Rev. William Knight, of New Meadows & Ipswich

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Rev. William Knight, M.A.

Birthplace: of St. Olave's, Southwark, Surrey, England
Death: before January 06, 1694
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Place of Burial: Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Immediate Family:

Son of William Knight, of St Olave's and Elizabeth Knight
Husband of Mary Knight and Anne Knight
Father of William Knight, Vicar of Stotfold and Elizabeth Cole
Brother of Elizabeth Stoughton; John Knight, of St. Olave's; Mary Clark and Ursula Yale

Occupation: Minister of St. Matthew's Parish
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Rev. William Knight, of New Meadows & Ipswich

Reverend William Knight, M.A., was born say 1611, of St. Olave's Parish, Southwark, Surrey, England, and was buried January 6, 1694, in St. Mary-at-Elms, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, where he was the curate.


He was the son of William Knight (died 1629) and his wife Elizabeth (died after 1644). The elder William Knight was "of Tuddenham Hall, Gloucestershire," and wrote a will dated March 20, 1629 as resident of St Olave's, Southwark, Surrey, England. In it he named his children William, John, Mary and Ursuly of St. Olave's; his wife Elizabeth, as executrix.

This widow Elizabeth Knight was thought by earlier authorities to have first married Rev. William Stoughton and been the stepmother of Lt. Colonel Israel Stoughton; but this seems based on a misunderstanding of the language of Israel Stoughton's 1644 will, where he names his "mother" but means his wife's mother.

The younger William Knight married first to Mary, daughter of Judith Knapp and William Hubbard, before 1639; their son was William, who died in 1681.

But his wife was Anne in 1692. His daughter Elizabeth married Daniel Cole in 1685; she was executrix and sole heir of William Knight in 1693.


  • say 1611 - William Knight born, "an older son" of William Knight of Gloucestershire, who died in St. Olave's parish, Surrey, England, and his wife Elizabeth. No birth record known.
  • 1629 - William Knight of St. Olave's leaves a will naming widow and children.
  • 1632 - Sister Elizabeth Knight, wife of Israel Stoughton, emigrates to Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • 1634 - Graduated Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Matriculated 1626-7; B.A., 1630-1; M.A., 1634.
  • 1637 probably - The widow Elizabeth Knight, William Knight, and several of her five grown children emigrate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The other siblings are Ursula Knight, wife of David Yale, and Mary Knight, wife of Thomas Clark of Dorchester and Boston.
  • 1637 - Inhabitant of Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • 1638 - Brother John Knight is resident of St. Olave's Parish, Surrey, England.
  • 1638 - Resident of Ipswich, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • before 1639 - son William born.
  • 1639 - Grant of 200 acres at Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • 1640 - These are the ministers of the Bay ... "At Ipswich, one Master Knight, out of employment."
  • 1641 - Preacher at New Meadows Church (now Topsfield, Massachusetts).
  • 1643 - He and Israel Stoughton traveled in 1643 for personal business to England. 2
  • 17 July 1644 - Named overseer in Israel Stoughton's will. 3,4
  • 1648 - Returned to England. [Savage] [Good News from New England]
  • 1655 - Presented to St. Matthew's Parish, Ipswich, Suffolk, England for minister by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell; also assumed curating duties at St. Mary-at-Elms, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
  • 1656 - Son William admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge University.
  • before 1664 - daughter Elizabeth born.
  • 1685 - Daughter Elizabeth married Daniel Cole at St. Matthews.
  • 1692 - Wife Anne gives gift.
  • 1693 - Will written, daughter Elizabeth Cole sole heir and executrix.
  • 1694 - Buried at St. Mary Elms, where he is curate.

supporting data


After William Knight’s death, these members of the family of Elizabeth Knight, wife of Israel, also came to New England, including her mother, the widow Elizabeth Knight, her brother, Rev. William Knight, and two other sisters, Mary, wife of Thomas Clark and Ursula, wife of David Yale, accounting for all of the children mentioned in the will except John.


In the pedigree of the Knapp family found in Candler's Suffolk & Essex Pedigrees, Volume II, page 317, specific detailed particulars are given about the children of John Knapp, of St. Peter's, Ipswich, Suffolk, and his wife, Martha Bloyse. Among the comments made there, it is stated that John Knapp's daughter, Judith Knapp, married William "Hobert," [alternate name for Hubbard] and that she had two children, an unnamed daughter who "married Mr. Knight Minister of St. Matthewes parish in Ipswich," and a son, William, who "married Mary daughter of Nathaniel Rogers."

