LIFE GOES ON: AN INTRODUCTION

MY GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

THE SIXTEEN FAMILIES

KNOTT - I - BOWLES - I - WATERS - I - HARRALL - I - PAGE - I - WISEMAN - I - CROSS - I - CARTER

CORNWELL - I - HUCKLE - I - MORTLOCK - I - MANSFIELD - I - REYNOLDS - I - CARTER - I - ANABLE - I - STEARN

CHRONOLOGY - I - DRAMATIS PERSONAE - I - WHERE PEOPLE CAME FROM - I - CALENDAR

MAP OF ELY - I - MAP OF MEDWAY
MAP OF CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT

THE WORKHOUSE

WORLD WAR I - I - WORLD WAR II

simonknott.co.uk I home I e-mail

LIFE GOES ON


Strood Rochester in the morning mist Strood, 1901

The Knott family: the story of the century in and around the Medway towns

My Father's Father's Father's Father's family
The narrative can be read in conjunction with
the Knott family tree. You can see places significant to the Knott family on the site map of the Medway
This family story includes material from, and links with, the stories of the
Bowles, Waters and Harrall families. My direct ancestors are highlighted in bold the first time they appear in the narrative.


"The principal productions of these towns appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers and dockyard men. The commodities chiefly offered for sale in the public streets are marine stores, hardbake, apples, flat fish and oysters. The streets present a lively and animated appearance, occasioned chiefly by the conviviality of the military. It is truly delightful to the philanthropic mind, to see these gallant men staggering along under the influence of an overflow both of animal and ardent spirits: more especially when we remember that the following them about, and jesting at them, affords a cheap and innocent occupation for the boy population... The consumption of tobacco in these towns must be very great, and the smell which pervades the streets must be exceeding delicious to those who are extremely fond of smoking. A superficial traveller might object to their dirt which is their leading characteristic; but to those who view it as an indication of traffic and commercial prosperity, it is truly gratifying."

- Mr Pickwick's view of Rochester, Chatham and Strood in Pickwick Papers (1836) by Charles Dickens, quoted by Tony Denholm in The Medway Towns 1790-1850.


"One common feature of this new world was smoke and dust. An 1893 account talked of the 'mingled smoke and steam throwing a haze' over Strood, and noted the 'impalpable white powder' which covered the neighbourhood, workers inhaling so much dust that were they to drink water their stomachs would be coated in cement. One consequence of this dusty environment was an absence of colour. Buildings close to the works became coated in a layer of cement giving them a uniform grey appearance; the air was 'made heavy with the suspended smoke belched from countless chimneys'. Cement Land was clearly a world apart, and recognised as such by locals and visitors alike."

- a description of Strood and environs in The Medway Valley: A Kent Landscape Transformed by Andrew Hann, 2009

                         

The story of the Knott family is the story of the Industrial Revolution. When we first enter their lives they are agricultural labourers. As the 19th Century progresses, they leave the fields and go into the factories. As the Medway Towns grow and merge into each other, forming one of the world's first industrial conurbations, the Knott family come there, and for more than a century there they remain. At first, the Knott men are employed in the brickfields, and later in the cement factories. As the industries decline, so the Knott family starts to spread out into the rest of England.

Knott is a common surname in east Kent even today, and when my great-great-great-grandfather William Knott was taken to St Mary's church in Dover to be christened on 4th May 1795 he was one of a dozen or more William Knotts baptised in and around the town in the last few years of the 18th Century. His parents were William Knott and Mary Prebble - of them, no more is known. By the age of 21, William was forty miles west in Rainham, the most easterly of what would become the Medway towns, and it was there, at St Margaret's parish church, that he married Caroline Wells on 30th March 1817. Caroline was the daughter of William Wells and Mary Wells, and the Wells surname appears frequently in the Rainham parish registers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Caroline had been christened in Rainham on the 25th November 1798; if she was baptised as an infant, it would mean that she was just 18 years old when she married William Knott.

