Daniel Norton, son of John Norton and Rebecca Coxe, and nephew of Dr Daniel Coxe, was born about November 1678 in London. In 1705 he was a witness to his grandmother Susanna Coxe's will. He probably joined his father in business at an early age, and when his father retired and moved to Tottenham - around 1710 - Daniel took over both the haberdashery business and the Cateaton Street house.

On 23 December 1708, in Hunton, near Maidstone, Kent, he married Jane Hatley, the daughter of Henry Hatley and his first wife Hester, formerly Whitaker. Jane was born in Maidstone about June 1682. Daniel and Jane had four children : Rebecca (born in 1709), Susanna (1712), John (1717) and Henry (1718), named respectively after Daniel's mother, Jane's stepmother (her mother Hester had died shortly after Jane's birth), Daniel's father and Jane's father.

Daniel was an executor, together with his brother James, of their father's will, written in January 1715/6. One of the trustees responsible for their younger sisters' marriage portions was Daniel's brother-in-law George Hatley, a merchant salter of London, who was to play an important role in the Norton family's lives. Daniel's two daughters were bequeathed £100 each and the furniture in the London house, and Daniel himself was the principal beneficiary.

John Norton died in the autumn of 1716. At this time the Cateaton Street house was occupied by Daniel and Jane, their two daughters, and several of Daniel's siblings. John's grandson John Norton was born on 13 February 1716/7, and his brother Henry around December of the following year.

Nothing more is known of the Nortons until the 1730s, when the younger John Norton joined his uncle George Hatley's business. George had married a widow, Mary Flowerdewe (née Scott) and was now in partnership with his stepson, Thomas Flowerdewe, importing tobacco from the Virginia colony on a consignment basis. In effect this meant that the London merchant acted as an agent for Virginia planters, taking delivery of tobacco, warehousing and selling it, and supplying the planters with all manner of goods and services, paid for by the proceeds of tobacco sales, on returning vessels. When John Norton first joined the company, this method of trade was beginning to lose favour, some planters preferring to sell their tobacco in Virginia to the buyers' representatives and receive in exchange either cash or credit which could be used in Virginia. To ensure the quality of the tobacco consignments, and to build and maintain business relationships with the planters, an agent was required on the spot, and towards the end of the 1730s John Norton, now a junior partner in the firm of Hatley and Flowerdewe, was sent to Virginia. By this time Daniel Norton, John's father, was probably dead - there is no record of his death or of a will.

George Hatley died in the spring of 1742, and the firm was renamed Flowerdewe and Norton, with Thomas Flowerdewe running the London office and John Norton, now a full partner, remaining in Virginia. In his will, made two years before he died, George asked to buried in the family vault at Hunton. His London house at Tower Hill was to be sold, but his country house at Putney he gave to his widowed sister Jane Norton for her lifetime, and afterwards to her four children. Jane was the principal beneficiary, but all the Norton children received substantial cash legacies, as did George's nephew James and niece Susanna, recently married to Sheppard Frere (they were the children of his half-brother John Hatley), and his stepson Thomas Flowerdewe.

In Yorktown, Virginia on 10 December 1743 John Norton married Courtenay Walker, thereby forging a link with a wide network of prosperous Virginia families, with most of whom the Nortons already had a commercial relationship. Courtenay's younger sister Frances Walker married Colonel John Baylor, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, on 2 January 1744. Her aunt Margaret (née Walker) was married to the wealthy landowner Thomas Wythe. Courtenay's mother, Courtenay Tucker, was the daughter of Robert Tucker, a merchant of Barbados who had settled in Virginia. After his death in 1722, her mother Frances (née Courtenay) had married Thomas Nelson, whose son William (Courtenay Walker's step-uncle) had also, in 1743, recently been elected to the House of Burgesses. The connections through these families - the Walkers, Tuckers, Nelsons, Baylors and Wythes - gave the young John Norton entrée into a world where family and commercial ties were inextricably entangled. Moreover, his marriage to Courtenay Walker, besides cementing his business relationships, made it inevitable that John Norton would become involved in Virginian society and politics to the extent that he would consider himself a Virginian for the rest of his life.

John and Courtenay's first child, John Hatley Norton (thereafter known as Hatley) was born in Yorktown on 4 September 1745. In 1749 John Norton was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses as a representative for York County, joining several of his wife's relatives and many of his firm's customers, and thereby consolidating his standing in the colony. Another son, George, was born about 1750 but died in infancy ; the next child was named after him, George Flowerdewe Norton, born in Yorktown on 20 May 1751. A fourth son, Daniel, was born and died around 1752, and a fifth, Henry, on 18 February 1754 - all in Yorktown (the last perhaps named after John's brother, who probably died in the early 1750s). During this period, John was again elected to the House of Burgesses over four consecutive sessions, from 1752 to 1755.

In 1756, at St Mary's Church in Putney, John's sister Rebecca, at the age of 46, married the Reverend John Fludger. At about this time Courtenay gave birth to a sixth child, unnamed and probably stillborn. In 1757 their oldest son Hatley was sent to London to learn the business under the supervision of Thomas Flowerdewe's brother George.

The Nortons' only surviving daughter, Frances, was born in Yorktown on 5 December 1759, the last of their children to be born in Virginia. Thomas Flowerdewe died in 1760, and the firm became John Norton, Merchant. The London office at this time was in the hands of various Flowerdewe and Hatley relatives, as well as James Withers, who had joined the firm around 1750, and young Hatley Norton. In 1761 John Norton was appointed a Justice of the Peace for York County, and sent his son George to London to be educated. The rest of the family followed in the summer of 1764. They moved into 8 Goulds Square, in the area known as Crutched Friars. John's mother Jane and unmarried sister Susanna were living in George Hatley's old house in Putney, and the younger Nortons spent much of their time there. They shared the London house with a John Williamson ; the family consisted of John and Courtenay, their sons Hatley, George, Henry (known as Harry, a sickly child who suffered fits) and Frances (known as Fanny). On 25 January 1765 their last child, another Daniel, was born in London.

At St Mary's, Putney, on 14 March 1765, Susanna Norton, now 53, married the widower Michael Turner, a London dry goods merchant who helped fill many of John Norton's Virginia orders. In the summer of the following year the whole family came down with smallpox. Harry and his mother Courtenay were the worst affected, but by November everyone had recovered.

Jane Norton died in December 1766 in Putney, aged 84. In her will, written in 1758, when John was still in Virginia and Susanna unmarried, she named the latter her sole executrix. Apart from a few small bequests of furniture and money, she left everything to her three surviving children ; she asked to be buried in the Hatley vault at Hunton "in as private a manner as possible"1. In a codicil added after Thomas Flowerdewe's death she gave a painting entitled "The Seven Works of Charity", which had been intended for Flowerdewe as a token of friendship, to her son John.

