William Knapp, Sr.

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William Knapp, Sr.

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Ipswich, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
Death: August 30, 1658 (80)
Prob Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusettes
Place of Burial: Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Knapp and Alice Knopp
Husband of Margaret Knapp; Priscilla Akers / Knapp; Judith Knapp and Alice Knapp
Father of Elizabeth Buttery; William Knapp, II; Mary Smith; Ann Philbrick; John Knapp, I and 2 others
Brother of James Knapp; Robert Knapp; Phebe Knapp; Elizabeth Knopp; John Knopp and 2 others

Occupation: (Immigrant), Carpenter, Farmer, Freeman, carpenter, proprieter
Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About William Knapp, Sr.


   ORIGIN: Bures St. Mary, Suffolk
   MIGRATION: 1630
   OCCUPATION: Carpenter.
   EDUCATION: Signed his deed of 1655 by mark. His inventory included "1 Bible" valued at 6s.
   OFFICES: On 3 February 1651/2 Watertown selectmen ordered that "Sergeant Beeres shall view the several particulars of old Knop's work done at the meeting house and to make return for the town" [WaTR 30]. On several occasions in 1651 "Old Knop" received payments from the town treasury, apparently for this work [WaTR 24, 25, 28, 29].
   ESTATE: Granted thirty acres in the Great Dividend at Watertown, 25 July 1636 [WaBOP 3]. Granted seven acres in the Beaverbrook Plowlands, 28 February 1636/7 [WaBOP 7]. Granted seven acres in the Remote Meadows, 26 June 1637 [WaBOP 10]. Granted a farm of ninety-three acres, 10 May 1642 [WaBOP 12].
   In the Inventory of Grants at Watertown, "William Knop, senior," held six parcels: homestall of sixteen acres; seven acres of plowland in the Further Plain; seven acres of Remote Meadow; seven acres and a half of upland beyond the Further Plain; thirty acres of upland in the Great Dividend; and one acre in West Meadow [WaBOP 104]. In the Composite Inventory he held seven parcels: homestall of sixteen acres; seven acres of plowland in the Further Plain; eight acres of plowland in the Further Plain; seven acres in the Remote Meadows; seven acres and a half of upland beyond the Further Plain; thirty acres of upland in the Great Dividend; and a farm of ninety-three acres [WaBOP 54].
   At Watertown selectmen's meeting, 11 December 1656: "Old Knap being in want & complaining to the Selectmen they make this proposition, that if his children will take his estate into their hands, & provide such necessaries for their father & mother as is convenient, they shall have the said estate for the performance thereof when their father & mother cease to be, but if the said children refuse thus to do, then the town will undertake the same, upon such terms as the children should, & this to be fully concluded upon the next second day being the 15th of December (16)56" [WaTR 1:49; see also WaTR 1:53-56].
   In a defective will (lacking date and witnesses, and not naming an executor) "William Knop" stated that "After all just debts of the aforesaid William Knope is satisfy the estate that remains is to be equally divided amongst [illegible] children viz. William Knope, John Knope, James knope, Elizeath [sic] Knope, Mary Knope, Ane Knope, Judeth Knope the house & land adjoining to it & cattle & moveables viz. I give unto my wife two pound ten shillings" [NEHGR 147:325, citing Middlesex Court Files, foilo 16, #5].
   The inventory of the estate of "William Knap, late of Watertowne, deceased," was taken 31 August 1658 and totalled oe129 3s. 10d. (with some small items added later), including the "house & land" valued at oe100 [MPR 1:241-42].
   On 27 March 1660 "Elizabeth Buttery, widow, of Buers St. Mary," Suffolk ("whereas William Knap the father of the aforesaid Elizabeth Butterie late of New England deceased" left estate which was to be divided among his children) made Nicholas Danforth of Cambridge and John Parmenter Senior of New England her attorneys to receive her legacy [MLR 2:218-19].
   On 1 April 1662, whereas "William Knap late of Watertown deceased ... who died intestate" held land which was divided by the court on 15 October 1659 "to Priscilla Knap his relict widow" one third for life, and the remainder and reversion of the widow's thirds to "William Knap, Jno. Knap, James Knap, Mary Smith, Judeth Cady, children of the said William Knap, together with the children of John Philbricke deceased, being the grandchildren of the said William Knap, deceased," therefore William Knap, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife and Nicholas Cady and Judith his wife joined with their brother John Knap and Sarah his wife in confirming sale of this land to Nathaniel Coolidge [MLR 2:201-03].
   BIRTH: Baptized Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, 1 January 1580/1, son of Thomas and Alice (Howlat) Knopp [NEHGR 147:323-24].
