Once a Knight is Enough

Knight Genealogy

by Laura Knight


Knights of St Brides Fleet Street Part 2:
Thomas Knight, Scrivener, Recusant


In the first part of the Knights of St Brides, a couple of things were touched on briefly which I want to come back to here, namely, the records of Thomas Knight, Scrivener and Thomas Knight, Recusant. I will reproduce the records here for convenience.

We first learn of Thomas Knight's profession with the birth of his daughter, Jayne:

Jayne Knight, dau. of Thomas Knight, Scryvener, 1 Mar 1612.

Jayne Knight, d/o Thomas Knight Scrivener
Jayne Knight
Thomas Knight, Scrivener

Up to this point in time, Thomas has baptized a number of children at St Bride's so it is disorienting to read in the court sessions held 3 and 4 Oct 1616, that “Thomas Knight, scrivener, and Joan his wifeKatherine, wife of Richard Knight, scrivener”, were charged with  “not coming to church from the above date for the space of two months then next following.”  (Ref.)  They showed up a second time in the records of February of 1618, charged with recusancy: “Thomas Knight, scrivener, and Joan his wife, Katherine, wife of Richard Knight”.  (Ref.) 

Well, notice the specificity: they hadn't come to church for two months which suggested they had come to church prior to that.

But, does this charge of recusancy mean there were two Thomas Knights who were scriveners? It is possible, but I don't think so because of the name of the wife: Joan/Jayne, which was interchanged often enough. Spelling was notoriously fluid in those times.

Let's recap the records of the family of Thomas Knight, Scrivener. Those that I found burial records for will be noted with the dates in red:

1600 Aug 24 - Anna Knight, dau of Thomas Knight.
1605 Feb 25 - Henry Knight, son of Thomas Knight. Bur. 1606 Aug 20.
1609 Mar 20 - Grace Knight, dau of Thomas Knight. Bur 1610 Aug 12.
1612 Mar 1 - Jayne Knight, dau of Thomas Knight, Scrivener.
1616 Feb 8 - William Knight, son of Thomas Knight and Jayne.
1618 Apr 21 - Rebecka, dau to Thomas Knight. (No wife mentioned.)

Notice that there was no wife named with this last child of Thomas' and since it had become customary to list the wife at this point in the register, one suspects that she may have died. We cannot be 100% sure that the next appearance of a Thomas Knight is the same one when we first encounter it, but further records will show that it is.

1622 Sep 18 - John Knight, son of Thomas Knight and Sarah.
1624 Sep 15 - Sarah Knight, dau of Thomas Knight and Sarah. Bur. 1625 Jan 2.
1626 Apr 16 - Katherine Knight, dau of Thomas Knight and Sarah.
1627 Feb 10 - Elizabeth Knight, dau of Thomas Knight and Sarah.

Six years after the last child of Thomas and Sarah, another Thomas Knight appears:

1634 Jan 29 - Elizabeth Knight, dau to Thomas Knight and Katherine.

Is it possible that this is the same Thomas Knight? We note that the child is named Elizabeth, same as the last child of Thomas and Sarah, so that weighs against it. We don't have a burial record for either wife Sarah or that child; but then, we don't have a burial record for Thomas' wife, Jayne/Joan, either. It could very well be the same Thomas naming a second daughter "Elizabeth" because the first one has died and we have no burial record. But, this is the last appearance of Thomas at St Bride's. Further records show that he had at least two additional children, but those records are not at St Bride's.

We note that Thomas Knight, Scrivener, was brought up on the charges of recusancy on 1616 Oct 3/4, and again 1618 Feb, just two months before the birth of Rebecka and there is suspicion that Joan/Jayne died at that time or not long after. We also note that there is a Richard Knight mentioned in the recusancy charge because his wife is the recusant, but we do not find a Richard Knight at St Bride's. Searches of other parish registries should be made. Further records will show that Thomas Knight had a son named Richard Knight, so this supports the idea that Richard Knight named in the recusancy charge was his brother.

As a legal term, at that time, Recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. The term, which derives ultimately from the Latin recusare (to refuse or make an objection) was first used to refer to those who remained loyal to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church; there was a 1593 statute determining the penalties against "Popish recusants". As far as the term is used in the present day, recusant applies to the descendants of Roman Catholic British gentry and peerage families. Non-Catholic groups composed of Reformed Christians or Protestant dissenters from the Church of England were later labelled "recusants" as well. Early recusants included Protestant dissenters, whose confessions derived from various Radical Reformers. With the growth of these latter groups after the Restoration of Charles II, they were distinguished from Catholic recusants by the terms "nonconformist" or "dissenter". But before the Restoration, both Catholics and Calvinists were called “Recusant”, including Puritans.

