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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Richard "The Carpenter": Twelve generations of Knights

 Dad used to tell me that he didn't want to study our family tree too much.  "There's going to be someone there who wore a rope for a necktie", he would say.  In most part Dad was content with knowing his grandfather, Samuel Knight - born in 1887 - and not much further.

(Samuel's wife, Maggie Warren, was born in 1880 and died in 1979.  I'm old enough to remember her in her final years... and that's a pretty neat thing, to have known someone who knew Civil War veterans and was a young lady when the Wright Brothers flew their plane.)

With not much else to do with my own time these past several months, I thought it would be intriguing if I started to research our family history.  Quietly praying that there wasn't some scoundrel of ill repute back there anywhere.  And now I can say that ours does go back quite a bit and they left a trail behind them.

Knight family cemetery, Rhode Island

So it turns out that I'm the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of one Richard Knight, aka Richard "the Carpenter" Knight.  Born around 1620 in the Norfolk, England area.  He came to the colonies circa 1640, at first in what is today New Hampshire.  But after "some legal trouble" - namely evading the authorities after being charged with theft - Richard left and settled in Rhode Island.  He was a carpenter, a miller, and a deacon.  He was also apparently a veteran of King Philip's War, because of the one hundred acres he was awarded following the conflict.  Richard had two wives, the second being Sarah.

Richard and Sarah had six children.  One of them was David Knight, my grandfather eleven times removed.  And it turns out that many of Richard's immediate male descendants were blacksmiths by trade.


Dad was a knifemaker.  He put together most of his equipment, including his forge and his power hammer.  He even welded together the anvil that he would bang and shape the blades on.  He made a lot of knives, more than we realized at the time of his passing.

And now it turns out that though he never knew it, he was following in the footsteps of our remote ancestors.

I've been finding information about some others along the family tree.  One grandfather was Thomas Jefferson Knight, born shortly after the Revolutionary War.  At least one family member fought in the American Revolution itself.  Thomas' brother, Absalom Knight (is that a bad-a$$ name or what?) took part in the War of 1812.  To the best of my research, one of my direct ancestors owned a slave: name unknown.  He willed the slave to his wife following his death.  So, there is that tidbit.   I haven't found any indication that anyone in my direct lineage fought in the Civil War, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone along one of the branches participated.  I say that because North Carolina sent more soldiers than any other state in the Confederacy, and Rockingham County provided more than its share of those soldiers.  So the likelihood that I've an ancestor who fought in the War Between the States is moderately high.

And it all goes back to Richard the Carpenter.  Who came to the New World and it sounds as if he lived an interesting life.

Who knows.  Maybe some bit of prior research eludes me.  And that it may be possible to take the lineage back even further.  But if not, I'll be content to be the scion of Richard the Carpenter.

I hope he would have been satisfied that I've tried to live a life even a little bit as illustrious as his.