Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NORRIS, Isaac, proprietor, born in London, England, 21 July, 1671; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 4 June, 1735. His father, Thomas, removed to Jamaica when the son was seven years old. Isaac went to Philadelphia in 1690 to arrange for the removal of the family to that city, but on his return found that they had all perished in the great earthquake at Port Royal. He then went back to Philadelphia, entered into business, and became one of the wealthiest proprietors in the province. While he was in England in 1706 he assisted William Penn in his difficulties and rescued him from imprisonment. On his return, two years later, he was elected to the governor's council, and from that time until his death continued in public life. He was in the assembly for many years, speaker of the house in 1712, justice for Philadelphia county in 1717, and, on the organization of the high court of chancery, became a master to hear cases with the lieutenant-governor. He was elected mayor of Philadelphia in 1724, and on the death of David Lloyd was unanimously chosen justice of the supreme court, but declined and remained in the county court. Although a strict Quaker, he lived in great luxury for that age and drove a four-horse coach on which was emblazoned a coat of arms. He owned the " slate-roof house," which was the residence of William Penn during his second visit to Pennsylvania, and a dwelling on Fair Hill. which was one of the handsomest buildings of that day, and which was subsequently burned by the British during the Revolution. For many years he was one of the chief representatives of the proprietaries, and by the will of Penn he was named a trustee of the province of Pennsylvania. In 1694 he married Mary, daughter of Thomas Lloyd, president of the council.--Their son, Isaac, statesman, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 3 October, 1701; died in Fair Hill, near Philadelphia, 13 June, 1766, engaged in business till 1743, and acquired a large fortune in addition to what he inherited. He was a common councilman and alderman, a member of the assembly in 1734, and chairman of its most important committees. He was a Quaker of the strictest sect, and endeavored to keep the policy of Pennsylvania consistent with the principles of his religion. On the prospect of war with France and Spain in 1739, he opposed the organization of volunteer companies and preparation for the defence of the province. His followers, in opposition to the war party, were known as the "Norris party," and his subsequent election to the assembly was the occasion of violent political struggles between the Quakers and other residents of the city. He was one of the commissioners to treat with the Albany Indians in 1745 and 1755 and he and his colleagues effected the purchase of several million acres comprising the southwestern part of Pennsylvania. He was elected speaker of the assembly in 1751, and held that office fifteen years. In the first year of his administration the old statehouse bell was ordered from England, and Norris proposed the inscription "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (See illustration.) During his speakership the contest was waged between the people and the proprietaries on the subject of taxation and legislative control of the Penn family estates. Norris, at the head of the Quakers, joined the opposers of privilege, and in a debate in the assembly declared "No man shall ever stand on my grave and say, ' Curse him, here lies he who betrayed the liberties of his country!'" He was appointed with Benjamin Franklin a commissioner to England in 1757 to solicit the removal of grievances that were occasioned by the proprietary instructions, but declined on account of the failure of his health. Although he opposed the encroachments of the Penns, he would not support the proposition to convert Pennsylvania into a royal province, resigning his speakership when in 1764 a petition to that effect passed the assembly: He was returned at the next election, and again resigned in 1764. Norris was an excellent French, Latin, and Hebrew scholar, collected a valuable library, and was active in educational and benevolent enterprises. See "Genealogical Record of the Norris Family," by J. Parker Norris (Philadelphia, 1865).--The first Isaac's great-grandson, George Washington, surgeon, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 November, 1808" died there, 4 March, 1875, was the son of Joseph Parker Norris, who for many years was president of the Bank of Pennsylvania. He was graduated in letters in 1827 end in medicine in 1830 at the University of Pennsylvania, and subsequently studied in Paris, where he became a member of the Societe medicale d'observation. In 1836 he was elected one of the surgeons to the Pennsylvania hospital, and retained this post for twenty-seven years. In 1848 he was chosen clinical professor of surgery in the University of Pennsylvania, which post he resigned in 1857, when he was elected a trustee of the university. His lectures delivered in the Pennsylvania hospital won for him renown throughout the United States as an admirable diagnostician and careful practitioner of surgery. In 1842 he published an essay "On the Occurrence of Non-Union after Fractures" its Causes and Treatment." This, with his papers on the ligature of arteries, secured for him foreign as well as home reputation, and have been widely quoted in books on surgery, both in this country and in Europe. He republished these papers, with other essays, in a volume entitled "Contributions to Practical Surgery" (Philadelphia, 1873). He was for many years vice-president of the College of physicians of Philadelphia, and in 1858-'9 was president of the State historical society. His "Early History of Medicine in Philadelphia" was printed privately after his death (1886).--George Washington's son, William Francis, born in Philadelphia, 6 January, 1839, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1858 and at its medical school in 1861, and in the latter year was appointed resident physician to the Pennsylvania hospital. He was assistant surgeon in the United States army in 1863-'5, and was brevetted captain for meritorious service. In 1865 he resigned and established himself in practice in Philadelphia, making a specialty of diseases of the eves. Since 1873 he has been professor of ophthalmic surgery in the University of Pennsylvania. He is one of the surgeons to Wills eye hospital, fellow of the College of physicians and of Pennsylvania academy of natural sciences, and a member of numerous medical societies. His publications have been limited to contributions to professional periodicals and to the "Transactions" of the several societies of which he is a member.
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