The Knox Chronicles – Part II

{In this second installment of a multi-part series, I delve deeper into exploring my mother’s Scottish ancestry, uncovering both what I know and what I have yet to discover.}

What Does DNA say?

According to the ethnicity estimate at, my DNA sample shows that I am 41% Irish and 29% Scottish. That pretty much lines up with the fact that my father’s mother was 100% Irish and my maternal grandmother was half Irish – her mother’s family came from Northern Ireland, and her father’s family came from Germany. Upon closer examination, the report reveals that my father contributed 95% of my Irish ethnicity, while my Scottish DNA can be traced back exclusively to my mother. So, there is a definite connection to Scotland. According to what is known that connection is through my maternal grandmother on her maternal grandmother’s side – the family Henrietta Knox Kelsey Bannon Campbell.

All About Kelsey

Very little is known of Henrietta’s father, William Kelsey. He was born about 1800 in Northern Ireland. He was a miller who owned a company called “Plantation Mills” near Lisburn in county Antrim, a few miles outside Belfast. He died February 7, 1869, at the family estate known as “Plantation.”

Knox, Knox

On the other hand, a significant amount is known about the family of Henrietta’s mother, Mary Emily Knox. Henrietta’s father, William Kelsey, climbed a few rungs of the social ladder when he married Mary Emily. She was of the Knox family of Scotland on her father’s side, and on her mother’s side, Mary could trace through several generations of Anglo-Irish prelates and noblemen.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled “My Mother’s Mother’s Mother…” in which I wrote of finding my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother – a woman named Mary Jenkinson who lived in 17th century England. In that same article, I wrote of discovering an ancestor named Rev. John Winder (1658-1733), who was Prebendary of Kilroot and close friends with the 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift. These were the ancestors of Mary Emily’s mother, Sophia Anne Rogers. Her lineage was primarily Anglo-Irish. Sophia’s family were members of the so-called “Protestant Ascendancy” who came to Ireland from England during the Williamite War in the late seventeenth century.

This means the Scottish connection is primarily through Mary Emily’s father, John Knox, Esq. of Maze House, Dromore, Co. Down. He was born about 1768, and in his early twenties, he was an officer in command of a troop of Light Dragoons and a Battalion of Light Infantry of the Lower Iveagh Legion. Iveagh is the name of a barony in County Down, Northern Ireland. Under what circumstances he oversaw these units and whether they saw action in one of Britain’s many battles of the day is unknown.

Thanks to Google Books, I found in a catalog of military memorabilia from the 19th century a description of a medal presented by John Knox, Esquire of Dromore, to one of the soldiers under his command. The inscription read “Obtained by John Burn from John Knox, Esq. of Dromore for his superior merit in the corps,” along with the date “August 19 1789.” The record shows that John and Sophia married when he was aged twenty-nine. This would be consistent with a ten-year stint in the military.

And More Knox

One book that I have seen quoted more times than others is titled Genealogical Memoirs of John Knox and of the Family Knox by The Reverend Charles Rogers, LLD., Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of the Society Of Antiquaries Of Scotland, Fellow of the Royal Society Of Northern Antiquaries, Copenhagen; Fellow of the Royal Society NSW, Associate of the Imperial Archaeological Society Of Russia, Member of the Historical Society Of Quebec, Member of the Historical Society Of Pennsylvania, And Corresponding Member of the Historical and Genealogical Society Of New England.

Along with the impressive credentials, the first two paragraphs of the preface sets the tone for this 1879 book and shines a light on the worldview of the Knox and collateral families and how they thought of themselves:

“All who love liberty and value Protestantism venerate the character of John Knox; no British reformer is more entitled to the designation of illustrious. By three centuries, he anticipated that parochial system of education which has lately become the law of England; by nearly half that period, he set forth those principles of civil and religious liberty which culminated in a system of constitutional government. To him, Englishmen are indebted for the Protestant character of their ‘Book of Common Prayer; Scotsman for a reformation so thorough as permanently to resist the encroachments of an ever-aggressive sacerdotalism.”

“Knox belonged to a house ancient and respectable, but those bearing his name derived their cheapest luster from being connected with a race of which he was a member. The family annals presented in these pages reveal not a few of the members exhibiting vast intellectual capacity and moral worth.”

