Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys

Henry Norris (or Norreys), 1st Baron Norreys (1525 – 27 June 1601)[2] of Rycote in Oxfordshire, was an English politician and diplomat, who belonged to an old Berkshire family, many members of which had held positions at the English court.

Henry Norris
Baron Norreys
Henry Norris 1st Baron Norris of Rycote.jpg
Henry Norris, aged 60, 1585
Born1525 (1525)
Died27 June 1601(1601-06-27) (aged 75–76)
Buried5 August 1601[1]
Chapel of St Michael and All Angels, Rycote
51°44′17″N 1°02′07″W / 51.73802°N 1.03517°W / 51.73802; -1.03517
Spouse(s)Margery Williams
IssueSir John Norreys
Sir William Norreys
Sir Edward Norreys
Catherine Norreys
Sir Henry Norreys
Sir Thomas Norreys
Maximilian Norreys
FatherHenry Norris
MotherMary Fiennes, Lady Norris
OccupationEnglish politician and diplomat
Coat of arms, Henry, 1st Baron Norris of Rycote


He was the son of Sir Henry Norreys (d. 1536), who was beheaded for his supposed adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn, by his wife Mary Fiennes (1495–1531), daughter of Thomas Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre (1472–1534).[2]

Early careerEdit

The early years of Henry's life are obscure. His mother had died in 1531, and his father was beheaded in 1536, leaving him and his younger sister Mary orphans. The children were brought up by their childless uncle, Sir John Norreys. Henry's patrimony was restored to him by an Act of 1539 by King Henry VIII, and in December 1542 his uncle Sir John Norreys of Yattendon, was licensed to settle his estates in reversion on Henry, who was his ward, and on Margery, the younger daughter of John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame, and their heirs. The couple must therefore have been betrothed by this date.

Henry's prospects were bright. He was made a Knight of the Shire for Berkshire in 1547.[2] His wife, Margery, was the coheir of her wealthy father, who had become treasurer of the court of augmentations and who was continuing to acquire land in Berkshire. The deaths of Henry's uncle (1563) and father-in-law (1559) greatly increased Henry's already considerable wealth, bringing him properties in Oxfordshire, where he and his wife settled, and in Berkshire.[2][3] These included Rycote, Sydenham and Yattendon Castle.

Royal friendshipEdit

In 1553, Henry was among the King's gentlemen who witnessed the device settling the crown upon Lady Jane Grey.[3] After the succession crisis, Queen Mary did not hold this act against him, approving his appointment as the butler of Poole later in that same year. In 1554 he was assigned to guard Princess Elizabeth at Woodstock. Elizabeth believed his father had died for his loyalty to her mother, Queen Anne, and brought him and his wife into her trusted circle, where he would stay for the remainder of his life.[3]

In November 1565, on the occasion of the third marriage of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, another member of Elizabeth's trusted circle, Henry participated in a tournament in the Queen's presence.[3]

Elizabeth visited the couple at their estate Rycote, Oxfordshire, on numerous occasions; in September 1566 on her return from Oxford, during which she knighted Henry;[2] in 1568, 1570, 1572, and in September 1592, on another journey from Oxford. Upon the death of their son, Sir John Norreys, who was a distinguished soldier in Elizabeth's armies, the queen sent a stately letter of condolence to "my own dear crow", as the Queen still affectionately called Margery.[3]

Later careerEdit

In 1561, Norris was made High Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. In the autumn of 1566, he was appointed Ambassador to France by the queen. He was recalled in August 1570 and replaced by Sir Francis Walsingham. By way of recompense for his services abroad, he was summoned to the House of Lords, as Baron Norreys of Rycote, on 8 May 1572.[2]

In October 1596, Henry was created Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.[3] He already held the same office for Berkshire.[2]

Marriage and issueEdit

Henry married Margery (or Margaret), (1521 – December 1599), daughter of John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame, sometime between December 1542 and 26 August 1544. They were the parents of seven children. His six sons all distinguished themselves as soldiers.[3]

Death and burialEdit

Henry died on 27 June 1601,[2] having outlived his wife and five of his children, and was temporarily buried, on 21 May, in the church at Englefield, where his son Edward was living.[3] Finally, on 5 August, he was re-interred at Rycote, in a vault beneath the chapel of St Michael and All Angels, in the grounds of Rycote House. His will was dated 24 September 1589.[3]


Both he and his wife are commemorated by the monument erected in honour of them and their six sons in St. Andrew's Chapel in Westminster Abbey.[4] Life-size effigies of Lord and Lady Norreys lie beneath an elaborate canopy supported by marble pillars and they are surrounded by kneeling figures of their children.[3]


  1. ^ Lee 1895, pp. 122–124 He was temporarily buried in the church at Englefield 21 June 1601 and re-interred at Rycote 5 August 1601
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Fuidge 1981.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lee 1895, pp. 122–124.
  4. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 756.


  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Norris, Henry Norris, Baron" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 756.
  • Fuidge, N. M. (1981). "Norris, Sir Henry I (c.1525-1601), of Rycote, Oxon. and Bray, Berks.". In Hasler, P. W. (ed.). Members. The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1558–1603. Historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 26 March 2014.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
John D'Oyley
High Sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and Oxfordshire
With: Sir Francis Knollys 1586–1596
Sir William Knollys 1596–1601
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
New creation Baron Norreys
Succeeded by