Select Norman Surname Genealogy

Here are some Norman stories and accounts over the years:

John Norman and the London River Procession

John Norman is considered to be the first lord mayor to go to Westminster by water.  It is thought that his infirmity may have been the reason for the river procession instead of the usual parade. 

The historian Humpherus, in describing the procession in 1453, said: 

“Norman who, having at his own expense built a noble barge, had it decorated with flags and streamers, in which he was this year rowed by watermen with silver oars, attended by such of the city companies as possessed barges, in a manner so splendid that 'his barge seemed to burn on the water.’” 

The watermen were said to have made John Norman a song of praise, which began: "Rowe the bote, Norman, Rowe to thy Lemman" (where lemman meant sweetheart). 

The river procession became popular among Londoners and the practice continued to be held for mayors until 1856.

John Norman of Norwich

John Norman was born in Norwich in 1657 and lived in Old Catton.  He prospered as a local farmer, landowner and brewer.  He eventually became an alderman and mayor of Norwich. 

He died in 1724 and, although he had married twice, had no children.  However, he was extremely interested in the education of children and left the bulk of his estate 'in trust' to educate the male descendants of his close relatives.  According to his wishes, the Norman Endowed School was eventually built for the benefit of his descendants. 

The school lasted until 1934 when the funds proved insufficient to maintain it.

Normans of Charminster in Dorset

The Norman family of Charminster was stalwart in their membership of the Society of Friends in Dorchester. James Norman and his brother Ralph were trustees of the Meeting House there when it was purchased in 1712.  James also held monthly meetings in his own house in Charminster.  In his will, proved in 1747, he bequeathed his house to his son James "to give lease and liberty for the people of God called Quakers to keep meetings therein as in my time." 

These Normans were also clockmakers.  James Norman of Charminster was the earliest, making 30 hour Grandfather clocks with brass dials and a single hand during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.  There was another James Norman of Charminster and Poole and his son Ralph who was apprenticed to James Norman of Poole in 1760. 

Some examples of their clocks are to be found at the Dorset collection of clocks in the Mill House Cider Museum.

Isaac Norman of Culpeper County, Virginia

Isaac Norman, born in 1682 reportedly in Gloucester county, married Frances (by tradition Courtney) and died around 1763.  He lived during the early 1700's on Flatt Run in what is now Culpeper County, Virginia. 

Nearby, Norman's Ford was an early crossing of the Rapahannock river which was said to have taken its name from Isaac Norman. 

"Norman's Ford, on the Rappahannock River took its name from Isaac Norman of the Stafford family who first settled there and in June 1726 had a land grant on the Culpeper shore of the river."

Isaac’s parentage is not really known, because of lost records and the similarity of the given names of many of the early Normans in America.

The Normandale Blast Furnace

Normandale is a township along Lake Erie in Ontario.  The following plaque marks the site of the blast furnace there.

"One of Upper Canada's most important industrial enterprises, the Normandale ironworks and its blast furnace played a significant role in the early economic development of the province.  Built in 1816-17 by John Mason and enlarged in 1821-22 by John Van Norman, it produced the famous Van Norman cooking stove.  Up to 200 men were employed prior to the closure of the blast furnace in 1847, following the exhaustion of the local bog iron deposits."

The plaque is located to the south of Van Norman Street in Normandale.  The Van Norman house on Front Road, built in 1842 from the proceeds of the iron foundry, still stands.

George Warde Norman of Bromley

George Warde Norman joined his father’s timber business after leaving school in 1810, spending much of his time in Norway.  He soon spoke fluent Norwegian, as well as French and Italian.  Charles Darwin spoke of him as “my clever neighbor, Mr. Norman.”  In 1821 he became a Director of the Bank of England, a position he held for fifty years. 

Initially, like his father and grandfather before him, George travelled to work in London by horseback. However, after the opening of the Greenwich railway in 1836, he rode to Greenwich and finished his journey by train. 

He had played cricket while a schoolboy at Eton and that enthusiasm stayed with him as an adult.  He helped found the West Kent cricket club and played in the Kent team until he was in his mid forties. 

His home was the Rookery in Bromley, where he lived with ample staff.  The 1851 census recorded a butler, footman, groom, housekeeper, two ladies maids, a nurse, nursery maid, two housemaids, a cook and a kitchen maid. 

George died in 1882.  He and his wife Sibella had seven sons.  His oldest son George died in the Crimean War.  A younger son, Frederick Henry Norman, was Governor of the Bank of England for nearly 25 years at the beginning of the 20th century.  Another son, Philip Norman, made his name as an artist and historian.

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