his.
And in fine he let the Archbishop know that he was so far from writing against Whitgift, that he could not but approve him and his cause: expressing a great trouble that the Archbishop should have any such belief of him.
On leaving Oxford, Norton gave up any notion, he might have had, of entering the church, and applied himself to his profession ; not abandoning, however, either his love of polemical writing, or his unceasing attacks upon the " Papists," whom he called " the common enemies of all sides of Christians." He had become a retainer at the court.1 He was already well known to the Lord Treasurer, and his writings had made him acquainted with Whitgift.
When that prelate contemplated an answer to " An admonition to the parliament," Norton took it upon himself to address to him a long letter, dated 20th October, 1572,2 to dissuade him from the work—doubting whether it were not " best policy to let the matter die quietly ;" declaring that it was " good to contain controversies within schools, and not to carry them to Paul's Cross and elsewhere abroad ;" referring to the hurt which the division of the Lutherans and Zuinglians had done; and recommending the " Good Mr.
The opportunity was too tempting, and Norton1 addressed an eloquent letter, published by Henry Bynneman " To the Queene's Maiestes poore decey ved subiectes of the north countrey, drawen into rebellion by the Earles of Northumberland and Westmerland."2 They had " purified Durham Cathedral" by burning the versions of the Bible and the books of public devotion, and for this they are soundly rated: " Christians I cannot term you, that have defaced the communion of Christians, and, in destroying thebooke of Christes most holie testament, renounced your partes by his testament bequethed vnto you." This tirade did not suffice; and in 1570 Norton published, at John Daye's,1 his " Warning against the dangerous practices of the Papists, and specially the Partners of the late rebellion;" and in it he gave a curious but evidently exaggerated account of the diligence of the disaffected in spreading rumours and news.
Another knot of such good companie be common rnmor-spreders, of whom the publike fame is, that there be or have bene certaine notable and noted walkers in Paule's and such places of resort, so common that the very usuall places of their being there are ordinarily knowen by the name of saving that I heare say now of late many of them flocke more into the middle isle, which is supposed to be done partly to shunne publike noting, partely for better hearkening, and partely for more commodious publishing.
He held for^ life, with remainder to his son Thomas, the advowson and right of presentation to Streatley, together with the rectorial tithes of Streatley and Sharpenhoe,3 as well as the manor and mansion of Sharpenhoe, and other land there. He resided at Major's Cove near Miober's Bridge where he lived until his death, 30 Jan.
There is no trace of the school in which Norton was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, of which, at an early period of his life (although he had not then proceeded to either University), he was a complete master; but he very soon obtained the substantial patronage of the Protector Somerset : and was in such favour, that he is thought by Herbert* " to have been the state amanuensis." When only eighteen years of age his first work appeared : it was printed in October, 1550,5 and was a very well executed translation of Peter Martyr's letter to Somerset,6 rendered into English at the desire of Norton's patron.
On 16th January, 1572-3, Norton in his letter stated that he was moved with some grief that Parker could believe upon his respect such matter as Mr.