Select Knight Surname Genealogy

Here are some Knight stories and accounts over the years:

Knights in Romsey, Hampshire

Romsey is a small market town in the valley of the river Test seven miles NW of Southampton.  It is principally known for its 12th century Norman church, originally the chapel of a Benedictine nunnery.  Romsey Abbey was famous for its roses at the time of William Rufus in the late 11th century. 

The parish registers of Romsey were kept in the Cathedral and began in 1569, although there were a few scattered records of earlier dates at Romsey and Timsbury.  The name of Knight was common in the town at that time. 

The earliest record was that of John Knight of Romsey who died in 1549.  This John helped save Romsey Abbey from the greed of Henry VIII at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.  His will lists his wife Maude and his two sons John and William.  Knights from Timsbury a few miles north of Romsey date from later in the 16th century.  They were apparently a minor gentry family who had come originally from Northamptonshire.

The Knights and The Reindeer Inn in Banbury

It would seem that a baker called John Knight, then living in the timber-framed building which now forms the western half of the Reindeer Inn’s frontage, bought a cottage or shop adjoining it.  In 1570 he demolished this cottage and built an extension to his house which now forms the eastern part of the Reindeer.  It probably became an inn sometime between 1564 and 1570.  John and Joan Knight were recorded then as its proprietors. 

By 1637, just before the English Civil War, the Reindeer was perhaps Banbury’s most important pub.  It is believed that Oliver Cromwell planned the Battle of Edge Hill at the Reindeer.  Wiiliam Knight paid the chief rent for the Reindeer in 1664 and was probably its landlord at that time. 

In days gone by, its location on Parsons Street was on the rough end of town and was generally well populated with ladies of the night and the activities that surrounded them.  One of the strangest stories was that a knife or sword belonging to the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin was discovered in the loft above the Globe Room. 

Trade at the Inn was probably declining by the early 18th century as the Knight family sold off the Reindeer in 1706.  It passed through several hands since that time and is still flourishing as a pub in Banbury today.

Richard Payne Knight at Downton

The main building of Downton Castle in Herefordshire was finished in 1778, though the domed dining room, the Great Room, was added in 1782.  For some years afterwards work continued on the decorating and furnishing of the classical interior and in laying out the grounds in the naturalistic style beloved by Richard Payne Knight. 

Richard Payne Knight, it was said, was a man endowed by nature and by circumstance with gifts far exceeding most.  In addition to his many valuable paintings, he collected a fabulous library at Downton where he would often read for ten hours at a stretch. 

In his social life he was an extreme sophisticate, suffering the foolish not at all.  He always surrounded himself with the elegant, the intellectual and the artistic.  Yet he had a sense of humor and wrote amusing verses satirizing social occasions  He would also eulogize some of the beautiful women of his acquaintance - such as Lady Oxford, beloved of Lord Byron, and Lady Hamilton, who with her husband and with Lord Nelson he had entertained at Downton.

Edward Knight at Chawton House

Chawton House was owned by Jane Austen's brother Edward, known as Edward Knight after having been adopted by the Knight family.  Edward had inherited the Chawton House estate in Hampshire and offered his widowed mother and two sisters a home there.  It was from the cottage in Chawton that Jane Austen started her most productive writing period from 1809 to 1817. 

Edward possessed a silk suit which has survived and was recently described as follows: 

"The matching silk frock coat and breeches are dated to approximately 1789.  The coat is fully lined with a yellow silk taffeta fabric, with the sleeves being lined in a white plain weave linen fabric.  The olive green breeches are constructed in ribbed silk and feature a wide waistband, loose fitting seat and finished below the knee with narrow cuffs.  The coat and breeches are a good example of the fashion of the day, with Edward's penchant for oversize buttons!” 

There is also a painting of Edward Knight which was thought to have been commissioned in Italy and painted in Rome in early 1790 while he was completing his Grand Tour of Europe.  The fashionably dressed Edward was depicted standing among classical ruins in a leafy glade compete with grotto.  The portrait used to hang in the dining room of Chawton House until the estate was sold in the 1950's.

Elder Knight, Primitive Baptist in Georgia

William Anderson Knight, born in North Carolina in 1778, moved with his parents to Georgia when he was about ten.  He married Sarah Cone there in 1798 and they were one of the first settlers in Wayne county. William was later to serve as its state senator and one of its justices of the peace.  

Elder Knight later became active in the Primitive Baptist ministry.  He was ordained to the Gospel ministry in 1830 and, in the years that followed, became very zealous in the spread of the Gospel into frontier country, organizing several new churches there.  He and his pastor, Elder Matthew Albritton, often went together on trips that required days, many miles from home.  Elder Knight stayed busy holding special services in the homes of the settlers, visiting the sick, conducting funerals, organizing "arms" of Union Church that later became independent churches and assisting in constituting new churches over an area a hundred miles or more in extent. 

His missionary labors precluded him from serving as pastor of many of the churches that wanted him.  He assisted in the constituting of Unity Primitive Baptist Church in Lowndes county in 1841 and became its first pastor, serving until his death eighteen years  later.

Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones

Newton Knight lived onto 1922 and it was not until after his death that accounts of Knight and his followers during the Civil War in Jones county, Mississippi were brought out by descendants of him and other local figures of those years.

In 1935 Knight's son Tom Knight published a book about his father, The Life and Activities of Captain Newton Knight.  Tom portrayed his father as a Civil War-era Robin Hood who refused to fight for a cause with which he did not agree.

Taking a contrary view was his great niece Ethel Knight.  She wrote a 1951 history entitled Echo of the Black Horn: An Authentic Tale of 'he Governor of the Free State of Jones.  She criticized Knight as a traitor to the Confederacy and castigated him for his marriage to a freedwoman.  Ethel portrayed Newton as a backward, ignorant, murderous traitor.  She argued that most members of the Knight Company were not Unionists, but had been manipulated by Knight into joining his cause.

Fruit of the Loom

The Fruit of the Loom brand dates back to 1851 in Rhode Island when Robert Knight, a Rhode Island textile mill owner, visited his friend, Rufus Skeel.  Mr. Skeel owned a small shop in Providence that sold cloth from Mr. Knight's mill. 

Mr. Skeel's daughter painted images of apples and applied them to the bolts of cloth.  The ones with the apple emblems proved most popular.  Mr. Knight thought the labels would be the perfect symbol for his trade name, Fruit of the Loom - a name bearing resemblance to the phrase “fruit of the womb,” an expression meaning "children" which can be traced back to its use in the Bible. 

In 1871, just one year after the first trademark laws were passed by Congress, Robert Knight received trademark number 418 for the brand, Fruit of the Loom.

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