Norgate, Edward (DNB00)


NORGATE, EDWARD (d. 1650), illuminer and herald-painter, born at Cambridge, was son of Robert Norgate [q. v.], master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, by Elizabeth, daughter of John Baker of Cambridge. His father died in 1587, and Edward was brought up by his stepfather, Nicholas Felton [q. v.], bishop of Ely. Edward did not stay in Cambridge long enough to take a degree, but went up to London to follow the career of an artist.

On 25 Nov. 1611 Norgate received a joint grant with one Andrea Bassano of the office of tuner of his majesty's ‘virginals, organs, and other instruments’ (State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1611–18, p. 93); and the grantees were employed in making new ‘chaire’ (choir) organs in the royal chapels at Greenwich and Hampton Court (Pell Records, ed. Devon, p. 324; State Papers, 1637, p. 442). In 1616 Norgate was made Blue-mantle pursuivant. He soon obtained a reputation for his illuminated penmanship, and taught heraldry to the sons of Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, earl marshal.

Meanwhile Norgate was employed as illuminator of royal patents, and obtained the reversion of the office of clerk of the signet. On 10 July 1627 he presented a petition desiring to resign the reversion to Will Richards (ib. Dom. Ser. 1627–8, p. 247); but nearly four years later (10 March 1631) a warrant addressed by the king to the secretaries of state recites that ‘Edward Norgate, one of the clerks of the signet extraordinary, has for many years been employed in writing letters to the Emperor and Patriarch of Russia, the Grand Signior, the Great Mogul, the Emperor of Persia, and the kings of Bantam, Macassar, Barbary, Siam, Achine, Fez, Sus, and other far-distant kings. His majesty requires that hereafter all such letters be prepared by the said Edward Norgate and his deputies’ (ib. 1629–31, p. 532). In 1633 Norgate appears to have been employed as a deputy to Sir W. Heydon, treasurer of the English troops in the Palatinate (ib. 1633–4, p. 323). In the same year (28 Oct.) he was appointed Windsor herald by the earl marshal, Lord Arundel.

Norgate's name appears among others in a commission of 31 Jan. 1637 ‘to compound with persons willing to be incorporated for using the art and mystery of common maltsters’ (ib. Dom. Ser. 1636–7, p. 404); and, later, he was one of the commissioners of brewing (ib. 1637–8, p. 230). On 24 Aug. 1638 he was at length admitted as clerk of the signet (ib. 1637–8, p. 603). In that capacity he attended Charles I in his expeditions against the Scots in 1639 and 1640. During the earlier expedition he sent many highly interesting letters either to his friend Robert Reade, secretary to Windebanck, or to the secretary of state himself (ib. Dom. Ser. 1639). Among his other duties he was called on by the king ‘to make certain patterns for four new ensigns with devices, for the guard of his person’ (ib. p. 164); and on 19 June, when the king gave the Scots commissioners a gracious answer, Norgate wrote it out twelve times, spending a whole night on the work (ib. p. 330).

Norgate obtained constant access to the finest collections of pictures, and became a connoisseur in pictorial art. His taste and knowledge were so highly valued that he was employed in 1639–40 to negotiate the purchase of pictures for the cabinet of Queen Henrietta Maria at Greenwich. He commissioned work from Jordaens in preference to his master, Rubens; but Norgate had a personal interview with the latter at his house in Brussels (Original Papers relating to Rubens, pp. 211–13). Apparently on the same visit he delivered a duplicate despatch to his friend Sir Balthasar Gerbier, the king's agent in Brussels (State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1639–40, pp. 43–4). In a similar capacity he acted for his patron, Lord Arundel, in whose interest he visited Italy. He also went to the Levant for an uncle of Sir W. Petty to buy marbles, some of which are now at Oxford. Fuller relates how Norgate was stopped, through failure of remittances, at Marseilles, and, being helped by a French gentleman with money and clothes, made his way back to England on foot.

As Windsor herald, Norgate had been excused ship-money (ib. 1634–5, p. 517); and in October 1641 he was granted an embroidered coat-of-arms (ib. 1641–3, p. 151). In 1646 he was in Holland (Lansdowne MS. 1238), and in 1648 doubtless was deprived of his heraldic office. He died at the Heralds' College in 1650, and was buried at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, on 23 Dec. ‘He became,’ says Fuller, who attended his death-bed, ‘the best illuminer and limner of his age. … … He was an excellent herald, and, which was the crown of all, a right honest man.’ Among the best examples of his work the patent from Charles I for the appointment of Alexander, earl of Stirling, as commander-in-chief of Nova Scotia, was so well executed that it has been sometimes attributed to Vandyck, who, so far as is known, never illuminated. Another good specimen is a letter to the king of Persia, for which he was paid 10l. by warrant from the privy council dated 24 April 1613. Walpole's continuator says of other works by Norgate that they are ‘inferior in no great degree to the elaborate bordures which enclose the miniatures of Giulio Clovio.’ There is in the Bodleian Library a manuscript by Norgate (Tanner MS. 326, undated) entitled ‘Miniature, or the Art of Limning.’ It has not been printed. He is said to have left other manuscripts to be published by his friends. Among the latter was the poet Herrick, who wrote some very flattering lines on him in ‘Hesperides’ (No. 301, ed. Pollard, 1891; No. 302, ed. Saintsbury, 1893).

Norgate was twice married. His first wife was Judith, daughter of John Larner, esq.; the second, whom he married at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on 15 Oct. 1619, was Ursula, daughter of Martin Brighouse of Coleby, Lincolnshire. He had three sons and two daughters by his second wife.

Thomas, his eldest son (the only child by his first wife), born in 1615, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, from Westminster School on 29 Nov. 1633. He graduated B.A. 26 April 1637, M.A. 30 June 1640, and was created B.D. on 17 June 1646. He was expelled from his studentship by the parliamentary visitors on 2 Nov. 1648. He was for some time chaplain to Sir Thomas Glemham, governor of Oxford. A copy of Latin verses by him on the death of Lord Bayning is in the Oxford collection (Alumni Westmon. and Alumni Oxon.)

[Addit. MS. 8934, f. 74; Harl. MSS. 1154, 1532; Fuller's Worthies (Cambridgeshire); State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1611–43, passim; Lloyd's Memoires, 1677, pp. 1634–5 (give wrong date of death); Noble's College of Arms, pp. 251, 261; Sainsbury's Original Papers illustrative of the Life of Rubens, pp. 209, 211 n, 215, 217, 223, 227, 228, 233, 234, and Pref. p. xl (following Dallaway's note to Walpole, wrongly corrects Fuller as to date of death, which has been verified from St. Benet's parish register); Walpole's Anecdotes of Painters, ed. Wornum (with Dallaway's note), i. 230–3; Notes and Queries, 5, 12, and 19 Jan. 1867, 30 Dec. 1876, 15 June 1878; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.]

G. Le G. N.