Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norton, Robert (d.1635)

1415579Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 41 — Norton, Robert (d.1635)1895Bertha Porter ‎

NORTON, ROBERT (d. 1635), engineer and gunner, was third son and fifth child of Thomas Norton (1532–1584) [q. v.], and of his second wife, Alice, daughter of Edmund Cranmer, brother to the archbishop. In the pedigree entered by Norton himself in the ‘Visitation of Hertfordshire’ in 1634 (Harl. Soc. p. 80) he is given as the son of his father's first wife, Margaret, daughter of Archbishop Cranmer; but, according to Mr. Waters (Chesters of Chicheley, p. 389), she died without issue in 1568. He studied engineering and gunnery under John Reinolds, master-gunner of England, and through his influence was made a gunner in the royal service. On 11 March 1624 he received the grant of a gunner's room in the Tower, and on 26 Sept. 1627 he was sent to Plymouth in the capacity of engineer, to await the arrival of the Earl of Holland and to accompany him to the Isle of Rhé, and in the same year he was granted the post of engineer of the Tower of London for life.

He married Anne, daughter of Robert Heare or Hare, and by her had three sons and two daughters. He died early in 1635, as his will, dated 28 Jan. 1634–5, was proved in P.C.C. on 19 Feb. following.

The following works are attributed to him: 1. ‘A Mathematicall Apendix,’ London, 1604. 2. ‘Disme, the Art of Tenths, or Decimall Arithmetike,’ London, 1608. 3. ‘Of the Art of Great Artillery,’ London, 1624. 4. ‘The Gunner, showing the whole practise of Artillerie,’ London, 1628. He supplied tables of interest and measurement, and instructions in decimal arithmetic to Robert Record's ‘Ground of Arts,’ 1623. The ‘Gunner's Dialogue,’ with the ‘Art of Great Artillery,’ by Norton, was published in the 1643 edition of W. Bourne's ‘Arte of Shooting.’ Norton also published an English version of Camden's ‘Annals,’ London, 1630; 3rd edit. 1635, in which he interpolated a panegyric on his father (p. 146), and was probably the Robert Norton whose verses are printed at the beginning of Captain John Smith's ‘Generall Historie of Virginia,’ 1626.

[Chester Waters's Chesters of Chicheley, pp. 393–4; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1623–5 p. 185, 1627–8 pp. 358, 394; Herald and Genealogist, iii. 278–80; Norton's Works.]

B. P.