Norris, Philip (c.1400–1465), scholar and controversialist, was probably born in Dundalk, where on 31 July 1427 he was presented to the parish church of St Nicholas. Granted leave of absence for seven years in order to study at a university, he went to Oxford; there he witnessed documents concerning Oriel College and from 1427 to 1429 – by which time he must have been BA – acted as principal of the Little University Hall. He later became B.Th. (by 1431) and D.Th. (by 1435). He was granted letters testimonial by the university on 20 June 1431 to protect him against outspoken criticism, and in December 1432 he witnessed a composition between Lincoln College and Thomas Gascoigne, later the chancellor of the university.
On 26 August 1433 Pope Eugenius IV presented Norris to a canonry in St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, with the prebend of Mulhuddart (Co. Dublin), while permitting him also to retain his benefice in Dundalk. On 11 October 1435 the University of Oxford thanked the dean and chapter of St Patrick's for Norris's promotion and on 12 March 1436 the university recommended him to the archbishop of Dublin, Richard Talbot (qv) (d. 1449), as preacher, ‘sonora sancte predicacionis tuba’ (the resounding trumpet of sacred eloquence). In November 1435 proceedings were started against Norris for non-residence in Dundalk under the statute of Richard II (qv) of 1394 against Irish absentees, as he had exceeded his seven-year leave of absence, and in 1438 the archbishop of Armagh, John Swayne (qv), acknowledged receipt of letters from the king's lieutenant in Ireland compelling Norris to residence in Dundalk.
While at Oxford, Norris had begun to criticize the four orders of mendicant friars with arguments similar to those of Richard FitzRalph (qv), who as archbishop of Armagh had also used the church of St Nicholas in Dundalk. It was presumably because of this criticism that the university granted Norris the letters testimonial of June 1431 and did so again on 11 October 1435, to protect him against ‘calumpnancium invidia’ (the jealousy of false accusers). The University of Cambridge protested on 8 May 1438 about his campaign against the friars. The Dominican Thomas Hore had already appealed against him to the papal curia, and the Augustinian friar William Mussilwike had him cited for heresy in 1438 before John Stafford, chancellor of England and bishop of Bath and Wells. This initiative was a failure, as the university supported Norris and briefly suspended Mussilwike for breach of university privilege. The friars were equally unsuccessful when the matter came before the convocation of Canterbury, whereupon the provincials of the four orders appealed to the Roman curia.
The grand penitentiary Domenico Capranica, bishop of Fermo and cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in via Lata in Rome, was commissioned in October 1437 by Eugenius IV to investigate the charges. Norris was cited to appear at the papal curia but failed to do so. Subsequently, he claimed that his enemies had secured his detention in England by royal order as appeals to Rome were forbidden under the statute of Praemunire (1353), furthermore that because Capranica was unaware of this he regarded the accused as insubordinate. On the basis of Capranica's investigations Eugenius IV condemned and excommunicated Norris in a bull of 24 August 1440 to the archbishops of Armagh (John Prene (qv)) and Dublin (Richard Talbot), which contains a detailed statement of Norris's accusations and of the case for the defence. Norris questioned the friars' right to exercise priestly office, and insisted that penitents who confessed to a friar were obliged to repeat the same sins to their own parish priest. Finally, Norris's claim that he would submit to judgment only before a general council was used against him, and he was ordered to pay the costs of the trial.
In May 1443 Norris appealed against this condemnation to the Council of Basel, which no longer had papal approval, and obtained a revocation of the sentence of excommunication. This judgment was subsequently confirmed by Nicholas V in a bull, no longer extant. Norris clearly continued to enjoy the confidence of the crown: from a bull of 5 February 1452 issued by Nicholas V it emerges that Henry VI had presented Norris to the parish church of St Patrick in Trim, Meath, despite the fact that the former holder, Edmund Ouldhall, had received a papal dispensation to retain it after becoming bishop of Meath. Norris was cited to appear before the archbishop of Armagh, John Mey (qv) on 21 October 1454 or as soon as possible thereafter.
On 22 December 1455 Calixtus III granted Norris a dispensation to receive, in addition to the rectory in Trim – which was wealthy by Irish standards – another compatible benefice. On 18 March 1456 the same pope confirmed the rehabilitation of Norris pronounced by Nicholas V, and further absolved him from the offence of having adhered so long to the schismatic Council of Basel. He ordered the friars not to molest Norris in future, but to help restore his reputation for orthodoxy. The archbishops of Canterbury and Dublin were to ensure that Norris – now advanced in age – enjoyed his benefices in peace. These benefices then included the prebend of Iago, Kildare, in the chapter of St Patrick's cathedral, of which Norris became dean in 1457.
Norris died in 1465, having for the previous seven years been too ill to make a will. He donated to Lincoln College, Oxford, a codex containing Speculum philosophiae and other items. John Bale (qv) ascribes to him the following works: Declamationes, Lecturae scripturarum, Sermones ad populum, and a tractate Contra mendicitatem validem, but no surviving manuscripts have been located.