Norris family deeds

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Place names have been anglicized only in the title of each record for ease of searching, and following the groupings of deeds made by Lumby. The spellings used in the deeds have been preserved subsequently. Forenames have been anglicized, but surnames have been spelt as in the originals. It is not possible to trace a strict chronology for changes in spellings as many are used interchangeably. The following list gives examples of family and place names that occur in varying forms throughout the deeds:

  • Norris: Nores, Norres, Norens, Norrens, Noreys, Norreys, Norrays
  • Molyneux: Molyneus, Molineus, Molyneux, Molineux, Mollyneux, Mollineux
  • Speke: Spek', Spec'
  • Woolton: Wolueton, Wolwinton, Wolweton, Woluinton, Wolleton, Wolton, Woleton, Woletun (with Much Woolton appearing as Magna, Mekil, Mekyll etc, and Little Woolton appearing as Parva, Lytyll, Litill etc.)
  • Liverpool: Lythirp'l, Liverpull

314 deeds of the Norris family of Speke Hall, Lancashire, found amongst the Fleming records at Rydal Hall, having come into the possession of the Flemings through the financial difficulties of Sir William Norris (d. 1630). The original envelopes, on which Mr. W.G. Collingwood wrote more detailed abstracts than those given on his final list, have been kept with the deeds.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Norris family were well established in the forest fee of Lancashire by the early thirteenth century in various property between Formby and Widnes. The Speke lands themselves were originally held by the Molyneuxs and Haselwells. These holdings first came to members of the Norris family through the marriage of half-brothers Alan and John, sons of Alan le Norris of Formby (who already had other interests in Hale and Garston), to two of the Haselwell heiresses. From these two, it is possible to trace the branches of the Norris family with interests across South Lancashire in Barton, Blackrod, Burtonhead, Daresbury, Eltonhead, Formby, Garston, Halsnead, Kirkby, Speke, Sutton, West Derby and Woolton. The University deeds, however, pertain almost entirely to interests in Speke, Woolton, Garston and Hale. Molyneux remains a significant name throughout these deeds, and the inquisitio post mortem following the death of Henry Norris in 1524 found that the Speke lands were held by knight service of Sir William Molyneux, under whom Henry and his brother William were said to have fought at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. The lands were not purchased by the Norrises until the mid sixteenth century.

The existing hall at Speke was begun by Sir William Norris (knighted after fighting for the Lancastrians at Battle of Stoke 1487) during the reign of of Henry VIII. His son Henry (suceeded 1506, died 1524) was in turn succeeded by Sir William Norris, M.P. for Liverpool, who continued the building work. He purchased the Grosvenor lands in Lancashire and exchanged the family's lands in Formby, Lydiate and Ince Blundell for those of Lawrence Ireland in Woolton and Garston. He also examined the family's deeds, and the endorsements found on the reverse of some of the deeds which have helped with their dating and provenance are in his handwriting. The south and east ends of Speke Hall were added by William's son Edward. The final deeds in the University's collection chart the financial problems of Sir William Norris K.B. (made a Knight of Bath under the sucession of James I) and the loss of Speke Hall. He was reputedly reckless with money, and his financial troubles were worsened by the fines he had to pay as a rescusant (NORRIS 282 ). The Hall was mortgaged to John Fleming, who had married one of Sir William's daughters, in 1625 (NORRIS 276 ). After the death of Sir William Norres in 1630, his property was left to Sir Cuthbert Clifton, John Fleming and John Poole (see NORRIS 290  for his last will and testament), and there is evidence of some attempts to manage the estates finances and to provide for Sir William's sons William, Alexander and Henry.

The Norris family members holding the manor of Speke can be traced as follows:

  • Alan le Norris
  • John le Norris (brother of Alan, d. ca.1333)
  • Alan le Norreys (d. 1349-50. His brother William founded the West Derby branch, and his son John the Woolton branch.)
  • Sir Henry le Norris (d. 1367-8)
  • Sir John Norris (d. ca.1372)
  • Henry Norris (d. 1437-8)
  • William Norris (d. 1467-8)
  • Thomas Norris (married Letitia Norris of the West Derby branch. She inherited the Norris lands in Anglesey.)
  • Sir William Norris (married Katherine, daughter of Sir Henry Bold; d. 1506)
  • Henry Norris (d. 1524)
  • Sir William Norris, M.P. for Liverpool (d. 1568)
  • Edward Norris (d. 1606)
  • Sir William Norris K.B. (d. 1630)
  • William Norris (d. 1651)

Arrangement

The University's deeds were calendered prior to their purchase by Mr W.G. Collingwood. His arrangment and numbering has been maintained, as it was referred to by J.H. Lumby for his more comprehensive calender of the 12th - 15th century deeds in all repositories (published as Volume 93 of The Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire's Series of Original Documents - see bibliography). Lumby only includes Nos. 1-167 of the University deeds, and is arranged by area. The reference numbers for where the deeds held by the University appear in Lumby are given as notes at the end of each description in this finding aid.

