The Phillip Deere Family Home Page:Information about John Norris
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John Norris (b. 1617, d. Aft. 1667)John Norris was born 1617, and died Aft. 1667.
Notes for John Norris:
The first record we have of John Norris comes from an original list of
passengers from London:
Theis under-written names are to be transported to the Bormoodoes (Bermudas) or
Somer-Islands, imbarqued in the Truelove de London, Robert Dennis Mr., being examined by the
Minister of Gravesend concerning their conformitie to the order and discipline of the church of
England as it now stands established: and tooke the oath of allegeance.
Below this statement was a listing of the passengers aboard the ship Truelove. Included was this listing:
This record was dated 10 Jun 1635. It indicates that Jo: Norris was 18 years old at the time. It is believed that this John Norris was our earliest ancestor in America.
It is not unlikely that John Norris left England in order to establish his own fortune in the new world. Employment opportunities were scarce in England, and even for families of wealth it was not uncommon for at least one son to head across the sea to seek his fortune. In the case of this John Norris, however, he may well have come to the new world with some financial backing from his parents, which would have made it easier for him to establish himself in the colonies. He also may or may not have come for relgious reasons. He apparently did sign an oath of loyalty to the Church of England before embarking on his journey. Since we find no record of his joining the church in America it is likely that he was more commercially oriented than religious.
Henry McCoy Norris in the preface to his genealogy of the New Hampshire Norrises (1906), says that "The fact that he (John Norris) had as fellow passengers on this voyage at least three young men who found their way to New England as early as 1643 suggests that he may have gone there with them.
The following notation is from the Massachusetts Bay Colony earliest records, from the General Court of
Election of 23 May 1655, held at Boston:
Mr. John Alcocke, preferring a petition for the laying out of severall parcels of land, as in his
petition is expressed, received this answer: that the Court, being satisfied in the conveyances ofMr John Norris for 400 acres of land, and of the 242 acres of the 4000 acres granted to Roxbury,and also of Mr Palsgraves disposing of the 200 acres of land to his wife, and of the petitionersright thereunto by a letter of attorney, under the hand and seal of Mrs anna Palsgrave, do order,that eight hundred forty two ares of land be laid out unto the petitioners, as is desired, by EnsigneJohn Sherman, with this proviso, that no just claim of any other children of the father of thepetitioner, if any, be thereby impaired unto the two parcels of four hundred and 242 acres of land inthis petition expressed (original spelling corrected).
This record indicates that "Mr. John Norris" had held control of "400 acres of land" and "242 acres of the 4000 granted to Roxbury." This is about 15 per cent of the total land of Roxbury at that time, 1655. John Norris must have had considerable influence in Roxbury, either through purchase, for which record has not been located, or by direct distribution from the colonial government, for which again no record has been found. In any case he conveyed the lands back to the Court, which then distributed them to Mr. John Alcocke so that he could lay out several parcels, presumably for new immigrants.
Another record, from the Suffolk County Deed Book, Volume I, page 293, gives us another clue about this "Mr. John Norris":
A list of several bills and notes assigned unto Mr. Laurence Hanaton by mee Peter Mudd this 28thMar 1651.
Included among the several listings are these two:
Jo: Norres nine hundred pound of suger is in tobacco
a nott from Esq. Hayes to Jo: Norris for three hund sixty seaven pound suger
The document concludes:
Peter Mudd his assignement over unto me Laurence Hanatton of ye several debts within sparied togett in for his use I therefore promise to followe his order for the shipping and consigneing of it tothosewhome he appoints, as witnes my hand this 28th Mar 1651
Mr Peter Mudd came before me this 12th Mar 1652 and upon his oath testified that this is the hand
wrighting of Laurence Hannatton whereunto he hath subscribed his name.
