Sir John Norris - Encyclopedia

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SIR JOHN NORRIS (c. 1 5471 597), English soldier, was the second son of Henry Norris, Baron Norris of Rycote, and gained his earliest military experience in the civil wars i,n France. In 1 573 he went to Ulster with Walter Devereux, earl of Essex, winning fame by his conduct in the guerilla wars against the Irish, and being responsible for the massacre on the island of Rathlin in July 1575; and in July 1577 he crossed over to the Netherlands to assist the Dutch against the Spaniards. Having added to his reputation by his valour at the battle of Rymenant, Norris returned to England in March 1584, and in the following July he was sent to Ireland as lord president of Munster; he accompanied the lord deputy, Sir John Perrot, on a campaign in Ulster, and spoke eloquently in the Irish parliament; but he disliked his work and soon obtained his recall. In August 1585 he was again in the Netherlands, commanding the English army of 4400 men which Elizabeth had sent to serve against the Spaniards. During his successful relief of Grave in April 1586 he was wounded, and just after this event he was knighted by the governor-general, the earl of Leicester; but he and Leicester were soon at variance, and many complaints of his conduct were sent to England. After taking part in the battle of Zutphen in October 1586 Sir John was recalled to England, but in 1587 he went again to the Netherlands and was soon quarrelling with his new superior, Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby de Eresby, and with Sir William Stanley. In 1588, when the Spanish Armada was expected, he was marshal of the camp at Tilbury; later in the same year he served the queen as ambassador to the Dutch states, and in 1589 he and Sir Francis Drake led the fleet which ravaged the coasts of Spain and Portugal. In 1591, and again in 1593, he aided Henry IV. of France in his struggle with the League in Brittany; and in May 1595 he landed again in Ireland, where he was still lord president of Munster. But this time he was entrusted with more extensive powers and was to assist the lord deputy, Sir William Russell, in subjugating Ulster. He did not, however, work harmoniously with Russell; his health was failing and the gigantic task was too much for him. After fighting and negotiating with the O'Neills in Ulster, and warring in Connaught, he asked for his recall. This was not granted, but he was supplanted in his military command; and he retired to Munster and died at Mallow on the 3rd of July 1597. His monument is in the church of Tattendon, Berkshire.

See J. L. Motley, The United Netherlands, vol. ii. (1904); and R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, vol. iii. (1890).

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