James KNIBBS, son of John KNIBBS and Mary ROAKE , was born abt. 1843 in Old Windsor, Berkshire, England. He married Matilda WILKINS bet. July and September, 1872 in Windsor District, Berkshire, England. He died 19 March 1921 in Windsor, Berkshire, England. Matilda WILKINS was born bet. January and March, 1850 in Windsor, Berkshire, England. She died 03 May 1933 in Windsor District, Berkshire, England.

Children of James KNIBBS and Matilda WILKINS are:
1. Mary Ann KNIBBS, b. bet. January and March, 1874 See ? & Mary Ann KNIBBS OR Matthew Alfred PORTEUS & Mary Ann KNIBBS
2. Martha KNIBBS, b. 20 September 1876 See Charles Frederick MAY & Martha KNIBBS
3. Amos Charles KNIBBS, b. 22 October 1883 See Amos Charles KNIBBS & Annie Augusta KIRMAN
4. Thomas Frederick KNIBBS, b. 01 June 1885 See Thomas Frederick KNIBBS & Mabel NAYLER OR Thomas Frederick KNIBBS & Flora Beatrice ALLEN
5. Sydney Ernest KNIBBS, b. 22 September 1892 See Sydney Ernest KNIBBS & Isabel Constance M HAWKINS
6. William James KNIBBS, b. 18 April 1873
7. Henry George KNIBBS, b. 10 March 1879 See Henry George KNIBBS & Lucy Sarah Ann PEARSON
8. Alfred John KNIBBS, b. 05 April 1881 See Alfred John KNIBBS & Emily Mary HARRIS

Notes for James KNIBBS:

In 1881, James was living with his wife and children at 7 Trafalgar Place, Old Windsor, Berkshire, England:
James Knibbs Head Mar 36 Gardeners Laborer Old Windsor Berkshire
Matilda Knibbs Wife Mar 30 Gardeners Laborers Wife Windsor Berkshire
William James Knibbs Son 7 Scholar Windsor Berkshire
Mary Ann Knibbs Daur 6 Scholar Old Windsor Berkshire
Martha Knibbs Daur 4 Scholar Old Windsor Berkshire
Henry George Knibbs Son 2 Old Windsor Berkshire,
Charles Hoare Lodger Wid 74 Datchet Buckingham

I understand that this Charles Hoare living with James in 1881 had a daughter Louisa Hoare who married a man named Froud John FROUD in Windsor in q3/1860. Froud was the uncle of James' sister-in-law, Mary Ann Maria FROUD. I trifle complicated I know.

I'm now wondering if there was any connection between Charles Hoare above, and Edward Hoare who married James' 1st cousin, Elizabeth Knibbs (aka Lizzie Lemure).

In 1891, James and his family were still living at 7 Trafalgar Place, Old Windsor:
James Knibbs Head 46 Garden Labourer Berks Old Windsor
Matilda Knibbs Wife 41 Berks Windsor
William Knibbs Son 17 Farm Labourer Berks Windsor
Martha Knibbs Daur 14 Berks Old Windsor
Henry Knibbs Son 12 Scholar Berks Old Windsor
Alfred Knibbs Son 10 Scholar Berks Old Windsor
Amos Knibbs Son 7 Scholar Berks Old Windsor
Thomas Knibbs Son 5 Scholar Berks Old Windsor

We can see James in 1901 living at Old Windsor, Berkshire:
James Knibbs 56 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor Garden Labourer
Matilda Knibbs 50 Berks Windsor Berks Old Windsor
Mary Knibbs 26 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor
Martha Knibbs 24 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor
Amos Knibbs 17 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor Agricultural Labour
Thomas Knibbs 15 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor Builders Labour
Sidney Knibbs 8 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor
Arthur Knibbs 3 Berks Old Windsor Berks Old Windsor

Arthur may well be the son of James' daughter, Mary.

We can see James and some of his family in 1911, living at 5 Osborne Cottages, Old Windsor, Berkshire:
James Knibbs Head Married M 66 Gardener Domestic Berks Old Windsor
Matilda Knibbs Wife Married 39 F 60 Berks Windsor
Sidney Knibbs Son Single M 18 Gardner Domestic Berks Old Windsor
Arthur Knibbs Grand Son M 14 School Berks Old Windsor
Henrietta Porteus Grand Daughter F 9 Berks Windsor

Arthur above is Arthur Victor Knibbs. He and Henrietta Porteus were children of James' oldest daughter, Mary who married Matthew Porteus in 1901.