The firm needed a new agent in Virginia, and Hatley Norton sailed in the
Rachel and Mary in April 1767. The day after he left London for Ramsgate, his father wrote2 to say that he had taken with him the key to John's desk in the counting house, which had had to be broken open. In another letter, in May, John mentioned social life in Goulds Square. His cousin Jack Frere was a regular visitor, together with Jack's sister Elinor, now Mrs Fenn, the Fludgers and the Turners. Jack had fallen in love with Jane Hookham, the daughter of one of John Norton's business contacts in London, but when he encountered his future father-in-law in Goulds Square he was "muted to sudden respect"3.

Once arrived in Virginia, Hatley spent his time travelling between the firm's customers, most of whom were related to his mother. For several years he suffered the usual bouts of ill-health which were endemic to Virginia's climate ; to avoid this, he tried to spend the winters in Yorktown and the summers further north in Fredericksburg or Winchester, but there are regular reports in his and others' letters of his fluctuating health.

In London, the Nortons spent their summers in Putney, close to George Hatley's old home, which was now occupied by the Fludgers. In 1768 they moved to a larger house in Goulds Square, and Hatley's aunt Susanna Turner wrote to him in March that she was afraid his parents would sell their house in Putney, which was shut up during the winter. His brother Harry was "a living sorrow, without a humane prospect of his ever being better" ; his sister Fanny was now at Mrs Thomasett's boarding school in Great Marlborough Street. Michael Turner was well enough again, after a serious illness, to ride his pony, and the Fludgers were busy gardening at "your Grand Mothers Old Castle", but Rebecca's eyesight now prevented her writing letters. Jack Frere was expected to marry Jane Hookham in May. Jack himself wrote to Hatley a few days later to say that he had taken a house in Bedford Row which he was painting and furnishing, hoping very soon to "put the last Piece of Furniture into it - a Wife" (the Freres eventually married in July). Hatley's seventeen-year-old cousin John Baylor (Frances Walker's son) was now in England to further his education, which Jack felt had been "totally deficient", although he described him as "modest and tractable". He congratulated Hatley on becoming his father's partner - although this would not be made official until September, as John Norton himself made clear in a letter written in April.

Hatley was undecided whether to remain in Virginia, and his father left the decision to him, simply saying that another year's residence would consolidate his business connections. Martha Goosley, who lived in a Yorktown house rented from the Nortons and whose sons William and George were captains of the Nortons' merchant ships, wrote to John Norton in August that Hatley was "so much hurried and fatigued that he Scarcely takes time to eat or Sleep".

Colonial discontent with Britain's taxation and trade measures was beginning to cause unrest at home and abroad, and John Norton's customers kept him fully abreast of the state of political feeling in Virginia. Like John himself, they considered themselves British, and believed and hoped that America's trade interests could be protected by a change of parliament and constitutional amendments. The riots in Boston and London in 1768 were deplored by most, but at the same time Norton's correspondents believed strongly that the attempt to stifle America's trade was unconstitutional and ill-judged. Much hope rested on the appointment of Norborne Berkeley, Lord Botetourt, the new Governor of Virginia, who took up his post in November.

Shortly after Hatley became his father's partner (when the company became John Norton and Son), the London office acquired a new trainee : Billy Reynolds of Yorktown, recently orphaned, whose parents had been friends of Courtenay Norton, was sent by his appointed guardians to work in John Norton's counting house.

Hatley was still equivocal about remaining in Virginia, but in early 1769 he appears to have fallen in love with Sally Nicholas, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Virginia's Treasurer, Robert Carter Nicholas. Nicholas had been appointed Treasurer at the end of 1766, and was already a customer of Norton's. In January 1769 he asked John Norton to open a "distinct Account" for the Treasurer's office. A month later he wrote "I find it a vast Advantage to my Credit to have such a Friend, on whom I can have recourse ; it enables me effectually to support the Credit of my Office in these Times of Difficulty". As Sally's father, Robert Nicholas appears to have restrained himself from commenting on their children's on-off love affair ; his relationship with Hatley's father was already firmly established (they had almost certainly been close friends during John's stay in Virginia) and his letters to John Norton are full of unguarded comments on the political situation which imply a complete trust between the two men which probably extended on Robert Nicholas's part to giving Hatley Norton the benefit of any doubt. Another of Norton's correspondents, John Page, wrote in May about Lord Hillsborough's decision to send troops to Boston. The Virginia House of Burgesses had expressed their sympathy with the Bostonians, which caused Lord Botetourt to dissolve the Assembly. Botetourt's popularity was undimmed : Page wrote, "This has not lessen'd him in their Esteem, for they suppose he was obliged to do so ; he is universally esteemed here, for his great Assiduity in his Office, Condescension, good Nature & true Politeness." At the same time, Robert Nicholas wrote to Norton about the Assembly's Association to limit British trade, "It grieves me to think that we should be obliged to do any Thing, that may look like distressing our Fellow Subjects ... There is no inconvenience or hardship, but what I will submit to rather than desert the Cause, the essential interests of my Country." John Norton's attitude to this, expressed to his son Hatley, illuminates his loyalties, regardless of his own trading interests : "I am glad the Inhabita. of Virginia have entd. into an association not to import European Goods till the Acts are repealed, Wish they had done it before, which wou'd have convinced our quondam Ministerial Friends that they were in a wrong Box." One of his letters was quoted in the
Virginia Gazette, describing Norton (anonymously) as "an eminent Merchant in London, who resided many years in this colony, and upon the death of his partner removed with his family, all Virginians, to London ... His sentiments are truly American" : "I had, as you observe, heard of the dissolution of the Assembly of Virginia, and wish I had the honour to have my name recorded in the list to the resolves. I always did, and always shall think those laws of taxation unjust and oppressive : and I highly applaud those who stood up bravely in defense of their country." Another of Norton's customers, Thomas Everard, wrote to him, "if the next Parliament should not repeal the Acts Complained of I fear the Americans will no longer look on the People in England as Friends and fellow Subjects". The Association against European trade was not affecting the Nortons' business deeply. Forbidden goods were left off some invoices ; one customer wrote that she was sure her status as an Associator would meet with Courtenay Norton's approval, and that she had given up tea and hoped to be dressed in Virginia-made clothes very soon.