After their marriage, William and Caroline lived in Rainham and nearby Gillingham, where their first children were born, including a boy who died in infancy. In 1826 they were at Northfleet for the birth of their oldest surviving son, William. Soon after, William and Caroline were back in Rainham, but they made what seems to have been a permanent move to Gillingham in the middle of the 1830s. Over the course of the years there would be perhaps ten children in all, although it is not certain that all the children with Caroline on the night of the 1841 census are hers. Two years after the census, on 31st March 1843, their youngest son was born, my great-great-grandfather George Henry Knott. These are the known children of William and Caroline Knott:

    Mary Knott
Born Rainham, Kent in 1818. Mary is recorded with Caroline and the other children in Gillingham on the night of the 1841 census at the age of 23, but her birth does not appear in the Rainham registers. Also in the household on that night is the two month old Thomas Knott. Thomas was almost certainly Mary's illegitimate son (the 1841 census does not record relationships between family members). Thomas's father was probably Thomas Horton, from Milton in Kent. Thomas Horton was a married man. In 1851, Mary was living as the wife of Thomas Horton at 4 Orchard Street, Greenwich. They had three children: Thomas, who had been with Mary in 1841, and Sarah and Mary Ann. But in fact, Thomas and Mary were still not married. When Mary next appears in the records in 1859, it is when
she married the widower Thomas Horton Packer at St Mary's church, Lewisham. Presumably, Thomas's legal wife had died, and the couple were able to marry. Mary's sister Jane was one of the witnesses, and Mary's father William is not marked as deceased. In 1861 they were living in Bell Street, Greenwich with Mary Ann and another child, Eliza. Mary died in the 4th quarter of 1864 in Greenwich. She was 46 years old.

William Knott
Born Gillingham, Kent in 1821 and
baptised at St Mary Magdalene's church on 16th December. He died in infancy, and was buried at St Margaret's church, Rainham on 7th May 1822. The next male sibling, in 1826, would also be given the name William.

Elizabeth Knott
Born Rainham, Kent in 1823 and apparently
baptised at St Margaret's church on 6th December, although the Rainham registers are in poor condition and it is not clear that her baptismal name is Elizabeth. She was with her mother Caroline in Gillingham on the night of the 1841 census at the age of 18. She married George Smitherman on 23rd October 1842 at St Mary's church, Chatham. They lived in Gillingham, and had seven children: George, Elizabeth, Sarah, William, James, John and Richard. Elizabeth's husband George was a witness at the marriage of her brother William in 1845. George was an agricultural labourer, but after his early death at the age of 44 in 1865 Elizabeth was left a widow. At the time of the 1871 census, Elizabeth's son George was a stoker on board HMS Pandora anchored at Naples, Italy. The widowed Elizabeth was living in Gillingham with her children James and Richard. She is probably the Eliza Smitherman who died in the Tonbridge registration district in the 3rd quarter of 1887. It is probably Elizabeth's son John living in Temple Gardens, Strood at the time of the 1925 Kelly's Directory of Rochester, just around the corner from his cousin William Knott, my great-grandfather. Another John Smitherman next door was probably his son.

William Knott
Born Northfleet, Kent in 1826 and
baptised at St Botolph's church on 13th August. He married Fanny Wells at St Mary's church Chatham on 7th September 1845. They were both 19 years old. William's brother-in-law George Smitherman was one of the witnesses. Fanny was already pregnant, and their daughter Rebecca was born shortly afterwards. However, Fanny died in 1849, and was buried at St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham, on the 11th of March. She was just 23 years old. William took Rebecca home to his parents, but in about 1852 he married again, to a girl called Mary. I have not yet found this marriage. They had four more children, Mary Ann, William, Alfred and Hannah. The family lived in Gillingham. William was widowed again in the 1880s, but lived until 1906 when he died at the age of 80.

John Knott
Born Rainham, Kent in 1828 and
baptised at St Margaret's church on 1st January 1829. John is recorded with his mother Caroline in Gillingham on the night of the 1841 census at the age of 12, but he is not immediately obvious in other census and marriage records, and may well have been dead by 1851.

Ann Knott
Born Gillingham, Kent in 1834 and
baptised at St Mary Magdalene's church on 9th March. She is recorded as Fanny with her mother Caroline in Gillingham on the night of the 1841 census at the age of 7. She is not immediately obvious in other census and marriage records, and may well have been dead by 1851.

