This collection contains correspondence and business papers of the firm of John Norton and Sons, merchants, of London and Virginia, including letters, bills, accounts, receipts, and bills of lading.

ohn Norton (1719–1777) began his mercantile career in Yorktown, representing the firm of Flowerdewe and Norton. He married Courtenay Walker (d. 1780) in 1743, and returned to London in 1764. His son, John Hatley Norton (1745–1797), took over in Yorktown from 1766–1798.

The majority of the letters in this collection were written to John Norton or his son, John Hatley Norton. They deal primarily with the sale of tobacco and the ordering of goods; however, because they cover the period of disturbances that culminated in the American Revolution, they provide insight on the strained circumstances of the situation, and mention rumors of independence at a very early date. The papers contain comments on such affairs as the Stamp Act, the Boston Port Bill, political unrest in England, Parliament’s relations with the colonies, and the nonimportation agreements. Included are an extensive list of articles obtained for Lord Dunmore’s use at the Governor’s Palace, elaborately engraved billheads, and numerous letters and invoices from Williamsburg shopkeepers and residents.

The collection also contains letters and papers concerning political, economic, and social affairs in the colony from more than three hundred Virginians, including John Baylor, (Gov.) Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, Carter Braxton, Nathaniel Burwell, John Clayton, James Craig, Thomas Everard, Capt. William Goosley, Francis Jerdone, Warner Lewis, Peter Lyons, James Maury, Thomas Nelson, William Nelson, Robert Carter Nicholas, John Page, Mann Page, Edmund Randolph, John Randolph, Peyton Randolph, Augustine Smith, and George Wythe.

Approximately one-third of the papers have been published: Frances Norton Mason, ed., John Norton and Sons, Merchants of London and Virginia. Richmond, 1937.

See also John Norton and Sons Papers: Addition 1 (MS 2011.17).

Members of the Norton family: John Norton m. 1690 Anne Hatley John Norton (1719–1777) m. 1744 Courtenay Walker (d. 1780) John Hatley Norton (1745–1797) m. (1) Sarah Nicholas m. (2) Catherine Bush George Flowedewe (b. 1751) m. Sarah Thurston Harry (1754–1780) Frances (1759–) m. J. Baylor Daniel (b. 1765)

Source Notes

In addition to the John Norton and Sons Papers owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Library Special Collections contain several other primary sources relating to the Norton family. In other manuscript collections in Library Special Collections the Norton name appears in correspondence and accounts from the following collections: the Baylor Family Papers (MS 1959.1), the Burwell papers (MS 1964.4), the Dr. James Carter Invoice Book (MS 1939.8), the Richard Corbin papers (MS 1971.5), the Francis Jerdone Account and Cargo Waste Books (MS 29.4), the William Lightfoot Papers (MS 1952.4), and manuscript materials in Virginia Almanacks used by Francis Jerdone (1757, 1762) and John Page (1771).

In addition to the John Norton and Sons Papers owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Library Special Collections contain several other primary sources relating to the Norton family. In other manuscript collections in Library Special Collections the Norton name appears in correspondence and accounts from the following collections: the Baylor Family Papers (MS 1959.1), the Burwell papers (MS 1964.4), the Dr. James Carter Invoice Book (MS 1939.8), the Richard Corbin papers (MS 1971.5), the Francis Jerdone Account and Cargo Waste Books (MS 29.4), the William Lightfoot Papers (MS 1952.4), and manuscript materials in Virginia Almanacks used by Francis Jerdone (1757, 1762) and John Page (1771).

Researchers may also locate photocopied materials relating to the Nortons in the Baylor Family papers (PH/04), the John Baylor Letterbook (PH/02 19), the College of William and Mary Ledger Books, 1763–1777 (PH/02 49–50), and a letter from Peyton Randolph to John Norton (PH/00 23 Sep 1777).

Researchers may also locate photocopied materials relating to the Nortons in the Baylor Family papers (PH/04), the John Baylor Letterbook (PH/02 19), the College of William and Mary Ledger Books, 1763–1777 (PH/02 49–50), and a letter from Peyton Randolph to John Norton (PH/00 23 Sep 1777).

The entire collection is available on microfilm, in addition to several additional collections of Norton-related papers. Related microfilm includes: a John Norton and Sons Bankers book (1764–1784) from the original in the Library of Congress (M-57.12); a John Norton and Sons ledger (1768–178) at the Virginia State Library (M-6); papers concerning the Norton family in the Brock Collection at the Huntington Library (M-42–43); papers concerning the Norton family in the George Arents Tobacco Collection (1730–1796) at the New York Public Library (M-1204); a tobacco book (1774–1775) from the Virginia State Library (M-1000); and the Bordly Letterbooks from the Maryland Historical Society (M-76).