Norden, John (DNB00)

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NORDEN, JOHN (1548–1625?), topographer, born in 1548, was, according to Wood, ‘of a genteel family’ (Athenæ Oxon. ii. 279). But neither the ‘Visitation of Wiltshire’ of 1623 (Harl. MSS. 1165 f. b, 1444 f. 192 b) nor that printed by Sir Thomas Phillipps in 1628 supports Wood's theory that he belonged to Wiltshire. The father was probably a native of Middlesex. The earliest public notice of Norden is found in a privy council order dated Hampton Court, 27 Jan. 1593, declaring ‘To all Lieuts, etc., of Counties’ that ‘the bearer, John Norden, gent.,’ was ‘authorised and appointed by her Majesty to travel through England and Wales to make more perfect descriptions, charts, and maps’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 540 b). The outcome of this order was Norden's first work, entitled ‘Speculum Britanniæ, firste parte, … Middlesex,’ published in 1593, 4to. A manuscript draft in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 570), with a few corrections in the handwriting of Burghley, supplies some passages that were omitted in the printed book. In July 1594 Burghley issued from Greenwich another order, which recommended to favourable public notice ‘The bearer, John Norden, who has already imprinted certain shires to his great commendation, and who intends to proceed with the rest as time and ability permit’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 540 b; cf. also letter of 20 May 1594, Egerton MS. 2644, f. 49, &c.)

Norden was the first Englishman who designed a complete series of county histories, and he essayed his task with boundless energy. The outcome of an expedition undertaken by him in 1595 is extant in the British Museum Additional MS. 31853, which is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, and is entitled ‘A Chorographical Discription of the severall Shires and Islands, of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Hamshire, Weighte, Garnesey, and Jarsay, performed by the traveyle and uiew of John Norden, 1595’ (cf. House of Lords' MS., Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. App. 31 b). But the task was beset by difficulties, mainly pecuniary. In 1596 he published a ‘Preparative to his Speculum Britanniæ,’ which he described as ‘a reconciliation of sundrie propositions by divers person (critics, wise or otherwise) tendered’ concerning his large undertaking. The book was dedicated to his patron, Burghley, ‘at my poore house neere Fulham,’ and he complained that he had ‘been forced to struggle with want.’

Norden had a garden at his house ‘near Fulham,’ and was friendly with J. Gerard, the author of the ‘Herball.’ Before 1597 Gerard gave Norden some red-beet seeds, which, although ‘altogither of one colour,’ ‘in his garden brought foorth many other beautifull colours’ (Herball, 1597, p. 252). Between 1 Jan. 1607 and 27 March 1610 Norden lived at Hendon (cf. Surveyors Dialogue, 1607 and 1610, Dedications).

Apart from the first part of his ‘Speculum,’ the ‘Middlesex,’ issued in 1593, Norden only succeeded in publishing his account of ‘Hertfordshire’ (1598). The manuscript of the latter is in the Lambeth Library (codex 521). But he finished in manuscript full surveys of five other counties. His description of ‘Essex,’ of which the original manuscript is at Hatfield, was edited for the Camden Society by Sir Henry Ellis in 1840 (another manuscript, with important variations, is in the British Museum, Add. MS. 33769). ‘Northampton’ was completed in 1610, but was not published until 1720. ‘Cornwall’ (probably visited by Norden as early as 1584) was also written in 1610 (Harl. MS. 6252), but was not published until 1728. Descriptions of ‘Kent and Surrey are said to exist in manuscript, but their whereabouts are unknown’ (Wheatley, p. xcii). The latter may be identical with portions of Additional MS. 31853 (see supra).