If the Thomas Knight, scrivener of St Bride was the same Thomas Knight, scrivener of the court records, what exactly is going on here? Was he not yet recusant until 1616? Or was he playing the official game to keep the authorities happy, doing a few things at the State sponsored church, but keeping the important things for his other confressional rites? Or were the authorities just over-controlling and trigger happy in those times?

As noted in Part 1, Rebecka Knight was a key to the Thomas Knight family. She apparently married Arthur Blackmore who died in Virginia and we learn a bit more about the relationships from Arthur's will:

1664 – Mar 31 – London St Gregory - Will of Arthur Blackmore, Cit & painter stainer of London with Bequests to sons Humphrey Blackmore, Arthur Blackmore; daughters Frances, Mary and Sara; brother-in-law Mr. John Knight and his wife; Mr. Anthony Reed; wife and executrix Rebecka Knight Blackmore; overseers, John Knight and Mr. Patrick Barrett and John Hartry. Apparently, he died in the colonies. (Coldham 1992, p. 16)

Sixteen years later, another will brings more information:

1680 – Jan 27 – London St Bride - Will – John Knight, Esq –“Principall chirurgeon to his Majestie… (Charles II)

Bequests to:

daughters of my sister Francis Bodham at present unmarried, to each of them
Thomas Ward (Nord?), son of my sister, Catherine
sister Elizabeth Francis, viz Edward and Thomas
each of my sisters, viz Rebecka Blackamore, Elizabeth Francis, Francis Bodham, and Sarah Mangridge,
Susan King, my late wife’s sister

Rose Whale, Elizabeth Whale, and Mary Whale, daughters of my late wife’s sister, Anne Whale
nephew Arthur Blackamore, son of my eldest sister Rebecka Blackamore
Mary Goodwin and Sarah Blackamore, daughters of the said Rebecka
Mary Goodwyn, daughter of the previously mentioned Mary Goodwyn
late brother, William Knight, his wife Elizabeth Knight, and their two children
my daughter Fanny being of age and signing and sealing my testament of agreement between her husband and myself;
two sons of my sister Elizabeth Francis and the son of my sister Francis Bodham, viz Edward and Thomas Francis and Edward Bodham, all the remainder of my estate to be equally divided amongst them share and share alike

From this we derive a family group:

John Knight, Surgeon m. ___, dau Fanny
William Knight
Rebecka Knight m. Blackamore, son Arthur, daus Mary and Sarah
Sarah Knight m. Mangridge
Francis Knight m. Bodham, 2 daus, son Edward
Catherine Knight m. Ward, son Thomas
Elizabeth Knight m. Francis, sons Edward and Thomas

Here I compare that group to the family of Thomas Knight at St Bride's:

Family Group of Thomas Knight
Dates St Bride's Parents Will Evidence
1600 Anna Knight Thomas & Jayne None expected
1605-1606 Henry Knight Thomas & Jayne None expected
1609-1610 Grace Knight Thomas & Jayne None expected
1612 Jayne Knight Thomas & Jayne None expected
1616 William Knight Thomas & Jayne William Knight
1618 Rebecka Knight Thomas & Jayne Rebecka Knight m. Blackmore
1622 John Knight Thomas & Sarah Testator
1624 - 1625 Sarah Knight Thomas & Sarah A Sarah named, but can't be this one as she died
1626 Katherine Knight Thomas & Sarah Catherine Knight m. Ward
1627 Elizabeth Knight Thomas & Sarah Elizabeth Knight m. Francis or did this Eliz. die and another was born?
No record at St Bride's Thomas & ? Sarah Knight m. Mangridge
  No record at St Bride's Thomas & ? Francis Knight
No record at St Bride's Thomas & ? Richard Knight, (see William's will below).

We are missing some data, but it seems pretty clear that this is the right family. That is to say, the son of Thomas Knight, Scrivener, became the principal surgeon to the king and hobnobbed with aristocrats. Notice the change of wives between Rebecka and John. Clearly, Thomas and Sarah had more children or Thomas married again - Katherine? - because now we have a sister "Francis" and another brother will be mentioned in the testament of William. John refers to his brother William and sister Rebecka, children of Jayne, as though they were full siblings even though the parish records show that not to be the case.

In addition to brother William's date of birth, we also have his will and from this we understand that a couple of the St Bride records of births belong to him and they are much later than the last records of Thomas Knight, Scrivener:

1649 Sep 14 - Elizabeth Knight dau. of William Knight & Elizabeth.
1652 – Sep 25 – William Knight - s/o William & Elizabeth

That fits well with the will of John which leaves a legacy to late brother, William Knight, his wife Elizabeth Knight, and their two children.