News of Hatley's interest in Sally Nicholas reached his father in the summer of 1769 (after Sally had turned him down), and John wrote a severe letter, quoting back to Hatley his stated intention not to marry in Virginia, and reminding him, perhaps speaking on behalf of her father, that Sally was "full young to enter into the cares of Life, has been bred in a genteel way & has a right to expect to live so, can you say 'tis in your power to comply with this piece of Justice towards her?" He could not afford to give Hatley more than a sixth of the firm's profits, and that would not be enough to provide for a family "without other assist'ce which can't be much look'd for in America at present." Talking of the future, and his hopes that Hatley would return to London, he said, "You are sensible I am now in years, have impair'd my Constitution by remaining so long in Virga. God knows when I may be call'd & if you are not on the Spot what may be the consequence? Perhaps more fatal than to me when Mr. Flowerdewe died, by which I suffer'd sufficiently by being oblig'd to leave the Country at an unexpected hour, upon your promise to me & your Mother that you would return when requested I consented to your going to Virginia & in full expectation of your fulfilling that promise I agreed to take you into partnership with me". Hatley, though, continued to tell his Virginian friends that he intended to make his home in America. William Nelson reported this to John Norton, adding that "warm weather in Summer & little to do in Winter naturally dispose Men to Matrimony in this Part of the World," which cannot have eased Norton's worries. Martha Goosley wrote in October that Hatley was disappointed by his father's reaction, and that he must now be embarrassed by the fact that the Nicholas family had approved his suit before John Norton's views were known.

By November 1769 Hatley's brother George had joined Billy Reynolds in the London counting house. With Lord Botetourt's approval, Robert Nicholas, in his capacity as Treasurer, placed an order with Norton and Son in December for £2,500 of copper money for the colony ; he had already ordered stone for the Capitol steps. Lord Botetourt wrote in January 1770 to reassure John Norton that his standing in Virginia had not been affected by a letter in the
Gazette attacking him and other British-based Virginians, adding "Your Son has never missed an opportunity of doing kindly by me ever since my arrival and I can with truth assure you that he bears the best of Characters." About this time John Norton helped to draw up and delivered a petition to parliament for the repeal of the taxation acts. As he feared, the tax on tea remained, but the remainder were repealed.

In April Martha Goosley told John Norton that Hatley (now "grown fat") had cooled towards the idea of marriage. It seems more likely that he had simply stopped talking about it to Mrs Goosley, who revelled in gossip, in the knowledge that she sent regular reports to his father. John (who had recently recovered from an attack of "the stone") continued to lecture Hatley on his prospects. He queried his rising living expenses in Virginia, "a cheap country", and reminded him that his share of the profits was twice the amount allowed by George Hatley when John first became a partner. Business was precarious : the firm owed more than £12,000 to John's brothers-in-law Michael Turner and John Fludger, and John Williamson, their former neighbour in Goulds Square. Hatley had written that he no longer intended to marry Sally Nicholas, but the letter had come after John Norton had already written to Sally's father on the assumption that the marriage would go ahead ; with characteristic parental irony he referred to Hatley's earlier statement that "your happiness in life depended on the union you propos'd". He concluded the subject by expressing a hope that Hatley was now "steady" and would stick to his resolutions, "which hitherto you have you confess not strictly adhered to". John Baylor junior was now at Cambridge University, and John Norton echoed Jack Frere's doubts, saying that Baylor would do best to stick to English grammar and history, and not attempt to read Greek. Courtenay Norton's sister Frances Baylor wrote to her son about the same time, "Pray finish your education dear, as soon as possible for we all cannot bear any longer without seeing you."4

Martha Goosley gave her own forthright comment on the political situation in a letter to John in June 1770 : "Surely the great Men on your Side the Water are all mad. What can they Mean I greatly fear their rash Measures will Produce fatal Consequences." The Association met a few days later to discuss more stringent restrictions on trade, and signed a new agreement to boycott various English goods, including spirits, food and most luxuries, from 1 September ; Hatley Norton was a signatory. His father evidently expressed cynicism about the effect of this, because William Nelson wrote to him in July, "I blush on reading what you say abt the Virginians ; that their Invoices rather encrese than diminish. I wish such People were of any other Country than of mine." Peyton Randolph, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, ordered Irish linen from John Norton in September, and asked him to be careful to show the correct country of origin.

Lord Botetourt, whose popularity in Virginia had only increased during his two years' governorship, died in October 1770, and William Nelson was appointed "pro tempore" as the King's representative until a new Governor should be chosen. Robert Nicholas wrote to Norton in January to say that the colony no longer wished to employ a British agent, but that as Treasurer he still required London representation : "I don't know any Person in London whom I could repose so implicit a Confidence in as yourself." Norton had just built a new ship, the
Virginia, co-owned with Jack Frere.

William Nelson told Norton in May that "The Spirit of Association hath grown very cool of late, & I believe will shortly come to Nothing." Hatley's health was still poor, and Nelson agreed with John Norton that he should return to England, but "I am of the Opinion that Nothing less than your Parental Authority can overrule his Inclination to Stay longer." In June Fanny Norton wrote to her brother, referring to his health and the family's hopes that he would return. She was taking dancing and French lessons at home, and mentioned a visit to Putney "to Rumage out the old Barn as Mama calls it" and to visit the Fludgers. Billy Reynolds had just left for Virginia after spending nearly three years in the Nortons' London office, and her brother George had "cried like a Child" to see him go.

Shortly after arriving back in Virginia, Billy Reynolds wrote to John Norton to thank him and Courtenay for their friendship to him in London. He had seen Hatley, who had no intention of returning to England ; he was still intent on marrying Sally Nicholas "for they cannot yet bear the sight of each other without great Emotions". A few weeks later, on 9 September 1771, Billy told George Norton, "unless your Brother leaves Virginia it is generally thought he cannot live two Summers longer ... I believe his regard for Miss Nicholas is too deeply rooted ever to be eradicated ... she is one of the most agreeable, sensible Girls I ever convers'd with". A month later, however, Martha Goosley assured John Norton that Hatley and Sally hadn't spoken to each other in two years. She hoped that Sally would marry someone else, which would finally persuade Hatley to leave Virginia for the sake of his health.

The new Governor, Lord Dunmore, arrived in Williamsburg on 25 September 1771, and Thomas Everard wrote to John Norton, "It is said he is Generous and Good Natured and that the People of New York parted with him very unwillingly so that we have good reason to hope he will be agreeable here." Robert Nicholas recommended Norton to the new Governor as a reliable agent to forward his English correspondence ; Dunmore contacted Norton and opened an account which was still active in 1773.

Billy Reynolds was still writing frequently to London. He was unhappy with his business prospects in Virginia, and told John Norton, "I wish you wou'd allow me to put in a small share to your Capital & return to assist you, for in England Business is pleasure but here it is Slavery". He had "good reason to think" that Hatley was still hoping to marry Sally Nicholas and had "not the least thought of returning". Within two months, on Sunday 26 January 1772 in James City, Hatley and Sally were married. Three days later (unaware that the marriage had taken place) John wrote to his son with a certain amount of exasperation, saying that he was perfectly happy for Hatley to marry Miss Nicholas if her family were prepared to let her live in London, but complaining of Hatley's evasiveness on the subject. If he had promised Sally they would stay in Virginia he was unfairly deceiving her. He pointed out that George would soon come of age and be entitled to a share of the business. Courtenay had been suffering a dropsy-like illness and had put on a lot of weight, but was now recovering. A fortnight later, still ignorant of the wedding, John wrote again, wishing Hatley and Sally happiness in marriage, and hoping that his son would become "a little more steady when you have entered the Matrimonial State". Sally's father, as Treasurer, had asked John Norton to commission a statue of Lord Botetourt ; he told Hatley, "I have fixed on an Artist ... his name is Havard [Richard Hayward] and lives in Picadilly, he's to be finished in 12 months." Lord Botetourt's nephew and heir, the Duke of Beaufort, had approved the design, and wrote to William Nelson, "I cannot help mentioning how extremely assiduous Mr. Norton has been to get the Statue".