As for the identity of Judith (Knapp) Hubbard's son-in-law, this is easily discovered by checking the published list of Cambridge alumnae by Venn and Venn as suggested by Mr. Brandon. This source gives the following information regarding the minister, William Knight, who was presented to St. Matthew's, Ipswich, in 1655, and also information regarding William Knight's son, William the younger, born about 1639, and his grandson, William III, baptized 1677:

"William Knight. Admitted pens. at Emanuel, Jan. 31, 1626/7 [born about 1611]; 1st son of William [Knight] of St. Olave, Southwark, and Elizabeth, widow of Rev. Thomas Stoughton [SIC: not his widow](1576-7). Matriculated 1626-7; B.A., 1630-1; M.A., 1634. Went to New England, 1637, where he settled at Ipswich, Mass., and was for some years a preacher. Returned to England, 1643, with his half-brother [SIC: brother in law], Col. Israel Stoughton. Presented by Oliver Cromwell to St. Matthew's, Ipswich, July 31, 1655. Curate of St. Mary-at-Elms [Ipswich]. Afterwards conformed. Ordained priest (Bishop Brownrigg, of Exeter), Aug. 8, 1659, and held his livings till his death. Buried at St. Mary-at-Elms [Ipswich], Jan. 6, 1694-5. Father of the next. (Felt, 281; J.G. Bartlett)." Cambrige Alumni database

"William Knight. Admitted sizar (aged 17) [born about 1639] at Pembroke, April 18, 1656. Son of William (above), from New England. B.A., 1659; M.A., 1665. Vicar of Bastwood, Essex, 1668-73. Vicar of Stotfold, Bedfordshire, 1676-81. Father of next."

"William Knight. Admitted at Corpus Christi, 1695. Of Bedfordshire. Son of William (above). Baptized at Stotfold, Nov. 4, 1677. Matriculated 1695; B.A., 1698-9." [Reference: Venn & Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, Part I, Volume III (1924): 30].

Given that the first William Knight (born say 1611) was only in New England between 1637 and 1643 [SIC: 1637 - 1648]; and given that his son, William the younger, was born about 1639, evidently in New England,] it seems likely to me that the elder William Knight probably married a daughter of Judith (Knapp) Hubbard in New England in the period, 1637-1639, after both the Hubbard and Knight families immigrated to New England. This assumes, of course, that the William Knight's wife was a child of the William Hubbard who immigrated in 1630 [SIC: 1635] on the ship, Defense.

From The Founding of Harvard College By Samuel Eliot Morison page 34 "Appendix B: English University Men Who Emigrated to New England before 1646."

34 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, including ... KNIGHT.

From Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. (2017). Google Books. Retrieved 7 February 2017, from page 328 "Judith Knapp wife to Wm Hobart [Hubbard]. A daughter of hers married Mr. Knight, Minister of St. Matthew's Parish in Ipswich."


Elsewhere, I provided evidence that William Hubbard's son-in-law, Rev. William Knight, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and later of Ipswich, Suffolk, England, died in 1696. [SIC: 1694]


Another confusing source connecting this family to William Knight and Elizabeth Stoughton is from TAG 29:200.

"Israel Stoughton made a trip to England on personal business in 1643, accompanied by his 'half-brother' William Knight, who had in the meantime graduated at Queens College, [SIC: Emmanuel] Cambridge, England, entered the ministry, emigrated to New England and was at the time pastor of the Church in Topsfield, [Essex,] MA."

From A Genealogical Dictionary of The First Settlers of New England, Before 1692 Volume #3 Knight - Ladd By James Savage

KNIGHT, WILLIAM, Topsfield, came, perhaps, in 1638, tho. by no means can I vol. 3, p. 40 agree with Farmer in mak. him freem. on 2 May of that yr. imply of course that he had come as early as 1637, when the prefix of resp. is wanting to this name next yr.; however it may be that he came not bef. 1639, in wh. yr. he had gr. of 200 acres at Ipswich, to the outlying farmers of wh. town, in 1641, at the place call. New Meadows, he began to preach. This was 8 or 9 yrs. bef. the incorp. by its present name, nor was a ch. allow. to be gather. there bef. 1645, as Winthrop II. 254, tells, so that prob. K. was discourag. at least bef. 1648 we kn. he went home. Mather, putting him into his first classis of min. found no Christian name for him, yet as above twenty others of the same list show the same deficiency, we may be sure, he did not much inquire. Of this name, had, in 1834, eight been gr. at the var. N. E. coll. yet none at Harv.

