Henry Norris and William Brereton – The Knighthood Confusion by Teri Fitzgerald

A squire being knighted by David I of Scotland

I know that I said the next myth-busting article would be on Anne Boleyn’s roots and family tree, but that will be next week. Today, we have a guest article from Anne Boleyn Files visitor Teri Fitzgerald regarding two of the men who were executed in May 1536 as a result of the fall of Anne Boleyn.

Teri and I have been corresponding for a while on this issue and digging through the primary sources, so I have also added some notes of my own to Teri’s article. Thank you so much for this enlightening article, Teri. Over to Teri…

Since Claire is writing on the subject of Anne Boleyn myths it seems timely to investigate a myth surrounding two of Anne’s co-accused.

It appears that neither Henry Norris nor William Brereton were ever knighted. How could this be true? These men were so close to the king, especially Norris, who was Groom of the Stool.

Attempting to find the truth of the matter has given me so much respect for the hard work and painstaking attention to detail that historians must undertake to write their books and articles. I’m neither a writer nor a historian, merely an enthusiastic amateur. Thanks to Claire for her invaluable help, as always.

So, what proof do we have that these men were not knighted? A search of my own bookshelves shows that there are some differences between historians/authors. The majority, however, describe the men as simply Henry Norris and William Brereton.

Listed below is a summary of my findings and Claire checked her bookshelves too.


  • Henry Norris and William Brereton – G. W. Bernard,1 Eric Ives,2 Suzannah Lipscomb,3 Elizabeth Norton,4 John Schofield,5 David Starkey,6 Derek Wilson7 and Paul Friedmann.8
  • Henry Norris and Sir William Brereton – Julia Fox9 and Marie Bruce10.
  • Sir Henry Norris and William Brereton – Robert Hutchinson,11 David Loades,12 Alison Weir,13 Antonia Fraser14 and Norah Lofts15.
  • Sir Henry Norris and Sir William Brereton – Alison Weir,16 Claire Ridgway17 (Yes, I’m guilty – sorry!), Hester Chapman18 and Joanna Denny19.

The Primary Sources

Finding that there was lingering doubt over the knighthoods, I next went through several primary sources and other sources to find some clues. In the meantime, Claire went through Eric Ives’ research on William Brereton20 and the chronicles by Edward Hall, Charles Wriothesley and Raphael Holinshed. Ives researched the career of William Brereton in depth, making use of a multitude of primary sources, and made no mention of him being knighted. In the chronicles, Claire found that Wriothesley referred to Norris and Brereton as “Mr” but Francis Weston as “Sir”, Hall referred to them only by surname but did add a “sir” with Weston and Holinshed didn’t give any titles at all.

None of the primary sources21 or other sources22 listed below refers to either man as a knight, except Shaw23 and Ormerod,24 who admits there has been some confusion in the Brereton family tree. To add to the confusion there was a Sir William Brereton25 writing to Thomas Cromwell in May, 1536, while the other William Brereton was securely locked up in the Tower.

Henry Norris’ son, also named Henry, was knighted26 and it is possible that he has been mistaken for his father. I suspect the same thing has happened with regards to William Brereton being mistaken for the Sir William Brereton listed in Letters & Papers.27

The Visitations of Cheshire and Berkshire were the most valuable sources of information. They seem to be a sixteenth century version of a census and contain a wealth of information, including detailed family trees and coats of arms. They helped to accurately place the two men within their respective family trees.

Primary Sources

Henry or Mr. Norris and William or Mr. Brereton (and Sir Francis Weston)

  • Letters & Papers,vol. 10, 848, 12 May, 1536
  • Hall’s Chronicle, p. 819
  • Holinshed’s Chronicle, p. 797
  • Wriothesley’s Chronicle, p. 36

Henry Norris

  • Visitation of Cheshire in the Year 1580, Made by Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, ed. J. P. Rylands, 1882

William Brereton

  • The four visitations of Berkshire made and taken by Thomas Benolte, Clarnceuc, anno 1532; by William Harvey, Clarnceux, anno 1566; by Henry Chiting, Chester herald, and John Philipott, Rouge dragon, for William Camden, Clarenceux, anno 1623; and by Elias Ashmole, Windsor herald, for Sir Edward Bysshe, Clarenceux, anno 1665-66 (1907), vol. I

Sir William Brereton

  • George Ormerod, The history of the county palatine and city of Chester, 1819, vol. II, p. 377
    Ormerod, vol. III, p. 51

Other Sources

Henry Norris

  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1895, vol. XLI
  • Royal Berkshire History: Norris Family
  • Royal Berkshire History: Henry Norris (d. 1536)
  • Royal Berkshire History: Sir Henry Norris, (1525-1601)