From the records of Royal Househod Employees, we can see that James was employed at Windsor as a gardener for 52 years from 1868 to 1920. His pension paid by The Treasury from the Consolidated Fund was £41 3s. 8d. In addition to this, he received £28 0s. 4d. from the Lord Steward's Department, making a total annual pension of £69 4s. 0d.

Childhood in Englefield Green, 1907-1923
provides a fascinating insight into life in these times at Englefield Green which is just a small distance from Egham in Surrey. This memoir is compiled from notes written by a lady named Ellen Hall, and it's fascinating to see that Ellen has made several references to the Knibbs who also lived in that area. The document was produced by Ellen's daughter Margaret Marklew.
Ellen's family and the Knibbs she refers to were related. She refers to Ann (or Annie) Hall (nee Knibbs from Old Windsor) who married a man named William Hall, born in 1837. William and Annie Hall were Ellen's grandparents. Ellen remembered her grandmother Annie and a parrot she had called "Polly".

Ellen also refers to her great great uncle and aunt of Old Windsor who had six sons in the navy, and she recalls that for some reason they received a letter from King. This will have been the letter from the offices of King George V of England sent to James Knibbs and his wife Matilda, in recognition of them having six sons all serving in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of WWI.

Please, follow the link I've given at the start of this paragraph, and read Ellen Hall's fascinating memoirs.

Ellen's recollection of the letter from King George V were indeed correct. James Knibbs received a letter in September 1914 from the King's offices, offering his deepest gratification for having six gallant sons serving in the Royal Navy.

(Click image to see a larger version)

Windsor and Eton Express - 02 December 1911:
SIX SONS IN THE NAVY.—Though only a small village. Old Windsor can certainly boast of patriotic pretensions. Quite a number of young men and youths have during the past few years joined one of his Majesty's forces. Four entered the naval service on Monday last, and of these one is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Knibbs, whose six sons are now serving in the Royal Navy. Mr. J. Knibbs has for many years worked in the Royal Goldens, Windsor.


From the Portsmouth Evening News - 03 October 1914:
The King has sent a letter to Mr. James Knibbs, of Old Windsor, expressing his deepest gratification that he has six gallant sons serving in the Royal Navy. His Majesty asked that Mr. Knibbs should convey congratulations and best wishes to them for success, health, and happiness in their noble career.


James died aged 76 and his death was register as KNIBB.

Knibbs James of 4 Trafalgar-place Old Windsor gardener died 19 March 1920 at King Edward VII Hospital Windsor Administration Oxford 7 May to Matilda Knibbs widow Effects £146 18s. 7d.

Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at Find A Grave web site for recording the details, in memory of James.

Sources for James KNIBBS:

  1. 1861 British Census,
  2. 1911 British Census,
  3. GRO England & Wales, from FindMyPast.com 
  4. Ancestry.com. - England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966,
  5. 1891 British Census,
  6. 1901 British Census,

Notes for Matilda WILKINS:

We first see Matilda in 1851, shortly after she was born, living with parents at 14 Clewer Lane, Windsor, Berkshire:
George Wilkins Head Mar 35 Cordwainer Berks Windsor
Ann Wilkins Wife Mar 28 Berks Wantage
Henry Wilkins Son 8 Berks Windsor
Frederick Wilkins Son 5 Berks Windsor
Samuel Wilkins Son 3 Berks Windsor
Matilda Wilkins Daur 1 Berks Windsor

By 1861, they were living at 5 Clarence Clump, Windsor, Berkshire
George Wilkins Head Mar 45 Shoemaker Berkshire Windsor
Ann Wilkins Wife Mar 39 Berkshire Wantage
Maria Wilkins Daur UnM 28 Dressmaker Berkshire Windsor
Henry Wilkins Son UnM 19 Shoe Closer Berkshire Windsor
Frederick Wilkins Son UnM 16 Shoe Closer Berkshire Windsor
Samuel Wilkins Son 13 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
Matilda Wilkins Daur 11 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
Sarah Wilkins Son 9 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
Emma Wilkins Daur 4 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
John Wilkins Son 3 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
Amos Wilkins Son 5 mths Berkshire Windsor

In 1871 they were still seen to be living at Clarence Clump, W9indsor, Berkshire:
George Wilkins Head Mar 55 Boot & Shoe Maker Berks Windsor
Ann Wilkins Wife Mar 47 Shoe Makers Wife Berks Windsor
Matilda Wilkins Daur UnM 20 Dressmaker Berks Windsor
Emma Wilkins Daur 14 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
John Wilkins Son 13 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
Amos Wilkins Son 9 Scholar Berkshire Windsor
George Blackhall Lodger UnM 14 Cook Cutler Berkshire Wndsor

Matida married James Knibbs in 1872.

