The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
JOHN NORMAN (1781-1847)
There is no information about where Mr John Norman came from beyond that he was born outside the County of Devon sometime around 1781.
What is known is that in partnership with a Mr W C Hodge, he founded the Dock Bank in 1807.
John Norman was certainly in the parish of Stoke Damerel in 1809 when he married Miss Anna Maria Spry in the parish church.
The banking business must have done very well as he was able to commission the local architect, Mr John Foulston, to design Belmont House at Stoke. The House had a special gallery to house his extensive art collection.
Luckily for Mr Norman his Dock Bank, which became the Devonport Bank as from January 1st 1824, survived the banking crash of 1825, perhaps because it was smaller than the others.
By the 1841 census the family were in residence there and consisted of Master William Thomas Norman, born around 1812; Miss Anna Norman and Miss Sophia Norman, born in 1821; Master Alfred Norman, 1823; and Master Edmund Norman, 1825. There were three servants, Miss Catherine Daniell, Miss Mary Dobson, and Miss Mary Munk.
Mr John Norman died at his home in Ker Street, Devonport, in 1847.
The funeral cortege left Ker Street at 9am preceded by Mr Weary, the undertaker, and included 16 carriages containing almost the whole of the officers and committee of the Devonport Mechanics' Institute. The service at the Plymouth (Treville Street) Unitarian Chapel was conducted by the Reverend W J Odgers. Mr Normanís mortal remains were interred in a vault in the burial ground attached to the Chapel.
During his lifetime he had been President of the Plymouth Institution in 1818, 1820, and 1824, and Vice President in 1833 and 1835.
Of him it was said: 'Never breathed a man more free from pride. His was indeed a charity which vaunted not itself. He was scrupulously observant of all courtesy, and as incapable of a petty act as of a base one. He was absolutely childlike in his simplicity; and his candour was, therefore, occasionally more obedient to impulse than subject to caution.'
He was also described as: 'Philanthropic to the point of rashness but his acts of charity were all carried out with the most commendable modesty.í
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