Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire

Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire (6 July 1579 – 31 January 1622)[1][2] was an English nobleman with the title of Earl of Berkshire.

Stained glass portrait said to be of Francis Norris

He was the son of Captain Sir William Norreys (d. 1579) and Elizabeth Morison, daughter of Sir Richard Morrison of Cassiobury, Hertfordshire, and was born at Wytham in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). He married Bridget de Vere, although they later separated. The marriage gave Norris access to Bridget's uncle Sir Robert Cecil who was at the heart of Elizabethan government.[3] Their only issue was Elizabeth Norris.

He held the titles Baron Norris of Rycote, 1st Viscount Thame and 1st Earl of Berkshire. He was sent to Fleet Prison after attacking Lord Scrope in front of the House of Lords. He shot himself with a crossbow on 29 January 1622 and died two days later on 31 January. His estates and titles became forfeit to the crown. His daughter was later given his baronetcy. His illegitimate son Francis was knighted and appointed High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1636.

He was buried at Dorchester, Oxfordshire.


  1. ^ His father died on 25 December 1579. Queen Elizabeth sent his mother a letter of condolence, but this can have been little comfort to his widow who was now the mother of a four-month-old son, Francis, later to become Earl of Berkshire.
  2. ^ David Nash Ford. Royal Berkshire History, Nash Ford Publishing 2002. Sir William Norreys (1545-1579)
  3. ^ "Francis Norris". Rediscovering Rycote. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 November 2013.