Rogers’s treatment of the Knox family history is essential to me for a couple reasons: it confirms what I know about the family of Mary Emily Knox going back to her great-grandfather. In addition, it supplies clues as to where to look for potential candidates as forbears of my Knox ancestors.

In future installments of the Knox Chronicles, I will review the Knox family tree from the ironically named Adamus Knox down to the generation where my mystery Knox ancestor is likely to have lived. Finally, I will point out the leads that I think are worth following, along with two instances that are cases of mistaken identity. But before doing that, let me quote from the portions of Rogers where he references my known Knox family. (That is, “known Knox,” not “no knocks”!)

Rogers’ book, which has an index, but no table of contents, is 172 pages long, and although there are no chapter breaks, it is divided into two parts. The first part takes up ~75 pages. Its purpose is to supply the history of all branches of the Knox family except the most famous Knox. The second-half treats separately the biography and genealogy of John Knox, the Scottish Reformer. Because I cannot find precisely how Mary Emily Knox’s family is related to the Scottish Knoxes, I cannot determine the degree of consanguinity between Emily and her illustrious cousin.

The family of Mary Emily, beginning with her great-grandfather, starts on page 51 of Rogers: At Dromore, in the county of Down, John Knox of the family of Ranfurely purchased a portion of land early in the 17th century. His son, Alexander, who owned the lands of Eden Hill near Dromore, left two sons, John and George. George, the second son, went to Jamaica about the year 1798…

I need to interject here and highlight that even if George was in his forties in 1798, it appears implausible that his grandfather would have thrived during the early 1600s.  This suggests that there are one or more generations missing from Rogers narrative derived, I would assume from Crawford’s MSS.

Continuing page 51: …and [George] there attained a considerable position as a West Indian proprietor, merchant, and ship owner, in partnership with the late Sir Simon Clark, he latterly settled in London. He married Leticia, daughter of Dr. Andrew Greenfield, rector of Hillsborough (who assisted Bishop Percy in editing his “Reliques of Ancient Poetry”). By her, he had numerous family, of whom only survived two sons, George, and Alexander Andrew.

George, the elder surviving son, M.A. of Cambridge, was formerly HEIC’s chaplain at Madras; since 1871, he has been vicar of Exton in the county of Rutland. He married the daughter of the late Dr. P.F. Reynolds. His eldest son, George, is a magistrate at Allahabad and a justice of the peace for the Northwest Provinces of Bengal. Alexander Andrew Knox, the younger surviving son of George Knox and Leticia Greenfield, is a barrister-at-law and was later a police magistrate in the metropolis. He married a daughter of the late James Armstrong, Esq., a civilian of Bengal.

John, the elder son of Alexander Knox of Eden Hill, inherited the family estate and had (with several daughters) two sons, Alexander and George. Alexander, the elder son, entered the medical profession and became a surgeon in the Royal Navy; he afterward held a government appointment in Ireland.

With Several Daughters

Mary Emily Knox was among the several daughters of John Knox mentioned above. This fact is supported by obituaries, estate records, and DNA that connects Mary Emily to two siblings, Alexander and George, all children of John Knox of Dromore, Co. Down.

In a future episode, I will explore who the sisters of Mary Emily Knox were.

Mary Emily’s brother, Alexander, published several books, including “Irish Watering Places” in 1845. On the back pages of the book, subscribers are listed. John Knox of Dromore and his sons George and Alexander are shown as subscribers. John’s subscription to his son’s book includes two copies.

Regarding the employment of Mary Emily’s first cousin, George – HEIC stands for Honourable East India Company. This business firm held a charter to represent the British Crown’s merchant interests and to establish trade east of the Cape of Good Hope. They were granted this Charter from about 1600 until shortly after the Indian Mutiny, when the EIC was dissolved in 1874. Naturally, the HEIC’s ships and trading posts (often referred to as “factories”) needed to defend themselves against the pirates, marauders, and forces of hostile powers – both European and Eastern. (src.

So, now that I have connected John Knox, Esq. of Dromore to a book subscription for his son’s guide to lakes and ponds in Ireland (What did you think it was about?), and since I have two DNA matches with 6th cousins claiming descent from Mary Emily’s Uncle George, I shall see if I can connect her to any of the other Knoxes (Irish or otherwise) who are mentioned in Rogers, Burke’s, &c.


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