   DEATH: Watertown 30 August 1659 [sic, recte 1658] "aged about 80 years" [WaVR 21].
   MARRIAGE: (1) Wormingford, Essex, 11 January 1606[/7] Judith Tue, baptized at Wormingford 31 May 1589, daughter of John and Cicely (_____) Tue [NEHGR 147:319, 324, 328]; she died by 1651.
   (2) Soon after 20 June 1651 Priscilla (_____) Akers [NEHGR 147:325]; she died by 1 April 1662 when the heirs sold the real estate which they had inherited, apparently including the widow's thirds [MLR 2:201-03].
   With first wife
   i ELIZABETH, bp. Wormingford, Essex, 10 July 1608; m. _____ Buttery.
   ii WILLIAM, bp. Wormingford 3 February 1610/1; m. (1) by 1642 Mary _____ (Priscilla, daughter of William & Mary Knap, b. Watertown 10 November 1642 [WaVR 10]); m. (2) by 1652 Margaret _____ ("Judy Knap, daughter of Willyam & Mergrett Knop," b. Watertown 2 March 1652[/3] [WaVR 16]).
   iii MARY, bp. Wormingford 19 August 1613; m. by 1637 Thomas Smith of Watertown (eldest child b. Watertown 18 September 1637 [WaVR 5]).
   iv ANNE, bp. Wormingford 24 December 1618; m. by 1650 John Philbrick (eldest child b. Hampton 22 September 1650 [HampVR 544; GDMNH 545].
   v JOHN, bp. Bures St. Mary 20 January 1622/3; m. Watertown 21 May 1660 Sarah Young [WaVR 23].
   vi JAMES, bp. Wormingford 30 April 1626; m. by 1655 Elizabeth Warren, daughter of JOHN WARREN (eldest child b. Watertown 21 April 1655 [WaVR 17]).
   vii JUDITH, bp. Bures St. Mary 16 July 1629; m. by 1650 Nicholas Cady (eldest child b. Watertown 15 January 1650[/1?] [WaVR 15]).
   ASSOCIATIONS: Many researchers have claimed that William Knopp and NICHOLAS KNAPP of Watertown were brothers, but there is no evidence for this connection, and much against. The most recent investigation of William Knopp shows no evidence of Nicholas Knapp in the family, or even in Bures St. Mary, Suffolk [NEHGR 147:327-28]. The two differ in age by about twenty-five years, a full generation. William and Nicholas, despite residing in the same town for fifteen years, are never seen interacting in any way. Finally, although this would not normally be an important consideration, the town clerks at Watertown were consistent in spelling William's surname as Knopp and Nicholas's as Knapp, suggesting that in Watertown the surnames were seen as distinct.
   Thomas Philbrick of Watertown and Hampton was also from Bures St. Mary, and he married there a Knopp, but she was not of the immediate family of William Knopp [NEHGR 147:327]; a not-too-distant connection is likely, however.
   COMMENTS: 30 November 1630: "It is ordered, that whosoever employeth Will[ia]m Knopp or his son in any work shall pay the one half of their wages to Sir Richard Saltonstall, & whoever buyeth boards of them shall pay one half of the price to Sir Richard, till the money he hath disbursed for them be satisfied" [MBCR 1:82]. 22 March 1630/1: "It appears by Sir Rich: Saltonstall's note of disbursements that Will[ia]m Knopp owes him the sum of oe19 5s., as was evidenced to the Court by Richard Browne & Ephraim Childe, being men indifferently chosen betwixt them to judge thereof" [MBCR 1:85]. (These two court orders suggest that Saltonstall had paid the ship passage for William Knopp and his family in 1630.)
   6 October 1633: "Will[ia]m Knopp is bound in oe10 to appear at the next Court, & to abide the censure of the Court for swearing" [MBCR 1:133]. 6 June 1637: "Willi: Knopp was enjoined, upon pain of oe100 & imprisonment, to bring in sureties within 8 days for his appearance at the next Quarter Court, to answer what shalbe objected about his speeches of Mr. Vaine, our late Governor" [MBCR 1:199].
   7 April 1635: "It is referred to John Haynes Esq. & Mr. Rob[er]te Feakes, to audit the accounts betwixt Edward Howe & Will[ia]m Knopp, to swear witnesses, & examine them what they can say in the case, & to make return thereof into the next Court" [MBCR 1:143].
   1 June 1641: "Willi: Knopp, for selling bear two years unlicensed, was fined oe5" [MBCR 1:318].
   BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: Two treatments of the family of William Knopp were published in 1993. Clifford L. Stott prepared an account in which the immigrant had resided at both Wormingford in Essex and Bures St. Mary on the Essex-Suffolk border, and had married a woman from Wormingford, Judith Tue [NEHGR 147:313-28]. John Brayton produced a version in which the immigrant had lived only in Bures St. Mary and had married Margaret Deane of that parish [GMC26 175-84]. Brayton apparently missed the chronological clues which indicate that there were two William Knopps of Bures St. Mary, so he apparently did not undertake the wider search which led Stott to his conclusions. We follow Stott's results, and the English records cited above are taken from his article, unless stated otherwise.