Neither Henry Norris nor William Brereton listed

  • Wynkyn de Worde, The Noble Tryumphant Coronacyon of Quene Anne, Wyfe unto the Most Noble Kynge Henry VIII

William Brereton – Listed with Knights Bachelor, 1513

  • William A. Shaw, The Knights of England. A complete record from the earliest time to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of knights bachelors, incorporating a complete list of knights bachelors dubbed in Ireland (1906), vol. II, p. 39

Teri’s Conclusion

In my opinion, Letters & Papers,28 the contemporary chronicles29 combined with the Visitations of Berkshire and Cheshire,30 carry a great deal of weight and I’m now convinced that neither Norris nor Brereton were ever knighted. I’ll leave it up to the reader to make up their own mind. What do you think?

Update and Note from Claire

While looking for something else in “The Life of Cardinal Wolsey”31 by George Cavendish, Wolsey’s gentleman usher, I found that in “The Life of Cardinal Wolsey: Volume I” Norris was referred to as “Sir Henry Norris, Grome of the Stole” and “Sir Harry Norris”, and in the accompanying notes to George Cavendish’s “Metrical Visions” editor Samuel Weller Singer referred to “Sir Henry Norris”. Brereton, however, was described as “Master Brereton” and “William Brereton, Esq.” Cavendish knew Norris and tells of the story of Norris offering Wolsey his own chambers when the Cardinal was evicted from his own, so surely he would know of his rank.

Historian Leanda de Lisle, in her research for her book Tudor found that Sir Henry Norris held the post of Black Rod (appointed Oct 1526) which was then an office of the Order of the Garter, so he was definitely a knight. See Leanda’s comments below this post for her references for this.

Sources and Notes

Related Post

97 thoughts on “Henry Norris and William Brereton – The Knighthood Confusion by Teri Fitzgerald”
  1. This is really interesting! THank you both. I would have to agree that Brereton wasn’t knighted based on the evidence you provided. But I think Norris well may have been, especially considering the order of execution. As you say, Claire, they would have gone in order of precidence (sp?) so he must have been knighted. That, plus the other evidence you mention. It’s all so confusing, isn’t it? Thank so much for this!

    1. Thanks for your comment Anne! With their obsession with status at that time, the order of the men’s executions is puzzling.

      1. There is a mistake in the article (mine, not Claire’s!) the visitations cited were:

        William Brereton

        Visitation of Cheshire in the Year 1580, Made by Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, ed. J. P. Rylands, 1882, p. 44

        Henry Norris

        The four visitations of Berkshire made and taken by Thomas Benolte, Clarnceuc, anno 1532; by William Harvey, Clarnceux, anno 1566; by Henry Chiting, Chester herald, and John Philipott, Rouge dragon, for William Camden, Clarenceux, anno 1623; and by Elias Ashmole, Windsor herald, for Sir Edward Bysshe, Clarenceux, anno 1665-66 (1907), vol. I, p. 186

  2. Cavendish also refers to Norris as Master Norris, especially when quoting others’ dialogue, so the fact that Brereton is referred to as “Master Brereton” doesn’t preclude his also being a knight. The fact that Cavendish doesn’t introduce him as such, however, when his usual habit is to introduce someone as as “Sir John Russell” or “Sir Henry Norris” and refer subsequently to “Master Russell” or “Master Norris”, would, I think, weigh strongly against the likelihood of Brereton’s being a knight.

  3. I looked at ‘The Complete Peerage’, unlike Debrett’s a scholarly work that gives sources. It also is definite on the subject – HN was not a knight. So I’m sure you’re right and it’s just been a case of confusing him with his son and namesake (knighted 1566, raised to the peerage 1572).

    1. Was Cavendish mistaken, then? I’m not excluding the possibility, but Cavendish refers very definitely to Norris as “Sir Henry Norris” several times, and given the time he’s referring to it couldn’t be the son. Cavendish is usually pretty detail-oriented about that sort of thing as well – as when he refers to “Sir Rafe Sadler (later knight)” — he was noting that Sadler became a knight after the time period he’s speaking of.

      1. Cavendish is usually very detailed. It’s possible he was mistaken and it adds to the confusion. Claire and I were blown away that there was no solid evidence that Norris was knighted.

