KNOX, Hon. John James (1790-1856).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



28 Dec. 1830 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 3 Apr. 1790, 4th s. of Hon. Thomas Knox†, 2nd Visct. Northland [I] (later 1st earl of Ranfurly [I]) (d. 1840), and Hon. Diana Jane Pery, da. and coh. of Edmund Sexton, 1st Visct. Pery [I]; bro. of Hon. John Henry Knox* and Hon. Thomas Knox*. m. 25 Sept. 1824, Mary Louisa, da. of Edward Taylor† of Bifrons, nr. Canterbury, Kent, 1da. d. 9 July 1856.

Offices Held

Ensign 64 Ft. 1807; ensign 52 Ft. 1808; lt. 19 Ft. 1809; lt. 52 Ft. 1809; capt. 40 Ft. 1812; capt. 85 Ft. 1813, maj. 1817; lt.-col. 4 W.I. Regt. (half-pay) 1819, ret. 1832.

Provost, Dungannon 1826-7, 1830.


James Knox was how this Member was usually known, in order to distinguish him from his brother John Henry, Member for Newry.1 They both entered the army in 1807, but James, who several times purchased and exchanged commissions, had the longer career and remained in the service after the end of the Napoleonic wars. Having obtained his majority in May 1817, he joined the half-pay list as a lieutenant-colonel in June 1819. On 14 September 1819 he was admitted a burgess of Dungannon, where his father, the 2nd Viscount Northland, controlled the corporation, and he served as interim provost from 7 Nov. 1826 until his resignation the following May and again, 29 Sept.-3 Oct. 1830.2 He was returned for Dungannon on the retirement of his Tory brother Thomas in December 1830 and proved to be a silent reformer. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and, having obtained ten days’ leave on urgent private business, 13 Apr., paired against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.

Again returned unopposed at the ensuing general election, he was absent from the division on the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, and sided with opposition for using the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July 1831. But he voted for the disfranchisement of St. Germans, 26 July, and the partial disfranchisement of Guildford, 29 July, paired for the union of Rochester with Chatham and Strood, 9 Aug., and divided for the inclusion of Merthyr Tydfil in the Cardiff district, 10 Aug. He was listed in the ministerial majorities for prosecuting all those guilty of corrupt practices in the Dublin election, 23 Aug., and against preserving the rights of freemen, 30 Aug. His father having been granted an earldom in September as the apparent price of his family’s continued support,3 he missed the division on the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., but (unlike his brother John Henry) voted for the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but divided for the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and Gateshead, 5 Mar., and paired for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted with government against the production of information on Portugal, 9 Feb. He was absent from the division on Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, but voted against increasing the county representation of Scotland, 1 June. It is not clear whether it was he or his brother who voted against Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June, for making permanent provision for the Irish poor, 19 June, against the Irish party processions bill, 25 June, and for the Irish tithes bill, 13 July. Narrowly retaining his reforming credentials, he saw off an ultimately abortive challenge from a Tory Brunswicker at the general election of 1832 and continued to sit as a Conservative for Dungannon until his retirement in 1837.4

Knox died at Brighton in July 1856, leaving his estate to his widow and their only child, Emily Louisa Diana, wife of Sir Robert Dundas of Arniston (1823-1909).5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. With whom he has sometimes been confused: e.g. Harrow Reg. 1571-1800, ii. 93, where his brother is credited with his army career.
  • 2. PRO NI MIC547/1, Dungannon minute bk.
  • 3. M. Brock, Great Reform Act, 233.
  • 4. Northern Whig, 23 Aug., 3, 27 Sept., 13 Dec. 1832.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1856), ii. 261.