Jane Knott
Born Gillingham, Kent in 1836, and
baptised at St Mary Magdalene's church on 22nd May. Jane is not recorded in the household on the night of the 1841 census when she was 5 years old, but another child of the same age, Samuel, is. There is no record for a child called Samuel in the Gillingham registers, and there must be a strong likelihood that 'Samuel' is actually Jane, mistranscribed in the 1841 census by the secretary who collated the data from individual forms onto the census return. Jane is not apparent on the 1851 census, but she was a witness at her sister Mary's wedding to Thomas Horton Packer in Lewisham in 1859. She was back in the Gillingham household with her mother Caroline for the 1861 census. Then, something rather curious happened. On 11th December 1864, Jane and the 22 year old Joseph Cox were married at All Saints church, Frindsbury. However, Jane gave her name as Jane Sullivan, and her status as 'widow'. This suggests that Jane had married for the first time after the 1861 census, been widowed rather quickly and married again almost immediately. I am still looking for this first marriage. However, there must be a possibility that she married Mr Sullivan some time in the 1850s, became estranged from him, was recorded under her maiden name when a witness at her sister's wedding and when at home for the 1861 census, and then married her new husband when her legal husband died. The witnesses at Frindsbury were her younger brother George Knott and her niece Sarah Smitherman, daughter of her older sister Elizabeth. In turn, Jane and her husband Joseph would witness George's own marriage to Mary Ann Bowles nine years later in 1873. Jane and Joseph lived in Rochester, which was Joseph's home town. They seem to have had no children. By the time of the 1891 census, Jane had died, and Joseph was a widower.

James Edward Knott
Born Gillingham, Kent in 1839, and
baptised at St Mary Magdalene's church on 10th March. James appears with his mother Caroline in Gillingham on the 1841 and 1861 censuses, but in 1851 he was a servant living elsewhere in Gillingham. He married Phoebe Sarah Ladsbury on 30th July 1871 at St Mary's church, Chatham. She already had a one year old child William, who may well have been James's. They had five more children together, George, Jane, Elizabeth, John and Eliza. James died in the Medway registration district in the 3rd quarter of 1893 at the age of 54.

George Henry Knott
Born Gillingham, Kent on 31st March 1843. My great-great-grandfather. See below.

   

Their father William had been away from home for the night of the 1841 census, but he makes an appearance on the 1851 census when he, Caroline and three of their children, as well as their granddaughter Rebecca, were living at 8 Church Street, Gillingham. William gave his occupation as an agricultural labourer, and he had been described as a labourer in the Northfleet and Gillingham parish records on the occasion of the baptism of several of his children. But little more is known about him, because by the time of the 1861 census he was dead, and Caroline was a widow. There are a number of deaths of a William Nott or Knott in Kent in the period, but only two are in the Medway area, and only one of about the right age, a 66 year old William Knott who died of the symptoms of cholera at the Union House in Strood on 1st September 1857. This is likely to be our William. He was buried in Strood churchyard, not Gillingham, but the paupers' grave plot there would probably have been used for all workhouse deaths. The burial would have been one of the last in the old churchyard before the extension opened the following year

By 1861 William's youngest son George, my great-great-grandfather, was eighteen years old, and had moved with his mother Caroline to Hillington Square, Gillingham. The Church Street house was now occupied by George's oldest brother William and his wife Mary and their children. George was an agricultural labourer, probably working on the same farm as his mother. A mile or so off in Pleasant Row, Chatham, a seventeen year old servant girl was living in the household of her uncle. Her name was Mary Ann Bowles, and she would be my great-great-grandmother.

Mary Ann was born in the Mall, Preston-next-Faversham, on 1st November 1843, and she seems to have spent many of her childhood years in the Faversham workhouse. She had a rather extraordinary background. When her mother Caroline Thompson had been pregnant with her, she had walked the 300 miles from the Devonport workhouse in Plymouth, Devon to Faversham in Kent, accompanied by Mary Ann's five year old sister. At the time of the census of 1841, two years before Mary Ann was born, her mother had been living under her married name Bowles in the Devonport workhouse. Ten years later, Caroline was in the Faversham workhouse in Kent with four children, including Mary Ann. Caroline had married William Bowles at Stoke Damarel in Devon in 1837, but it soon becomes clear that the children she had after her arrival in Kent were fathered by Thomas Bowles, who was William's brother. Mary Ann Bowles's father was declared as Thomas on both her birth certificate and in the Preston-next-Faversham parish records. You can read more about the Bowles family on the Bowles family story.

It is quite possible that by 1861 Mary Ann Bowles already knew George Knott, but on the 17th August 1862 she married Henry Welch at Faversham parish church. Mary Ann was pregnant, and their son Charles Henry Welch was born in early 1863. About this time, Henry Welch's father died, and the couple seem to have returned to Gillingham with their son to look after Henry's mother, his siblings, and the family greengrocer business. It is unclear what happened next, but by March 1866 Mary Ann had left her husband, for George Knott and Mary Ann Welch were living as man and wife at High Street, Gillingham, and Mary Ann had given birth to George Knott's son, who was called George Bowles Knott, with no mention of Mary Ann's married name on the birth certificate. But George and Mary Ann were not married. Mary Ann's legal husband Henry Welch and their son Charles were living with Henry's recently widowed mother at New Brompton, a few miles away. George and Mary Ann moved to Upchurch, just outside of the Medway Towns, where a second son was born in 1868, and then on the 3rd December 1869 at Upchurch was born their third son, my great-grandfather William Knott. The 1871 census shows George and Mary Ann living in Upchurch with their three sons, George being recorded as a labourer, Mary Ann recorded with the surname Knott. And then, a few months later, Mary Ann's legal husband Henry Welch died of smallpox.