And here they are in his will:

1661 – Mar 4 – London St Bride – Will – William Knight – Wishes to be buried at St Bride’s; appoints brothers, Mr. John Knight, Mr. Richard Knight, ___Isabella ___ in St Paul’s Churchyard, London, 40 shillings apiece to buy them mourning rings, they to be executors; to brothers Blackmore (Blackamore) and Franklin, 20 shillings apiece; set aside what wife needs for her widowhood, then appraise the rest of goods and sell; to all my brothers and sisters (excepting Arthur Blackmore who already has a bequest) a ring and 10 shillings; estate to be equally divided between wife and children.  ( Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858, PROB 11: Will Registers, 1660-1673, Piece 307: Laud, Quire Numbers 1-52 (1662))

This will was very poorly thought out and apparently made in haste, so I suspect that William Knight was either very sick, or wounded in some way. BUT, what is surprising now is that we have another brother: Richard Knight! John's will makes no mention of a brother named Richard, so he must have died and left no heirs. Notice also that the husband of one of the sisters that John refers to has having the surname "Francis" is here named "Franklin". That could be an error of the testator or of the official scribe.

We also find the record of this John Knight at Cambridge though there is clearly something wrong. The record says he "entered 1620" and the college is the right one: Caius; that may be a problem since the guy is in the church and the College of Gonville and Caius is historically associated with medicine! It also says he is "son of John, Gent." and was "Bapt. at Winwick, Northants, Sept 29, 1600. That is clearly incorrect based on the will and the St Bride Registry which we have compared above and found too many correspondences to think that it is wrong; additionally, the fact that this John Knight, principal surgeon to the king, was buried at St Bride's more or less confirms that our family group is correct. Anyway, the Cambridge record, which is incorrect, says in toto:

Name: John Knight College: CAIUS Entered: 1620 More Information: Adm. sizar at CAIUS, June 9, 1619. S. of John, gent. Bapt. at Winwick, Northants., Sept. 29, 1600. Matric. 1620; Scholar, 1621-5; B.A. 1622-3; M.A. 1626. Ord. deacon (Peterb.) Sept. 25; priest, Sept. 26, 1625. Mandate for M.D., 1669. Sergeant-surgeon to Charles II. Licentiate of Royal College of Physicians, 1675-6. Principal surgeon. He made a very extensive collection of Heraldic MSS. which he left to Caius College Library; also a collection of prints. Buried at St Bride's, London, Nov. 27, 1680. Will, P.C.C., 1681. (Venn, I. 246; J. Ch. Smith.)

Yes, the last part beginning with "Mandate for M.D." checks out with the will, but the presence of his named beneficiaries makes it certain that his father was, in fact, Thomas Knight, Scrivener and Recusant, and he was baptized at St Bride's, not in Northamptonshire. And he could not possibly have graduated in 1620 when he wasn't even born until 1622. Notice the vast gap between his alleged dates of degrees 1620-1625, and his "Mandate for M.D." in 1669 - 44 years later??!! Was anybody awake when they wrote that stuff??

What we can learn from this exercise is how wrong some records can be and it is always necessary to cross-check them!! Someone in charge of the Cambridge records somehow conflated two John Knights; perhaps he did not even have the birth and parentage information for the John we are concerned with here. The end result is that there is now another John Knight to add to the Cambride alumni list! Here is how the entries should look:

Name: John Knight College: CAIUS Entered: 1620 More Information: Adm. sizar at CAIUS, June 9, 1619. S. of John, gent. Bapt. at Winwick, Northants., Sept. 29, 1600. Matric. 1620; Scholar, 1621-5; B.A. 1622-3; M.A. 1626. Ord. deacon (Peterb.) Sept. 25; priest, Sept. 26, 1625.

Name: John Knight College: CAIUS Entered: ?? S. Thomas Knight, Scrivener, Bapt. at St Bride's London Sept. 22, 1618. Matric. ?? Mandate for M.D., 1669. Sergeant-surgeon to Charles II. Licentiate of Royal College of Physicians, 1675-6. Principal surgeon. He made a very extensive collection of Heraldic MSS. which he left to Caius College Library; also a collection of prints. Buried at St Bride's, London, Nov. 27, 1680. Will, P.C.C., 1681. (Venn, I. 246; J. Ch. Smith.)

Note: I have sent the correction to the Cambridge Alumni people and they responded immediately that a correction would be made though it might not be online right away.

In the bits and pieces that we have found, are there any clues whatsoever as to the parentage of Thomas Knight, Scrivener? Not as far as I can see except, perhaps, for the naming of his first son. He would need to have been born at least 1580 or thereabouts. He named his three sons, Henry, William and John. Henry died as an infant and he apparently made no effort to name a second son Henry.

