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Charles Norris

Birthplace: London, England (United Kingdom)
Death: October 16, 1858 (79)
Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales (United Kingdom)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Norris and Deborah Busby
Husband of Sarah Norris
Father of Charles Norris; Sarah Norris; Elizabeth Norris; Louisa Norris; Mary Norris and 6 others
Brother of Jane Norris; John Norris; Elizabeth Bevan and John William Norris

Managed by: Jenna Gray
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Charles Norris


Charles Norris (1779-1858) settled in Tenby in 1805. He produced topographical books illustrated with his drawings and etchings, notably Etchings of Tenby 1812. His numerous drawings are an important record of the medieval buildings of Pembrokeshire - National Museum of Wales.

Norris studied at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 26th October 1797. In 1800, he moved to Milford in Wales, and by 1810 had moved further down the coast to Tenby. It was here that he began to work on his ambitious work entitled 'The Architectural Antiquities of Wales'. In 1812 he also published 'Etchings of Tenby', which contained forty engravings both drawn and etched by the artist himself.

On 22nd December 1810 Joseph Farington recorded in his diary that a Miss Byrne: "spoke of a Young Man, Mr. Norris, who resides at Tenby in South Wales. He has devoted much time to making sketches from nature particularly the remains of Abbeys, Castles, &c. She said His outlines are very neatly executed, but that He has no knowledge of light & shade." [Farington, Diary, 10.3830]

Ursula Norris (Mrs. Ashley Larmuth), researched and recorded a family history and biography for her great great grandfather, Charles Norris, which was published in 1966. The record is held in the National Library of Wales, along with some records of his paintings and also some artistic work by Charles's brother, John Norris. See the references below for the link. [1]

As the second son, Charles didn't inherit the Norris family wealth, although Ursula reports that his father generous. Charles carved out a career for himself living in a quiet country village. Mr. Leach, the late Curator of Tenby Museum, wrote a book on Charles Norris (incorrect mother, incorrect cause of death; son Robert).

Charles married Sarah Saunders and they had four sons, seven daughters and two still-born children.

Marriage at the Anglican Church of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, on 25 September 1800

During the years of Charles' residence in Tenby, seven children were born and three died.

The family was devastated by illness with most of his large brood dying before his own death. He married twice.

  1. Charles (b. Norwich 1801, died aged 24 in Madeira, 1825)
  2. Sarah (b. Islington, christened Frimley)
  3. Elizabeth (b. Bristol 1804, died Waterwynch, 1820, aged 16)
  4. Richard, died, aged 80 in 1894, m. Charlotte Parsell
  5. Robert, died in Bristol, aged 34, m.Catherine
  6. Emma, died aged 82 in 1904, Oxford, m. Rev. Stewart Williamson

John, Louisa, Lucy

Their first child, young Charles, was born in Norwich in 1801, and christened in Cromer. The second baby, Sarah, was born in Islington (where Sarah's father was by then living) and baptised at Frimley. What took them to Bristol, no-one knows, but the third baby, Elizabeth, was born there in 1804. Here, evidently, Charles felt the lure of the sea. There is no record of his having had sailing experience. But he bought a yacht, the 'Nautilus' in 1804, and in the following year he packed wife, three babies and all their belongings into her, and the family sailed for Pembrokeshire.

Six children died before their mother did. Only Richard and Emma survived their father, each inherited 13,000 in settlement from John's will.

Richard lived to the age of 80, dying in 1894. He married a Tenby girl, Charlotte Parsell. Their only daughter was Sarah who married Dr Taylor and lived in Saundersfoot.

Robert died at Clifton in 1850, Emma stayed on with his wife Catherine.

Catherine could not bear "the old house" and her father took a house for her at Clifton.
Town Walls and Castle of Pembroke by Charles Norris,1817 - Pembroke and Monkton Local History Society
Pembroke Castle and part of town by Charles Norris 1817 - Pembroke and Monkon History

Second family

Married his housekeeper Elizabeth Harris (date unknown)

  1. Alfred b. 1833 - became a Nonconformist minister.
  2. Caroline b. 1834
  3. Henry b. 1841 - died in infancy.

Granddaughter: Sarah Taylor, d, 1927
Cousin: Walter Savage Landor

Visit Charles Norris's home in Tenby; Waterwynch House

Hawley House, Hampshire

"It is well-known locally that Hawley House was one of the homes of the two John Norris. Father and son were successive owners of both Hughenden (before Benjamin Disraeli), and of Hawley House."

"The elder John Norris has been described as the "richest commoner in England" (along with at least a dozen other claimants to this title). He appears to have kept a different mistress in each house. Henrietta Mason was established at Hawley House and Deborah Busby at Hughenden. In his will Norris acknowledged that Deborah's eldest illegitimate son was his rightful heir. The latter had been known as John Williams, but as John Norris the younger he lived at Hawley House with his young wife Louisa." (P. J. Tipton, 2014) [2]


  1. Family History of the Norris family from Hughenden, by Ursula Norris, (1966): Norris, Ursula (1966). "Charles Norris, Tenby Artist, and his Family". Cylchgrawn Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (The National Library of Wales Journal). 14 (4): 489–496. Dictionary of Welsh Biography - National Library of Wales.
  2. . P J Tipton - Yateley Local Historian
    History of Hawley Park & Hawley House
    Twitter: @yateley_history
  3. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 41 Norris, Charles by Daniel Lleufer Thomas

Hart District Council Conservation Area Appraisal

A. L. Leach , Charles Norris, 1779-1858, of Tenby and Waterwynch, topographical artist (Denbigh, 1949) (Tenby, 1949 ), which has a list of his pictures. There are several examples of his work in the N.L.W


It's interesting to note the family's connection with Clifton, Bristol. Robert Gray held the office of Bishop of Bristol between 1827 and 1834. All of John II's seven daughters married well, and it seems John took an active interest in these arrangements. Youngest daughter Agnes married one of the sons of Bishop Gray. On reading the letters and diaries of Bishop Gray's 12th son, another Bishop Robert Gray, it is noted that the Norris and Gray families were great friends and spent time together [3]. Young Robert was seriously tempted by a position at Hughenden as vicar, before he embarked on pioneering adventures in South Africa. Bishop Gray (Snr) died at his home in Clifton in 1834. - Jenna Gray

3. Charles N. Gray: Life of Robert Gray : Bishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of Africa. Full copy available here

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Charles Norris's Timeline

August 23, 1779
London, England (United Kingdom)
September 16, 1779
Saint Mary-St Marylebone Road, St Marylebone, London, England (United Kingdom)
Norwich, Norfolk , England (United Kingdom)
Islington, London, England (United Kingdom)
Clifton, Bristol, England (United Kingdom)
Waterwynch, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales (United Kingdom)
Waterwynch, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales (United Kingdom)