Select Knowles Miscellany


Here are some Knowles stories
accounts over the years:


The Knollys Rose Ceremony


The Knollys Rose Ceremony is held on June 14 each year and is organized by the
Company of
Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.  On
that day one red rose will be plucked from
the garden in Seething Lane and taken to the Mansion House on the altar
of All Hallows by the Tower, where it will be presented to the Lord
The ceremony commemorates an ancient City
judgment dating from 1381.  Sir Robert
Knollys owned a house on Seething Lane.  He
was sent abroad to fight alongside John of Gaunt.  While
he was away, Lady Constance his wife was
reputed to have become annoyed with the chaff dust blowing from threshing ground opposite their house.  So she
bought the property and turned it into a rose garden.
She also built a footbridge over the lane to
avoid the mud, but without the equivalent of planning permission. The penalty was that a red rose ‘rent’ from
the garden had to be paid annually to the Lord Mayor. The rose payment
was no
more than a peppercorn rent, a symbolic fine upon Sir Robert Knollys.
For this payment permission was given
“to make a haut pas of the height of 14 feet” across the lane.  The footbridge has long since
disappeared.  But the legal requirement
for the payment of this quit-rent has been established as one of the
City’s traditions. 

Sir Thomas Knollys’ Epigraph

Knollys, Lord Mayor of London, was buried in the north aisle of St.
Church on Watling Street in London.  On his
tomb was the following epitaph:  

“Here lyeth graven under this stone
Thomas Knollys, both flesh and bone,
Grocer and Alderman years forty,
Sheriff, and twice Mayor truly:
And for he should not lie alone,
Here lyeth with him his good wife Joan:
They were together sixty years,
And nineteen children they had in fier;
Now be they gone we them miss:
Christ have their souls to heaven bliss.  Amen”

Sir Thomas was also Lord
of the manor of North Mymms in Hertfordshire.
His arms displayed in the church window at North Mymms suggest
family believed that he and they were descended from Sir Robert


Knowles in the
1881 Census


County thousands percent
Lancashire    5.1 35
Yorkshire    2.4    17
Elsewhere    7.0    48
Total   14.5   100

and Preston contained the largest numbers of
Knowles.  And their main trade at that
time was in the cotton industry.


The Knowles Coalmining Family

Knowles and Sons

was a coal mining company that operated for
many generations in Lancashire.

business began probably in Elizabethan times.
Robert Knowles, who died in 1780, started the pits in Eagley
Bank and
Sharples north of Bolton in the mid 18th century.  It
was his great grandson Andrew Knowles who
founded Andrew Knowles and Sons Ltd, having taken his four sons into
company in the 1830’s.   The next
generation joined the company after a disagreement in 1872.  The firm grew to be the largest on the
coalfield by the end of the 19th century when it had almost 4,000

Knowles presented some contrasting
outward public relations.  Many were
prominent in their civic duties.
However, starting in 1866, the company locked out all workers
who joined
a fledgling trade union and repeatedly defeated over time any attempt
unionize the workforce. The company’s intransigence towards unions
until 1891 when a strike left miners little better off.
However, the firm was forced to negotiate
with a union it had until then refused to recognize.

Old Silverhead Knowles

who left Lancashire for Virginia as a young lad on the
Elizabeth and Jedeth
in 1699, was known as “Old Silverhead.”

One story has him wounded by an Indian who
fractured his skull with a tomahawk.  It
was said that someone fashioned a plate from a silver coin and this was
inserted in his scalp to cover the head wound.
The other story, the more practical one, is that Edmund had a
full head
of silver colored hair.

Family stories
indicate that Edmund married a Swedish woman, but her name has not been
recorded anywhere.  They settled in
Sussex county, Delaware where Edmund died in 1762.
His descendants have been traced through
their oldest son Richard.

James Knowles, Plantation Owner in the Bahamas

was a mulatto plantation owner on Long Island in the Bahamas.  He was born sometime in the 1720’s in an
unknown location, thought to be Eleuthera, to John Knowles, listed as
white or
European, and an unknown African woman or woman of African descent.

He was sometimes listed as being born on
December 20, 1733, as that was when he was baptized at Christ Church
in Nassau.  Due to his racial background,
his baptism was logged in the registry reserved for mulatto children.  The priest who baptized him noted that he
appeared to be about ten years old.

Island was to be more receptive to interracial marriage than were other
Bahamanian islands.

Knowles in Australia – A Case of Irish Sectarianism

had come from a Protestant landowning family in county Antrim.  For some reason he and his brother Hugh
departed Ireland for Australia in the 1890’s.
William became a journalist in his new home, working first for
the Sydney Morning Herald and later for the Farmer and Settler. 

His family remembers him as a friendly
old man, smoking his pipe and talking with that strong and distinctive
accent.  But he was brought up in the
Protestant/Catholic divide.  When his
eldest daughter Marguerite married a brilliant engineer named Flynn,
Flynn’s only fault in life was that he was a Catholic. The
result was that, after her marriage to
Flynn, her father never spoke to her again.
Not once for the rest of his life.

For a time her sisters kept in touch with Marguerite
surreptitiously.  However, the family was
irrevocably divided.  In due course,
Marguerite just passed out of the family, another victim of Irish



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