One thing seems certain, this Thomas had some influence despite the fact that he was charged with recusancy; his son did very well for himself and moved in very high circles. How was that possible? Considering all the small clues, there is one family that looks like a good fit for Thomas Knight (c. 1580-?): another Thomas Knight of Shrewsbury (c. 1475-1520) Here is the History of Parliament bio on Thomas 1475 which comes complete with the requisite Henry of glorious family fame:

KNIGHT, Thomas (by 1475-1518/20), of Walford in Baschurch and Shrewsbury, Salop.

Family and Education b. by 1475, 1st s. of Roger Knight of Shrewsbury by Jane, da. of William Mytton of Weston-under-Lizard, Staffs. m. Elizabeth, da. of Nicholas Pontesbury, 3s. 5da.

Offices Held Warden, Shrewsbury drapers’ co. 1497-9, 1505-7; alderman, Shrewsbury by 1501, bailiff 1501-2, 1505-6, 1509-10, 15I3-14, 1517-18; escheator, Salop 1512-13; commr. subsidy, Shrewsbury 1514, 1515.

Biography Thomas Knight came of a leading Shrewsbury family and was related through his mother to those of Mytton and Corbet. His father was bailiff of Shrewsbury five times between 1465 and 1488 and his uncle Henry Knight was a clerk of the signet, but a Northamptonshire namesake who was also a clerk of the signet and, from 1543, clerk of the Parliaments seems to have been of a different family, although one branch of his own did settle at Charwelton in that county. In 1501 Knight and Humphrey Blike acted as feoffees for Lawrence Hosier alias Howels†. Admitted to the drapers’ company in the year 1495-6, Knight was serving his third term as bailiff of Shrewsbury when he was returned to the Parliament of 1510 with his fellow-bailiff Roger Thornes. Since that Parliament lasted only 34 days, the entry in the Shrewsbury bailiffs’ accounts for 1509-10 of a payment of £10 to Knight and Thornes for 50 days’ expenses may mean that they had sat in the Parliament of 1504, for which the town’s Members are unknown. Shrewsbury was to be slow in paying Sir Thomas Kynaston and Thomas Trentham, the Members for 1512 and 1515 and the absence of Knight’s name from the assessment made for that purpose in 1519-20 has been taken to mean that he was then dead. (Ref.)

Notice this sentence: "but a Northamptonshire namesake who was also a clerk of the signet and, from 1543, clerk of the Parliaments seems to have been of a different family, although one branch of his own did settle at Charwelton in that county." I would suggest that the other clerk of the signet from Northamptonshire was not of a different family, but was very likely the son of this Thomas Knight of Shrewsbury. I would suggest that it was this sort of influence that gave John Knight, M.D., the entree to court circles when he was the son of a "scrivener", i.e. clerk.

In the Visitations article, I've done a speculative reconstruction of those Knights as follows:

Speculative Reconstructed Genealogy of the Earliest Knights of Shropshire and Northamptonshire

Jenkyn Knight (c. 1420) m. ? had issue:

I. Roger Knight (c. 1455) 5 X Bailiff of Shrewsbury, m. Jane Mytton dau of William Mytton of Weston, had issue:

1. Thomas Knight  (c. 1475-1520) of Walford Baschurch and Shrewsbury, Shrophshire; Warden, Alderman, bailiff, escheator, m Elizabeth Pontesbury dau. of Nicholas Pontesbury and had issue:

a. Richard Knight (c. 1495 ) of Shropshire m. Elizabeth Wase dau of Sir Nicholas Wase, Knt.

b. Ralph Knight (c. 1497 ) (no information)

c. Jane Knight (c. 1499 ) (no information)

d. Ellen Knight (c. 1501 ) (no information)

e. Joyce Knight (c. 1503) (no information)

f. Katherine Knight (c. 1505) (no information)

g. Alice Knight (c. 1507) (no information)

h. Elizabeth Knight (c. 1509)  m. Richard Hamon son of Edmond Hamon

2. Alice Knight (c. 1477) m. ___ Fitzherbert

3. Anna Knight (c. 1479) m. Henry Griffin

4. Henry Knight (c. 1481) Clerk of the Signet (3 sons and no info about them)

5. Benedicta Knight (c. 1483) m. John Acton

6. Edmund Knight (c. 1485) (2 sons, no info)

II. John Knight of Shropshire (c. 1458 ) m. Alicia Forster dau. of Richard Forster

1. Adam Knight (c. 1480 )

a. Francis Knight (c. 1500)

b. John Knight (c. 1502 )  m. Anne dau and heir of ___ Hely of Charwelton: Knights of Northamptonshire to Warwickshire.

c. Margaret Knight (c. 1504)  m. John Spencer of Hodnell.

d. Joan Knight (c. 1506) m. William Holt of Aston, Warwickshire.