At last, George and Mary Ann were free. They married at All Saints, Frindsbury, Kent on 17th March 1872. Mary Ann gave her name as Mary Ann Welch and her status as widow. The witnesses were George's sister Jane and her husband, Joseph Cox. There would be five more children, but three of George and Mary Ann's children would be dead before the 1911 census. Several of the Knott boys were professional soldiers. One of them spent most of twenty years in India before fighting in Iraq in the First World War, which he survived. Another brother headed off to Ireland, and we find him in 1901 in Portsmouth as an infantry instructor. He died young, as did his sister Caroline and his brother Albert. These are the eight children of George and Mary Ann Knott:

   
George Bowles Knott
Born on the 29th March 1866 at High Street, Gillingham. George's mother gave her name as Mary Ann Knott formerly Bowles on the birth registration, with no indication that her surname was Welch. The certificate gives George's father's occupation as a brick labourer. George was still at home in Frindsbury at the age of 25 for the 1891 census, but by 1901 he had moved to Greenwich in south London where he was working as a labourer in a chemical factory. He was boarding in the household of Thomas Pattenden, a gasworks labourer. In 1911 he was a print worker living in Whalley near Clitheroe in Lancashire, boarding in the household of Thomas Harris, a gardener. He was still unmarried, and it seems likely that he never married. George stayed in Lancashire, living at Marlborough Street, Clitheroe. In early 1836 George was taken into Coplow View, the former Clitheroe workhouse which had become a public assistance hospital, and he died there of a stroke on 24th March 1936, a few days before his 70th birthday. On the death certificate, his occupation was given as general labourer.

Joseph Knott
Born Upchurch 1868. Joseph was a professional soldier. Like his brother Frederick, he was with the Royal Artillery. He disappeared for the 1891 census, but re-emerged in 1901 at Portsmouth. He was 33 years old, and was living at the Royal Artillery Clarence Barracks as a Sargeant instructing infantry Royal Artillery. With him were his wife Mary Ann Langford, who he married in Maidstone in the first quarter of 1896, and two children, four year old Joseph Alexander and one year old Vera Lillian Mary. Joseph gives us a clue to the whereabouts of the family in 1891, because he was born in Newbridge, County Kildare in Ireland. Unfortunately, the 1891 census for Ireland was destroyed by fire. There were no more children. Five years later, in the first quarter of 1906, Joseph died in Portsmouth at the age of 38. In 1911, his widow and two children were
still living in Portsmouth at 120 St Augustine's Road Southsea.

William George Knott
Born on the 3rd December 1869 at Upchurch. My great-grandfather. See below.

Frederick Knott
Born Upchurch 1872. Frederick was the first of the children to be born after the marriage of his parents, and he is the only one of the three Knott boys born in Upchurch to have been baptised at Upchurch parish church. Frederick Knott was a professional soldier, and his service record has survived. He signed up to the Royal Artillery on March 15th 1895 at Dover Castle in Kent. He was 22 years and 10 months old. His height was measured as 5 feet 6 and 3/4 inches. He weighed 133 lbs. His chest measurement was 33 inches, increasing to 35 inches when fully expanded. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue-grey, his hair light brown and his religion C of E. He had a small scar on his right hand, and a tattoo on his left fore arm. His next of kin was his father, George Knott, of 58 Grange Road, Strood, Kent.

Frederick was in service for more than 22 years, almost entirely in India. He began his military career as a gunner, soon rising to Corporal. But in 1904, for reasons unexplained, he underwent a trial and was demoted to gunner. He fought in the North West Frontier expedition to the Punjab in the 1890s, and then spent much of the next twenty years garrisoned in India. He appears on the 1911 census at the Royal Field Artillery barracks in Barrackpore in Calcutta. In 1915 he formed part of the Eastern Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Mesopotamia, the modern Iraq. His medal record shows that he arrived in Mesopotamia on the 29th August 1915. He was discharged as physically unfit on the 26th April 1917. He was 45 years old. He survived the First World War. At the time of the 1925 Kelly's Directory of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, etc, there is a Frederick Knott living at 3 Eastgate Terrace, Rochester. It may well be him.

