Maximillian Norreys: argumentum, quod vita est, quod fit, dum nos faciens ad alia factus consilia!

So I have an assignment for you – do a google search on “latin translation” and plug the title of this article into it. Everyone should know about this amazing tool the good folks at Google have brought into our world!  And make no mistake – after the curse of  targeted advertising, they owed us one!

Such translators now exist online for nearly everything, including converting roman numerals into English (which I also found useful in preparing this article). One bit of advice though – when you get a translation into a language you don’t understand, paste what it gave you back in, and translate it back into English.  This is a good check to be sure the meaning didn’t change dramatically in translation. If it did, adjust your original phrasing until the reverse works well enough.

Just be aware, these translations are coarse and are suitable for basic understandings only. Don’t expect the French you get from Google “translate” to win the heart of a French woman!  For that, I suggest chocolate, flowers and having someone who is actually fluent in conversational French teach you how to properly pronounce “Hello, Lovely Woman! Forgive my embarrassing French for now, and I will learn a sonnet “en français” for our one year anniversary!”  Yes, I think that might just do it!  : )

With thanks to my new friend Jean T (from the Société Jersiaise) I now have a translation of the writing on the tombstone of Maximillien Norreys. This was especially helpful as I believe it conclusively settles a disagreement between various historical records about the dates of the birth and death of Maximillien Norreys.

In a number of historical research articles regarding the Norris family, Maximillien Norreys is reported to have been born around 1557 – one year after his next youngest brother.  Those same sources report that he died fighting in France in 1593.  This would have made him 36 years old at the time of his death, as I originally reported in my initial article about Maximillien.  See it here if you have not already – The Fascinating Story of Maximillien Norreys!

But, my friends in Jersey disagreed – and had the incontrovertible evidence to settle the question!  Here is the translation of the Latin on Maximillien’s tombstone (which I hadn’t seen until Jean provided it):

This is a translation of the Latin text on the tombstone of Maximillien Norreys from a book by “Corbet”.

Of course, I double checked what I could of the Latin and the roman numeral dates, and also the text against photos I have taken of the tombstones.  I found no discrepancies at all.  So, what have we learned?

First, Maximillien was much younger than the larger world seems to have thought – and he was apparently a late arrival to the Norris Family! If he died in 1591 and was 24 years old, he must have been born in 1567 (not 1557).  He was thus born twelve years after his next youngest brother…quite a gap of time, given that all 6 of his siblings were otherwise born within a span of only 9 years.  Remarkably, his mother would have been 46 years old when he was born. His father would have been 42.  In our time, this is remarkable.  In the 1500’s this must have seemed almost miraculous…

In my earlier article, I originally deduced that Maximillien was 9 years old when his father was made a knight by Queen Elizabeth I during her visit in 1566.  It now seems rather than being alive to witness the significant honor given his father by the sitting Queen of England, Maximillien may instead have been the unplanned result of the celebration following the event!


Your comments and corrections are gladly welcomed.  I admire great writing, but have little choice but to approach this task as one of grinding a workable edge onto a rough blade – with my thanks for your generosity of spirit and firm critique in the meantime! 

-Greg Sherwood

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