2. Henry Knight (c. 1482 ) (no information)

3. John Knight (c. 1484 ), m. Margaretta Walcott dau. of Hugh Walcott; son John, gr. son Nicholas of Chawton.

4. Robert Knight (c. 1486) m. Elizabeth Jaye, dau. of Richard Jaye of Jay, Shropshire.

III. William Knight of Enborne (c. 1460-1536) m. Jane Langborne dau of William Langborne of Oxfordshire.

1. Richard Knight, ‘Yeoman’ (c. 1482) father of Richard Knight of Chichester, Sussex.

2. Robert Knight (c. 1484) of Hooke in Dorset

3. Jane Knight (c. 1486) m. ____ Fenrother

4. Elizabeth Knight (c. 1488) m John Bayley

5. Nicholas Knight  (3rd son) (c. 1490) (no information)

6. John Knight (c. 1492) (4th son died at Newhouse c. 1510)

7. William Knight JR of Reading (c. 1495) (no information)

8. Robert Knight (c. 1511) (second wife) (no information)

9. John Knight “The Younger” of Newbury (c. 1513-1550) (by second wife) m. Eliz. Jackman dau of William Jackman of Wing. Buckinghamshire, had issue:

a. Richard Knight (c. 1536) of Enborne and Newbury m. Constance Michell dau of John Michell of Stanmarham, Sussex

b. John Knight, Gent (c. 1538) of St Denis, Southampton and Kingsclere

Notice the 4th son of Roger Knight: Henry Knight (c. 1481) Clerk of the Signet (3 sons and no info about them). I would suggest that he is quite possibly the direct line ancestor to our Thomas Knight of St Bride, Scrivener, (c. 1580), that it was his son who was also clerk of the signet from 1541 to 1543, after which he was one of the clerks of parliament. It really is surprising that there is nothing known about some of these Knights who were clearly interesting and important people. Perhaps Lucian Lamar Knight's "easy peasey" genealogy just simply stopped Knight family historians from even looking into things themselves?

As to possibly finding a line of descent via Henry Knight (1481), Clerk of the Signet, there is this as a possibility:

1515 Oct 17 – London – Will - Henry Knight – “My body to be buried in the Church of Our Lady of Bramley”; To the church of our Lady in Bramley bequests for several purposes, the poor, repairs, prayers, etc. Then, he mentions the Church of St Leonard; a bequest to what looks like John Cowper, then to John Wellys; something to an Anne Arundell; wills that Alice, his wife, have all his lands after his death for life and after her death, to go to son, William;  Henry seems very concerned to get prayers for his soul because he mentions that again and again; then he writes “I would that my fiefs  (fioffs) make ___ (?)  to the said William Knight upon condition…” and then he says some more that is indecipherable but mentions St Leonard and his “lands and tenements”; he names his wife, Alice, executrix and Roger Eton overseer (?). Wit: Robert Oliver, priest; John Camp and Robert Hunt. (Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858,PROB 11: Will Registers, 1384-1566, Piece 18: Holder (1514-1517))

There was an earlier will, that of John Knight, Yeoman of Camberwell Surrey, who remained his estate of "Henry Knight the Younger, the son of Henry Knight of Knight's Hill" in default of heirs. That would suggest that Henry Knight the Younger may have been his nephew.

We get an interesting return when we search for any information about Knight's Hill:

The Lambeth portion of Norwood comprises West (formerly Lower) Norwood and part of Upper Norwood; it consists of a number of low hills, Knight's Hill, Salter's Hill, Gipsy Hill, which slope gently up to the ridge along which runs the road from Streatham to Sydenham. Until the beginning of the 19th century the area was remote and inaccessible, the roads from the north tapering off into winding tracks; indeed the name Norwood is itself a reminder that it had closer connection with Croydon than with Lambeth or London. As late as 1802 a hermit known as “Matthews the hairyman” lived in the wood in a cave or “excavated residence”... The south-west extremity of the parish was much more open; the Parliamentary Survey of 1647 only mentions a small common wood called Knight's Hill, containing 40 pollard oaks and two elms.[...]

The land between St. Luke's Church and Herne Hill was formerly part of the area known as Lambeth Dean. The history of this district, and of the rest of Norwood lying in Lambeth parish is greatly complicated by the existence of two areas both called Knight's Hill. The southerly Knight's Hill formed part of Lambeth Manor and lies to the south of St. Luke's Church, while the other comprised the detached portion of the Manor of Leigham Court and of the parish of Streatham mentioned above, and lies between Norwood Road and Croxted Road. The confusion dates from the 16th century when both areas were occupied by members of the Knight family, who held a great deal of land in Lambeth and Streatham. The Manor of Leigham Court lay in the latter parish, and its descent has been traced in the Victoria County History of Surrey. Only the detached portion referred to above, containing some 160 acres, falls within the area covered by the present volume. In the 16th century it was part of the copyhold of the Manor of Leigham Court, and was usually held with an adjoining capital messuage which formed part of the copyhold of Lambeth Manor. In 1786 the Manor of Leigham Court was held by the Duke of St. Albans. (Ref.)

