John Norton, Clergyman

"John Norton, clergyman, was born in Starford, Hertfordshire, England, May 6, 1606. He attended Cambridge University; took orders in the Church of England, and became a curate in Starford.

He joined the Puritans and came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1635, where he engaged in preaching. He moved to Boston in 1636, and became pastor of the Church at Ipswich during the same year. He took part in forming the "Cambridge Platform" in 1648; became colleague of the Reverend John Wilson, first minister of the First Church at Boston in 1652, and in 1562 he returned to England with Governor Bradstreet as agent to present to the king a petition in be half of the New England colonies.

He was assured of the confirmation of the charter of the colony by Charles II, but the conditions attached were regarded by the colonists as arbitrary, and the agents were accused of having laid the foundation of ruin of the liberties of the colonists. Norton's popularity greatly decreased and the charge was believed to have hastened his death.

The following estimate of Mr. Norton s work appears in Dr. Thomas Fuller's "Church History of Britain," Volume II, Section 51: "Of all the authors I have perused concerning the opinions of these dissenting brethren, none to me was more informative than Mr. John Norton (one of no less learning than modesty), minister in New England, in his answer to Apollonius." He composed the first Latin book in the colonies, Responsio ad Totum Quaestionum Syllogen a Guilielmo Apollonio Propositam ad Componendas Anglia (London, 1648), and he was also the author of A Discussion on the Sufferings of Christ (1653); The Orthodox Evangelist (1654); Election Sermon (1657); Life of Rev. John Cotton (1658); The Heart of New England Rent by the Blasphemies of the Present Generation (1660), a catechism, and some writings in an unfinished state, including Body of Divinity. Norton died in Boston, Massachusetts, April 5, 1663.


— Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 1900 (edited)

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