KNIGHT, John (1563-1621), of Chawton, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 30 Apr. 1563, 1st s. of Nicholas Knight of Chawton by Elizabeth da. and h. of John Standen, yeoman, of E. Lavant, Suss. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1581; M. Temple 1582, called c.1604. m. Mary (d.1595), da. of William Neale of Warnford, 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. Jan. 1584.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Hants 1608-9.


Knight’s estates lay in the centre and north of Hampshire, and he is not known to have had any direct connexion with Lymington. Both his father-in-law and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Neale were in the service of the Crown as auditors, but he was presumably returned through the influence of Sir Henry Wallop.

Knight’s call to the bar is mentioned in the Middle Temple records in June 1603, but it was not confirmed until the following February, over 20 years after his admission. During the next few years he was fined for not attending vacation readings, and in May 1612 he was fined £5 for not reading himself. By 1615, when he surrendered his chamber, he was styled ‘a master of the utter bar’. Clearly he did not need to make a living as a lawyer. Although family disputes over his father’s will were not settled until 1596, he inherited several manors in Hampshire, and between 1593 and 1611 he bought more land, mainly in the neighbourhood of Alton. He rebuilt Chawton house, where his initials and the date 1588 appear on one of the firebacks, and founded ‘Knight’s Charity’ with a £6 rent charge on Amery farm, Alton.

He died 2 Feb. 1621, the heir being his grandson George Gunter, son of his daughter Joan or Joanna Gunter. Knight’s will, drawn up in 1617, was proved eight days after his death. After a conventional preamble he gave detailed instructions about the administration of his charity. There were bequests of money, plate and rings to relatives and friends, and legacies, between £5 and £10 each, to several servants. The executor and residuary legatee was his brother Stephen, a clerk in the petty bag office, through whose children, by a settlement of 1598, Chawton descended.

W. A. Leigh and M. G. Knight, Chawton Manor, 72, 77, 85-90; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Hants, 46; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 149; Guildhall Lib. ms 10342, f. 183; VCH Hants, ii. 474, 478, 483, 497, 498; iii. 241; C142/204/113, 390/150; PCC 17 Dale, 28 Butts, 82 Drake.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge