Adam Norrie was the son
of John Norrie and Margaret Smith, and was born on the 13th February,
1796, at Montrose, Scotland. He died on the 6th June, 1882, at his
residence, No. 303 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
He received his early
education at Montrose, and at the age of nineteen years went to
Gottenburg, Sweden, where for nine years he was employed in a large iron
manufacturing firm. He was also identified with this industry at
Stockholm, whence he set out for the United States in 1823 as the
representative of the iron manufacturers to investigate the prospects of
building up a trade with this country.
possibilities in the new country for an enterprising importing firm, Mr.
Norrie soon entered into a copartnership with James Boorman and John
Johnston, under the firm name of “Boorman, Johnston & Co.” Their
principal transactions were in Swedish iron, and their place of business
was in Greenwich, near Cedar, Street. At the deaths of Mr. Boorman and
Mr. Johnston, James B. Johnston, the son of John Johnston, became a
partner to Air. Norrie and the business was continued in an office on
Broadway and Wall Street, over the Bank of the Republic, under the old
firm name until 1875, when Mr. Norrie retired.
Thereafter he devoted his
entire time and attention to the many business and financial interests
with which he was identified. He was one of the original stockholders of
the canal between Lakes Michigan and Superior and one of the oldest
promoters and largest stockholders of the railroad then known as the
Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Michigan. He was Vice-President of the Bank of
Savings and a director of the Bank of Commerce from the time of its
organization. He was also a trustee of the Royal Insurance Company and
was at one time the Chairman of its Finance Committee.
In addition to his
numerous business organizations, he was long a prominent figure in the
large charitable and religious corporations of this city, and his
benefactions in this line were as remarkable for generosity as for the
modest manner in which they were accomplished.
He was one of the
founders of St. Luke's Hospital, of which he acted as Treasurer from
1853-1882; a manager of the Orphan Home and Asylum; President of the
Society of St. Johnland at London Island, where he built a chapel at his
own expense; President of the New York Dispensary, and a trustee of the
Parochial Fund of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New
Air. Norrie succeeded
John David Wolf as Senior Warden of Grace Church in 1872, having
previously succeeded George Barclay as Junior Warden.
His character was
conspicuous for commercial integrity, and his high sense of justice and
tolerance gave him an enviable position in the community. Throughout all
his career he was noted for evenness of temper and respect for the
opinions of others, and a kindness of manner in administering the many
and difficult problems of business and charitable work. It was
undoubtedly owing to his sound judgment and generous aid that some of
the leading charities of this city were started on their useful and
He was elected a member
of Saint Andrew’s Society in 1827 and qualified as a life member in
1867; served as a Manager from 18381840; as Second Vice-President from
1843-1851, and President from 1851-1862. He also served on the Standing
Committee in 1863, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1877 and 1879,
and was the First Treasurer of the Centennial Fund, acting from 1st
December, 1856, the date of its creation, to the nth November, 1869.
Upon his retirement from the presidency in 1862 Mr. Norrie presented the
Society with a perpetual right to a bed in St. Luke’s Hospital, which
has been the medium of comfort and relief to many ill and suffering
He married on the 16th
May, 1827, at Trinity Church, Alary Johanna Van Horne, daughter of
Garett Van Horne and Ann Margaret Clarkson, and had issue: (1) Ann
Margaret; (2) Gordon; (3) Alary Van Horne: (4) Julia C.
His portrait; reproduced
from an oil painting bv Daniel Huntington now in the possession of his
daughter, Mrs. Warren C. Beach.