  4. Very interesting read and agree it is really hard to figure out,all titles must have been documented know matter what rank. The King did however have a talent for getting rid of evidence,as he did with Queen Anne. Regards Baroness

    1. On the subject of Henry VIII’s getting rid of evidence, Jasper Ridley’s biography of him states as follows (Classic Penguin, 2002, p. 344):

      “Henry found time, during this hot and grim summer [1540], to pay attention to the affairs of the Order of the Garter, which always delighted him. The names of the knights of the most noble order were impressively inscribed in the books; but a growing number of them had been executed for high treason. The officials were uncertain whether their names should be erased from the list, as they so richly deserved; for the appearance of the books would be disfigured by a large number of erasures. The matter was referred to the King. He ordered that the names should remain on the list, but that opposite each name there should be added the words: ‘Vah, proditor’ (Oh! a traitor!)”

      It appears that Henry VIII didn’t destroy evidence, but merely designated these men as traitors. Ridley’s source is “Austis, i.417”, which in the bibliography is listed as “Austis, F. (ed.) The Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter from its cover in black velvet usually called the Black Book (London, 1724).” Does anyone have access to a copy of it?

      1. Judith,Great info he must of had a very long list ,also the Black Book would be very hard to get,perhapes a copey, as I collect MidEvil history books. Best place to find a book of that nature ,antique book stores,that would be a great find.I have a store,called Blings & Things, Vintage Jewelry,antiques ,clothing,I will check this Book Store to see if he has a remake, he carries rare hard to find books ,I have got some great rare books from him. Kind Regards Baroness

        1. I googled “The Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter from its cover in black velvet usually called the Black Book” and it’s available in print on demand for about $50, or in an original on abebooks.com for $850.00. Eek!

          I’ve also found it on books.google.com to download for free:


          I tried searching for “Norris” inside this volume and volume 2 through Google Books but nothing came up. Someone else can do the hard slog.

  5. My question with regards to Sir Henry would be this…. What of his position as Black Rod in Parliament and the requirement of that position to be a Knight of the Garter? While realize that he does not appear on the roles of KOG, but it is an Act of Parliament requiring the knighthood during his tenure.

      1. Terri ,my quest Henry Norris was the lucky man who had one of the highest honor to the King wipping his but and the keeper of the lou ,he also slept with the King this is know joke.It was a very high title and somewhere I heard or read on that the King ,did in fact sign the warrant Sir Henry Norris for adultry with the Queen and that he was father to Elizabeth?I know he was cloest to the King but I do not buy that he fatherd Elizabeth. THX Baroness x

  6. Just a thought,what would a title matter where you stood in that line up,your head was comming OFF your body ,knight or not one line I would not want to stand in.

      1. Margaret,I would raise my hand and ask if I could be first,I do jest that must have been a terrible thing to veiw. THX Baroness

  7. Have you come across anything on Thomas Culpeper? I have had the same problem with him and my research work on Katherine Howard. She calls him Master Culpeper in her letter and I’m almost convinced he wasn’t a knight, but the odd doubts keep creeping in.

    1. I don’t know much about Thomas Culpepper. I didn’t think either he or his older brother Culpeper were knighted. Perhaps Claire knows more. Those niggly doubts are hard to shake! I’ll let you know if anything turns up.

  8. I have just had a look online at the Henry Norris article in the new ODNB (2004) by Eric Ives. He does not call him a knight. The quote from the Lisle letters he cites might be useful.

    “After Norris’s death a servant wrote to Lisle: ‘if your friends were now as earnest in your suits to the king as Mr. Norris was, your matters had not slept so long’ “(Lisle Letters, no. 729).

    1. “Master” or “Mr” doesn’t exclude the possibility of a knighthood — as noted above, in Cavendish’s Life Of Wolsey he tends to introduce knights by their titles (e.g. Sir William Kingston) and then afterwards refer to them as Master Kingston. Quoted dialogue also tends to have people calling knights “Master.”

    2. Marilyn,Very excellent find on what titles were given by the King,and Eric Ives would be most educated on titles and finds of rank to the King.

  9. Is it possible that IF HN was knighted, it happened not long before his arrest? Is it also possible that his attainder had the effect of posthumously stripping him of the knighthood so that there was little or no record of an honour which he had only held for a short time?

  10. This just goes to show you there is still much to be found out about these Tudor people, even though it may only come to light a little at a time. I personally have never questioned any of the titles that these Men were given, or not given as the case may be here, I think we just take it for granted it is correct. So well done Teri, that was very interesting, and thought provoking…I wonder if any more out there have been presumed to have titles?

    1. There are several sources that state this. It comes from a misquote from Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2005, p. 175 where he states that protégés of Norris and Brereton were knighted but makes no mention of the men themselves being knighted in 1533.

  11. i would think they had been knighted ,but stripped of their titles before their execution just the same as anne boleyn had been.