At the end of March news of Hatley's impending wedding reached London, and his brother George wrote to congratulate him, mentioning that their cousin John Baylor was returning to Virginia by the same vessel as his letter. Courtenay Norton wrote at the same time, saying that Hatley had last written to say they would be married the next day, but confirmation had not arrived, and "as Tomorrow is a day that may never come I did not rest myself satisfied with that Certainty". She asked Hatley to apologise to Billy Reynolds for not writing to him, saying that she was "much interrupted by my poor Harry's Illness".

Hatley's new father-in-law wrote officially to John Norton at the beginning of April to place a new order for copper money for the colony, and privately but briefly about their new connection, saying that Hatley was in good health and that he would leave him to write to his father about the wedding. In May, George wrote again to say that he had sent Sally Norton a pair of earrings, and that the Rev. Fludger had suffered a stroke "which has quite distorted the features of his Face so much that you would hardly know him were you to see him".

Over the winter Billy Reynolds had visited New York and Philadelphia looking for business opportunities. Back in Yorktown in May, he told George Norton that prospects were better in the north but as a Virginian he felt he would have been at a disadvantage settling in either city. He hoped to see George eventually in Virginia, because he despaired of ever visiting England again. Hatley was very happy, and had no intention of returning to London ; he had been buying more property in Virginia.

In the summer of 1772 Hatley was an occasional visitor at George Washington's Mount Vernon home, and as usual he tried to stay in the healthier north of the state, spending some time with his friends the Fairfaxes. His aunt Susanna wrote from Putney in June to congratulate him on his marriage, hoping that he would perpetuate the name of Hatley "for the Sake of that Valuable Man our family are so highly indebted to". She went on :

I have the pleasure to assure you I never saw your Father in better health in my Life - your Mother has been but in an different state of health all the Winter, but think she looks vastly better since she came into the Country, but she will not be prevail'd upon to Continue in it, but from Saterday to Tuesday ; your poor unhappy Brother Harry unhinges all the family & for what I can see is likely to Continue a living Sorrow -
The Frere family are all well ; Cousin John has had three Sons, the last is Dead, a loss I make no doubt will soon be made up - there is many alterations in the Neighbourhood of Putney since you left us, but still we keep up an agreeable Society, & have had several Mondays at our House this Summer, sometimes twenty & sometimes thirty people ; which is very agreeable to Mr. Turner who loves a Game at Cards for a Couple of hours in an afternoon, & we always part at Nine O'Clock ; he is I thank God Chearfull & well, devides his Morning time, in Gardening, & riding on Horseback, & doing kind offices to his Relations & friends ; indeed I do not know a more happy Man then he appears to be ... your Cousin Baylor is gone home full fraighted but not gluted with all these pastimes that are now in Vogue ; indeed he has drank so plentifully of Comus' Cup that I wish he does not thirst after more Draughts of the same sort in his own Country ; therefore in my Opinion, England has render'd him an unhappy Man ; it is a lucky Circumstance that the Certainty of his Father's Death did not Arrive before he sail'd, if it had, no one cou'd have prevail'd on him to have quited England & all its alluring temptations - as Mr. Turner has so great a friendship for your Father that it gives him a sensible pleasure to be of service to him ; you may easily suppose that it is an inexpressable satisfaction to me, that my family employs his Nephew Mr. John Turner, which is so pleasing to all the Brother, that it gives me an advantage of being look'd upon of some Consequence in the family, which I sincerely wish to preserve, for the honour of the Nortons in general ; which in fact is inseparable from my own. - this paragraph is between you & I only, therefore take no Notice of it in your Letter to me, as I dont choose your Uncle shou'd know what I have wrote on that subject.

The banking crisis of 1772 prompted George Norton to write to his brother to say that Norton and Son had no connection with any of the failed banks. Many families were "reduced to want & Beggary", and bankers were committing suicide ; but when one, Mr Bogle junior of Messrs Bogle and Company, "threw himself out of a window on the Second Story (in a phrenzy) he happily fell in such an attitude as only to bruise his latter end". John Norton, writing in August, was more concerned, "Credit being so precarious and Trade so stagnated". The London tobacco buyers were cannily waiting for bargain prices, and he was being forced to sell low simply to dispose of his stock. Lord Botetourt's statue, in "a Block of fine Marble", as yet unfinished, was already a very good likeness.

The firm's customers in Virginia were understanding, as William Nelson wrote to John Norton in the same month : "all reasonable Men will make Allowance for the Difference of Circumstances, and the unreasonable are not to be satisfied with any Thing". Robert Nicholas, whose 1772 crop had been short of expectations, was buying tobacco from other planters in order to make up Norton's consignments and to give himself credit in London ; he told John Norton that he would try not to draw on the credit if possible. Later the same year, he wrote : "I have lost considerably by my last Consignment of Tobo, but this I know you could not help."

On 19 November 1772 William Nelson, John Norton's close friend and regular correspondent, died after a long illness. Robert Nicholas told Norton that Colonel Thomas Nelson hoped to be appointed in his father's place as President of the Governor's Council, the higher body of the Virginia Assembly, and Nicholas asked Norton to "use your Interest & Influence with your Friends to accomplish his Wishes" - the appointment being made in London. Earlier in the year Martha Goosley's son William, formerly a ship's captain in the Nortons' service, had published a statement denigrating the Nortons after what seems to have been a disagreement with Hatley Norton over providing security for a shipment of tobacco. John Norton had responded to this with an affidavit explaining the circumstances, and Robert Nicholas hastened to assure him that Goosley was beneath contempt and not taken seriously in Virginia. George Goosley, still one of the Nortons' captains, had disassociated himself from his brother's conduct. Nicholas wrote : "if the universal good Character which you establish'd by so many years Residence in Virginia, & which has been confirm'd by repeated Instances since your Return to & Residence in London, can be sullied by the dirty Breath of any impertinent Chap, the Friendship of any Man, who will suffer it to make the smallest Impression upon his Mind, in my Opinion, is not worth being solicitous about."