Matilda died aged 83.

Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at Find A Grave web site for recording the details, in memory of Matilda.

Sources for Matilda WILKINS:

  1. FreeBMD,
  2. 1901 British Census,
  3. GRO England & Wales, from FindMyPast.com 
  4. 1871 British Census,

Notes for William James KNIBBS:

In Memory of

276719, H.M.S. "Victory", Royal Navy
who died age 42 on 05 April 1916
Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Son of James and Matilda Knibbs. Born at Old Windsor, Berks.
Remembered with honour

William and his brother Henry are both remembered on the War Memorial plaque at the Old Windsor village hall.

William joined the Royal Navy on 25 Apr 1894 and was recorded as 5'3" tall, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a sallow complexion. He had a tattoo on his left arm. His record was updated on 25 Apr 1906 and it showed then that he had tattoos of an anchor and a woman.

He was a Portsmouth based rating, awarded three Good Conduct badges after three, seven and twelve years respectively. He was promoted to Leading Stoker on 2 Apr 1902 and then to Petty Officer Stoker on 8 Mar 1906. Throughout his career his character and conduct were identified as Very Good through to Very Good Superior. His Naval record identifies that he was diagnosed as insane and invalided out of the navy to the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire, on 24 Feb 1915. From there he was transferred to the Royal Naval Hospital at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where he died in Apr 1916 after 22 years service.

His drafts throughout his time in the navy were as follows:
HMS Victory II 25 Apr 1894 to 11 Dec 1895 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Victory I 12 Dec 1895 to 17 Aug 1896 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Trafalgar 18 Aug 1896 to 30 Nov 1896 (Battleship) [1]
HMS Revenge 1 Dec 1896 to 28 Feb 1899 (Battleship)
HMS Victory II 1 Mar 1899 to 31 Mar 1899 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Duke of Wellington 1 Apr 1899 to 2 Nov 1899 (Ship of the Line - Portsmouth Depot Ship)
HMS Trafalgar 3 Nov 1899 to 7 Dec 1901 (Battleship)
HMS Duke of Wellington 8 Dec 1901 to 15 Oct 1902 (Ship of the Line - Portsmouth Depot Ship)
HMS Hazard 16 Oct 1902 to 31 Dec 1902 (Torpedo Gunboat/Submarine Depot Ship) [2]
HMS Latona 1 Jan 1903 to 19 Jul 1903 (Cruiser)
HMS Thames 20 Jul 1903 to 8 Sep 1903 (Cruiser/Submarine Depot Ship)
HMS Duke of Wellington 9 Sep 1903 to 6 Oct 1903 (Ship of the Line - Depot Ship)
HMS Duncan 7 Oct 1903 to 27 Nov 1905 (Battleship) [3]
HMS Victory II 28 Nov 1905 to 9 Dec 1905 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Furious 10 Dec 1905 to 8 Nov 1907 (Cruiser)
HMS Victory II 9 Nov 1907 to 22 Nov 1907 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Crescent 23 Nov 1907 to 11 Jan 1908 (Cruiser)
HMS Tamar 12 Jan 1908 to 31 Mar 1908 (Hong Kong - Shore Base)
HMS King Alfred 1 Apr 1908 to 16 Apr 1908 (Armoured Cruiser)
HMS Cadmus 19 Apr 1908 to 23 Sep 1908 (Sloop)
HMS Crescent 24 Sep 1908 to 11 Dec 1908 (Cruiser)
HMS Victory II 12 Dec 1908 to 1 Aug 1909 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Roxburgh 2 Aug 1909 to 14 Mar 1910 (Cruiser)
HMS Duke of Edinburgh 15 Mar 1910 to 18 Mar 1912 (Armoured Cruiser)
HMS Victory II 19 Mar 1912 to 20 Oct 1913 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Audacious 21 Oct 1913 to 26 Sep 1914 (Battleship) [4]
HMS Vivid II 27 Sep 1914 to 25 Oct 1914 (Devonport Base Ship)
HMS Victory II 26 Oct 1914 to 17 Jan 1915 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)
HMS Amethyst 18 Jan 1915 to 20 Jan 1915 (Cruiser) [5]
Victory II 21 Jan 1915 to 19 Dec 1915 (Portsmouth - Shore Base)

See images of the ships on which he served.