    1. Henry and Margaret, If that were the case, it would be odd because Weston was still referrred to as Sir Francis Weston in Letters & Papers and the chronicles after they were all found guilty.

  12. Teri

    These are from the National Archives. Several people come up for the name of Norris for the years 1500-1599, but this looks like being your man. There are a few Sir John Norris, and Norris, John, knight.

    (Their capitals)

    • Draft letters patent granting Henry Norris Lewisham and East Greenwich, Kent

    Exchequer: Treasury of the Receipt: Miscellaneous Books. RENTALS, SURVEYS AND INVENTORIES: ATTAINDER AND DISSOLUTION DOCUMENTS ETC. Draft letters patent granting Henry Norris Lewisham and East Greenwich, Kent.
    o Collection: Records of the Exchequer, and its related bodies, with those of the Office of First Fruits and Tenths, and the Court of Augmentations
    o Date range: 22 April 1531 – 21 April 1532
    o Reference:E 36/174
    o Subjects:Crown lands and estates

    • Particular of parcel of lands late of Henry Norris, attainted.

    Court of Augmentations and Predecessors and Successors: Miscellaneous Books. Proceedings in the Courts of Augmentations and General Surveyors. Particular of parcel of lands late of Henry Norris, attainted.
    o Collection: Records of the Exchequer, and its related bodies, with those of the Office of First Fruits and Tenths, and the Court of Augmentations
    o Date range: 22 April 1542 – 21 April 1543
    o Reference:E 315/517/2

    I’m not sure how these will travel, & I probably shouldn’t have lifted them from the NA website. PLEASE SEND FOOD PARCEL AND WARM CLOTHING WHEN I’M PUT IN THE TOWER.

    1. Marilyn,I did some sloothing and Norris and Weston were both Knighted,love those archives! Kind Regards Baroness

        1. What makes it tricky is that there was a Sir William Brereton alive at the time, but not our William B, and Norris’ son was a Sir Henry Norris.

        2. Here goes omg!my eyes are going bugy from being on line. FrancisWeston the day of Queen Anne,s coronation was knighted, he was born 1511 died may 17 th 1536Willam Brereton was also knighted,as the Kings groom,Henry Norris privey to the King was knighted arrested May .Also arrested Sir Richard Page ,Sir T Wyatt,Sir Thomas More. Also arrested were Queen’s,father ,mother sister brother.Sources The Dictonary of National Biograpy,Clarke Ernest,Vienna Arcives,English Arcives,The life of Sir Fancis Weston.Also some of the late Eric Ives ect: I have been all over the net sometimes they are all called Sir and in some cases some of them were not called Sir.I also went to a site on the names of knighthood 1500s it’s a list of all the kings knights.I hope I did my research well,but they were all noted to be knights of the king when they were arrested on charges.Claire I am so glad I am not you,this is hard stuff to digg up!!!! Also if you can find the death warrants on them I could not?? THX Baroness x

        3. Yes, Francis Weston was knighted in 1533 during Anne’s coronation celebrations, as were proteges of Norris and Brereton but not those two. Please do share the exact references as I cannot find any reference to them being knighted in the primary sources and I know Teri went through so many archives.

          Eric Ives refers to Weston as “sir” but not Brereton and Norris, and in his research on Brereton’s life and career, which he published, he makes no mention of Brereton being knighted. It is really difficult to research when there are people of the same name who were knighted, very confusing and so tricky!
          The primary sources from May 1536, e.g. the indictments, do not name them as “sir”. The Middlesex indictment has “Hen. Noreys, of Westminster, gentle man of the privy chamber”, “Will. Bryerton, late of Westminster, gentleman of the privy chamber” but “Sir Fras. Weston, of Westminster, gentleman of the privy chamber”. The Kent indictment states the same, only Weston is referred to as “sir”.
          It is enough to make your head spin!

        4. Claire,I also went to Grand Master of The Order of ST. John and also found Sir WM Weston? Baroness x

      1. Baroness, Thanks for your comment. You have been busy! I hope your eyes have recovered. 🙂 There is little agreement in the secondary sources with regard to whether or not Norris and Brereton were knighted. Unfortunately the Dictionary of National Biography, a secondary source, contains errors. It is better to to rely on the primary sources, official contemporary sources for the most accurate information. None of the official contemporary sources list either Brereton or Norris as knights. You might like to have a look at this listing of knights which is compiled from contemporary sources