From "News from New England" 1640 in Plain Dealing By Thomas Lechford page 81

1640 - These are the ministers of the Bay ... "At Ipswich, one Master Knight, out of employment"

From Topsfield Church History

The area known as New Meadows grew as settlers moved inland from Ipswich and others came from Salem to claim land south of the Ipswich River. Because Ipswich and Salem were too far away for travel to Sunday services, a new village with a minister and church was needed . In 1643 the General Court ruled that the settlers along the Ipswich River who had “procured and maintained one to dispense the word of God unto them” could establish a village. In 1648 the General Court named the town Topsfield. Finally, Topsfield was incorporated as a town by authority of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1650.

From the founding of the Town until the early 19th century, Town and Church were one and the same. The Puritan Meetinghouse, as was the case in all New England villages, served as the community’s place of assembly for religious services and for Town Meetings. There have been five Meetinghouses in Topsfield. The first, for which the earliest record is 1658, is thought to have been located at the northeast corner of Howlett Street and Meeting House Lane.

From Standard History of Essex County, Massachusetts: Embracing a History of the County from Its First Settlement to the Present Time, with a History and Description of Its Towns and Cities. The Most Historic County of America. Cyrus Mason Tracy, Henry Wheatland. C. F. Jewett & Company, 1878 - Essex County (Mass.). Page 413

Religious Societies.—Hardly had the first feeble band of colonists planted themselves here in the woods ere they established among them the preaching of the gospel. In 1641 the Rev. William Knight, a resident of Ipswich, began to preach to the little company, and probably continued his labors until his death, in 1655(?). He was supported, as it was claimed, by the Ipswich people.

From Historical manual of the Congregational Church of Topsfield, Massachusetts, 1663-1907 by Congregational Church (Topsfield, Mass.) Published 1907 page 5

From the beginning of the settlement of New Meadows, about 1639, provision was made for "the publicke worship of God," and its first minister of the gospel of which evidence now exists, was William Knight, who "dispenced the word in 1641." Having had serious differences with the Ecclesiastical Courts in England, he emigrated to New England and arrived at Salem in 1636-7. His term of service covered only a few years, and "Good News from New England," published in London in 1648, is authority for the statement that he "has gone back to England." Whether or not the settlement was without preaching during the interim between the departure of Mr. Knight and the arrival of William Perkins in 1655, is an unsettled question.

From The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society. (2017). Google Books. Retrieved 10 February 2017, from page 39 "Historical Address [about Topsfield. Massachusetts], George Francis Dow.

The actual settlement of the New Meadows began about 1639, when the General Court granted certain lands lying near Ipswich river, to inhabitants of Ipswich and Salem who had farms nearby, “to bee enjoyed by those who first settled a village there.” Four years later it appeared that the Ipswich farmers had, since 1641, “maintained one to dispence the word of God unto them, which they intend to continue.”

Among the early settlers were Zaccheus Gould, afterward a very large holder of land in Topsfield and Rowley Village (or Boxford as it afterward was called) ; the Redingtons, Abraham and John; Thomas Howlett and William Perkins who had come with Winthrop; Reverend William Knight who “dispenced the word ;” Walter Roper, the carpenter who built the great bridge across the river; William Howard, the man of affairs; Francis Peabody, the miller and ancestor of a noteworthy line of descendants; Isaac Cummings; William Towne, whose daughters, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty, suffered death during the witchcraft delusion; Allan Perley, and Alexander Knight who had a Court record as a lier [SIC: liar]. Governor John Endecott owned large tracts of land lying on the south side of the river and Governor Simon Bradstreet was granted five hundred acres, a large portion of which has but recently passed from the family name, after a continuous occupation of over two hundred and fifty years.

Reverend William Knight, the first who ministered to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants at the New Meadows, was a non-conformist minister who refused to obey ecclesiastical injunction and, embarking for Massachusetts Bay, was received an inhabitant of Salem in 1637. The next year he was living in Ipswich and in 1641 he began his labors at the New Meadows. The organization of the church did not occur at this time, nor did Mr. Knight long remain with his little flock, for the tract, “Good News from New England,” which was published in London in 1648, says,—“William Knight of New Meadows has gone back to England.”

From Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History, Volume 7 G. Thompson, 1891 - Suffolk (England). "Rectors of St. Matthew's, Ipswich" page 170

1655—1694. William Knight, son of William Knight, of Tuddenham hall, Gloucestershire, was appointed to S. Matthew's by Oliver Cromwell, in 1655. He also held with it S. Mary Elms, where he was buried January 6, 1694. This note of his induction occurs in the churchwardens' book:

"1655. July 27th. The day it yeare above written. William Knight of Ipswich Clarke did take quiett it peaceable possession of the Church of St Mathewes in Ipswich with all the rights thereunto belonging, which possession was ginen him by Mr. Samuell Golty minister of the Key parish."

From the same authority we learn his wife's name thus, 1692, "Recd of Mr. Willm: Kuight Clarke it Anne his wife " ito.

S. Mary Elms Register. "Wm: Knights was Bured Janewary ye 6, 1694."

S. Matthew's Register. "1685. Daniel] Cole and Elizabeth Knight single persons were marryed the 27th December 1685."

Arms :—A lance right up, on either side a bunch of grapes.

[Suff. Fams. Conder, p. 31. Davy m.s. Add. 19,094, f. 99.]

Will Of Rev. William Knight.

  • In the name of God, Amen I William Knight, Rector of S1. Matthew's Church in Ipswich in the County of Suffolk being weak in body but of sound it perfect mind it memory (praise be given to Almighty God therefore) doe make and ordaine this my last will & Testamt: in manner it forme followinge (that is to say) Hirst & principally I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God hopeing (through the meritts death & passion of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ) to have full & free pardon & forgiveness of all my shms it to inheritt everlasting life, my Body I committ to the Earth to be decently buried at the discresion of my Executrix hereafter named, And as touching the disposition of all my tcmporall Estate, I give it dispose thereof!' as followeth, Imprimis I will that my debts it funerall charges shall be paid it discharged. Item I give devise it bequeath unto my loving daughter Elizabeth Colt (the wife of Daniell Cole gentleman) all it singular my messuages lands Tenem1" & hereditamts whatsoever whereoff or wherein I am or shall be seized or interested at the time of my death with their it every of their appurtencês it all my Estate right Title it interest of in & to the same & every of them, To have and to hold the same & every of them with their & every of their appurtenances unto her my said daughter Elizabeth Cole her heires & assignes for ever, Item I give & bequeath unto my said daughter Elizabeth Cole all and singular my goods Chattels, leases, debts, ready money, plate, Jewells, rings, houshold stuff & all other im, personall estate whatsoever, upon this speciall trust & confidence that she shall thereout, make such necessary provision for her self & for such child or children as she shall have at the time of my decease as shall be thought reasonable for her & their support & maintenance according to the discretion of my said daughter, And I doe hereby make constitute & appoint the said Elizabeth Cole the full & sole Executrix of this my last will & Testamt hereby revoking disannulling & making void all former wills & Testamts by me heretofore made either by word of mouth or in writing, In Wittness whereof? I the said William Knight to this my last will & Testamt have sett my hand & seal, this fourteenth day of August in the year of our Lord one Thousand six hundred ninety & three it in the fifth year of the reigne of our most Gratious Sovereigue Lord & Lady William & Mary by the grace of God of England Scotland ffrance it Ireland King & Queen defenders of the faith &c. William Knight.
  • Signed sealed published & declared by the sd William Knight to be his last will & Testamt in the year of us whose names are hereunto subscribed as witnesses hereto & attested by us by subscribing our names as witnesses hereto in the presence of the said William Knight.
  • Richard ffouller, Mary ffoulger, Susan Aumer her mark.
  • Proved 24 January 1694, By oath of Executrix.
  • [Ipswich Probate Registry, f. 56.]

PRESENTATION BY OLIVER CROMWELL. William Kxight. Know all men by these p'sents, that the 18th day of May in the yeare One thousand six hundred fifty and five, There was exhibited to the Commissioners for approbation of publique preachers : A presentation of William Knight Clerke, Master of Arts to the Rectory of Mathewes in Ipswich in the County of Suffolke made to him by his Highnesse Oliver Lord Protector of the Comön Wealth of England ifcc the patron thereof under the great seal of England Together with a testimony in the behalfe of the said William Knight of his holy it good Conversation Upon perusall and due consideration of the promises, it finding him to be a person qualified as in it by the Ordinance for such approbation is required. The Comissioners above meiicôned have adindged it approved the said William Knight to be a fit person to preach the Gospell, and haue graunted him admission and doe admitt the said William Knight to the Rectory of Matthewes in Ipswich aforesaid to lie full it perfect Possessor it Incumbent thereof. And doc hereby signify to all persons concerned therein, that he is hereby intituled to ye profitts it perquisitts, & all Rights it dues incident & belonging to ye said Rectory as fully & effectually as if he had beene instituted & inducted, according to any such Lawes it Customes as have in this Case formerly beene made had or used in this Realme. In witnesse whereof they have caused the comön Seal to be hereunto affixed & the same to be attested by the hand of the Regr by his Higlmesse in that behalfc appointed Dated at Whitehall the 11thday of July 1655. [Augmentations, vol. 996, f. 153: 989, 174. Lambeth Library.]

