Rear Admiral Sir Francis Knollys, Kt., MP

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Francis Knollys, Sr.

Also Known As: "Francis Knollys the younger"
Birthplace: Reading Abbey, Reading, Berkshire, England
Death: March 1648 (94)
Battle Manor, Reading, Berkshire, England
Place of Burial: Reading, Berkshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey, Chief Lady of the Bedchamber
Husband of Lettice Knollys
Father of Sir Francis Knollys, MP; Leticia Hampden; Richard Knollys; Elizabeth Hammond and Eleanor Knollys
Brother of Mary Stalker; Sir Henry Knollys, MP; Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex & Leicester; William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury; Thomas Knollys and 9 others

Occupation: MP of Oxford, admiral
Managed by: Vance Barrett Mathis
Last Updated:

About Rear Admiral Sir Francis Knollys, Kt., MP

Family and Education b. c.1550, 6th s. of Sir Francis Knollys, and bro. of Edward, Richard, Robert, William, and Henry Knollys II. educ. ?Eton 1561; Magdalen Coll. Oxf. c.1564; G. Inn 1565. m. 26 Dec. 1588, Lettice, da. of John Barrett of Hanham, Glos., 2s. 4da. Kntd. Dec. 1587.3

Offices Held

Rear-adm. under Sir Humphrey Gilbert 1578, under Francis Drake 1585; col. of militia, Herts. 1588; j.p.q. Berks. from c.1593, dep. lt. 1596.4

Biography Knollys was returned for Oxford, where his father was high steward, on the death of his brother Edward, and continued to sit for Oxford in all Parliaments until his father resigned the high stewardship in 1592. He sought his fortune in privateering against the Spaniards, and at court, where he made his way through the influence of his sister’s second husband, the Earl of Leicester, and of her son by her first marriage, the 2nd Earl of Essex. Known as ‘the young Sir Francis’, Knollys was knighted by Leicester at Flushing and at the time of the Armada he was commissioner for musters and colonel of militia in Hertfordshire, where Leicester was lord lieutenant. In April 1589 Knollys pursued the Earl of Essex to Plymouth in a vain attempt to prevent him from joining the Portugal expedition in defiance of the Queen.5

When he was included in the Berkshire commission of the peace in 1592, it was probably already intended that property in that county should be his share of the family inheritance. In 1595 the Queen leased to his father the capital messuage of the manor of Battle, Reading, which passed to him on his father’s death in the following year. This valuable property gave the Knollyses influence in Reading for over a century and, combined with the influence of his brother William as lord lieutenant of Berkshire, brought Knollys a county seat in the Parliament of 1597. As his father was also in the House in Knollys’s first four Parliaments, they cannot be distinguished with certainty, but it appears that the younger Francis Knollys took no active part in its business. The father is often, though not always, described in the journals by his office, and the son was not knighted in his first three Parliaments. The only mention that can certainly refer to the son is his membership of the committee considering the excessive making of malt, 12 Jan. 1598. However, as knight for Berkshire, he may have attended committees on enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), the penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), Wantage (10 Nov.) and the subsidy (15 Nov.). Knollys’s absence from Parliament in 1601 may have been due to the aftermath of the Essex rising. He was in Essex House at the time of the rebellion, and was arrested and committed to the charge first of his kinsman Sir Francis Leighton, and then of his brother Robert. He protested to Cecil that quite innocent reasons had taken him to the scene ‘that dismal day’, and he was soon released; by August 1601 the Privy Council was again writing to him on county matters.6

One of Knollys’s daughters married the famous John Hampden, and Knollys’s own parliamentary career went on well into the Stuart period. In January 1643 a contemporary described him as ‘old’ Sir Francis Knollys, ‘the ancientest Parliament man in England’. He made his will when in his mid-nineties in December 1646 and it was proved in May 1648. He was buried in the church of St. Lawrence, Reading.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603 Author: Alan Harding Notes 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament. 2. Ibid. 3. DNB; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 103. 4. CSP Span. 1580-6, pp. 75-6, 306; Hakluyt’s Voyages, x. 98; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 519; 1591-4, p. 186, 1595-7, p. 296. 5. W. H. Turner, Oxford Recs. 377; Lansd. 30, f. 133; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 466; HMC 4th Rep. 338. 6. CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 11; VCH Berks. iii. 366-7; HMC Hatfield, xi. 100; xiv. 172; D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 561, 578; APC, xxx. 671 xxxi. 171; xxxii. 194. 7. VCH Berks. iii. 364; M. F. Keeler, Long Parlt. 242; PCC 90 Essex, C. F. Pritchard, Reading Charters, 269-75.


