Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norton, Samuel

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1415581Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 41 — Norton, Samuel1895Bertha Porter ‎

NORTON, SAMUEL (1548–1604?), alchemist, was the son of Sir George Norton of Abbots Leigh in Somerset (d. 1584), and was great-grandson of Thomas Norton (fl. 1477), of Bristol [q. v.] He studied for some time at St. John's College, Cambridge, but appears to have taken no degree. On the death of his father, in 1584, he succeeded to the estates. Early in 1585 he was in the commission of the peace for the county, but apparently suffered removal, for he was reappointed in October 1589, on the recommendation of Godwin, bishop of Bath and Wells (Strype, Annals, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 462). He was sheriff of Somerset in 1589, and was appointed muster master of Somerset and Wiltshire on 30 June 1604.

Norton was the author of several alchemistic tracts, which were edited and published in Latin by Edmund Deane, at Frankfort, in 4to, in 1630. The titles are: 1. ‘Mercurius Redivivus.’ 2. ‘Catholicon Physicorum, seu modus conficiendi Tincturam Physicam et Alchymicam.’ 3. ‘Venus Vitriolata, in Elixer conversa.’ 4. ‘Elixer, seu Medicina Vitæ seu modus conficiendi verum Aurum et Argentum Potabile.’ 5. ‘Metamorphosis Lapidum ignobilium in Gemmas quasdam pretiosas,’ &c. 6. ‘Saturnus Saturatus Dissolutus et Cœlo restitutus, seu modus componendi Lapidem Philosophicum tam album quam rubeum e plumbo.’ 7. ‘Alchymiæ Complementum et Perfectio.’ 8. ‘Tractatulus de Antiquorum Scriptorum Considerationibus in Alchymia.’ A German translation of the treatises was published in Nuremberg in 1667, in a work entitled ‘Dreyfaches hermetisches Kleeblat.’ Portions of the work in manuscript, brought together before Deane edited his volume under the title of ‘Ramorum Arboris Philosophicalis Libri tres,’ are in the British Museum (Sloane MS. 3667, ff. 17–21, 24–28, and 31–90), and the Bodleian Library (Ashmolean MS. 1478, vi. ff. 42–104). Norton was occupied on the work in 1598 and 1599. Among the Ashmolean MSS. (1421[26]) is a work by Norton entitled ‘The Key of Alchimie,’ written in 1578, when he was at St. John's College, and it is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth; an abridgement is in the Ashmolean MS. (1424[38.3]). In 1574 Norton translated Ripley's ‘Bosome Booke’ into English. Copies of it are in the British Museum (Sloane MSS. 2175, ff. 148–72, 3667, f. 124 et seq.)

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 284; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1547–80, p. 635, 1598–1601, pp. 167, 414, 1603–10, p. 126; Lansdowne MS. 157, f. 165.]

B. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.207
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line
220 i 6 f.e. Norton, Samuel: for ff. 81-90 read ff. 17-21, 24-28, and 81-90