Noted events in his life were:
• Emigration: Set Sail from Leith, Scotland on the ship Brilliant, 14 Mar 1817-14 Jun 1817. 3 brothers, John , William And Archibald set sail from Leith, Scotland on 14th March 1817 onboard the Brilliant and arriving in Cape Town on 14 June 1817. John Brought with him his son, John (we now refer to them as John (Snr) & John (Jnr)) and his wife Janet Foyar. John (Snr) & Janet left behind 2 daughters, Janet & Jean and another son Henry who had left Glasgow for London in 1816.
These two John Norvals, together with John (Snr's) brothers, Archibald Joseph and William are in effect the start of the Norval family in South Africa.
In total there were some 200 settlers in Moodie's party aboard three ships, the Brilliant, Garland and Clyde .
All these Norvals were comb-makers but there was no demand for their skills in the Cape at this time. Moodie's intentions towards those members of his party that he could not use himself was to indenture them to anyone who was interested on arrival at the Cape . However, John Norval (snr) was unable to find anyone to apprentice him and decided to return home to Scotland . But he was prevented from doing so when the ship sailed without him while he was in Wynberg. These Norvals had no alternative but to seek whatever work they could find.
From 1817 until 1828 John Norval (jnr) busied himself in various activities around the Cape . Then he moved to Graaff-Reinet where he opened a hat factory. There he met Mary Jane Murray, the daughter of an 1820 Settler, James L. Murray and his wife Sarah (née Armstrong). John Norval and Mary Jane were married at the end of 1831 at Graaff-Reinet.
After their first child was born in January 1833, John and his wife moved their hat factory to Colesberg where they arrived on 1st January 1834 . This village became famous for the wide-brimmed felt hats that were favoured by the farmers, hunters and traders in particular. Meanwhile John Norval added auctioneering to his skills and practised as a auctioneer at Colesberg.