[1] On 5 November 1896, HMS Trafalgar became flagship of the second-in-command of the Mediterranean Fleet. From February 1897 to December 1898, she served in the International Squadron blockading Crete during the Greco-Turkish uprising there. During this duty, she landed a force of Royal Marines on Crete to seize Fort Tzeddin, and in September 1898 she went to Candia to support the British garrison there.

In 1901, William was living in Weymouth, Dorset, England:
William Knibbs 27 Windsor Berks Dorset Stoker Navy Man

[2] The Hazard was converted into the world's first Submarine Depot Ship. In the summer of 1902 Hazard led a group consisting of HM Submarines No.2 and No.3, and Torpedo Boat No.42 to Portsmouth, where, together with Submarines No.1, No.4 and No.5, they formed the First Submarine Flotilla.[4]

[3] HMS Duncan commissioned at Chatham Dockyard on 8 October 1903 for Mediterranean Fleet service. She transferred to the Channel Fleet in February 1905. On 26 September 1905, she collided with battleship HMS Albion at Lerwick, suffering hull damage including a hole in her side below the waterline, rudder damage, and the loss of her sternwalk.

[4] HMS Audacious was the first British battleship to be lost in World War I after it was sunk by a German mine off the northern coast of Donegal in Ireland on 27 Oct, 1914. Audacious was sailing from Loch Swilly as part of the Second Battle Squadron, consisting of the "super-dreadnoughts" Centurion, Ajax, Audacious, King George V, Orion, Monarch and Thunderer. They were to undergo gunnery exercises.
At approximately 08.45 as Audacious was turning, a dull thud was heard on board, but at first it was not clear that it was an explosion. The ship stopped turning but didn't right herself correctly so the order was given to close watertight doors. The mine had struck on her port side just forward of the after engine room bulkhead. To counter the flooding some starboard side compartments were flooded but the ship still developed a 10-15 degree list. Captain Dampier set course for Loch Swilly at the best manageable speed on 9 knots but steering was hard.
The flooding was spreading. The central bulkhead which had at first contained the flooding was leaking, and water was spreading into the ships central compartments. By 10.00 the central engine room was 5 foot deep in water and shortly after this, the starboard engine room had to be abandoned leaving them dead in the water and eventually without any steam power for auxiliary machinery.
All but 250 essential crew were evacuated via the White Star liner SS Olympic, the light cruiser HMS Liverpool and destroyers. At 14.00 SS Olympic made an unsuccessful attempt to tow but the tow line parted. Other attempts to tow were made by HMS Liverpool and the collier Thornhill but on both occasions they failed.
By 17.00 all but the last 50 crew were removed and at 18.15 she was abandoned. For most of the day Audacious had not increased her list but was sinking by the stern. At 18.50 her list was seen to reach 30 degrees and at 20.45 she capsized. Quarter of an hour later there was a large explosion, thought to be either A or B magazine, followed by two secondary explosions and Audacious finally sank.
Given that William was a stoker, and therefore working in the engine rooms, I wonder what effect this horrendous experience will have made to his eventual mental illness?

[5] William's next ship was HMS Amethyst which he joined on 18 Jan, 1915. The Amethyst was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1915 and participated in the Dardanelles campaign which was one of the major Naval Campaigns of the war. However, we see that William was transferred back to HMS Victory just 10 days after joining the Amethyst, so presumably it went off to the Med without him.
On the night of 13 Mar, 1915, the cruiser HMS Amethyst led six minesweepers in an attempt to clear the mines in the Dardanelles. Four of the trawlers were hit and the Amethyst was badly damaged with 19 stokers killed from a single hit. The Amethyst was hit by one shell in the stoker’s bathroom and another in the mess-deck, taking 60 casualties in total.
Given that William was a Petty Officer Stoker I wonder if indeed he would have survived had he sailed with her. I also wonder if perhaps the loss of so many of his shipmates on the Amathyst led to his death just one month later?

I haven't yet discovered the full circumstances behind William's death during The Great War. His military record shows that he was admitted to Haslar Royal Naval Hospital in Gosport, Hampshire on 29 Feb 1915, whilst part of the crew of HMS Audacious. He was recorded as Insane and indeed, as a dangerous lunatic. He died less than two months later at the Royal Naval Hospital at Great Yarmouth. There was a Naval Hospital at Great Yarmouth for many years.

Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at Find A Grave web site for recording the details, in memory of William.

HMS Audacious, the first British battleship to be lost in World War I.

Sources for William James KNIBBS:

  1. 1881 British Census,
  2. FreeBMD,
  3. National Archives for England, gave DOB 
  4. Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
  5. Military Record,
  6. 1891 British Census,