Calvin dated from Geneva, on 1st August, 1559, the last corrected edition of his work, " The Institutions of the Christian Religion ;" and immediately afterwards, Norton, at the special request of his " dear friends," Reginald Woolfe and Edward Whitehurche,1 translated it " out of Latin into English for the commodity of the Church of Christ," that " so great a jewel might be made most beneficial; that is to say, applied to most common use."2 The work was published in 1561, and in Norton's lifetime went through five editions.
The suspicion, grudge, and talke goeth among the Quene's good subjectes, how such fellowes be the coyners of newes; in the beginning of the rebellion how lustie they were, how their countenances, their fleering, their flinging paces, their whisperings, shewed their hartes; how they had newes of every encrease, of every going forward, and every avantageable doing of the rebelles; how they have newes out of Fraunce and Flaunders with the soonest, God knoweth what they send thither, and with what reciprocation they requite such newes againe; how they had newes of the late horrible murder ere it was done, as if they had ben accessaries before the fact; how they write letters at home directed to themselves ; how with these pretty letters, while they be fresh bleeding, that is, so scarcely drie that the ink blotteth, with their great countenances, and their wondrous intelligence and great insightes in secrets of princes, as if they were kinges' cousines, and with their offrings of wagers, and such other braggeries, they deface (as men say) all that can be brought or reported never so truly of any good successe to the Quene or her frendes. There is no trace of the school in which Norton was taught the rudiments of the Latin tongue, of which, at an early period of his life (although he had not then proceeded to either University), he was a complete master; but he very soon obtained the substantial patronage of the Protector Somerset : and was in such favour, that he is thought by Herbert* " to have been the state amanuensis." When only eighteen years of age his first work appeared : it was printed in October, 1550,5 and was a very well executed translation of Peter Martyr's letter to Somerset,6 rendered into English at the desire of Norton's patron. Somerset did not long live to patronize and assist; and Norton, turning his attention to the law as a profession, entered himself, in 1555, as a student of the Inner Temple.7 His success in his profession shows that he must have studied the law diligently; and yet, during the very period of his keeping his terms, he found time for those literary labours, which have commended him to us. Thomas Norton, of Sharpenhoe, a manor and hamlet in the parish of Streatley,1 Bedfordshire, was a native of that county, and born in 1532. 2 Wood not inaptly calls him " a forward and busy Calvinist, and noted zealot;" but Strype incorrectly describes him as " a minister of good parts and learning," 3 conferring upon him the unattained degree of D. : a mistake into which the style and subjects of Norton's writings might well have led men more accurate than Strype.
And in fine he let the Archbishop know that he was so far from writing against Whitgift, that he could not but approve him and his cause: expressing a great trouble that the Archbishop should have any such belief of him.