William Norvell (born ca. 1725 -died November 22, 1802) was a member of the Virginia Convention of 1776. He was a prominent man and a signer of three issues of Virginia money. He was honored by his appointment as a signer of the Virginia treasury notes (paper money) authorized by the Assembly’s Act of March 4, 1773 and issued in September of that year. Among the five other signers of that issue at various times were the Colonial Treasurer, Robert Carter Nicholas, and Col. Philip Johnson.
This pre-Revolutionary paper money issue of 1773 included no “small notes” (less than one ), but rather a total of 36,384 in notes having face values of one (20 shillings), two, and three, in “current money of Virginia”; this meant, in terms of hard money, six shillings to the silver dollar. It is not possible now to determine how many notes were signed by William Norvell or of which denominations, but there were a great number.
William Norvell signed large quantities of Virginia “small notes”and others issued per Ordinances of July 17, 1775 and May 6, 1776.
Thus, William Norvell of James City County was a signer of three consecutive issues of Virginia paper money in the Revolutionary period. Two included the offbeat denominations. These odd denominations of 15-30-60-90 pence reappeared as 15-30-60-90 cents nearly 100 years later among Lynchburg City notes of the Civil War era.
William Norvell’s standing in the community and his interest in the Colonial government were rewarded by his commissioning as a “Gentleman Justice” of James City County July 8, 1767, and also as Sheriff October 20th of that year, continuing until 1769. Election winners in the Virginia House of Burgesses generally came from the leading families. In 1774, they were an illustrious company in this 155-year-old legislature. Present were such men as George Washington representing Fairfax County, Thomas Jefferson of Albemarle County, Patrick Henry of Hanover County, and Robert Carter Nicholas, Treasurer of the Colony.
The James City County freeholders elected William Norvell for a term in the last House of Burgesses (1774), and for all five Revolutionary Conventions, also for seventeen consecutive annual terms of the new House of Delegates.
In 1792, he was 66 years of age at the end of his last term in the House of Delegates.