Albert Knott
Born Halstow 1874. Albert was baptised at St Margaret's church, Lower Halstow on 29th March. His father's occupation was shown as a labourer. Albert's death was recorded in the 2nd quarter of 1875, although his burial is not in the Lower Halstow parish registers.

Caroline Jane Knott
Born Halstow 1876. The first daughter, and named Caroline after both George's and Mary Ann's mothers. She was baptised at St Margaret's church, Lower Halstow on 16th July. Her father's occupation was shown as a brick maker. Caroline died in October 1884. The family were living at Brompton Lane, Strood, and she was buried on 23rd October in plot G30 of Strood cemetery. She was 8 years old.

There is then a gap of eight years until

Lilla Marian Knott
Born Strood, 1884. She was
baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on 24th October, the day after the burial of her sister Caroline, when her parents address was given as 2 Brompton Lane. Lilla appears as Lily on the 1901 census. In 1911 she was working in a large orphanage in Chatham as a foster mother. She married Sydney Wilson in Strood in the second quarter of 1912. They were living at 27 Hone Street, Strood at the time of the 1925 Kelly's Directory.

Thomas Edward Knott
Born Strood, 1886. He was
baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on 20th August, at which time the address of his parents was given as Medway Cottages, suggesting that they moved to Grange Road after this date. I have not found Thomas on the 1911 census, and he may well have been serving in the army abroad. He may well be the Thomas Knott who died at Colchester in Essex in 1975, with a given birth date of 7th May 1886.

   

My great-grandfather William had been born in Upchurch, but when he was about three years old he moved with his parents and brothers to the neighbouring village of Halstow for the birth of Albert and Caroline, both of whom would die in childhood. After this, there is a curious gap of eight years in the birth of children. We know that by 1881 the family were back in the Medway Towns at Gillingham, where George was working as a labourer in a brickfield. It seems likely that the Knott family were not very well off at this time, for in 1883 George's mother Caroline died in the Chatham Workhouse at the age of 84.

58 Grange Road Strood St Mary 12 Strood Hill

However, the following year the family were living a few miles west in Brompton Road in the Strood district of Rochester, where George and Mary Ann Knott would remain for the rest of their lives. George and Mary Ann's daughter Caroline died at the age of eight, and was buried in Strood cemetery on 23rd October 1884. The following day, their daughter Lilla was baptised at Strood St Nicholas. From this time onwards, Rochester would be seen by the family as their home town. At the time of the 1891 census, George and Mary Ann were living in Grange Road, actually just over the border from Strood in the Frindsbury district. George was working as a general labourer in the brickfields, probably the Manor Works to the north of Frindsbury. A short distance off in the rather more upmarket new houses of Bryants Terrace lived the Waters family, George and Mary Ann Waters with their daughters Mary Ann and Beatrice. My great-grandfather William Knott was still living at home at the age of 21 at the time of the 1891 census, but on the 3rd December 1892 he married Mary Anne Waters at St Mary's church in Strood, Rochester, which was roughly halfway between the Knott and Waters households. It was William's 22nd birthday. It is likely that the Knott and Waters families already knew each other before meeting in Strood. Twenty years earlier, the Knott and Waters families had both been living at the adjacent villages of Upchurch and Low Halstow.

William and his new bride moved into a house in Cuxton Road on the other side of Strood High Street, where their eldest daughter was born nine months later. William worked as a labourer in one of the new cement factories which had sprung up along the Frindsbury waterfront. Another daughter was born in Cuxton Road, and then the family moved right into the centre of Strood on London Road. They were there for the birth of a daughter and for the 1901 census, before moving back to Cuxton Road.

Then, in the early years of the 20th Century, William and Mary Ann took their family some fifteen miles west to Dartford, for William to work in the vast cement works there. While they were there, their youngest son was born, Vincent Helgia Knott, my grandfather. He was born on the 15th of February 1908 at 34 West Hill, Dartford in Kent. The house still exists, on the main road into the centre of Dartford from London. Vincent Helgia was baptised at Holy Trinity, Dartford on 22nd April 1908. As a very young child, he would be put on the bar of the One Bell at Wilmington in Dartford, the beerhouse then run by his mother's parents, and asked to sing. As a result, he acquired the nickname 'Joe' among the customers. He was called Joe by everyone who knew him for the rest of his life.

34 West Hill on GSV font 16 Providence Street on GSV

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to Providence Street in Greenhithe on the outskirts of Dartford, on the edge of the cement works where William Knott worked. This is now the site of the Bluewater shopping centre. By the end of the decade, the family were back in the Strood district of Rochester, living at 96 Temple Street, not far from George and Mary Ann's shop. William and his wife would also now remain in Rochester for the rest of their lives.

