Unraveling the Mysteries of Irish Knoxes
Welcome back to the Knox Chronicles, where we continue our quest to unravel the complexities surrounding the origins of the Irish Knoxes. In our previous installment, we explored the genealogical memoirs of John Knox, as detailed by Charles Rogers. We encountered a plethora of names, dates, and contradictions that left us with more questions than answers. Today, we delve deeper into the enigmatic history of the Irish Knoxes. Prepare yourself for a journey of mystery and intrigue as we navigate the twists and turns of these ancestral tales.
John Knox of Ranfurly and the Mysterious Branch
According to Rogers, there was a “Johannes Knokis de eodem” who appeared as juror in 1507 in the parish of Oyne, Abderdeenshire – “de eodem” is Latin for “of that Ilk.” There was “Jhon Knox of that Ilk” who, in 1583, obtained judgement from the Lords of Session against another man. In 1549, “Gilbert Knox of that Ilk” is named on a tax roll in the county of Aberdeen, in the parish of Deer. In November 1574, “Androw Knox of that Ilk” was obliged to pay a tithe to a local Abbey. In 1587, the names William and George Knox were granted temporary lordship over the lands of the abbey.
Among the many names listed by Charles Rogers, John Knox of Ranfurly stands out. His lineage is shrouded in ambiguity, leaving us with a branch of the family that seems to vanish into thin air. John Knox of Ranfurly son of Uchtred who died on the 21st of March 1594 had three sons Uchtred, Robert and Patrick. Uchtred the eldest son predeceased his father having died in December 1589. Uchtred had three sons, John his heir, George and Alexander; And three daughters Susannah Margaret and Jane. John was then succeeded by his grandson, John 1594. This is the John Knox who was accused killing his uncle (see Part IV). The record does not say which uncle, Robert or Patrick, is John accused of killing. It is an unresolved mystery that leaves us wondering about the fate of this branch.
Thomas Knox of Antrim: An Unconnected Lineage?
During our exploration, we encounter a fascinating Knox family that appears to have no apparent connection to the Scottish Knoxes mentioned previously. Thomas Knox of Antrim, whose signature appears in an inquisition held in 1605, sparks our curiosity. While his origin remains unknown, it is believed that Thomas was the father of three brothers who settled as tenant farmers on the lands of Ballyvennox near Coleraine in Londonderry. The family occupied a significant mountain farm called Murder-Hole. Although this branch seems disconnected from our previous investigations, we cannot ignore its intriguing story.
Thomas Knox had three sons but only one is mentioned by name. James Knox, who died in 1660, had two sons named James II and Robert. James II, who participated in the siege of Londonderry and supplied cattle to the starving city, passed away in 1701. His brother, Robert, was severely wounded at the Battle of the Boyne and nothing is else is said about him. James II had a son named John Knox, who died in 1740, leaving behind two sons, James III and another unnamed son. James III, who died in 1778, had two sons named John and Robert. While Robert migrated to America around 1780, John passed away in 1798.
There does not appear to be a family connection between this Knox family and the family of my great-great grandmother.
Comparing Burke’s Peerage and Rogers’ Genealogical Memoirs
To shed light on the discrepancies we have encountered, we turn to Burke’s Peerage & Landed Gentry of Ireland. This esteemed publication lists eight Knox families, including Knox of Prehen, Knox of Creagh, and the Earl of Ranfurly – what I call the three OG branches.
During my research, I landed a number of times on the book titled “The Dictionary of the Landed Gentry,” by the Burke family lead by John Burke, Esq. This book was a companion to the series that Burke’s published titled Burke’s Peerage. The term “landed gentry” refers to a social class in British society composed of landowners who are not titled nobility. These individuals typically owned substantial amounts of land and derived their wealth and status from their landed estates. While the landed gentry shared similarities with the aristocracy, they did not hold hereditary titles such as duke, earl, or baron.
Unlike the nobility, who held their titles by virtue of birthright, the landed gentry did not possess inherited titles. However, they often held positions of influence and authority in their local communities due to their landownership. Their wealth and status were primarily based on the ownership of land, which provided them with income from rents, agricultural activities, or other forms of land use.