From Susan Hardman Moore, Abandoning American: Life-stores from early New England (Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK: The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2013) 167-8 Knight, William:

KNIGHT, William

William Knight attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and graduated BA in 1630/1, MA in 1634. His sister Elizabeth married Israel Stoughton* in 1627 and emigrated in 1632. Knight followed the Stoughtons to Massachusetts in 1637. He was perhaps the William Knight of New Meadows' (Topsfield), who left by 1648.

Knight may have returned to England with Israel Stoughton in 1643, or possibly later. Stoughton made a will in London, 17 July 1644, which appointed 'my deere brother Mr William Knight' as an overseer.

It has been suggested that the former colonist was the William Knight who became preacher at St Matthew, Ipswich, in 1655. This minister, unusually for a New Englander during the Commonwealth, had been ordained on 8 August 1654 by Ralph Brownrigg, bishop of Exeter. At the Restoration he conformed, and was licensed in Ipswich as curate of St Mary at Elms and rector of St Matthew. He was still rector in 1677; a successor was appointed in 1695.


  • GMB 1775-6; W.L. Sachse, 'The migration of New Englanders to England, 1640- 1660', American Historical Review, 53 (1947-8), 278; N.C.P. Tyack, 'Migration from East Anglia to New England before 1660' (PhD dissertation, University of London, 1951), 88; NEHGR 4:52; 7:333; LPL, MS COMM. II, fol. 380; CCEd Person ID 126006.
    • 1. [S520] VWH, see TAG articles and GMB.
    • 2. [S759] Ralph W. Stoughton, "The Stoughton Families of Dorchester, Mass., and Windsor, Conn.", The American Genealogist 29:4 (Oct. 1953): p. 200, accompanied by his brother-in-law Wm. Knight.
    • 3. [S806] Wm. B. Trask, "Abstracts from the Earliest Wills on Record in the County of Suffolk, Mass.", New England Historical and Genealogical Register 4 (1850): No. 1, Jan., pp. 51-2; written in England while he was visiting and involved in "the hazard of warre." Bequeaths to "Deere & worthily honored wife"; "Eldest sonne Israel"; [son] William; "sonne John". "In case my number be seven", referring to his wife's pregnancy [his fourth son Thomas was b. in Dorchester, MA 30 Jul 1644, thirteen days after the date of this will]. If "seven", three daughters, not named. Gives two hundred acres to Harvard College. Executors wife and son Israel; overseers John Winthrop, Sr., Thomas Dudley, Richard Bellingham, Increase Nowell, "my deer brother William Knight Jr.", Wm. Knight, Thomas Stoughton, Thomas Clarke and david Yale. Poss. a codicil, mentions friends Thomas Jones of Dorchester and Edward Johnson of Roxbury, dated same as will.
    • 4. [S759] Ralph W. Stoughton, "Stoughton Families of Dorchester", p. 200-1, names overseers " 'my deere brothers, Mr. Wm. Knight, Mr. Thomas Stoughton, Mr. Thomas Clarke, Mr. David Yale' ", prisions for his " 'deere mother' ", the [possibly] Widow Knight, "who with her three youngest children had come to Dorchester in 1635, and was then a member of his household." In this account, the widow is his step-mother; in other later accounts, she is his mother-in-law.
  • Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy: Feb 7 2017, 17:15:12 UTC
    • Citations: Southwark, Surrey; 1638; Ipswich; returned permanently to England in 1643 [ITR 40; Plain Dealing 93; TAG 33:108-12; Morison 385-86; Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry: (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011) 2:507-8; Abandoning 167- 68].
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Rev. William Knight, of New Meadows & Ipswich's Timeline

Southwark, Surrey, England
Massachusetts Bay Colony
January 6, 1694
Age 83
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
January 6, 1694
Age 83
Ipswich, Suffolk, England