NORRIS, JOHN (1734–1777), founder of the Norrisian professorship at Cambridge, born in 1734, was the only son of John Norris, (d. 1761), lord of the manor of Witton in Norfolk, by his wife, a Suffolk lady named Carthew. He was educated at Eton and at Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1760 (Graduati Cantabr.) He was member's prizeman in 1761. On leaving the university he settled at Great Witchingham, Norfolk, and built a house which he partly pulled down on the death of his first wife in 1769. Coming to live at Witton, he began in 1770 to build Witton House and to lay out grounds. About 1773 Richard Porson [q. v.], who lived in the neighbouring village of East Ruston, was brought to his notice by the Rev. C. Hewitt. Norris caused Porson to be examined, and, on a favourable report, raised, and contributed largely to, a fund for sending him to school. By this means Porson went to Eton (J. S. Watson, Life of Porson). Norris died of fever on 5 Jan. 1777 (Gent. Mag. 1777, p. 47) at his house in Upper Brook Street, London. He was fond of inquiring into religious subjects. He is described as being of a gloomy and reserved disposition, and it is said (Europ. Mag. 1784, p. 334) that though he was ‘respected by all, there were few who were easy and cheerful in his society.’
Norris married first, in 1758, Elizabeth, only daughter of John Playters of Yelverton. She died 1 Dec. 1769, leaving one son, who died in infancy, and Norris erected a monument to her with an eccentric epitaph in St. Margaret's Church, Witton (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 286). Secondly, on 12 May 1773, he married Charlotte, fourth daughter of Edward Townshend, D.D., dean of Norwich, and by her had one daughter, Charlotte Laura, who married, 17 Nov. 1796, Colonel John Wodehouse, afterwards second baron Wodehouse. By his will, dated 26 June 1770, Norris charged the Abbey Farm, in the parish of Bacton, Norfolk, with an annuity of 120l. for the foundation of a professorship of divinity at Cambridge, and of an annual prize of 12l. in money and books for an essay on a sacred subject, and also for providing a sermon at Great St. Mary's every Good Friday. The 105l. annually assigned to the professorship has since been augmented from other sources, and the prize is (by statute of 6 April 1858) now awarded every five years. The first ‘Norrisian’ professor was appointed in 1780, and the ‘Norrisian Prize’ was first awarded in the same year. Norris also left 10l. per annum to the vicar of Witton for the performance of service on every Sunday during Lent, and endowed two schools for twelve children each at Witton and Witchingham. Norris's estate of nearly 4,000l. per annum descended to his daughter.
[European Mag. May 1784, pp. 333–4; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, anno 1777; Blomefield's Norfolk; Norfolk Tour, i. 237–9, ii. 966; Cambridge University Calendar; Potts's Cambridge Scholarships.]
NORRIS, JOHN PILKINGTON (1823–1891), divine, born at Chester on 10 June 1823, was the son of Thomas Norris, physician of Chester. Educated first at Rugby under Arnold, he proceeded to Cambridge, where he gained an open scholarship at Trinity College. He came out in the middle of the first class of the classical tripos in 1846, and in the same year graduated B.A. He became M.A. in 1849, B.D. in 1875, and D.D. in 1881. Norris obtained a fellowship at Trinity in 1848, and in the same year carried off one of the members' prizes for the Latin essay. He was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Ely in 1849, and priest in the following year. In 1849 he accepted one of the newly created inspectorships of schools. The high traditions of that office owe much to the spirit in which Norris and others entered upon the work. His own district comprised Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire. His enthusiasm was unbounded; his thoroughness and mastery of detail so great that he was said, by a pardonable exaggeration, to know not merely all the teachers, but all the children who came under his eye. The work began, however, to tell upon him, and in 1863 he removed to a smaller district in Kent and Surrey. But, finding himself unequal to this, he in 1864 resigned his inspectorship, and became curate-in-charge of Lewknor, a small Oxfordshire parish. In 1864 he was appointed a canon of Bristol, and incumbent of Hatchford, Surrey, where he remained until 1870. In that year there fell vacant the vicarage of St. George, Brandon Hill, Bristol. The parish was large, the people poor, the income small. The dean and chapter were the patrons, and Norris felt it his duty to take the parish himself. He therefore moved permanently to Bristol. His own church and people were admirably cared for, and he also threw himself zealously into diocesan work. In 1876 he became rural dean of Bristol, and in 1877 vicar of the historic church of St. Mary Redcliffe. In 1881 the bishop made him archdeacon of Bristol, a post which led in the following year to the resignation of his incumbency.Norris filled other positions with unvary-