Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/141

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part in the operations before Toulon. He returned to England in October, narrowly escaping the fate of the commander-in-chief, the error in navigation, due to the unwonted strength of Rennel's current, having been common to the whole fleet [see Shovell, Sir Clowdisley]. On 26 Jan. 1707–8 Norris was promoted to be vice-admiral of the white, and again went to the Mediterranean, with his flag in the Ranelagh, commanding in the second post under Sir John Leake [q. v.] In the same year he entered parliament as member for Rye, for which he sat until 1722, when he was elected for Portsmouth. For Portsmouth he was again returned in 1727, and for Rye in 1734; he represented the latter constituency until his death (Official Returns). In 1709 he commanded a small squadron sent to stop the French supply of corn from the Baltic. He lay for some time off Elsinore, and stopped several Swedish ships laden with corn, nominally for Holland or Portugal. Against this line of conduct the Danish government protested, and the governor of Elsinore acquainted him that ‘if he continued to stop ships from passing the Sound, he should be obliged to force him to desist.’ In July a Dutch squadron arrived to convoy the ships for Holland, and Norris, conceiving that the object of his coming there had been secured, returned to England (Burchett, pp. 726–7).

On 19 Nov. he was promoted to be admiral of the blue, and early in 1710 went out to the Mediterranean as commander-in-chief. This office he held till October 1711, blockading the French coast and assisting the military operations in Spain, in acknowledgment of which services the Archduke Charles, the titular king of Spain, on 19 July 1711 conferred on him the title of duke, ‘to be reserved and kept secret until he should think it proper to solicit the despatches for it in due form,’ and also an annual pension of four thousand ducats for ever, placed upon the produce of the confiscated estates in the kingdom of Naples (Home Office, Admiralty, vol. 42). No further action seems to have been taken in the matter of the title, and it does not appear that the pension was ever paid.

In May 1715 Norris, with a strong fleet, was sent to the Baltic, nominally to protect the trade, but in reality to give effect to the treaty with Denmark, and force the king of Sweden to cede Bremen and Verden to the Elector of Hanover (Stanhope, Hist, of England, Cabinet edit. i. 225). The only effect was to induce Charles XII to intrigue with the English Jacobites, and to stay such English merchant ships as came within his reach. The approach of winter forced Norris to return to England, but in the summer of 1716 he was back at Copenhagen, and a combined fleet of English, Russian, and Danish ships, under the nominal command of the tsar in person, Norris acting as vice-admiral, made a demonstration in the Baltic, but without meeting an enemy or attempting a territorial attack. In 1717 Sir George Byng took command of the fleet in the Baltic, while Norris was sent on a special mission to St. Petersburg as 'envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary.' In March 1718 he was appointed one of the lords of the admiralty, a post he held till May 1730; but in the summer of 1718 he was again sent to the Baltic, always with the object of exerting pressure on Sweden.

But after the death of Charles XII Norris was in 1719 again sent to the Baltic as an intimation to the tsar that he could not be permitted to crush the independence of Sweden. It was probably thought that Norris, being personally known to and esteemed by the tsar, was a peculiarly fit person to command the fleet in the difficult circumstances. For the greater part of the season he remained at Copenhagen. and during the time his correspondence was that of a diplomatist rather than of an admiral. In August, however, he went further into the Baltic, and made an armed demonstration in conjunction with the Swedish fleet. In 1720 he arrived off Stockholm by the middle of May, having a commission to mediate a peace. In June he anchored off Revel, but as Peter refused his letters, as the place could not be attacked by the fleet alone, and as the Swedes were not prepared to throw an army on shore, he returned to Stockholm, where he continued till the end of October. It was not till the 22nd—which by the revised calendar was 2 Nov.—that he sailed from Elfsnabben, arriving at Copenhagen on the 30th. The course of service in 1721 was much the same, but led to better results. The tsar, convinced that he would not be permitted to destroy Sweden, consented to make peace, and by 20 Sept. Norris was able to represent to the Swedish government that, as the treaty was virtually concluded and the Russian ships were laid up, he proposed to sail at once (Home Office, Admiralty, vols. 50 and 51). In 1726, when the attitude of Russia seemed again threatening to the peace of the north, she was overawed by the presence of a fleet under Sir Charles Wager [q. v.], and in 1727 Norris again took the command. It was known that Russia was