||Vincent Helgia Knott
born Dartford, Kent, 15th February 1908
died Ely, Cambridgeshire, January 1996
on the Knott family tree
part of the Knott, Bowles, Waters and Harrall family stories
married to Phyllis
and Mary Ann Waters
Knott (1908-96). My
Father's Father. My Grandfather.
Vincent Helgia "Joe" Knott was
born on the 15th of
February 1908 in Dartford
in Kent. Thus, he was the only one of my four
grandparents to be born outside of Cambridgeshire.
Vincent Helgia was
always known as Joe Knott. His parents were William
and Mary Ann Knott, née Waters.
William Knott was born in the rural parish of Upchurch to the
east of the Medway towns on the 3rd December 1869.
William's father was a brickfield labourer, and had been
born and brought up in Gillingham, on the Medway. The
family would be back in the Medway towns by 1881. They
moved to the Strood district of Rochester, and William
was still living at home at the age of 21 at the time of
the 1891 census. On the 3rd December 1892, he
married Mary Ann Waters at St Mary's church in Strood, Rochester, a
short walk from William's parents' house in Grange Road.
It was the day of William's 22nd birthday. 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 at various times
as a cement labourer, a chalk digger, a burner in a
cement factory, a brickfield labourer and even a
stevedore and a greengrocer.
wife Mary Ann, Joe Knott's mother, was born in the village of Llanferres in
Denbighshire, Wales in 1872. But her parents were both
English, from Kent. They had been married in Kent in
1871, and the family would be back in Kent again for the
census of 1881. One clue might be that Mary Ann's father
was an engine driver. This part of north Wales had many
slate mines, most of which would have needed engine
drivers to move their goods. The Waters family were
probably in north Wales for Mary Ann's father's work.
|When they married, William
and Mary Ann lived in a terraced house in Tobin
Villas, Cuxton Road, Strood, where their first
two children Daisy and Gladys were born in 1893
and 1895. By 1897 they had moved the short
distance to 12, London Road, where their third
daughter Pansy was born. Unfortunately, she died
at the age of one. They were still at the London
Road address for the 1901 census, but when their
eldest son William was born the following year
they were living back in Cuxton Road, but further
out, near to the cemetery. At some point in the
next six years they moved some 15 miles west to
Dartford, because my grandfather was born there
in 1908. Their parents were near at hand: Mary
Ann's parents kept the One Bell beer house in
Wilmington, just outside of Dartford, at the time
Joe was born in the town, and his eldest sister
lived with and worked for them. My aunt, Joe's
daughter, has told me that when her father was
very young he used to be put on the bar of the
One Bell to sing to the customers, and that this
was how he acquired the name Joe.
William's parents kept a small shop
in Grange Road in the Frindsbury district of
Rochester (right). By the time of the
birth of William and Mary Ann's last child, Iris,
in 1910, and the 1911 census, my grandfather's
family were living in Greenhithe, to the east of
Dartford, but they seem to have returned to the
Strood area of Rochester soon after; by 1914 they
were living at 96 Temple Street in the centre of
Strood, a short walk from William's grandparents'
shop in Grange Road. They were still there for
the marriage of Joe's sister in 1919, and at the
same address in the 1925 Kelly's Directory of
Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham. The Knott
family probably lived in the Temple Street house
throughout the time Joe was growing up. Temple
Street was bombed during World War II, and
demolished in the 1960s. It is now the site of a
Tesco superstore. All of my grandfather's sisters
who lived to adulthood were married in Strood.
||Joe Knott's father William
died on the 27th July 1951 at 143 Maidstone Road,
Rochester, Kent (left), which I think
was the house of his daughter Gladys and her
husband Frederick. William was 81 years old, and
the cause of death was given as exhaustion
and internal haemorrhage. Joe Knott's mother
Mary Ann died on the 15th April 1952 at the same
address. She was 79 years old, and the cause of
her death was given as heart failure and
senile decay. The informant of both deaths
was their daughter, Gladys Violet Allen.
In the early 1930s, Joe Knott left
Kent looking for work. 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 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.
Interestingly, he gave the occupation of his
father as Greengrocer, suggesting that by this
time William had taken over the running of his
father's shop in Grange Road, Frindsbury. The
witnesses were Phyllis's brother Percy and her
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. They moved to 20 Fletcher
Road (right) on the new Gainsborough
Estate in Ipswich, where their first child and
only daughter was born. You can also read an
account of Joe
and Phyl in Ipswich.
to Ely in 1935, where they would remain. Joe
Knott rarely spoke about his family in Kent, and
my father and his brothers and sister seem to
know almost nothing about them. Joe and Phyllis
lived at 25 Willow Walk off of Waterside, where
my father and his brothers were born. The house
is now demolished. 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 worked for British Sugar until he
retired in the early 1970s. 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. For a while, Joe and
Phyllis owned a caravan in Heacham, and enjoyed
holidays on the Norfolk coast. Joe is remembered
for his fondness for the horses, and his
friendships with prominent sportsmen. He outlived
my other grandparents, lived to hold my son as a
baby, and died in Ely in 1996 at the age of 87.
