Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/125

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from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1686, and proceeded M.A. 1689, M.B. 1691, and M.D. 1695. He practised medicine at Chester, and his scientific reputation is attested by the fact that as early as 1698 he was a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1699 he accompanied his brother, Sir William Norris, as secretary of his embassy to the mogul emperor, and visited the camp of Aurangazíb in the Deccan from April to November 1701. He returned home in 1702, bringing with him a cargo valued at 147,000 rupees, partly his brother's property. After an interval of mental prostration induced by the perils and anxieties he had gone through, he resumed the profession of medicine at Utkinton, Cheshire, and was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1716. He died on 22 July 1726, and was buried at St. Michael's chapel, attached to Garston Hall, a manor of the Norris family, near Speke. In 1705 he had married Ann, daughter of William Cleveland of Liverpool, by whom he left one son, with whose death, some time before 1736, the family of the Norrises of Speke in the male line became extinct.

[Norris Papers, ed. T. Heywood, in Chetham Soc. vol. ix.; Baine's Lancaster, ii. 757; Munk's Coll. of Phys. ii. 39; Bruce's Annals of East India Company, iii. 463, &c. Norris's letters as secretary to his brother's embassy are preserved in the India Office.]

S. L-P.

NORRIS, EDWIN (1795–1872), orientalist and Cornish scholar, born at Taunton, Somerset, on 24 Oct. 1795, spent his youth in France and Italy as tutor in an English family. At a very early age he showed an exceptional facility for acquiring languages, and soon learned Armenian and Romaic, in addition to French and Italian. In 1818 he was appointed to a clerkship in the London offices of the East India Company, but resigned the post in 1837 to become assistant secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society. With that institution he was connected till his death, becoming secretary in 1859, and honorary secretary and librarian in 1861. For many years he edited the society's ‘Journal,’ and conducted a large correspondence with Oriental scholars at home and abroad.

Norris seized every opportunity of making himself familiar with the least known languages of Asia and Africa. In 1841 he compiled ‘Outlines of a Vocabulary of a few of the principal Languages of Western and Central Africa’ (obl. 12mo). ‘A Specimen of the Van Language of West Africa’ followed in 1851. Mainly from papers sent home by the traveller James Richardson [q. v.], he prepared in 1853 ‘Dialogues and a Small Portion of the New Testament in the English, Arabic, Haussa, and Bornu Languages,’ as well as ‘A Grammar of the Bornu or Kanuri Languages, with Dialogues, Translations, and Vocabulary.’ In 1854 he edited R. M. Macbrair's ‘Grammar of the Fulah Language.’

Norris also interested himself in ethnography. He designed in 1853 a series of works entitled ‘The Ethnographical Library,’ but only two volumes appeared—G. W. Earl's ‘Papuans,’ 1853, and R. G. Latham's ‘Native Races of the Russian Empire,’ 1854. Norris edited in 1855 the fourth edition of Prichard's ‘Natural History of Man.’

A more important undertaking was the two volumes on ‘The Ancient Cornish Drama,’ published by Norris at Oxford in 1859. They include a ‘Sketch of Cornish Grammar,’ which was also printed separately, together with the text and translation of three Cornish plays preserved in Bodleian MS. 791. The manuscript of Norris's first volume, with some unprinted notes, is preserved in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 29730.

But it was as an Assyriologist and one of the earliest decipherers of cuneiform inscriptions that Norris best deserves to be remembered. In 1845 he deciphered the rock inscription of King Asoka, near Kapur di Giri, faint impressions of which, taken on cloth, had been presented to the Royal Asiatic Society. In 1846 he saw through the press, while Sir Henry Rawlinson was detained by official duties in Bagdad, Rawlinson's copy and analysis of the great cuneiform record of Darius Hystaspes at Behistun in Persia. In 1853 he published in the ‘Journal’ of the Asiatic Society a memoir of the ‘Scythic Version of the Behistun Inscription’ (1855, vol. xv.), and between 1861 and 1866 he gave most important aid to Rawlinson when the latter was preparing the first two volumes of cuneiform inscriptions issued by the British Museum. Norris pursued his researches with such success that in 1868 he was able to produce the first volume of an ‘Assyrian Dictionary.’ Other volumes followed in 1870 and 1872 respectively, bringing the work from the letter Aleph to the letter Nun. Although some of the meanings assigned by Norris to the words have been rejected, the undertaking marks an epoch in the history of cuneiform philology.

Norris was elected a foreign member of the German Oriental Society, and was created an honorary doctor of philology at Bonn. He died on 10 Dec. 1872 at his residence, 6 Michael's Grove, Brompton.