        1. Teri,Claire,Your so right this is tricky I did go to the list of titles and did see Henry Norris name,however without Sir,if I get time today will go back online and try to find warrant of exacution for high treason and adultery with Queen Anne of England.What I think happen was that they were strip of there titles,just as Queen Katherine was demoted to dowerjese Queen,Anne of Cleves sister to Henry,ect: If this be the case why did’nt the King strip Weston from Sir??? I heard that on the warrant Norris was referred to as Sir.It is really tricky!!! I also did read online they were all refferd to as Sir,also that the word Master was common to address these men. THX Baroness X

  13. I believe their was a quarrel between Norris and brearton about king Henry favoring the Duke of Suffock (Brandon) because it seemed to them that Brandon was getting all the kings favors . I don’t remember exactly with Brerton but I know that Norris was, because he was the one trying to court one of Anne’s ladies in waiting, and I believe that someone without any titles would be allowed in or around Anne’s quarters. He had at least be knighted to go anywhere near her I would think. And him being one of the courtiers and one that was accused of sleeping with Anne would gave had to have a title somewhere. I would think hit but am sometimes wrong.

  14. I found this article really interesting. I had always assumed they were both ‘Sirs’. Shame on me for that. I had a boss once who said ‘never assume anything’. Where history is concerned he was spot on. So thanks Teri and Claire.

    1. Thanks Louise, I had assumed they were knighted too. It seems we really can’t assume anything – your boss was right!

      1. Teri Claire,Went back online today wikipedia ,Henry Norris was Sir,Francis Weston Sir,Willam Brereton Sir ,based on wikipedia also Eric Ives findings, I do believe that all 3 men were knighted.Teri I do not assume this based on what I found on the life of all 3 men and they were all exacuted the same day along with Smeaton,May 17th 1536.I tried to get to the warrants of exacution on the 3 men but unable to find the link. Kind Regards Teri/Claire Baroness x

        1. But Eric Ives only gives Weston the title “Sir”, he does not use it for Brereton or Norris. Wikipedia is, unfortunately, only as good as the people who have written the pages and many pages are inaccurate so we can’t rely on that. All mentions of the men in the sources regarding their trials etc. do not use the title “sir” in regards to Norris and Brereton.

  15. They may have been knighted,but they were found traders to the King,dead men have know titles.Thats how I heard it,great research AB Friends. Baroness

  16. I would to be inclined to think that they had titles…usually they were given them at some stage when in the Kings’ service..Hence as traitors the titles would be removed.
    From what one reads ( the accusations ) Norris was meant to have been courting Anne, so one would think that her ”friends” were knighted.. Bernard refers to him as Sir…and it seems to me unless a case of Lady Chatterley’s lover, that Ann having also spent all her life at Court, from Margaret of Austria at Malines, (the daughter of Mary whose step mother was our Elizabeth of York, an excellent Regent for a long time.)…..to the court of the Reine Claude, to being lady in waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon ….and after friendship with the heir to Northumberland,Henry Percy…….personally even if she were a bit of a drama queen calling everyone ‘love’ and ‘ darling’ hence easily misunderstood; I do not agree with Bernard that she was guilty.

    1. I think you meant that Margaret of Austria’s step-grandmother (not stepmother) was *Margaret* of York, sister of Edward IV and Richard III, and third wife of Margaret of Austria’s maternal grandfather Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Elizabeth of York was Margaret of York’s niece, queen of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. Margaret of Austria’s real stepmother was Bianca Sforza, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I’s second wife, unless you count Maximilian’s proxy marriage to Anne of Brittany in between as a marriage (it was annulled when she married Charles VIII of France and so far as I’m aware they even never met).

      According to Jasper Ridley, the knighthoods of traitors weren’t removed – they were just noted down as traitors in the register. I quoted the relevant passage from his bio of Henry VIII in a post earlier on this essay.

      1. With reference the titles of Ann’s co-accused: It would seem that Brereton did have a title.
        Taken From a who’s who of tudor women by Kathy Lynn Emerson 2008-13 Kathy Lynn Emerson