Apart from the order for copper money for the colony, which had encountered problems but was now being sorted out, the Treasurer asked Norton to obtain paper to print notes. Virginia had suffered from a series of clever forgeries, and Nicholas wrote in February 1773 that there was only about £98,000 of paper money in circulation ; he was sceptical whether any paper would be forgery-proof, but asked Norton to investigate and report back. The copper halfpennies, which weighed five tons, eventually arrived in Virginia in February 1774.

During 1772 Norton had built another ship, the
London, in partnership with the Turner family, Jack Frere and others. It was launched on 8 February 1773, and Fanny described the event to her brother Hatley : "We all went except my Mother & my poor Brother ... we were very merry & had a Dance in the afternoon. Mr. Frere was God Father". Reverend Fludger had completely recovered from his stroke, and Fanny was about to begin music lessons ; she scolded Hatley for not writing to their uncle Michael Turner. The London had been intended for Captain George Goosley, but he was now talking of going into the West Indies trade on his own account, and eventually Moses Robertson, the Nortons' senior captain, took charge of the new ship.

On 4 March 1773 the House of Burgesses appointed a Committee of Correspondence and Inquiry in response to the situation in Boston, and as part of the new network of communication and co-operation between the colonies. The Committee included Peyton Randolph, Robert Nicholas and Thomas Jefferson, and they appointed John Norton their London agent. Lord Dunmore promptly dissolved the Assembly.

The Nortons were suffering from the credit crisis, and John wrote to Hatley in March to urge him to return to London with Sally to see the situation for himself and discuss ways of dealing with it. John had put "every shilling I have in the World" into the business, as well as borrowing from friends, and declared "if it was not for my Family's sake I wou'd not continue the Trade at the expense of my own peace of mind, but wou'd retire to some cheap place to reside without running the risque of the little I have work'd so hard for". The problems were essentially in the flow of payments, with Norton struggling to collect debts owed him, and therefore unable to meet his own ; the company was, though, far better placed than many traders, and eventually survived the crisis which wrecked many businesses in 1772 and 1773. John, an inveterate worrier, suffered heavily throughout this period, and his letters to Hatley were full of pessimistic outpourings and instructions to limit consignments of tobacco while the planters were still in debt to the company, and to avoid creating new business : at one point during 1773, the Nortons were owed £64,000 by Virginians.

Lord Botetourt's statue had been completed, and was shipped in March aboard the
Virginia. Norton was pleased with the result, but felt it necessary to send one of Hayward's masons, John Hirst, with the statue to ensure its safety on board and help erect it in Virginia. It arrived on 20 May, and was placed in the Capitol at Williamsburg. Robert Nicholas wrote to thank Norton, saying that Hirst had done an excellent job and that the statue was "universally admired". After the seat of government moved to Richmond, in 1780, the statue was vandalised ; in 1801 it was moved to the college of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where it stood in front of the Wren Building for many years. It is now in the Swem Library, and a new bronze statue of Lord Botetourt has taken its place in the College Yard.

Susanna Turner, who had been ill with St Anthony's Fire (probably erysipelas), wrote from Putney in May with news of the family and changes in Putney : "Our town is made quite elegant by being quite new paved Barrel fashion according to the mode of London with Scotch Stones ; & a paved foote path on the righthand side of the way from the Waterside to the top of the town. The other side remains as it was, only young trees planted which when they grow large will make the vilage beautifull". She confirmed that John Fludger had recovered and was "able to do duty as usual" ; the Freres' first daughter Jane had been born in March, and Susanna was her Godmother.

As agent to the Virginia Committee of Correspondence, John Norton sent a report from London on 6 July 1773 :

Gentlemen :
I have within these few days been honoured with your letter of the 6th April and think myself under great obligation for the confidence you are pleased to repose in me, by thinking me a proper person to correspond with on the subject matter recited in your letter.
In consequence thereof I have procured and sent under favour of my worthy friend Mr. Benjamin Harrison, The Act of Parliament For Preserving His Majesty's Dockyards, Magazines, ships, etc ; also, The Journals of The House of Commons from the period of time you mention as far as can at present be had, which shall be continued, and you may be assured I will be diligent in my inquiries after all other Acts or Resolutions of Parliament or proceedings of Administration lately passed or entered into, or which may hereafter take place, and that may in any degree affect any of the colonies of America and like a faithful watchman acquaint you therewith. Our present Parliament who are Prorogued have made such strides towards despotism for some time past, with respect the East India Company as well as America, that we have too much reason to dread bad consequences from such proceedings. Some of my friends in the India Direction tell me that they have thoughts of sending a quantity of tea to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Virginia and South Carolina, which Government seems to approve, but they suspect their motives are to make a cat's paw of the Company, and force them to establish the 3d per lb American duty. I advised the gentlemen not to think of sending their Tea till Government took off the duty, as they might be well assured it would not be received on any other terms, what their Resolution will be, time only will discover.
When anything offers worthy your notice I shall take the liberty of advising you again, at present, remain with great respect, Gentlemen, your very obedient servant
John Norton

The question of when or whether Hatley would return to London was still raised frequently, but his brother George wrote to him in August 1773 to say that his presence in Virginia was probably necessary for the time being in order to protect the firm's interests against the agents of bankrupt British companies who were busy collecting their own Virginian debts. He added that he hoped his sister-in-law was "safe in the Straw" - Hatley and Sally were expecting their first child. She was born in Winchester around the beginning of October and christened Courtenay Tucker Norton. Her grandfather Robert Nicholas reported to John Norton, "Our Son & Daughter are both extremely well ; Sally about a Fortnight ago presented us with a Jolly Girl, who is named after yr. Lady ; I find I grow old very fast." He thanked Norton for sending paper for Virginia's currency, and asked him to procure copper plates for a lighthouse to be erected on Cape Henry.

John Fludger's health had deteriorated again ; George reported to Hatley in November that their uncle was "in the last Stage of Consumption", and expressed his concern that Rebecca might not be provided for, although "my Uncle's Circumstances are good". Reverend Fludger died in Putney on 18 December, leaving no will, but three testamentary notes : he directed that the several annuities held in trust by John Norton and John Williamson, constituting Rebecca's jointure, should be sold and the money raised given partly to Rebecca and partly to his administrator - and as Rebecca Fludger was duly granted administration, George's fears were not realised.