At the 1911 census,
his parents William and Mary Ann had recorded that they'd
had six children, five of whom had lived. Vincent Helgia
was the fourth of these.
His oldest sister was Daisy
Mary Knott. She was born in 1893, and 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
sister was Gladys Violet Knott.
She was born in 1895, and baptised at St Nicholas, Strood on December 29th. The registers
show that the family were living at Tobin Villas,
Strood, Kent. This was a terrace on Cuxton Road
and was probably the same address as they would
be 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.
The third sister was
Pansy Miriam Knott. She was born
in 1897, and baptised at St
Nicholas, Strood on August 22. The registers show
that the family were living at 12, Strood Hill (right).
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. Pansy died in the second
quarter of 1898.
other boy of the family was William George Knott,
born in 1902, six years before Joe. He 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 was the part of
Cuxton Road near to the Strood Cemetery, and not the
address they were living at in 1893 and 1895. His 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.
sister younger than Joe was Iris Alberta Knott.
She was born at 16 Providence Street, Greenhithe in Kent
on Christmas Eve 1910. She married George Gower in Strood
in 1931, and lived to the fine old age of 91, dying in
Rochester in 2002.
From the records:
Helgia Knott was born on the 15th of February at
34 West Hill, Dartford in Kent. This
house still exists, on the main road into Dartford from
London. In the photograph above, it is the house with the
white door seen directly through the gap where the steps
are. His father's name is given as William Knott, and his
mother's as Mary Ann Knott, formerly Waters. His mother
was the informant, and her address shows that he was born
at home. His father's occupation is given as burner
in a cement works. The birth was registered on
the 21st of March 1908. He was baptised
at Holy Trinity, Dartford
on 22nd April 1908.
Helgia was three years old at the time of
the 1911 census. The Knott family were
living at 16 Providence Street,
Stone, Greenhithe, Kent. The
house still exists, and can be seen in
the image above. Stone is best known
nowadays for the massive Bluewater
father William, my great-grandfather, is
shown as a cement labourer and
chalk digger. He was 42 years
old. Vincent's Mother, Mary Ann, was 38
years old. They had been married for 18
years. They reported the births of six
children, five of whom had lived.
was the third of four children at home:
Gladys was 15, William 8 and Iris Alberta
was 3 months old. (Another sister, 18
year old Daisy Mary, was living with her
grandparents and working in the pub they
owned, the One Bell at Dartford, Kent -
the transcript for their entry is here.)
place of birth is shown as Dartford,
Kent. Gladys and William were
born in Strood in Kent, and Iris was born
in Greenhithe in Kent. Vincent's father
was born at Upchurch in Kent, but his
mother Mary Ann, my great-grandmother,
was born in Flintshire in Wales. The
transcript for their entry is here. You can see the original
1914: By November 1914 the family were
back on the Medway, living at 96 Temple
Street, Strood. Joe's mother's mother,
Mary Ann Waters, died from cancer at this address
on 27th November, and it was given as the
family's home address. Most likely, it was the
family address throughout the time Joe was
growing up. Temple Street suffered from bombing
raids in WWII and was demolished in the 1960s. It
is now the site of a Tesco superstore.
1919: when Joe's
sister Gladys married Frederick Allen on 8th
February, her home address was given as 96
Temple Street, Strood.
Directory of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham gives
96 Temple Street, Strood as the
Knott family address.
left Kent looking for work. He would never go
back to live there.
1932: Joe married Phyllis Alice Page at
Ely Register Office on 15th August. He was 24 and
she was 19. He gave his profession as general
labourer, and hers was a fruit factory
hand. His address was 9 Council Cottages,
Cantley, and hers was 29a Fore Hill Ely.
Joe gave his father's profession as greengrocer.
The witnesses were Percy Page and Violet Cooper,
Phyllis's brother and sister. After the marriage,
they went to live in Cantley, Norfolk.
1932-35: Joe and Phyllis moved to Ipswich.
They lodged briefly in Tacket Street and
Cavendish Street before moving to 20
Fletcher Road on the Gainsborough
Estate. You can read an account of Joe
and Phyl in Ipswich.
and Phyllis moved to 25 Willow Walk, Ely.
1939-45: During the Second World War,
Joe is a dispatch rider, mainly in Italy.
1947: the family move to 37
Chief's Street, Ely.
dies in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, at the
age of 77.
son James was born on the 1st of July. Joe was
85. He sits in the middle of this photograph, holding the baby.
died in the Princess of Wales Hospital, Ely, a
few days short of his 88th birthday.