        ELIZABETH SOMERSET (1497-1545)
        Elizabeth Somerset was the daughter of Charles Somerset, 1st earl of Worcester (c.1460-April 15, 1526/7) and Elizabeth Herbert (d.1508). On November 6, 1510, she married John Savage of Old Hall, Clifton, Cheshire (1493-July 27, 1528). They had four children, Margaret, Mary, John (October 1524-December 5, 1597), and Henry. Widowed and without much money, Elizabeth married Sir William Brereton of Aldford, Cheshire (1498-x. May 17, 1536), chamberlain of Chester and courtier to Henry VIII, in 1529 or 1530. They had two sons, Henry and Thomas. Accused of having an affair with Queen Anne Boleyn in late 1533, when he was a member of her household, Brereton was arrested, tried on May 12, 1536, and beheaded five days later. He was buried in the same grave as Mark Smeaton in the churchyard of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London. His last words were reported as “I have offended God and the King; pray for me” but he maintained he was innocent of the charges against him. At the time of his arrest, his lands were valued at £1,236 12s. 8d. On June 20, 1536, his widow was granted “all the goods, chattels, rents, fees, and annuities belonging to the said William at the time of his attainder.” Although Brereton was reportedly a “seducer of women” in his younger days, Elizabeth believed him when he denied having had an affair with Anne Boleyn. In her will, she left her son a gold bracelet “the which was the last token his father sent me.” Portrait: tomb effigy, St. Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, Cheshire

        1. Do you mean it seems he had a title because this article says he did? If so, the author may just have been following historians who stated that William Brereton and Henry Norris were knighted when according to the detailed information in this article there’s no evidence that they were. She writes “Elizabeth married Sir William Brereton of Aldford, Cheshire (1498-x. May 17, 1536), chamberlain of Chester and courtier to Henry VIII, in 1529 or 1530” but that Brereton’s widow was granted “all the goods, chattels, rents, fees, and annuities belonging to the said William at the time of his attainder.” Would it have been written “the said Sir William” if he had been knighted? I don’t know. One of the experts can work that out.

          In her Who’s Who of Tudor Women Kate Emerson writes: “The information in them has been accumulated primarily from a footnote here and a paragraph there in the histories and biographies dealing with better known people and events. No complete bibliography is possible, nor was it possible to give a specific source for every single detail in every single entry. Some details had multiple sources. Some came from undocumented sources. Some I found forty years ago and neglected to make a note of my source.”

          It appears she’s not making any claim to unimpeachable accuracy. Claire and Teri – what do you think?

        2. Kate Emerson is an historical novelist and there are errors on her pages but her research is wonderful. She is not a primary source and she is not quoting from a primary source when she says “Sir”, so it definitely cannot be used to back up the idea that Brereton was knighted. It is easy to confuse Brereton with the other William Brereton who definitely was knighted.

  17. In Eric Ives’ book, “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, pages 175/6, Professor Ives states that over Friday, 30th May, 1533 and the Saturday, 31st May, 1533, Henry created 18 Knights of the Bath, including Francis Weston, the King’s former page. On the Saturday, ol’Henry dubbed 50 Knights Bachelor. Included in this list, Henry Norris and William Brereton.

    1. Ives actually says “we can pick out the names of protégés of such Boleyn supporters as Cromwell, Henry Norris, William Brereton and the earl of Derby”, protégés not they themselves. None of those men were on the list.

      1. Claire,Why would the King Knight Weston and not Norris or Brereton,I went to knights of the bath to,some sources say they were and others say not??Why would they print those men as Sir??I then went to list of knight and there was Sir Francis Weston,and just Henry Norris ,Willam Brereton could they have been stripped of the title,why was Weston still titled Sir??Im just trying to make some sence out of what the King at that time was doing??Can we find the warrants of exacution anywhere??I do allways keep a open mind and just as you trying to find out the truth.I also went to arrest warrants may 1536 could not find anything on that subject.When I went to the source The Life of Sir Francis Weston born 1511? d May 17th 1536 did they not keep birth and death certs.? THx Baroness x

        1. The list of the Knights of the Bath does not have Brereton and Norris, only Weston and other Boleyn supporters or friends of them. “Why would the King Knight Weston and not Norris or Brereton?” is exactly what Teri and I have been grappling with and we just don’t know. Both men were friends of the King and Anne and Norris was very close to the King, being his Groom of the Stool. However, it seems strange for the indictments and other sources to name Weston as “Sir Francis Weston” and George as “Lord Rochford” but to refer to Norris and Brereton only by their names and no titles if they were knights. I have never seen their warrants, only references to the King signing them, but we have the indictments and other records of the events of 1536, including letters to and from Cromwell, the King and Kingston, and nowhere are they referred to as “sir”. Very strange.

        2. Re the registration of births and deaths etc. It was not until the 1530s, I think, that baptisms, marriages and funerals had to be recorded in a parish register and even then many went unrecorded. This is why we don’t know the birthdates of many prominent Tudors, e.g. Anne Boleyn herself.

  18. Claire,Back online now finding Sir Henry Norreys,knight born 1491 d 17th of May Tower of London Middlesex,England. source Royal Berkshire History Website,source Tudorplace.com,now I see his name comming up Norreys what do you make of that??