In 1600 Norden was acting as surveyor of the crown woods and forests in Berkshire, Devonshire, Surrey, and elsewhere (Add. MS. 5752, f. 306), and on 6 Jan. 1605 he petitioned for the surveyorship of the duchy of Cornwall, and complained that he had expended 1,000l. in former employments without receiving any recompense. On 30 Jan. a satisfactory reply was returned (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1603–10, pp. 186, 191). ‘A Plott of the Six Escheated Counties of Ulster’ was made by Norden about the same time (Cotton MS. Aug. i. ii. 44), and is interesting as the only evidence of his being employed in Ireland. In 1607 Norden published his ‘Surveyors Dialogue’ (Arber, iii. 331, 412), which was republished in 1610, 1618, and 1758, and it was re-edited in 1855 by J. W. Papworth in the ‘Architectural Society's Publications,’ vi. 409. In 1607 Norden also surveyed Windsor and the neighbourhood. The result is extant in a vellum folio manuscript (Harl. MS. 3749) entitled ‘A Description of the Honor of Winsor, namely of the Castle, etc., taken and performed by the Perambulation, View, and Delineation of John Norden, anno 1607.’ This is dedicated to James I, and contains eighteen beautifully coloured maps, including a fine ‘Plan or Bird's-eye View of Windsor Castle from the North,’ with maps of Windsor Forest, Little Park, ‘Greate Parke,’ and ‘Moate Parke.’ Five of these maps, with abstracts from the manuscript as far as they relate to Windsor, are given in R. R. Tighe and J. C. Davis's ‘Annals of Windsor,’ 1858. For this labour Norden received from the king a ‘Free Gift of 200l.’ (Nichols, Progresses of James I, 1828, ii. 247). With E. Gavell he surveyed the king's woods in Surrey, Berkshire, and Devonshire in 1608 (Egerton MS. 806). To the same year probably belong ‘Certaine necessary Considerations touching the Raysing and Mayntayning of Copices within his Mates Forests, Chases, Parkes, and other Wastes, and the increasing of young Stores for Timber for future Ages,’ subscribed ‘John Norden,’ n.d., and ‘A Summary Relation of the Proceedings upon the Commission concerning New Forests,’ addressed by Norden to the lorde highe treasurer (Ashmolean MS. 1148, ff. 239–242, 257–8). On 2 Nov. 1612 Norden received a grant in survivorship to himself ‘and Alexander Nairn of the Office of Surueyors of the Kings Castles, etc., in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hants, Berks, Dorset, Wilts, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1601–18, p. 508). In 1613 he made ‘Observations concerning Crown Lands and Woods’ (Lansdowne MS. 165, No. 55). In 1616 and 1617 he appears to have held the surveyorship of the duchy of Cornwall jointly with his son, also named John Norden. An ‘Abstract of the general Survey of the Soke of Kirketon in Lindesey, in the County of Lincoln, with all Manors, etc., being Parcel of the Inheritance of the right worthy Charles Prince of Wales, as belonging unto his Dukedom of Cornwall, 1616,’ folio, is in the Cambridge University Library (Ff. iv. 30). Although not ascribed to Norden in the library catalogue, it is probably an original work of his or a contemporary copy formerly in Bishop Moore's collection (cf. Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 29; Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, 2nd ed. 1869, ii. 260). ‘An Abstract of divers Manors, Lands, etc., granted to Prince Charles by James I, and surveyde by John Norden the elder and John Norden the younger, June–Septr 1617; with Plans of Binfield and Blowberie, Berks, Whitchwood and Watlington, Oxon, etc.,’ is extant in Additional MS. 6027. A ‘Supervisus Manerii de Blowberie,’ dated 1617, is in the Cambridge Library MS. (Dd. viii. 9). ‘The Presentment and Verdicte of the Jurie for the Mannor of Yale Raglar, being Parcell of the Lordshipps of Bromfielde and Yale [county of Denbigh], made before John Norden the Elder, Esq., and John Norden the Younger, gent., by vertue of a Commission of Survey to them directed from the Prince his Highness’ (Charles), June 1620, is in MS. Sloane, 3241. The first part of ‘Supervisus Mannerii de Shippon in Com. Berk … Ducat. suo Cornub. nunc spectan per excamb. pro Byflet & Waybridge in Surr’ (among Camb. Univ. MSS. Dd. viii. 9 (1. 2.)) is ascribed to Norden in Bernard's ‘Catalogue,’ ii. 365. In the same collection is ‘Bookes of Survaies delyvered in by Mr. Norden and Mr. Thorpe,’ a list of manors surveyed by Norden in 1617 and 1623, and at the end Norden appeals for ‘a poore and meane yet sufficient mayntenance’ (M. m. iii. 15). Norden, as far as we know, was publicly employed for the last time in making a survey of the manor of Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire in July and August 1624, with a ground plan of the park (Harl. MS. 6288). Norden's latest published work as a topographer was ‘England, An intended Guyde for English Travellers,’ 1625, 4to, a series of distance tables intended to be used with Speed's set of county maps. Norden probably died soon after its publication.

