Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norton, John Bruce

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NORTON, JOHN BRUCE (1815–1883), advocate-general at Madras, born in 1815, was the eldest son of Sir John David Norton, a puisne justice of the supreme court at Madras, who was knighted by patent on 27 Jan. 1842, and died on his passage from Madras to Malacca on 24 Sept. 1843. He married in 1813 Helen Barrington, daughter of Major-general Bruce of the Indian service. John Bruce Norton was educated at Harrow, and played at Lord's cricket ground in the school eleven against Eton in two successive matches. He matriculated from Merton College, Oxford, on 13 Jan. 1833, was a postmaster 1833–7, graduated B.A. 1838, was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 17 Nov. 1841, and accompanied his father to India in 1842. From 1843 to 1845 he acted as sheriff of Madras, and was then appointed clerk of the crown in the supreme court of judicature. He held the office till 17 Aug. 1862, when the court was abolished. He was also counsel for paupers 1847, government pleader 1 Feb. 1853, public prosecutor 15 Aug. 1862, acting advocate-general 1862–1863, and advocate-general 2 June 1863; the last appointment carried with it a seat on the Legislative Council at Madras. He was likewise a senator of the Madras University, a professor of law, and, as president of Patcheapah's Institution, he delivered a series of educational speeches, which were published separately. He did some useful work on the tontine commission, and on the commission for the administration of trustees. Resigning the advocate-generalship in 1871, he returned to England, and in January 1873 was named the first lecturer on law to Indian students at the Temple, London, where he lectured on Hindu and Mohammedan law and on the laws in force in British India. He also held private classes. He died at 11 Penywern Road, Kensington, London, on 13 July 1883.

While in India he wrote a work entitled ‘The Law of Evidence applicable to the Courts of the East India Company explained in a Course of Lectures at the Madras Presidency College, Madras,’ 1858 (8th edit. 1873); it is a well-known pass-book on Indian law.

Norton was also author of the following, all published at Madras, except where London is specified:

  1. ‘Folia Opima. In verse. By J. B. N. of Merton College,’ 1843.
  2. ‘The Administration of Justice in Southern India,’ 1853; answered by C. R. Baynes in ‘A Plea for the Madras Judges,’ 1853.
  3. ‘A Letter to C. R. Baynes, containing a Reply to his Plea,’ 1853; to which Baynes wrote ‘A Rejoinder,’ 1853.
  4. ‘A Reply to a Madras Civilian's [Mr. Holloway's] Defence of the Mofussil Courts in India,’ London, 1853.
  5. ‘A Letter on the Condition and Requirements of the Presidency of Madras,’ 1854.
  6. ‘An Inaugural Lecture on the Study of the Law and General Jurisprudence,’ 1855.
  7. ‘The Rebellion in India: how to prevent another,’ 1857.
  8. ‘Speech of Mr. Norton at the Fourteenth Anniversary Meeting of the Patcheapha Moodeliar's Institution in Madras,’ 1857; other speeches were printed in 1863 and 1864.
  9. ‘A Report of the Case of Kamachee Boye Sahiba versus the East India Company and others, drawn up from Notes of Counsel,’ 1858.
  10. ‘Topics for India Statesmen,’ London, 1858.
  11. ‘The Trades' and Professions' Licensing Bill for India. Speech delivered at Madras,’ London, 1859.
  12. ‘Memories of Merton College. In verse,’ London, 1861; 2nd edit. Madras, 1865.
  13. ‘Nemesis,’ a poem, 1861.
  14. ‘Topics of Jurisprudence, or Aids to the Office of the Indian Judge,’ London, 1862.
  15. ‘The Education Speech,’ London, 1866; another edit. 1870.
  16. ‘A Selection of Leading Cases in the Hindu Law of Inheritance,’ London, 1870–1, 2 vols.

[Times, 16 July 1883, p. 10; Law Times, 21 July 1883 p. 232, 28 July p. 249; Law Journal, 21 July 1883, p. 407.]

G. C. B.