    1. Unfortunately TudorPlace has many errors too and it isn’t a primary source. As Teri said in her article, some historians and authors (including me!) have assumed they were knighted or have repeated what was written by other authors and so these assumptions have been popularised online.
      In my opinion, the fact that Ives, who spent decades researching Anne Boleyn and also Brereton, does not refer to them as “sir” and only talks about Weston being knighted, is very telling.

      1. Claire,I think we will never know for sure who had titles and who’s titles were taken away,Henry V111 could make or brake who ever he wanted!!! THX Baroness

    2. Hi Baroness,
      There was no standardized spelling in Tudor times so you get Norris spelled various ways, e.g. “Norreys”, Cromwell spelled “Crumwell”, Brereton “Bryerton” and Boleyn as Buleyn, Bolen, Bulleyne, Boleyne, Bolleyne, Boyleyn, Bowleyne, Bulloigne, and Bullen.

  19. Hmm….been bit rushed these last couple of weeks -horses and winter! – but, to throw anothet angle out there…. Only knights competed in the joust. So, IF William Brereton and/or Henry Norris were competitors, it suggests that at some point along the way, they were indeed knighted.

    My task over the next eon is to track this information down.

    1. Men who weren’t knighted were able to compete in the jousts. e.g. Richard and Gregory Cromwell competed in the May Day jousts of 1540 at Westminster. Richard was knighted on the second day of the jousts. Gregory wasn’t knighted until 1547.

      1. Since Thomas Cromwell HAD been knighted at some point before 19th March, 1533 (letters and papers march, 1533) Sir Thomas Cromwell knight councillor to the King’s Grace, and Master of Jewels.

        On 25th March, 1533, Sir R Neville writes to Cromwell, thanking him for “the parsonage of Pettonberie”. He goes on to say, “I am told the King has made you a knight”. (Letters and papers march, 1533).

        That’s why Richard and Gregory Cromwell were trained, armoured and competing in the tourney.

        1. Thomas Cromwell was not knighted in 1533. Sir E. Neville must have been misinformed. Perhaps Cromwell had been tipped to be knighted that year but it didn’t happen. He was made knight of the Garter in July 1537 (LP xii. Pt 2. 581).


          My point was that men who were not knighted competed in the tournament. Wriotheley’s Chronicle lists them:


        2. Yes the LP reference says:
          “Notice of the installation of Cromwell as knight of the Garter at Windsor, Sunday, 26 Aug. 1537. Present, the Marquis of Exeter as the King’s deputy, the earls of Sussex and Rutland, with the lord Admiral and Sir Nich. Carew.”

          Men who competed in jousts were seen as chivalric “knights” but did not actually have to be officially knighted to take part.

        3. Sir E. Neville made a mistake? Perhaps Tomaso had been “tipped to be…”?

          Being made a Knight of the Garter is an entry into the highest Order of Knighthood there is….for knights by knights.

          From Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, number 195, Thomas Cromwell.

          “After this, AD1531, Sir Thomas Cromwell, growing in great favour with the king, was made knight, and master of the king’s jewel-house, and shortly after, was admitted into the king’s council, which was about the coming in of Queen Anne Bullen. Furthermore, within 3 years after the same, AD1534, he was made master of the rolls, Dr Taylor being discharged.

          “Thus, Cromwell, springing up in favour and honour, after this, in the year 1537, a little before the birth of king Edward, was made Knight of the Garter and not long after was advanced to the Earldom of Essex, and made Great Chambermaid of England, over and besides all which honours, he was constituted

        4. I’ve looked into the reference you gave re Sir Edward Neville’s letter and done some digging. There is absolutely no evidence in the primary sources that Thomas Cromwell was knighted in 1533. Don’t forget that Foxe was writing later and looking back on events. He wasn’t saying that Cromwell was a knight in 1531. Cromwell was however, knighted on 18 July,1536 and 26 August 1537. The first knighthood is often overlooked because his knighthoods occurred so close together.

          Here are a couple of primary sources that confirm the two knighthoods for Thomas Cromwell. I hope they’ll be of some use to you.


          Wriothesley’s Chronicle, pp. 52, 65



          Holinshed, pp. 798, 804

          Two letters addressed to Cromwell after his knighthood in1536:

          L&P, vol. 11, 1477, Miscellaneous, 1936

          L&P, vol. 11, 331, 19 August, 1536

        5. Apologies to Tomaso…he was, of course, Great Chamberlain of England, the rest of the quoted text follows:-

          “…….over and besides all which honours he was constituted Vicegerent to the king, representing his person…..”.

          John Foxe, Elizabeth’s historian and “martyrologist”.

