Whitley was born at the London Hospital, the youngest son of Walter Ernest Whitley CH by his wife Eliza Rose McGhee. The Whitley family lived in the City of Westminster where his father practiced law, conveniently close to the Royal Courts of Justice and the various Inns of Court. In 1897, at the age of seven, Whitley was admitted into Westminster School and was educated there until 1903 when he went to Eton College. Whitley lived in the Cotton Hall House until he left in 1908. Whitley was a member of the Lacrosse team roster in the 1908 Summer Olympics hosted by Great Britain. The British team went on to win silver in the Lacrosse at the 1908 Summer Olympics, losing to Canada. He then went on to begin his military career.
On leaving Eton, Whitley was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment. After basic training he was assigned to India where he remained until 1922. While in India, he met Florence May Erskine (14 July 1895 - 11 August 1990) while she was treating him for several flesh wounds. They were married in 1920 by a chaplain in his unit. The Whitleys continued living and serving in India when their first son, James Norman, was born. Two years later the family were dispatched to the crown colony of Singapore in early 1923. It was here that Norman and Florence's second son, Peter, was born. Subsequently, the remaining three children were also born in Singapore. In 1930 Whitley asked to be re-assigned to mainland England and was subsequently given permission. The family settled in Windsor in the county of Berkshire until Whitley retired from the British Army in 1950. Whitley had been awarded the Military Cross in 1918. In 1965 he was also created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (Military division). He and Florence then moved to Lancashire. He lived there until his death in 1982.
- 1. James Norman Whitley, 31 August 1921
- 2. Peter Whitley, 22 October 1923 - 25 January 2003 married Lady Mary Cambridge
- 3. Henry Daniel Whitley, 9 May 1924 - 2 June 1944
- 4. Margaret Yvonne Whitley, 3 June 1925
- 5. Virginia Louise Helena Whitley, 19 October 1926
At the time of his death in 1982, Sir Norman had eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
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