It seems that an attempt was made to arrange the deeds into chronological order prior to their purchase for the University. That order has been maintained, although some of the deeds were incorrectly dated in Collingwood's calendar, and others are undated. Where that is the case, the dates suggested by both Lumby (deeds 1-167) and Collingwood have been given.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to bona fide researchers. An appointment must be made in advance of any visit.

Note

The following reference material was also acquired with the deeds:

  • A calendar of the deeds by W.G. Collingwood, M.A., F.S.A (died 1932). Mr Collingwood was given permission by Mr Stanley Hughes le Fleming to calendar the deeds, intended for publication by the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire in 1930. It was never published, but Robert Gladstone had 14 copies printed in 1936, despite noting that it was 'full of mistakes'. The Norris reference collection contains two typescripts (one with corrections by an unknown person) and three galley proofs (one bound) of this calendar.
  • A manuscript calendar compiled by Dr William Farrer containing full abstracts of 114 of the deeds.

Place names have been anglicized only in the title of each record for ease of searching, and following the groupings of deeds made by Lumby. The spellings used in the deeds have been preserved subsequently. Forenames have been anglicized, but surnames have been spelt as in the originals. It is not possible to trace a strict chronology for changes in spellings as many are used interchangeably. The following list gives examples of family and place names that occur in varying forms throughout the deeds:

  • Norris: Nores, Norres, Norens, Norrens, Noreys, Norreys, Norrays
  • Molyneux: Molyneus, Molineus, Molyneux, Molineux, Mollyneux, Mollineux
  • Speke: Spek', Spec'
  • Woolton: Wolueton, Wolwinton, Wolweton, Woluinton, Wolleton, Wolton, Woleton, Woletun (with Much Woolton appearing as Magna, Mekil, Mekyll etc, and Little Woolton appearing as Parva, Lytyll, Litill etc.)
  • Liverpool: Lythirp'l, Liverpull

Archivist's Note

The deeds were originally listed by Mr W.G. Collingwood (M.A., F.S.A.). They were relisted in their present form by Charlotte Swire in 2005-2006

Separated Material

The British Museum holds the Norris deeds bought from Aston Hall, Cheshire, in 1903. There are also 262 deeds covering 1474-1676 and a further 2 volumes of deeds covering 1695-1709 in Liverpool Record Office. For complete details of Norris deeds held elsewhere, see the entry in the National Register of Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

This material cannot be photocopied. Reproduction and Licensing Rules are available on request.

Custodial History

The deeds were purchased c.1933 from amongst the Fleming records at Rydal Hall, Cumbria, on behalf of the University by Professor Garmon Jones. They were accessioned as part of the University Archives as D22 but were then transferred to form part of University of Liverpool Library Special Collections on 13 July 1978.

Bibliography

A calendar of the Norris deeds (Lancashire), 12-13th century, from the originals in the British Museum, the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool Free Public LibraryLumby, J.H.(Manchester University Press, 1939 )Cook, Michael and A Tudor house: Speke Hall and the Norris Family, 1500-1700Blyth, Joan E.(Liverpool Education Committee, Liverpool, 1970 )

The following reference material was also acquired with the deeds:

  • A calendar of the deeds by W.G. Collingwood, M.A., F.S.A (died 1932). Mr Collingwood was given permission by Mr Stanley Hughes le Fleming to calendar the deeds, intended for publication by the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire in 1930. It was never published, but Robert Gladstone had 14 copies printed in 1936, despite noting that it was 'full of mistakes'. The Norris reference collection contains two typescripts (one with corrections by an unknown person) and three galley proofs (one bound) of this calendar.
  • A manuscript calendar compiled by Dr William Farrer containing full abstracts of 114 of the deeds.

There is also a copy of Lumby's calendar held with the Norris reference material in the reading room.