Norden made numerous contributions to cartography of very high interest. The maps engraved in his own works are as follows: 1. ‘Myddlesex’ (in ‘Speculum Britanniæ for Middlesex,’ 1593), and re-engraved by J. Senex for the reprint in 1723. 2. ‘Westminster’ (ib.). 3. ‘London’ (ib.), the best plan of London in Shakespeare's time that has come down to us; republished and enlarged, accompanied by an admirable essay, by Mr. H. B. Wheatley, for the New Shakspere Society in 1877. 4. ‘Hertfordshire,’ 1598 (in ‘Speculum Britanniæ for Hertfordshire),’ re-engraved with the text in 1723. 5. ‘Essex,’ 1594 (in ‘Survey of Essex,’ 1840), engraved for the first time by J. Basire in 1840. 6. ‘Cornwall’ (in ‘Speculum Britanniæ for Cornwall,’ 1728), with nine maps of the hundreds of East (or East Wivielshire), Kerrier, Losemouth, Powder, Pyder, Stratton, Trigg, and West hundred. Here the roads were indicated for the first time in English cartography.

Norden executed maps of ‘Hamshire, Hertfordiæ,’ Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, and ‘Sussexia’ for W. Camden's ‘Britannia,’ 1607 (5th edit.). He also made maps of Cornwall, Essex, Middlesex, Surrey, and Sussex for J. Speed in 1610. They were afterwards incorporated with those by Saxton and others in Speed's ‘Theatre of Great Britain,’ 1626, folio. In Hearne's ‘Letter on Antiquities,’ 1734, p. 34, mention is made of ‘A Map or Draught of all Battles fought in England from the landing of William the Conqueror to the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, in sixteen sheets, done with a pen by John Norden.’ It was formerly preserved in the Bodleian Gallery, Oxford, but is now lost or destroyed. It however appears to survive in ‘The Invasions of England and Ireland. With al [sic] Civill Wars since the Conquest,’ Corn. Danskertsz sculpsit, an appendix to the ‘Prospect of the most famous parts of the World,’ by J. Speed, 1635, folio. In the text on the verso of the map Speed says that it was ‘finished in a farre larger platforme,’ and that he ‘intended there to have staid it from further sight or publication’ (p. 5, end). Bagford, in a letter to Hearne, writes: ‘Mr. Norden designed a “View of London” in eight sheets, which was also engraved. At the bottom of which was the Representation of the Lord Mayor's Show, all on Horseback. … The View was taken by Norden from the Pitch of the Hill towards Dulwich College going to Camberwell from London, in which College, on the Stair Case, I had a sight of it. Mr. Secretary Pepys went afterwards to view it by my recommendation, and was very desirous to have purchased it. But since it is decayed and quite destroyed by means of the moistness of the Walls. This was made about the year 1604 or 1606 to the best of my memory, and I have not met with any other of the like kind’ p. lxxxii (Leland, De Rebus Brit. Collectanea, 1770, vol. i.) This view is now lost. There is, however, preserved in the Crace collection (Portfolio i., 12 Views) at the British Museum an earlier view of London by Norden, wrongly assigned to Morden, apparently taken from the site of old Suffolk House in Southwark. It is inscribed ‘Civitas Londini. This Description [View] of the moste Famous Citty of London was performed in the yeare of Christ 1600. … By the industry of John Norden,’ 27½ in. by 14½ in. About the same period Norden executed ‘The View of [old] London Bridge from East to West.’ Norden was fraudulently deprived of the plate, as he informs us, for twenty years, and he was unable to publish it until 1624, during the mayoralty of John Gore, whose arms it bears, with those of James I. Even now it is only known to us by a reprint of 1804 (see Crace collection, Portfolio vii., 2 Views). Another missing map is recorded by Gough: ‘John Norden made a survey of this county [Surrey], which some curious Hollander purchased at a high price before the Restoration. The map was engraved by Charles Whitwell, at the expense of Robert Nicholson, and was much larger and more exact than any of Norden's other maps. It had the arms of Sir William Waade, Mr. Nicholson, and Isabella, countess dowager of Rutland, who died in 1605, and was copied by Speed and W. Kip in Camden's “Britannia,” 1607. Dr. Rawlinson showed it to the Society of Antiquaries, 1746’ (British Topography, i. 261).