Two days before John Fludger died, a group of citizens dressed as native Americans boarded three merchant ships at Griffin's Wharf in Boston and threw their cargoes of tea overboard. In March 1774 the British government passed the Boston Port Bill, which closed Boston to commerce from 1 June or until the "ill-affected persons" of Boston should make reparation and pay their taxes. The Virginia House of Burgesses responded by appointing the 1st of June a day of prayer and fasting. Lord Dunmore reacted predictably by proroguing the Assembly ; the Burgesses met privately in the Raleigh Tavern, designating themselves the Virginia Convention, to discuss how "to secure our dearest rights and liberty from destruction by the heavy hand of power now lifted against North America"5. Billy Reynolds, who had married Nancy Perrin in April, told John Norton that the new Association had resolved not to import any British goods from August. He was optimistic that this would enable Norton's Virginian customers (of whom he was now one) to pay off their debts. He supposed that Robert Nicholas would "acquaint you fully of the spirited resolves the united Americans have enter'd into and wch I sincerely hope they will attend to, untill they convince the Ministry of their Error". The Association was renewed in August, agreeing to stop importing tea and slaves, as well as all British-made goods, from November. The non-importation resolution was to be enforced by county committees, and defaulters' names would be published as "inimical to America". As well as the committees, Virginian counties now began recruiting their own militia in anticipation that the British operations in New England would escalate.

George Flowerdewe Norton, aged 23, was formally made a full partner on 1 July, and the firm became John Norton and Sons.

Courtenay Norton gave her own succinct comment on the political situation in a letter to Hatley dated 30 August : "the dye seems now to be cast for America a gold chain or a wooden leg the latter of which I hope never will be the case". She asked after her granddaughter, and was not surprised that Hatley thought his first-born beautiful - "I dont wonder as I thought the same of you when you were of her age". Rebecca Fludger had sent Hatley some of her husband's sermons. Fanny wrote a few days later to say that their brother Harry had had a long remission from his fits, and seemed much better.

A huge step towards an independent American administration was taken on 5 September when the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Peyton Randolph of Virginia was appointed President, and the Congress adopted a united Association for non-importation of British goods from December : for two months shipments were to be sent back or disposed of by local committees, and thenceforth invoices would be returned unopened. Billy Reynolds told John Norton that he hoped the
Virginia, which left London at the beginning of September, would arrive before 1 November, when the Virginia Association's boycott took effect - his concern seems to have been for Captain Robertson rather than any order of goods for himself. But the Virginia did not reach the York River until 4 November, and Norton and Sons inadvertently provided Virginia with an opportunity for their own Tea Party. A Williamsburg customer had forgotten to cancel his order of tea, and this was duly thrown overboard by local patriots. Robert Nicholas, at the same time, was accused of stockpiling tea against the importation ban, and was driven to make a public statement defending himself and John Norton.

By 1775 there was a polarisation of feeling in Virginia between those like Peyton Randolph and Robert Nicholas, who wished to keep the peace with Britain while forcing the British government to give the colonists trading parity, and radicals like Courtenay Norton's cousin George Wythe and Patrick Henry who wanted independence at any cost. In March, at the second meeting of the Virginia Convention in Richmond, Henry proposed arming the colony, with the stirring words, "Give me liberty or give me death!" ; the resolution was passed, but only by a narrow margin. The trade sanctions were beginning to bite, and the City of London sent a petition to the king asking him to meet the colonist's demands. The first blood between Britain and America was shed at Lexington and Concord on 20 April. The British parliament declared Massachusetts in a state of rebellion ; in Virginia, Lord Dunmore had the stores of ammunition removed from the magazine at Williamsburg, causing a public outcry. The second Continental Congress in May created a Continental Army, and named Washington its Commander-in-Chief.

Despite the presence of British ships in Chesapeake Bay, Norton's vessels were still managing to deliver their cargoes and collect new consignments of tobacco. Captain Robertson told John Norton in June that he had been afraid of being prevented from loading, but Peyton Randolph, returning from the Congress, had clarified the situation ; exports would be stopped from the 10th of September. Many of Norton's customers were now selling their tobacco in Virginia, preferring under the circumstances to guarantee their returns rather than risk sending consignments. Robertson reported that "the Tea Affair" had blown over, and "I make no Doubt but your interest will be Established as Firm as Ever when the Exports ReOpen again". Lord Dunmore, whose emptying of the Williamsburg magazine had put the final nail in the coffin of any popularity he may have achieved in Virginia, had now fled Williamsburg and taken refuge aboard a British warship, the
Fowey, in the York River. Captain Robertson wrote again at the beginning of August to say that there was a fine crop of tobacco, but prospects of resuming their normal trade were bleak.

John Norton seems never to have doubted where his own loyalties lay. On 1 July 1775 the third Virginia Convention voted to purchase gunpowder for the new militia, and Norton advanced the state of Virginia, through Robert Nicholas, £5,600 for that purpose. At the same time the Convention issued £350,000 of currency, using the paper originally chosen and supplied by Norton. That John Norton was treading a fine line is made clear by the proclamation published in London in August that it was "treason to aid, abet or correspond with the Rebellious Americans". His regular correspondent Thomas Everard, one of the moderate Virginians, sent him news in August of the Richmond Convention and the next Continental Congress, and added, "Nothing can give all America more real Pleasure than a Reconciliation with Great Britain but rather than submit to an illegal and unjust Claim of Taxation the whole Continent are determined to defend their Rights to the last extremity." Letters between Virginia and London were now liable to interception, both by the Committee of Safety set up by the Virginia Convention and by the British or by sympathisers with the British government ; several of Norton's letters were diverted, and the fact that no action was taken against him in England is perhaps more indicative of the fact that English sympathies with the Americans ran high rather than any special immunity on his part.

Hatley, whose second daughter Nancy (Ann Cary) Norton had been born in Winchester in August, was elected a Captain of the Williamsburg militia on 14 September. A fortnight later he wrote to his father (a letter intercepted by British sympathisers) that "the whole Continent from one end to the other is making every preparation for self Defence. Our Regular Forces are raised, some arrived in this City, & the remainder daily expected". He mentioned the difficulty in communicating now that so few ships were getting in and out of Virginia, "for without Intelligence from you we shall be made very uneasy". In December he wrote more fully of the political situation (and once again the letter was intercepted) :

They [the British] make a Pretence of leaving the Mode to our Country Men when at the same time their own Determination is fixed invariably, & their Troops & Fleet ready at Hand to enforce their Measures, it appears to me that they will loose the Colonies unless a Speedy Accommodation takes Place ; Our Colonies are as Loyal as any of his Majesty's Subjects, & wou'd go great lengths in Support of his Crown & Dignity, but so soon as they find themselves wounded by the hand of Oppression & Tyranny, Common Justice to themselves & Posterity recommends a very natural & necessary expedient ... All your Letters have been opened in Convention now sitting here, & give general Satisfaction to our Frds. The Sentim.ts of many were found inimical to the grand Cause. A Scotch Gentleman writes to his Fr'd at Norfolk to purchase for him a handsome Seat on James River which he expects may be had cheap all the Lands will be forfeited to the Crown. Some pretty Discoveries were made last Week by intercepted Letters from the Tories to their Friends in Britain which must render them forever odious to the Country, A Letter of mine of the 30th Sepr. was among them, how it got there I cannot imagine ...