Copied Documents from Ancestry:

We do know that both the Knapp family and the Philbrick family were both Puritans and that the Knapp family did cross the Atlantic in 1630. In Charles Banks' "The Winthrop Fleet of 1630", we get a picture of what their journey was like.

The Arbella was the flagship of the Winthrop Fleet. John Winthrop, the leading Puritan leader of the Massachusetts Bay Company, sailed on board the Arbella when she and three other ships sailed from Yarmouth at the Isle of Wight on April 8, 1630. In comparison to the better known Pilgrims and the Mayflower, records show that the Winthrop Fleet was well supplied during the crossing. The Arbella carried 10,000 gallons of wine and fourteen tons of freshwater and forty-two tons of beer. Despite these and other ample supplies, the trip could still be quite hazardous. Besides the danger posed by the sea to the ships, scurvy could break out due to the lack of vegetables and citrus fruits like lemons and limes. Beer seemed to have been the home remedy as it wasn't until the following spring with the return of the Lyon (a ship which sailed prior to the Arbella) that the much needed lemons and limes arrived and abated the scurvy situation. Many died in between this time though, victims not of the New World but of the voyage from the old.

    Among the accounts of the voyage of the Arbella, it is known that she stopped to do some fishing off the banks of New Foundland and they resupplied some of their used up food stores. A short time later the passengers picked strawberries while on Cape Ann which is north of Salem near Gloucester.

William Knapp was born in Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England and baptised at St. Mary's Church there on January 1, 1581. He was surely the son of Thomas Knapp and Alice Howlat. In the records of his time, William's last name is usually spelled Knop or Knopp. He married Judith Tue on January 11, 1607 in Wormingford, Essex. She was baptised there on May 31, 1589, the daughter of John Tue. William and Judith had four children born in Wormingford, then three more, two born in Bures St. Mary, one in Wormingford. Evidently, the family was moving back and forth between Wormingford and Bures St. Mary.

The family arrived in New England in 1630. William was granted seven parcels of land in Watertown totalling 178 acres. His homestall of 16 acres was bounded south west by R. Lockwood, south east by N. Knapp, east by R. Browne, north east by R. Beers, north by Cambridge Road. William was indentured to Richard Saltonstall for the family's passage. He was obviously having a hard time paying Sir Richard, for in 1630, there is an order from the Court of Assistants that "whoedoeuer employeth Willm Knopp or his sonne in any work shall pay the one half of their wages to Sr Rich: Siltonstall, & whoeuer buyeth boards of them shall pay one halfe of the price to Sr Richard, till the money hee hath disbursed for them be satisfied." The debt stood at over 19 pounds.

William was frequently in trouble, for swearing, speaking against the governor and selling beer without a license. It is unknown when Judith died, but it was before 1650. In that year, he entered into a prenuptual agreement with widow Priscilla Aker. In 1655, William sold most of his land to his son John. In 1656, he applied for assistance to the Selectmen of Watertown, but they told him to place his estate in the hands of his children in exchange for support. The children balked, so during the last years of his life, the town leased out his lands and paid others for his upkeep. Until 1652, he performed work at the meeting hall and was poundkeeper. He is frequently referred to as "Ould Knop" or "Father Knop" in the records of Watertown.

William died in Watertown on August 30, 1658. William's will is dated July 5, 1655, but was never probated, possibly because of ambiguous language. There was a court battle between his widow and his children over his estate after his death. The place of his burial is not known, but the only cemetery in use in Watertown at the time of his death was The Old Burying Place, which was used starting in 1642. That is where William was probably buried, although there is no stone extant for him.

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William Knapp, Sr.'s Timeline

Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Ipswich, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures,St. Mary,Suffolk,England
January 1, 1578
Bures, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures,St. Mary,Suffolk,England
January 1, 1578
St. Mary, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures, St. Mary, Suffolk, England
January 1, 1578
Bures, St. Mary, Suffolk, England