          The assumption of 1533 was mine own. So 1531 to Foxe, no month but certainly suggests Sir E Neville was not misinformed.

          The order of the garter is limited to 26 members, including the Sovereign, and then senior men in the realm would be installed as KG.

          Onyhoo, horses t bed down!

  20. As an aside, should Brereton and Norris have been dubbed Knights of the Sword or Knights Bachelor, they would have had to pay a fee. Upon teceipt of that fee, the Knight’s name would be recorded. No fee, no record of dubbing.

    In short, we will never know for certain…..unless there be family papers lurking in some caskets, in some boxes, in some attics……

  21. Hello! I As I am about to publish a book on the Tudor family story (1437-1603) I thought I had better check this out! Sir Henry Norris held the post of Black Rod (appointed Oct 1526) which was then an office of the Order of the Garter – so he was a knight

    1. Do you have a reference as I’m struggling to find one? I know that Teri could only find mention of John Norris as Black Rod. Thanks!

      1. I’ve just found a list of Gentleman Ushers of the Black Rod on the website of Parliament – http://www.portcullis.parliament.uk/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Persons&dsqPos=0&dsqSearch=Code=='469‘ and Henry Norris is on that.

        Norris is also mentioned as being made Black Rod on 23rd October 1526 in Burke’s A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, succeeding Sir William Compton.

  22. Dear Claire, The most noble Order of the Garter, 650 years by Peter J. Begent and Hubert Chesshyre, published in 1999 by Spink & Son.

    From p.89, appendix to chapter 4 (Statutes and records), Illustrations in the black book: King Henry VIII and the Knights of the Garter:
    “24. Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.
    Henry Norris. Appointed 23 Oct. 1526.
    Friend of Henry VIII, receiving many grants and offices.
    Took part in the Greenwich tournament, after which he was arrested on suspicion of an intrigue with Anne Boleyn.
    Probably innocent, but found guilty and executed 17 May 1536.”

    From p.133:
    “Following [Sir William] Compton’s death [in 1528] the keepership of the Great Park passed to Sir William Fitzwilliam and Sir Anthony Brown, but that of the Little Park to his successor as Black Rod, Sir Henry Norris.”
    [the source is listed as Letters and papers foreign and domestic in the reign of Henry VIII, edited by J. Gairdner, X 878(ii)]

    Henry Norris does not appear in the chronological list of Companions of the Order in Appendix A.

  23. The L&P ref iclears this up – Henry Norrish was being paid 18l 5 s for his role as Black Rod. Delighted to take part is this,

      1. Here’s the reference from LP x.878:
        “Offices:—Of the “Exchequireship” to the Body, 33l. 6s. 8d.; mastership of the Hart hounds, 18l. 5s.; Black Rod, 18l. 5s” under “Lands, &c. of Henry Norres, Esquire to the Body.”

  24. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Norris,_1st_Baron_Norreys#mediaviewer/File:Henry_Norris_1st_Baron_Norris_of_Rycote.jpg

    Take a look at the bottom right side.
    Says ….
    1672.. 70 + years after Baron Henry died!!
    That he was the son of SIR Henry Norreys!!
    …Always queried that he was his son myself… different ‘Arms’..
    50 in 1585 = 1535 or died 1601 aged 76.

    There is also another Henry Norreys c1481 married to Clemence Harrington. From Speke Hall Lancs.

    1. Wikipedia is not a reliable source, let alone a primary source. In this case it is true that ‘Sir’ Henry Norris/Norreys was the father of the 1st Lord Norris/Norreys (cr.1572).
      It is also that two different coats of arms were used by the family at that time, one being really the arms of Ravenscroft, another Lancashire family.
      Speke, now in Liverpool, was the home of the senior branch of the family, even by Tudor times quite distantly related.

  25. Does the office of Black Rod carry an automatic knighthood with it? I don’t think it does/did and it certainly doesn’t make you a member of the Order of the Garter, just an officer of it.

  26. In the will of Richard Sacheverell Knight (written on 29 March 1534 and proved in the PCC on 26 June 1534), Sir Richard appoints the following officials:

    Executors – Rauf Sacheverell, George Vyncent and George Vyllers.

    Supervisors – Henry Norice Esquier and Doctour Chamber Deane of saint Stevyns.

    Sir Richard also mentions “the two gilt standing Cupps that I had of the gyft[es] of our sov[er]aigne Lorde the king and the quenys grace for my newyers gift[es] at newyers tyde last past”.

    The will was apparently written (“By me”) by “John Chamb[e]r preest’. So Sir Richard was current on affairs at Court when he made his will.

    This information is taken from the register copy of the will.

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