Well, that's a promising little titbit, but unfortunately, it doesn't tell us much. But notice that there is a "Knight's Hill" and a "Salter's Hill" and a "Gipsy Hill." The text referenced tells us that Gipsy Hill was so named because there was a gipsy camp there, and Samuel Pepys apparently visited it and wrote about it. Knight's Hill was apparently named after the Knight family. So that leads us to assume that Salter's Hill may have been named after the Salter family, but the text in question doesn't go into that at all.

So, having inferred that there were two families close to one another named Knight and Salter, and having made a tentative connection between Thomas Knight, Scrivener and the family holding Knight's Hill in the 16th century, we are intrigued by the fact that Arthur Knight of St Bride's married an Ursula Salter. But, a discussion of that family will come in the next article.

And that brings us back to the early part of the St Bride's parish register where I noted "The earliest part of the registry contains an entry for the marriage of a Robert Arrowsmith and Jane Brice 30 November 1587. It seems that Mr. Arrowsmith was either a vicar of the church or a scribe". Then followed the first appearance of a Knight in that registry, the birth of Henry Arrow Knight on 30 Sep 1594. It was just too much of a coincidence for me not to do some searching.

Recusants and Martyrs

It has been said that the recusant period reaped an extensive harvest of saints and martyrs.  Among the more famous is, of course, Sir Thomas More, Lord High Chancellor to Henry VIII who has been canonized a saint by the Catholic Church. But another famous bunch were called the “Forty Martyrs” among whose names one will find foreshadowings of emigrants to the Colonies. The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales were members of a philanthropic community executed for treason between 1535 and 1679 (yes, that late!), often sentenced to death without trial. A list of 40 of such persons was submitted to the Pope in 1960 because many of those on the list had some sort of miracle attributed to them. The Pope canonized all of them on 25 Oct 1970. You may note one of your ancestors or a relation of one of your ancestors on this list:

The Forty Martyrs
Saint John Almond
Saint Edmund Arrowsmith
Saint Ambrose Barlow
Saint John Boste
Saint Alexander Briant
Saint Edmund Campion
Saint Margaret Clitherow
Saint Philip Evans
Saint Thomas Garnet
Saint Edmund Gennings
Saint Richard Gwyn
Saint John Houghton
Saint Philip Howard
Saint John Jones
Saint John Kemble
Saint Luke Kirby
Saint Robert Lawrence
Saint David Lewis
Saint Anne Line
Saint John Lloyd
Saint Cuthbert Mayne
Saint Henry Morse
Saint Nicholas Owen
Saint John Payne
Saint Polydore Plasden
Saint John Plessington
Saint Richard Reynolds
Saint John Rigby
Saint John Roberts
Saint Alban Roe
Saint Ralph Sherwin
Saint Robert Southwell
Saint John Southworth
Saint John Stone
Saint John Wall
Saint Henry Walpole
Saint Margaret Ward
Saint Augustine Webster
Saint Swithun Wells
Saint Eustace White

The Welsh Martyrs are the priests Philip Evans and John Lloyd, John Jones, David Lewis, John Roberts, and the teacher Richard Gwyn. The companions are the 34 English Martyrs listed above. Go HERE to read an even longer list of martyrs, many of which family names soon appeared in Virginia. On the other side, there are the Canterbury Martyrs burned by the Catholic Queen Mary I. Quite a few of these names should ring a bell for Virginia Knight researchers, too:

On 12 July 1555, John Bland (rector of Adesham), John Frankesh (vicar of Rolvindon), Nicholas Sheterden and Humphrey Middleton were all burnt together.

On 23 August, William Coker, William Hopper, Henry Laurence, Richard Collier (or Colliar), Richard Wright and William Stere were burnt.

On 6 September, George Catmer (or Painter) of Hythe, Kent, Robert Streater (or Streter) of Hythe, Kent, Anthony Burward of Calete (possibly Calais), George Brodbridge (or Bradbridge) of Bromfield, Kent and James Tutty (or Tuttey) of Brenchley, Kent were burnt.

On 30 November, John Webbe (or Web), George Roper and Gregory Parke (or Paynter) were burnt.