William was a labourer, like all of my great-grandfathers, but he seems to have had more physically demanding jobs than many of my other ancestors, describing himself variously as a cement labourer, a chalk digger, a burner in a cement factory, a brickfield labourer and even a stevedore. William and Mary Ann had six children:

   
Daisy Mary Knott

Born 1893 in Strood. Daisy was
baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on September 13th. The registers show that the family were living at Cuxton Road, Strood, Kent. In 1901 she was staying with her grandparents George and Mary Ann Waters in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. In 1911 she was with them at the One Bell, the pub they kept at Wilmington near Dartford. On 3rd April 1912 she was married at St Michael's church, Wilmington. She gave her address as the One Bell public house, and so did her new husband Charles James Marchant, who gave his occupation as an instructor in physical culture. Her father William and her sister Gladys were witnesses. Interestingly, Daisy gave her age as 21. In fact, she was just 18. Her grandfather had died in 1911. It seems probable that she said she was 21 to enable them to be married under licence, but is it possible that she gave a false age to enable her to take on the running of the One Bell with Charles Marchant now that her grandfather was dead and her grandmother was infirm? Daisy was probably the Daisy Mary Merchant who died at Ashford in Kent in 1962. If so, her age was given as 61, but really she was a few months short of her 70th birthday.

Gladys Violet Knott
Born 1895 in Strood, Kent. Gladys was
baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on December 29th. The registers show that the family were living at Tobin Villas, Cuxton Road, Strood, Kent. This is probably the name of a terrace and may well be the address they were living at in 1893. Gladys was the big sister that Joe grew up with. She was 13 years older than him. She was married at St Nicholas, Strood on 8th February 1919. She gave her address as 96 Temple Street, and so did her new husband Frederick Allen. Interestingly, her father William gave his occupation as stevedore, meaning a docker. Apart from the occasion of my grandparents' marriage in the 1930s, this is the only time I have found it recorded as anything other than a cement or brickfield worker. Gladys and Frederick probably lived in Strood, and are likely to be the household recorded under the name Frederick Allen at 11 Pearson Street, Strood, in the 1925 Kelly's Directory of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, etc. My father and uncle remember Gladys and her family visiting Joe and his family in Ely on at least two occasions in the 1940s. Gladys died in Chatham, Kent in 1980 at the age of 85.

Pansy Miriam Knott
Born 1897 in Strood, Kent. Pansy was
baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on August 22. The registers show that the family were living at 12, Strood Hill. This is the same house as the family would be living at in 1901, 12 London Road. It sits at the bottom of Strood Hill a few doors from the famous Crispin and Crispianus Inn, at the start of Strood High Street, and is now a hairdresser's. Pansy died in the second quarter of 1898.

William George Knott
Born 1902 in Strood, Kent. William
was baptised at St Nicholas, Strood, on 16th November. The registers show that the family were living at 11 St John's Terrace, Cuxton Road, Strood, Kent. St John's Terrace runs just to the north of Strood cemetery. William's name is too common in Kent to find his marriage without more information, but he is probably the William George Knott who died in Maidstone, Kent in 1988 at the age of 85.

Vincent Helgia 'Joe' Knott
born on the 15th of February 1908 at 34 West Hill, Dartford in Kent. My grandfather. See below.

Iris Alberta Knott
Born on Christmas Eve 1910 at 16 Providence Street, Greenhithe in Kent. She married George Gower in Strood in 1931, and lived to the fine old age of 91, dying in Rochester in 2002.

   

Joe 's family lived at 96 Temple Street throughout his childhood. Joe's grandparents George and Mary Ann Knott were close at hand, and, while George was still working as a labourer, they opened a small sweetshop and general store in their Grange Road terraced house. The shop was in business at the time of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses. In 1913, Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey and Sussex listed the following under shopkeepers: 'Knott George 58, Grange Road, Frindsbury, Rochester'. It was probably the most stable and successful that either side of the family had been for generations. On 27th November 1916, Mary Ann Knott, formerly Welch, ne Bowles, died of liver cancer at the Grange Road house. She was 73 years old. 58 Grange Road survives today as a private house. Her husband George George Knott died on the 11th June 1921 at his son's home, 96 Temple Street. He was 78 years old. my grandfather Joe Knott was a thirteen year old boy living in the house at the time. Both George and Mary Ann were buried in plot A192 of Strood Cemetery, just to the south of the cemetery chapel.