While the landed gentry did not have formal privileges or legal status comparable to the nobility, they enjoyed certain social advantages and influence. They often held positions in local government, participated in the administration of justice, and played active roles in the governance of their communities. They were also more likely to be educated and had access to cultural and social opportunities.
The interest in books like “The Dictionary of the Landed Gentry” and the companion series “Burke’s Peerage” stemmed from a fascination with genealogy, social status, and lineage. These publications provided detailed information about the ancestry, history, and properties of the landowning families in the UK. People who were curious about their own family history or interested in the social structure of British society found these books valuable sources of information.
While the significance of the landed gentry has diminished over time, and the UK has undergone significant social and economic changes, there are still individuals who care about lineage and social status. Some people may still have an interest in tracing their ancestry or exploring the historical connections of their families to the landed gentry. However, it is important to note that this interest is not as widespread or influential in modern British society as it once was. Social standing today is determined by a more diverse range of factors, including education, professional achievements, and individual accomplishments.
Here then is a summary of the seven Knox families listed in Burke’s Landed Gentry and the one Knox family listed in Burke’s Peerage.
The Knox of Prehen family claims descent from Adamus, the ancestor of John Knox the Reformer, and apparently of all Knoxes, everywhere. Their lineage includes Uchtred -> Andrew (Bishop of Raphoe), and various Andrews and Georges. However, this conflicts with Rogers’ findings regarding the male posterity of Bishop Knox (see below).
The Knox of Creagh family traces their origins to Alexander, son of William of Silvyland.
The Earl of Ranfurly is the one peer branch and their lineage connects to John De Knoks of that Ilk & Ranfurly. Of all of the families, the Earl of Ranfurly’s lineage seems most likely to have a connection to our Page 51 John Knox. I speculate that our branch, broke off sometime in turbulence of the 1600s, and long before this title was created in 1832.
The Knox of Brittas is a branch of Knox of Prehen. Knox of Rappa Castle is a branch of Knox of Brittas, and Knox of Mount Falcon is also a branch of Knox of Brittas; finally, Knox of Grace Dieu is branch of Knox of Mount Falcon. Considering that these are all “landed gentry,” it is not clear on how new branches are formed.
One of the intriguing contradictions we have met is the supposed extinction of the male posterity of Bishop Andrew Knox. According to Charles Rogers, “Crawford, who wrote around 1726, claimed that the male line [from Bishop Andrew Knox] had come to an end.” However, this contradicts various editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry for Ireland.
Which brings up the question of how Burke’s decided what to publish and what not to publish.
Burke’s Peerage and the Burke family, led by John Burke, followed a specific set of criteria when figuring out when to create an entry for a new branch of the landed gentry. The process involved researching and gathering information about the family in question, particularly their lineage, history, and landownership.
The primary criterion for inclusion in Burke’s publications was landownership. The family had to possess significant landholdings to be considered part of the landed gentry. This typically meant owning a substantial estate or multiple properties that generated income through rent or agricultural activities. Additionally, Burke’s looked for evidence of the family’s long-standing presence and influence within a particular region or locality. This included assessing their involvement in local governance, positions of authority, or contributions to the community.
Genealogy played a crucial role in figuring out whether a new branch of the landed gentry would be included. The family’s ancestry and lineage were traced back as far as possible to show their historical connections and social standing. Burke’s aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the family’s heritage, including notable ancestors, marriages, and notable achievements. Furthermore, Burke’s Peerage and the Burke family relied on submissions from the families themselves or information provided by reliable sources. Families were encouraged to supply accurate and detailed accounts of their history, possessions, and connections.
It is important to note that the decision to include a new branch in Burke’s publications ultimately rested with the editors and researchers working on the project. They evaluated the given information, conducted further research if necessary, and made judgments based on their expertise and the established criteria for inclusion.
Overall, the inclusion of a new branch of the landed gentry in Burke’s publications depended on a combination of factors, including landownership, historical significance, community involvement, and the credibility of the information provided.
As we wrap up this chapter of the Knox Chronicles, we find ourselves amidst a web of intertwined family branches, unexplained disappearances, and conflicting accounts. The search for the origins of the Irish Knoxes continues to be a perplexing journey filled with tantalizing hints and elusive answers. Join us next time as we delve further into the rich tapestry of Knox family history, seeking to uncover the truth behind the enigmatic stories that have captivated us.