On 31 January 1556, John Lomas (or Jhon Lowmas) of Tenterden, Kent, Annes Snoth (or Annis Snod) of Smarden, Kent, Anne Wright (or Albright) alias Champnes, Joan Sole (or Jone Soale) of Horton, Kent and Joan Catmer of Hythe, Kent were burnt in Wincheap, Canterbury. A monument marks the spot on the road now called 'Martyrsfield Road'.

On 15 January 1557, Stephen Kempe of Norgate, Kent, William Waterer of Biddenden, Kent, William Prowting of Thornham, Kent, William Lowick of Cranbrooke, Kent, Thomas Hudson of Selling, Kent and William Hay of Hythe, Kent were burnt.

On 19 June, John Fishcock/Jhon Fiscoke, Nicholas White, Nicholas Pardue/Perdue, Barbara Final, Bradbridge's Widow (Bradbridge's Wife), probably of Tenterden, Kent and probably the widow of Martin Bradbridge who was burnt on 16 January 1557, Mistress Wilson (also referred to as 'Wilson's Wife') and Alice Benden, possibly also referred to as 'Benson's Wife', of Staplehurst (or possibly Cranbrook), Kent were burnt.

On 15 November 1558, John Corneford of Wrotham, Kent, Christopher Brown of Maidstone, Kent, John Herst of Ashford, Kent, Alice Snoth and Katherine Knight/Tynley were burnt. (Ref.)

Going back to the Forty Martyrs, did you notice the name of Edmund Arrowsmith?

Edmund Arrowsmith was baptized “Bryan” in 1585 (quell the Monty Python jokes, please), but always used his confirmation name of Edmund, after an uncle who trained English priests in France. Born in Lancashire of Robert Arrowsmith, a yeoman farmer who had served in Sir William Stanley’s regiment which fought for Spain in the Low Countries, his mother was Margery Gerard, a member of the Lancashire Gerard family. Among his mother's relations was Father John Gerard, who wrote The Diary of an Elizabethan Priest, as well as another martyr, the Blessed Miles Gerard. The family was constantly harassed for its adherence to Roman Catholicism. One of his grandfathers died a confessor in prison.

In 1605, at the age of twenty, Edmund left England and went to the English College, Douai, to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Arras on 9 December 1612 and returned to England a year later. He ministered to the Catholics of Lancashire without incident until around 1622, when he was arrested and questioned by the Anglican Bishop of Chester. Edmund was released when King James I of England ordered an amnesty for all arrested priests in an effort to look good to the Spanish monarch with whom he wished to arrange a Spanish marriage for his son Prince Charles. Two years later, Arrowsmith joined the Jesuits.

In the summer of 1628, Fr. Edmund was reportedly betrayed by a man named Holden, who denounced him to the authorities. He was convicted of being a Roman Catholic priest in England and was sentenced to death; he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster on 28 August 1628. His final confession was heard by Saint John Southworth, who was imprisoned along with Edmund. (Ref.)

Going back to our Robert Arrowsmith, an apparent Anglican priest at St Bride, we have to ask: was he related to the Robert Arrowsmith who was father of St. Edmund Arrowsmith? I did a light search and noted that there were quite a few Arrowsmiths in London and Lancashire apparently participating in official church activities but by now, I realized that this could be a blind. Consider Thomas Knight and the charge of recusancy, all the while he is having children baptized in the church of England. Our Robert Arrowsmith himself baptized and buried several of his own children at St. Bride’s. We just don’t know.

It’s hard to make things out from this distance and with so little to go on, but we know that people were agitated at the time, and agitation leads to spiritual discomfort and questioning of the established authorities, including religious ones. Studies have shown that there are a number of ways that people react to such stresses; many of them will conclude that God is being worshipped in the wrong way, the authorities are corrupt and wrong, and a new way must be the right way. Others will become more stubbornly entrenched in the way things are or “have always been” in the belief that it is not the system that is wrong, but that the people are not obeying the rules correctly. They determine to do everything more, longer, harder, more diligently, or whatever. This being so, we can’t really tell if our people are covert Catholics acting as “apparent” Protestants, while fasting and flagellating themselves at midnight; or if they are “apparent” Anglicans who are really Radical Reformers such as Puritans who think that purifying the Anglican Church from any taint of Catholicism is the only way to go; many of this latter kind later joined Oliver Cromwell, revolted and beheaded a king; in short, these people were deadly serious! And many of them were seriously burned at the stake, including a Knight.

