Biographical Sketch of Henrietta Tyson Norris

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Henrietta Tyson Norris, 1848 - 1929

By Ann Marie Linnabery, assistant director, History Center of Niagara

Henrietta Tyson Norris was born October 17, 1848, the same year the first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, NY. Her birth most likely occurred on the Norris family estate, Olney, in the town of Joppa in Harford County, Maryland (now a historic home and horse farm on the National Register of Historic Places). She was the youngest child of John Saurin Norris and Henrietta Thomas Tyson Norris, members of two of the earliest and most prominent families in that part of Maryland (they were also related). The Norris family had been Quakers, but converted to the Episcopal Church in the early 19th century. However, the Tysons remained members of the Society of Friends and Henrietta's mother attended meetings all her life. In 1850, the family moved to Baltimore where John Norris served as cashier, and later vice-president and president, of the First National Bank of Baltimore. As a reform minded citizen, he also accepted the presidency of the Sheppard Asylum. The family was known for its charity, as well as its participation in the effort to abolish slavery in the state of Maryland. Mrs. Norris help found an orphanage for Negro girls with financial assistance from Johns Hopkins. Being raised a Quaker, young Henrietta Norris would have been instilled with a belief that all people should be free and equal.

Unfortunately, nothing could be found about Henrietta's early life in Baltimore. Neither of her brothers married and her sister Mary's husband died a few years after marriage, leaving her with an infant daughter, Henrietta Perry. Within a few years, all four unmarried siblings, and Mary's daughter, shared at home together in Baltimore. Henrietta Norris is listed in the History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI, as being one of the women "who held office or were prominent in the work of the Equal Suffrage League of Baltimore or the State Equal Franchise League of Maryland." Despite the lack of information on Henrietta's work in the suffrage movement, it is evident that the Society of Friends, of which she was a member, was influential in Woman Suffrage due to fact that three of the earliest Maryland State Suffrage conventions (1901, 1903 and 1906), were held in the Baltimore Friends' Meeting House. Henrietta Tyson Norris passed away on October 11, 1929, six days before her 81st birthday, in New York City. She may have been living with her niece, Henrietta Perry Goodridge, who was a resident of that city. Henrietta Norris is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Extensive searches on Ancestry, Fulton History, Newspapers.com and other websites, provided some family information but I was unable to find anything about Henrietta Norris's participation in the woman suffrage movement in Maryland.

Sources:

Hall, Clayton Colman, Baltimore: Its History and People, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York, 192, p. 143-144.

Harper, Ida Husted, The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. VI, National American Woman Suffrage Association, J. J. Little & Ives, Co. New York, 1922, p. 248-266. [LINK to MD state report]

Myers, Thomas M., Norris Family of Maryland, New York, 1916, p. 45.

United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, Olney, Harford County, Maryland, HA-154, Sec. 8, p. 2-7.

Ancestry.com: Henrietta Tyson Norris, Mary Norris Perry, Henrietta Perry Goodridge Family trees, census records, death records, Find-a-Grave.

"Maryland Heraldry: History of Distinguished Families and Personages," The Baltimore Sun, (Baltimore, MD), January 22, 1905. Accessed through Newspapers.com, June 15, 2020.

Death Notice for Henrietta Norris, The Baltimore Sun, (Baltimore, MD), October 13, 1929. Accessed through Newspapers.com, June 15, 2020.

back to top