A month later, after a disastrous battle with Virginian troops, Lord Dunmore attacked Norfolk, with the result that the whole town was eventually burned to the ground, most of it on the orders of the Continental Congress to prevent the British from using Norfolk as a base. The state of war had reached Virginia, and trade was at a standstill, although Norton's customers still wrote to him when they could and Hatley continued to solicit consignments of tobacco. In May, Hatley advanced £2,000 to the Committee of Safety to buy ammunition.

The Virginia Convention met again in Williamsburg that month, and created a new body, the House of Delegates, to replace the old House of Burgesses. They declared themselves independent of Britain, and Patrick Henry was elected the first Governor of the Virginia Commonwealth ; the Union Flag of the American States was hoisted at the capitol. Despite the traditionally hierarchical Virginians' reservations about the New Bill of Rights' assertion that "all men are born free and equal", they instructed their delegates to the Continental Congress to propose American independence.

After America's declaration on 4 July, the people of Williamsburg celebrated with a parade of continental troops, but the war with Britain had only just begun, and life in Virginia would be difficult for several years. The Committee of Safety were still examining all business correspondence with Britain, and in December all British merchants were ordered to leave Virginia, except those (like Hatley Norton) with family attachments in America. The fledgling economy could not yet replace the wealth of goods that Virginians had been used to importing, and one of Norton's customers told him that year that there was a shortage of many articles. The British military and Naval presence intensified along America's east coast, and although occasional tobacco consignments were getting out (mostly via the West Indies), the British troops were burning warehouses when they could. The Virginian Navy (which now included Norton's ship the
Virginia) did its best to protect vessels importing goods for the Continental Army. The House of Delegates placed the property of exiled British subjects in the hands of commissioners for safekeeping. Lord Dunmore's property was confiscated and sold.

Norton and Sons were forced to adapt to the new circumstances. A major problem was the remaining debt owed by Virginian planters. The Virginian paper currency had depreciated in value, so anything Hatley could recover on the spot was virtually worthless. To keep himself and his family, he expanded his own trading, and by 1777 was importing a variety of goods from Europe via the West Indies. Among his consignments were 200 barrels of gunpowder for the Virginian Commonwealth, although this contract was terminated after October because Norton's price was too high. John Norton continued to operate a reduced trade with Virginia, also using the West Indian route, and sometimes shipping from Holland ; privately-owned British ships had been authorised in February to capture American vessels.

Hatley's third daughter, Sarah, was born in Winchester, probably not long before her grandfather John Norton died in London, on 25 October 1777, aged sixty. He was buried in St Olave's Church, Hart Street. He was no doubt worn out by his own tendency to worry and the escalating political and trading problems of the past few years. In his will, written in June 1776, he left recently acquired properties in Putney to Courtenay, and after her death to his children. The rest of his estate he divided in two : half was to go to a trust fund for his son Harry's maintenance, the other half divided between his children - the trustees were Courtenay, George and Jack Frere. A few days later he added an unwitnessed codicil giving £50 each to his two sisters and surviving brother-in-law Michael Turner ; James Withers, gentleman, of the London office was called upon to swear the usual affidavit for such notes. Concerning the Nortons' future in London and in business, John wrote6 :

I desire that my House in London may be kept for twelve Calendar Months after my decease at the expence of my Estate before which time I direct that no division be made thereof. And as I hope an Accomodation will soon take place between Great Britain and her Colonys in America whereby the Trade and Intercourse with that Country will be renewed I desire that my present Trade may be carried on jointly by my said Wife and two Sons John Hatley Norton and George Flowerdewe Norton and for their benefit and advantage in equal shares and proportions for the Term of seven Years or such other Term as they shall agree upon in order that my said Wife may be thereby better enabled to maintain hereself and my three youngest Children.

His death marked the effective end of the company as it had been established by his uncle George Hatley and Thomas Flowerdewe forty years earlier, although George Norton continued to run the London office with the help of the long-serving Withers. Billy Reynolds wrote to George in October 1778, referring to John Norton's death, and saying that if George intended to continue in business "perhaps it may be in my power to introduce some in your hands. Your Brother has been very successfull this War & must have made something very clever".

Fanny Norton married her cousin John Baylor at St Olave's on 18 November 1778. A history of the Baylor family7 states that she brought a dowry of $350,000 ; this, however, was probably in Virginian dollars and worth rather less than it looks. Three days after the wedding, the Baylors left London for Virginia, travelling via Holland, the Leeward Islands and Barbados, where they stayed with her Tucker relatives. The state of war made travel unpredictable, and it took them seven months to reach Virginia and the Baylor home, New Market.

By January 1779 George Norton had decided to leave England at the first opportunity. His health was suffering, and he could "hardly scrape enough together to defray our own Family Expences, so scarce is the Article of Money everywhere". Debts between London and Virginia were irrecoverable, and he still had stockpiles of tobacco which could not be sold. George Walker, Courtenay's brother, wrote to her from Virginia in February, offering condolences for John Norton's death : "I respected him for his care of my Youth, I esteemed him for his humanity to his slaves, I lov'd him as a brother." He noted that Hatley was in good health, but his wife Sally was "a sickly delicate Woman". By now Hatley was extending his own separate business activities in partnership with Samuel Beale, selling a variety of European dry goods and West Indian rum, and chartering boats for the West India trade. His fourth child, and first son, John Hatley Norton junior, was born during 1779.

By September the Nortons had succeeded in leaving London : Courtenay, with her two youngest sons, was in Barbados with her Tucker cousins ; George was at St Eustatia in the Leeward Islands, hoping to get passage to Virginia. Tory refugees were being banished by order of the Virginia House of Delegates and British sympathisers were not allowed to re-enter Virginia. Debts to British merchants were confiscated, along with loyalists' estates. All of this not only made resumption of the Nortons' former tobacco trade impossible, but complicated George's chances of joining his brother in Virginia. In October he left St Eustatia for Barbados, and told James Withers in London that his mother was well, having recovered from a fever, and that the Baylors had reached Virginia and had a visit from Hatley. Withers had been trying to let the Norton properties in London and Putney, but with no success. George sympathised with him, and suggested that he sell bank stock in order to pay off some of the firm's immediate debts. Fanny Baylor wrote late in 1779 to report the birth of her daughter Frances. She hoped to see her mother soon in Virginia and worried about her well-being in Barbados.

Still finding it impossible to enter Virginia, George did his best to continue the Nortons' business from the West Indies, corresponding regularly with Withers and spending his time between Barbados and the Antilles. He was at St Kitts early in August 1780 when he received word that his mother was ill and wanted him to return at once. She hoped to recover quickly and then sail for America - New York was a possibility - with her three sons and her cousin Mary Tucker. George arrived in Barbados on the 13th August to find that Courtenay had died five days earlier. She was 57 when she died, and was buried in the churchyard at Bridgetown. George wrote to Withers in September - "altho my health & low Spirits scarcely allow me to hold a pen or to attend to any business whatsoever" - to ask him to inform his aunts and uncle in Putney of his mother's death. There was no need to have her will proved : "All the Effects shall be carefully packed up & whenever it shall please God to restore peace in America they shall be shiped to her children." The whole family had been suffering from "the contageous disorders of this place", and shortly after George's letter his invalid brother Harry died, aged 26, and was buried with his mother.