Now, one extremely interesting data bit is the fact that Cicely Moore, daughter of a Thomas Moore, was baptized at St Bride on 26 Aug 1599. Nineteen years later, a Peter Knight and his wife, Cicely show up with a baby to be baptized and I found NO record of a marriage at St. Bride, or anywhere else. That doesn’t mean there might not be a record somewhere, but I was being as thorough and careful as possible. It seems very, very likely that this Cicely who married Peter Knight was the same Cicely baptized at St Bride and it may have been the presence of her family there that brought Peter Knight to that parish. But then we must ask: by what rite were they married and where? I can add here that, among the Quakers, if a member was married by an Anglican priest, they were expelled from membership. Such a marriage was not considered valid, and perhaps the Puritans felt the same way? Or perhaps Cicely, descendant of St Thomas, was still an undercover Catholic and they were married by a Catholic priest?

There is that interesting handful of possibly connected Knights at St Bride, baptizing babies and burying their dead beginning with a Robert Knight, in 1594 who named his child "Henry Arrow", and then they all pretty much disappear except for a couple of stragglers, around about late 1630s (a lot of them died, of course; times were very difficult). For the duration of their time at St Bride’s (and elsewhere, as we will see), it appears to me that either some records are lost, or the individuals were partaking of other rites elsewhere for quite a number of life events. It also appears to me, considering the history of the Reformation, Reformists, Puritans and the like, that some ministers in some churches may have been moonlighting, so to say, and that may be true of our Robert Arrowsmith. With the idea of recusancy in mind, either Catholic or Protestant, we might consider that when the authorities were checking, families would have a few children baptized in the authorized church to give the impression of compliance, and when the authorities were no longer riled up, they would go back to their priests or reformers for church services. Some of them, of course, were more "in your face" about the matter. Consider Richard Knight of Hampshire who acquired the manor of Godshill around 1573. Here is his will:

1577 - Oct 29 – Hampshire Alresford – Will - Richard Knight, Gent –  Refers to his manor of Goddesfield and Swarraton; Testator gives money to the parishes of Itchen Stoke and Itchen Abbas, each parish, 20 shillings 8 pence Sons: Robert Knight, Richard Knight; daus: Anne, Margarett, Katherine, Johana. Numerous properties to these children including at Kingsclere. Gives to his son Richard “all my books of Law and humanities”; wife Alice to be executrix. This is a document of some historical value;  it needs to be transcribed by an expert.  (Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858, PROB 11: Will Registers, 1567-1598, Piece 59: Daughtry (1577))

You can read about this property in some detail HERE. Basically, it started out as property of the brothers of St John, Hospitallers. In the sixteenth-century William Paulet, Earl of Wiltshire, later Marquis of Winchester, was granted a licence in 1571 to alienate the manor of Godsfield to Richard Knight. The 500 acres of demesne consisted of 11 acres of meadow, 220 acres of pasture, 200 acres of arable and 69 acres of wood. Altogether there were 1200 acres of land all lying within one hedge which belonged to Godsfield and Swarraton. Excluding the demesne, there was therefore an area, likely manorial land, much larger than the demesne and outside the 1858 parish boundary comprising 700 acres which cannot be identified from the cartulary or located on the ground. The one hedge has not been identified. If taken at face value, the 1571 survey implies that the total freehold plus copyhold comprised 700 acres of contiguous land.

So, what happened? This tells us a bit:

1578 – Hampshire Alresford – Chancery Suit – Robert Knight, Gent - Aylyeff v Read. Plaintiffs: Richard Aylyeff and Henry Mundy. Defendants: Anthony Read and Stephen Bryce. Subject: Contract relating to the manor of Godsfield, Hampshire, and messuages etc of which Richard Beconsawe was seised, and also of messuages etc in Swarraton, Drayton, Bickton, Dummer, 'Medestede', Bentworth, New Alresford, Dean, Brown Candover and Preston Candover, demised to the plaintiffs for 2,000 years; all which premises were the inheritance of one Robert Knight gent, who conveyed to Richard Beconsawe in fee; some time before the demise of Richard Beconsawe to the plaintiffs, the queen took possession of the said premises for the debt of Robert Knight, for recusancy in not coming to church, and being so possessed, granted the said premises to one John Stockman, who conveyed to Anthony Read, and Stephen Bryce, to the use of Richard Beconsawe, who held and enjoyed the premises, notwithstanding the last-mentioned conveyance, as if he had the fee simple thereof, and the plaintiffs contracted with him as such, and he covenanted to indemni. Document type: [pleadings] (National Archives, Kew England, Ref: C 2/Eliz/A5/10)

In short, Robert Knight, son of Richard of Hampshire, lost everything he had for recusancy. At that period of time, it was probably Catholic recusancy.

In the end, after going through all the records, it seems that many Catholic Recusants converted to Calvinism or later Quakerism; anything, apparently, other than acknowledge the king/queen - a secular personage clearly not chosen by God, but "born to the purple" - as head of the Church and earthly representative of God Almighty. Members of the Knight family were rather often in the forefront of such movements.


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