Norton, John (fl.1485) (DNB00)


NORTON, JOHN (fl. 1485), sixth prior of the Carthusian monastery of Mountgrace, was the author of three works now extant in the Lincoln Cathedral MS. (A. 6. 8). The first work is in seven chapters, ‘De Musica Monachorum;’ the second in nine, ‘Thesaurus cordium amantium,’ of which part is lacking (f. 47 a); the third in eight, ‘Devota Lamentacio,’ ‘caret finis’ (f. 76 b).

The volume begins with a letter from William Melton (d. 1528) [q. v.] to Flecher, who copied out the work after Norton's death. Flecher's Christian name seems to have been Robert (f. 30 a), and he is probably identical with the Robert Flecher, priest, who appears in the pension book of 31 Henry VIII (Mon. Angl. vi. 24). Melton says he has read the first work—Norton's ‘De Musica Monachorum,’ a book which he thinks fitted for Carthusians to read. Its seven chapters are occupied with discourses on idle words, prayer, and obedience. Flecher adds that this work was written while Norton was proctor of the Mountgrace monastery.

At the same time Norton wrote his second work, ‘Thesaurus cordium amantium.’ The introductory letter, of which the beginning is lost, was written after Norton's death, and addressed to Flecher by a doctor, no doubt Melton; it is in two parts, beginning f. 28 a, ‘de refectione eterna,’ and ending f. 30 b. A request for information about the ‘Liber Magnæ Consolacionis’ follows. The writer remembers to have seen it, and recommends it for frequent reading.

Norton's third work, ‘Devota Lamentacio,’ is also introduced by a letter from William Melton. The prologue records that on Tuesday before Whitsunday in the third year of John Norton's entry into religion (1485) he had a vision immediately after mass while sitting in his cell. The Virgin Mary appeared to him, clothed in the dress of a Carthusian nun and surrounded by virgins in the same habit, and through her he saw in the spirit the realms of bliss. Then follows (f. 80 b) the ‘opusculum sive revelacio gloriosa’ of the soul of a Carthusian monk who had attained to glory by his devotion to the Virgin and by his regular observance of the rule of his order. The tract ends f. 95 b.

[Manuscripts cited; Tanner's Bibliotheca, s.v.]

M. B.