Temple Street, Strood, 1960s. Copyright unknown

Joe may have worked as a labourer in a cement works after he left school, but in about 1931 he left Rochester looking for work. The family continued to live in Temple Street, but it was badly bombed during the Second World War and finally demolished in the 1960s. The photograph above was taken just before the final demolition of the street - the houses on the left hand side are already boarded up. The identity of the woman is unknown. The location is now the site of Strood Tesco. In February 2011, while wandering around this area, I met an old couple who had both been children on Temple Street at the time Joe was growing up there. They were able to point out exactly where 96 Temple Street had been (now within the Tesco car park) and they gave me a vivid picture of life in the street at that time. They had not known the Knotts by name, but it felt like a remarkable touchstone.

Joe would not go back to live in the Medway Towns. In the early 1930s he worked on road-building projects in Yorkshire where he met Arthur Page, the brother of his future wife Phyllis. Arthur was another migrant worker, and Joe came back with him to East Anglia, where he met my grandmother. Joe went to work for British Sugar at Cantley in east Norfolk, but he married Phyllis Page at Ely Register Office on 15th August 1932, when he was 24 and she was just 19. Joe's address was 9 Council Cottages Cantley. The witnesses were Phyllis's brother Percy and her sister Violet. Interestingly, Joe gave the occupation of his father as Greengrocer, although it is unlikely that William had taken over the running of the shop in Grange Road after his father George's death, because the shop was in different hands at the time of the 1925 Kelly's Directory.

They went to live at Council Cottages, Cantley, and then in 1933 they moved to Ipswich, firstly living in lodgings in Tacket Street in the town centre, and then in a rented house in Cavendish Street, the same street that I would live in almost exactly half a century later. Joe worked for Fisons on Cliff Road, who were constructing a new factory. They moved to 20 Fletcher Road on the new Gainsborough Estate in Ipswich, where their first child and only daughter was born. The factory was completed the following year, and they returned to Ely in 1935, where they would remain.

Joe and Phyllis lived at 25 Willow Walk off of Waterside, where my father and his three brothers were born - Joe and Phyl had five children in all. The house is now demolished. Joe Knott rarely spoke about his family in Kent, and his children were told almost nothing about them, although they did on occasion in the 1940s receive visits from his sister Gladys and his brother William. Joe was 31 when the Second World War broke out. He spent the War as a motorcycle dispatch rider, mostly in Italy. After he returned to Ely, the family moved to a new council house at 37 Chief's Street in 1947. They lived there for the rest of their lives. In the 1940s and 1950s Joe bred racing pigeons and canaries.

Joe's parents, my great-grandparents, both died in the early 1950s. William Knott died on 27th July 1951 of exhaustion and internal haemorrhage. Mary Ann Knott died on 15th April 1952 of heart failure and senile decay. They both died at 143 Maidstone Road, Rochester, the home of their daughter Gladys Violet Allen, who notified both deaths. William and Mary Ann were buried in the same grave plot as William's parents, plot A192 in Strood Cemetery.

Joe worked for British Sugar until he retired in the early 1970s. For a while, Joe and Phyllis owned a caravan in Heacham, and enjoyed holidays on the Norfolk coast. He had a great pride in his garden at Chief's Street, spending hours tending his fruit and vegetables until he was well into his eighties. I would regularly visit them at Chief's Street in the late 1970s and 1980s, and Joe was aways keen to show me around his garden. I am pleased that I have a photograph, taken in 1987, of him doing this. I particularly remember his gooseberry bushes - he would take great delight in watching his grandchildren trying to eat the sour fruit! Joe's children were near at hand, one son living a few streets away and all the others within 15 miles or so. His wife Phyllis's brother and sister also lived nearby. Joe is still remembered for his fondness for the horses, and his friendships with prominent sportsmen. He never went back to Kent. He outlived my other grandparents, lived to hold my son as a baby, and died in Ely in the Princess of Wales Hospital in 1996 at the age of 87.

 
AT A GLANCE: DETAILS FROM REGISTERS AND CENSUS DATA
 
 
My great-great-grandparents George and Mary Ann Knott and their family

  Birthplace 1881 census 1891 census 1901 census 1911 census married to
  (date registered) age address age address age address age address date of marriage

George


Gillingham, Kent (1843)


37


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent


46


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


53


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


68


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


George married Mary Ann Welch ne Bowles on 17th March 1872 at All Saints, Frindsbury, Kent

Mary Ann
(Bowles, Welch)

Faversham, Kent (1843)

38


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent


47


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


57


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


67


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


Mary Ann married Henry Welch on 17th August 1862 at St Mary's, Faversham, Kent

Mary Ann married George Knott on 17th March 1872 at All Saints, Frindsbury, Kent
                     


George


Gillingham, Kent (1866)


15


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent


25


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


35

 
Teddington Place, Greenwich, Kent

 
45

 
Rose Cottages, Whalley, Lancashire


George was still single in 1911.


