This is a history of the Norris family living in Herne Bay, Kent, England, in the Nineteenth & Twentieth Century. Previously they were in Elmsted (Elmstead) and Waltham.
Variations of the Norris spelling seem to include Norrys, Norries, Noris, Norreys, Noreis, Noriss, Norrish, Norie, Norrie, Nurse and Norice.
The name of Norris is derived from several sources.
From Old French, nor(r)eis meaning someone who has migrated from the north firther north in England, or from Scotland or Scandinavia).
Alternatively from Old french Nurice or Nurice. an occupational name for a nurse or foster mother.
From Middle English, norđ + hus (north house), literally meaning the man who lived in the house at the north end of the settlement. The đ symbol is pronounced like a 'th' sound, hence norđ or norđer is equivalent to north and norther, or a man from the north.
The roots of Norris's in Britain are obscure. The Norris's of Speke Hall in Lancashire are thought to pre-date the Norman Invasion, and possibly have Saxon roots. Other researchers have suggested Nordic roots, though this may be through the Viking settlements in Normandy, and thus originating from the Norman occupation after 1066.
There are clusters of Norris families in Kent, the West Country, the Welsh borders, Lancashire, the Isle of Man (again Viking) and Norfolk. While there is plenty of evidence for Norris's in medieval times, I cannot find a strong link to my own family earlier than 1650.
The map shows the distribution of the name Norris in 1881, white being none and dark blue meaning most, taken from the National Trust website.
Undoubtedly the English Civil War produced much in the way of resettlement. As in modern civil wars, old scores could be settled on the pretext of supposed treason, and many were disinherited or lost their property. Records of births, marriages and deaths were largely kept in churches, and much was destroyed by Cromwell's troops.
There are many famous holders of the name in history, one executed as Anne Boleyn's supposed lover, another sailing with Sir Francis Drake to raid Spain and Portugal in 1589. Perhaps this web site will encourage others to identify links to earlier times.
The research continues: if you feel you can add to this genealogy, please e-mail so that we can start a dialogue.