Admiral Francis Knollys formerly Knowles
Born 14 Aug 1553


Son of Francis Knollys The Elder and Catherine (Carey) Knollys
Brother of Henry Knollys MP, Mary Knollys, Lettice (Knollys) Blount, William Knollys KG, Edward Knollys, Elizabeth (Knollys) Leighton, Robert Knollys KB, Richard Knollys, Anne (Knollys) West, Thomas Knollys, Catherine (Knollys) FitzGerald, Cecilia Knollys and Dudley Knollys
Husband of Lettice (Barrett) Knollys — married 21 Dec 1588 in London All Hallows London Wall, Middlesex, England

Father of Lettice (Knollys) Hampden, Francis Knollys and Elizabeth (Knollys) Hammond
Died Mar 1648 at age 94 in Reading, Berkshire, England

Francis, son of Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey was born on Monday 14 August 1553. [1] He was their 6th son. [2] He attended Magdalen College, Oxford and then was a student of Gray's Inn in 1565. [3]
From the age of about 22 Sir Francis was MP for Oxford and he served in the Parliament for about 60 years. [4]
During his youth, he sought to raise his fortunes by piracy and adventure. He was part of an early expedition to colonise North America. [5] Eight years later, in 1586, he served as a Rear-Admiral under Sir Francis Drake on an "official" privateering campaign.[6] His next adventure was to serve with his brother in law Robert Dudley, Lord Leicester in the Netherlands. He was knighted by Leicester at Flushing in Dec 1587. [7]During the Armada invasion he served the Crown as as commissioner for musters and colonel of the militia for Hertfordshire.
On 21 Dec 1588 he married Lettice Barrett of Hanham. Their matrimonio took place, by license, at All Hallows London Wall. [8] It appears that during their married life they lived in a number of properties in Berkshire. From Burkes: "He inherited under his father's will the manor of Battle, and other estates in the vicinity of Reading, and was styled of Reading Abbey."[9]
Sir Francis had his will drawn up on 6 Dec 1646. [10] He made bequests to:

daughter Lady Vachell
daughter Lady Knollys, wife of my late son Sir Francis Knollys
daughter Temple
grandchild Lettice Woodward
grandchild Richard Knollys
grandchild Elizabeth Knollys, daughter of the Lady Eleanor Knollys.
daughter Elizabeth Hammond
her son Robert Hammond.

Sir Francis requested entierro in the church of St Lawrence, Reading, Berkshire. This took place on 17 Mar 1648. [11] The register recorded him as Sir Francis Knollys, jun.


↑ Varlow, Sally Sir Francis Knollys's Latin dictionary: new evidence for Katherine Carey Historical Research, Volume 80, Issue 209, August 2007, Pages 315–323,Oxford Academic
↑ Wikipedia contributors, "Francis Knollys (admiral)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed March 28, 2020).
↑ "Kandruth-Kyte," in Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714, ed. Joseph Foster (Oxford: University of Oxford, 1891), 837-867. British History Online, accessed March 28, 2020,
↑ Dawson, Ian Who's who in British History: A-H Taylor & Francis, 1998 pg. 515 Google Books
↑ Sir Francis Drake Sir Francis Drake's West Indian Voyage, 1585-86 Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 1 Jan 1981 pg. 283 Google Books
↑ Sharpe, James
The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder, and the King of England Routledge, 12 Nov 2012 pg. 114 Google Books
↑ "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ", database, FamilySearch ( : 12 March 2020), Frauncis Knowlles, 1588.
↑ A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England, John Burke and John Bernard Burke. Published 1838.
↑ England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 204 Ancestry Record 5111 #812548
↑ Coates, Charles The History and Antiquities of Reading 1802 pg. 230 Google Books

 See Also 

Biography of Sir Francis Knollys Junior at Royal Berkshire History

Knollys-57 & Knollys-63 created through the import of Newmans.ged on Nov 14, 2011 by  Kathryn Newman. Knowles-1190 created through the import of Terrass Family Tree.ged on Jul 7, 2011 by  Richard Terrass.

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Rear Admiral Sir Francis Knollys, Kt., MP's Timeline

August 14, 1553
Reading Abbey, Reading, Berkshire, England
March 1648
Age 94
Battle Manor, Reading, Berkshire, England
Reading, Berkshire, England (United Kingdom)