This record tells us that John Norris was involved in commerce with the Barbadoes Islands, in the Caribbean, where the Truelove had traveled some 16 years earlier. It is likely that John Norris, after his arrival in Barbadoes, had established himself as a merchant, and became involved within the first few years there in commerce between New England and the Caribbean Islands, or the West Indies as they were known then. Commerce between these two earliest colonies developed very early, since each produced items the others needed. John Norris may have made his residence in Roxbury, MA, a village near the commercial center of Boston, as early as 1639, and by 1655 have been able to own 400 acres and 242 acres of land around Roxbury, which he conveyed back to the town in 1655.
It is possible that John Norris of Roxbury was a son of Edward Norris. That he was in Roxbury/Boston (within two miles of each other) at the same time that Edward Norris arrived there could be because he knew that his father was coming or, more likely, because his father had instructed him to be there when he arrived. It would also explain why he set up his commercial activities between Roxbury and the West Indies instead of VA and the West Indies, as others were doing. Presuming this theory is accurate, it also might help explain why his sister Mary Norris was also in Roxbury rather than in Salem with her father Edward Norris. John's having come earlier to America than Edward Norris can be explained because Edward Norris himself was sending people to America ahead of himself as early as 1635. Additionally John Norris may have wanted to seek his own fortune in America independently of his religious father. The fact that John Norris signed the oath of allegiance to the Church of England may give us a hint to the differences of opinion on religious matters that may have existed between him and his Puritan father.
It is my feeling that John Norris of the Truelove came to MA with some fellow travelers after landing in Virginia in 1635. Virkus in his Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy lists a "John Norris (b. 1617), from England to Roxbury, MA, 1635." Since no other record exists of a John Norris born in 1617 who came to America than the John Norris of the Truelove, Virkus presumably also believed that the John Norris of Barbadoes and Virginia migrated into MA shortly after arrival. John would have been about 21 years old at the time of his arrival in MA. He then went into commercial shipping and by 1655, twenty years later, he had acquired considerable land in Roxbury. That his name is not more prevalent in the earliest records of MA is also explainable if he was a sea merchant. Most of his time was probably spent on the high seas between England, the West Indies, and the Boston area. What little time he was in Boston would not have made his presence influential, even though he was acquiring significant wealth.
In 1640 a group of disenchanted pilgrims left the Salem-Lynn-Roxbury area of MA and went to the eastern end of Long Island. John Norris is believed to have left Roxbury after having conveyed his land back to Roxbury in 1655. He apparently moved to Southold or Southampton, Long Island, where he had most of his children. He was not an original settler in these communities, however. Perhaps John Norris felt that the business opportunities were greater on Long Island than in Boston Harbor. The location was more central between Boston and Jamestown, and also close to Plymouth. Or possibly he disagreed with Edward Norris II on religious issues (this was why the original group went to Long Island in 1640) and he went to Long Island in order to follow his religious beliefs. In any case, a family of Norrises must have arrived in the Southold and Southampton area around 1656, since four Norris brothers grew up there and branched out from there during the next generation.
The children of John Norris are deduced from evidence that will be presented, although no direct
documentation has been found to confirm that John had the five sons listed. Nicholas Norris, who settled in New Hampshire, only about 40 miles from Roxbury, MA, had links to MA at the same time that John Norris was there. His first children were baptized at the Salem church, presumbly by Edward Norris II himself, who would have been the grandfather of Nicholas Norris. For some unknown reason he too left the area and sought his own way, although to the north rather than the south as the other four brothers did. Our own Norris family history as recorded in this volume proceeds through our oldest confirmed ancestor, Robert Norris, of Southold and Southampton, Long Island, NY. He had a brother Peter Norris, according to Robert's own will. In addition, there was Henry Norris living in Easthampton, between Southold and Southampton (all within five miles of each other), during the same period, who left upon reaching adulthood and became a founder of Elizabeth, NJ. Oliver Norris was a resident of Easthampton in 1683, where Henry was, and also lived with Robert Norris in Southampton in 1698 before moving back into MA.
SOURCE; Norris Families in America (website)Steven D. Norris
Children of John Norris are:
- +Henry Norris, b. Abt. 1645, d. 1706.