Henry Norris, Private of Marines

Henry Norris. According to the pension application #W-17407 of Norris’ widow Desire, Henry Norris, Jr. served on the Trumbull under Elisha Hinman beginning in August 1779 and subsequently under James Nicholson in an engagement between the Trumbull and Watt. According to the pension application, he entered service on the Confederacy in October or November 1780 and sailed under Captain Seth Harding until captured on 14 April 1781. The ship’s payroll records suggest he was recruited to the Confederacy from the Trumbull by Stephen Gregory on 19 November 1780. He was imprisoned on the Jersey prison ship until exchanged in 1782. Henry Norris is listed only as Crewman according to Seth Harding: Mariner by James L. Howard, however, Connecticut service records indicate he was a Private of Marines on the Confederacy. Born on 5 November 1765, Henry Norris, Jr. married Desire Gardiner, daughter of Captain Christopher Gardiner and Mercy Wheeler, on 14 October 1786 in New London. Desire Gardiner was born in South Kingstown, RI on 22 February 1762. Their children included: Betsey born 15 June 1788, Desire born 12 August 1790, Fanney born 28 June 1792, Henry born 17 October 1793, Lucretia born 2 April 1795 and died 28 August 1798, James born 1 November 1796, Lucy born 25 March 1798, William born 30 January 1800, and Nancy born 18 November 1801. Henry Norris appears in the list of letters in the New London Post Office published on 5 April 1791. The Bee of 6 July 1797 advertises “Connecticut-River shingles for sale by Henry Norris” at the next door south of Tilley and Miller’s Wharf, Bank Street, New London. Two days later the Weekly Oracle offers “freight or passage” for Hartford on the sloop Lark under Henry Norris, Master with the instructions to “enquire on board or at his house opposite Mess. Tilley and Millers’. An advertisement in the 1 May 1805 edition of the Connecticut Gazette suggests Norris is shipping pigtail tobacco at this time. A curious newspaper ad dated 20 September 1809, finds Henry Norris of New London seeking the return of runaway Frederick Brushel- alias Frederick Major- an “indented Indian boy” of seventeen. Henry Norris, in the Connecticut Gazette of 24 July 1816, “informs the public that he has opened a store at the south end of the bridge” where he is selling groceries from New York, crockery, chip hats, flax seed, etc., etc. Norris’ name appears on the list of letters at the New London Post Office published between 1 October and 17 October 1827, again on 4 April 1832 and finally on 22 October 1834. On 18 March 1835, son James Norris first advertises “to let- the store recently occupied by Henry Norris at the South end of the city, with two rooms adjoining the same, a good well of water, garden, etc. “ Henry Norris died on 27 April 1835 in New London as reported in the 6 May 1835 edition of the Connecticut Gazette, followed by his wife Desire four years later on 28 August 1839. For months after his death, administrator Edmund Rogers continues to advertise Norris’ store in the “Southwest part of the city” for lease. Thomas Edgar was a declarent for Henry Norris’ pension application. Seventeen years older than Norris, ship’s carpenter Edgar was a friend from New London who also had served onboard the Trumbull at the time of her engagement with the Watt. No doubt Henry Norris was acquainted with Midshipman Jesse Breed who also was a friend of Edgar’s who served on the Trumbull and Confederacy.

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