Robert Carter Nicholas, Virginia's Treasurer, John Norton's old friend, and father of Sally Norton, died in Virginia, aged 52, a month after Courtenay Norton's death.

Billy Reynolds sent his condolences in December 1780, and told George "let me conjure you by all the ties of affection to come to Virginia without delay". It was nearly two years, however, before he was allowed to return to the country of his birth. In 1781 the British captured St Eustatia, the hub of the Nortons' West Indian business. Local merchants' goods were confiscated and sold off at low prices, and the West Indies trade was drastically affected. George left Barbados, probably together with his youngest brother Daniel, who was now seventeen, on 1 March 1782 ; two days later their cousin John Tucker's house, where the family had been staying, burned down. Again, it was necessary to take a circuitous route because of the presence of the British Navy. They travelled via St Thomas, where they stayed for a while in June, and Bermuda, eventually arriving in September or October. In November George Norton, "a British subject from Barbados", was forced to write a letter of apology to the Governor of Virginia, to whom he had failed to pay his respects on arrival, as required by law. The Governor at the time was Benjamin Harrison, whose daughter had married the Nortons' former captain and later adversary, William Goosley. George pleaded ignorance of the law and his state of health, which had led him to travel immediately to Winchester, in the north of the state, where Hatley and his family were living. Hatley's numerous business activities were by now in some disarray ; he had just returned from a trip to Philadelphia and Baltimore, where he was probably seeking new trading opportunities. The family engaged Charles Minn Thruston, the "fighting parson", to disentangle Hatley's affairs and wind up his partnership with Samuel Beale.

Susanna Turner wrote to Hatley in October 1783 with news of Putney and the family. She and her husband were in good health, although Michael had lost the sight of one eye ; Rebecca was "but indifferent, every week her Legs swell & is inclined to a Dropsie". Her cousin John Forbes, Fifth Lord Pitsligo, was dead (he had died in 1781) and the title extinct. They had heard a rumour that Fanny's husband John Baylor was dead, and had put on mourning - only to find that he was still alive. She mentioned several Putney friends, including Mrs D'Aranda, who had died two years earlier, aged 85 : Elizabeth D'Aranda's daughter Martha had married Dr William Coxe, Susanna's second cousin, and both must have been aware of the connection, although Susanna did not refer to it in her letter.

The peace treaty between Britain and the United States of America, signed on 3 September 1783, included an agreement that creditors on both sides would be honoured in sterling, and all debts paid, but although Tories were now allowed to return to Virginia, the Virginia Assembly had not yet repealed its own anti-debt acts. Now began a long struggle by companies like Norton and Son to recover debts dating back almost ten years, with Charles Minn Thruston continuing to act on the Nortons' behalf. In 1784 George petitioned the House of Delegates, stating that on behalf of John Norton and Sons he "had been compelled to pay many debts due from the said company, but he has been unable to collect any due to them, in consequence of the laws prohibiting recovery of British debts ; by which he has been reduced to the greatest extremes". In the summer Hatley asked Michael Turner for a loan of £6,000, which his uncle regretfully declined.

Rebecca Fludger died in Putney in September 1784, and her sister Susanna Turner in October 1788, surviving her husband by three years. Rebecca left £100 each to Hatley and Fanny, and £500 each to George and Daniel ; the bulk of her estate went to John Turner, probably a nephew of her brother-in-law Michael Turner. Susanna's estate was divided between her three nephews and her niece Fanny Baylor, with an extra trust fund for Daniel and a legacy of £500 for George.

Daniel and Hatley were now in partnership together, and although the saga of trying to recover debts continued for many years, all three brothers quickly re-established themselves in business. In December 1784 George married Charles Minn Thruston's daughter Sarah, two days after her eighteenth birthday. Hatley's wife Sally Norton died in childbirth in May 1787 ; their son George survived. In October of that year their daughter Sarah Norton died, aged ten, and in 1788 her sisters Courtenay and Nancy were placed in charge of Sally's sister Betsy Randolph. Betsy's husband Edmund was Peyton Randolph's nephew, and in 1789 was appointed Attorney-General of the United States ; the Norton girls revelled in the Philadelphia social life. Hatley Norton married again in 1790 ; the youngest brother, Daniel, had married his second cousin Caroline Tucker two years earlier.

The continuing story of the Nortons of Virginia can be found elsewhere ; this book is concerned mainly with John Norton's lifetime, and the transition of the family, through John's marriage to Courtenay Walker, from London shopkeepers to prominent Virginians. The family's wealth was founded on the tobacco trade and the exploitation of slave labour, which - while taken mostly for granted in John Norton's day - cannot help tarnish their activities with the retrospect of 250 years. But the success of John Norton and Sons was also due in large part to John's hard work, his integrity, his absolute loyalty to his acquired Virginian relations, friends and customers and his love of a country in which he spent what were almost certainly the happiest years of his life. The trust placed in him by the most powerful men in Virginia, and particularly by the Treasurer, Robert Carter Nicholas, during the period leading up to the revolution testifies to his trustworthiness and his ability to inspire friendship. He responded unhesitatingly to that trust, as a Virginian and a British subject, and when the battle of wits with Britain for trading parity became an armed struggle for American independence - against Norton's own inclinations - he continued to respond, almost certainly at great risk to himself as in effect a supplier of arms to the Virginian rebels.


1. Will of Jane Norton
2. All letters quoted in this chapter, unless otherwise stated, are from the transcriptions published in
John Norton and Sons, edited by Frances Norton Mason, The Dietz Press, 1937.
3. Through the Freres, there is a further, coincidental connection between the Norton and Jennys branches of the Coxe family : Jack and Jane's grandson, the diplomat Bartle Frere, married Catherine Arthur, a first cousin once removed of Thomas Wentworth Groser, husband of Frances Jennys's daughter Frances Melinda Jones (see Chapter 6).
4. Letter from Frances Baylor to John Baylor, 25 May 1770, transcribed in
Baylor's History of the Baylors, by Orval W. Baylor, date unknown.
5. Quoted without source in
John Norton and Sons.
6. Will of John Norton
Baylor's History of the Baylors, by Orval W. Baylor

Back to Contents page

Coxe family history - other chapters

Chapter 1 - Somerset Coxes and Dr Thomas Coxe
Chapter 2 - Daniel Coxe II of Stoke Newington and his children
Chapter 3 - Dr Daniel Coxe of London
Chapter 4 - Colonel Daniel Coxe
Chapter 6 - The Jennys family