There were several contemporaries of the surveyor besides his son bearing the same name, viz.: (1) John Norden of Rainham, Kent, who died in 1580 (Hasted, Kent, ii. 535; Add. MS. 32490, y y. 6); (2) a Middlesex yeoman (Chap. of Westminster Marriage License, 23 Nov. 1580, Harl. Soc. Publ. xxiii. 3); and (3) John Norden of Rowde, Wiltshire (Visitation of Wiltshire, Harl. MS. 1165, supra).

A fourth John Norden (fl. 1600), devotional author, is identified by Wood with John Norden, commoner of Hart Hall, Oxford, 1564, who graduated B.A. on 15 Feb. 1568, and M.A. 26 Feb. 1572 (Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, pt. i. pp. 181, 189; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714). He was author of: 1. ‘A Sinful Mans Solace’ (in prose and verse), 1585. 2. ‘A Pensive Mans Practise,’ 1585, 1591, 1623, 1627, 1629, 1635, 1640. 3. ‘A Mirror for the Multitude,’ 1586. 4. ‘Antithesis or Contraritie betweene the Wicked and the Godlie,’ 1587. 5. ‘A Christian familiar Comfort,’ 1596. 6. ‘Progress of Piety, or Harberer of Heartsease,’ 1596; the publication of this work at the same time as the ‘Preparative to the Speculum Britanniæ’ proves that the two authors were not identical. 7. ‘A reforming Glass,’ 1596. 8. ‘The Mirror of Honour,’ 1597. 9. ‘The Pope's Anatomye and Eliza's Glorye,’ 1597. 10. ‘Prayer for Earl of Essex in Ireland,’ 1599. 11. ‘Vicissitudo Rerum: an elegiacall Poeme,’ 1600. 12. ‘The Storehouse of Varieties,’ 1601. 13. ‘A Pensive Soules Delight’ (in verse), 1603–15. 14. ‘The Labrynth of Mans Life,’ a poem, 1614. 15. ‘Loadstone to a spiritual Life,’ 1614. 16. ‘An Eye to Heaven in Earth,’ 1619. 17. ‘Poor Mans Rest,’ 1620, 1624, 1631, 1641. 18. ‘Imitation of David,’ 1620. 19. ‘A Godlie Mans Guide to Happiness,’ 1624. 20. ‘Pathway to Patience,’ 1626. 21. ‘Help to true Blessedness,’ n.d., quoted by Wood.

[Account of Norden in Speculum Britanniæ—pars Cornwall, by C. Bateman, 1728; Gough's British Topography, 1780; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), 1813–20, vol. ii.; life in Speculum Britanniæ—pars Essex, ed. Sir H. Ellis (Camden Soc.), 1840; Rye's England as seen by Foreigners, 1865; H. B. Wheatley in Harrison's Description of England (New Shakspere Soc.), 1877; Bernard's Catalogi Librorum MSS. Angliæ et Hiberniæ, ii. 365; Todd's Cat. of MSS. at Lambeth Palace, 1812; W. H. Black's Cat. Ashmolean MSS. 1845; Cambridge Univ. Libr. MSS. Cat. 1856; Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. p. 31 b, 3rd Rep. pp. 158 b, 175 c, 253 a, 5th Rep. p. 273 a, 7th Rep. p. 540 b; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1603–10 pp. 186, 191, 508, 509, 518, 544, 553, 566, 616, 642, 1611–18 pp. 45, 48, 76, 97, 108, 121, 158, 340. For bibliography see Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), 1864; Hazlitt's Handbook and Bibliographical Collections, 1867–82; Arber's Reg. of the Stationers' Company, 1875–7, ii. 434, 437, 568, 575, 632, iii. 78, 175, 281, 331, 412.]

C. H. C.