Joseph


Upchurch, Kent (1868)


13


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent

   
I have not found Joseph on the 1891 census, but he was probably in Ireland - the 1891 census for Ireland was destroyed.

 
33


Royal Artillery Clarence Barracks, Portsmouth

   
Joseph was dead by 1911.


Joseph married Mary Ann Langford in the first quarter of 1896 at Maidstone, Kent.


William


Upchurch, Kent (1869)


11


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent

 
21


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent

 
31


London Road, Strood, Kent

 
42

 
Provident Street, Stone, Kent


William married Mary Anne Waters on 3rd December, 1892 at St Mary's, Strood.


Frederick


Upchurch, Kent (1872)


8


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent


18


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent

     
I have not found Frederick on the 1901 census. He was in the forces.

 
38

 
RFA Barracks, Barrackpore, India


Frederick was still single in 1911.


Albert


Halstow, Kent (1874)

 
Albert was dead by 1881.

             


Caroline


Halstow, Kent (1876)


4


Reeves Cottages, Gillingham, Kent

     
Caroline was dead by 1891.

         


Lilla (Lily)


Strood, Kent (1884)

   


6


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent


16


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent

 
Medway Cottage Homes, Chatham, Kent


Lilla married Sydney Wilson at Strood in the second quarter of 1912.


Thomas


Strood, Kent (1886)

   


4


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent

 
14


Grange Road, Frindsbury, Kent

     
I have not found Thomas on the 1911 census. He may well have been in the forces.

 
     
   



     
My great-grandparents William and Mary Ann Knott and their family

  Birthplace 1901 census 1911 census
  (date registered) age address age address   date of marriage

William


Upchurch, Kent (1869)


31


London Road, Strood, Kent


41


Provident Street, Stone, Kent




William married Mary Ann Waters at St Mary's church, Strood, Kent on the 3rd December 1892.


Mary Ann
(Waters)

Llanferres, Denbighshire (1872)


29


London Road, Strood, Kent


39


Provident Street, Stone, Kent



Mary Ann married William Knott at St Mary's church, Strood, Kent on the 3rd December 1892.

               


Daisy Mary


Strood, Kent (1893)


8


Old Park Road, Hitchin, Herts


18

 
One Bell, Common Lane, Wilmington, Kent

 
Daisy married Charles Marchant at St Michael's church, Wilmington, Kent on the 3rd April 1912.


Gladys Violet


Strood, Kent (1895)


5


London Road, Strood, Kent


15

 
Provident Street, Stone, Kent

 
Gladys married Frederick Allen at St Nicholas's church, Strood, Kent on 8th February 1919


Pansy Miriam


Strood, Kent (1897)

 


Pansy was dead by the time of the 1901 census

       


William George


Strood, Kent (1902)

   


8


Provident Street, Stone, Kent

 
I have not yet found a marriage or date for William. It was probably in the late 1920s.

Vincent Helgia

Dartford, Kent (1908)

   
3


Provident Street, Stone, Kent
 
Vincent married Phyllis Page at the Register Office, Ely, Cambridgeshire on 15th August 1932


Iris Alberta


Greenhithe, Kent (1910)
   
3mo

 
Provident Street, Stone, Kent
   
Iris married George Gower in Strood in 1931.

     
   
  Ages are as shown on census.
(name) after name indicates different given name on some censuses.
(number) after street name indicates more than one household in that street.
 

 

LIFE GOES ON: AN INTRODUCTION

MY GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

THE SIXTEEN FAMILIES

KNOTT - I - BOWLES - I - WATERS - I - HARRALL - I - PAGE - I - WISEMAN - I - CROSS - I - CARTER

CORNWELL - I - HUCKLE - I - MORTLOCK - I - MANSFIELD - I - REYNOLDS - I - CARTER - I - ANABLE - I - STEARN

CHRONOLOGY - I - DRAMATIS PERSONAE - I - WHERE PEOPLE CAME FROM - I - CALENDAR

MAP OF ELY - I - MAP OF MEDWAY
MAP OF CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT

THE WORKHOUSE

WORLD WAR I - I - WORLD WAR II

simonknott.co.uk I home I e-mail

LIFE GOES ON