Francis KNIBBS, son of Thomas KNIBBS and Hannah WELLS , was born bef. 08 September 1793. He married Ann UNKNOWN 13 November 1832 in Whitechapel, London, Middlesex, England. He died 11 April 1856 in Islington, London, Middlesex, England. Ann UNKNOWN was born abt. 1808 in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England. She died aft. 01 January 1852.

Children of Francis KNIBBS and Ann UNKNOWN are:
1. Francis Edward KNIBBS, b. abt. 1838 See Francis Edward KNIBBS & Amelia POTTS
2. Jane Ann KNIBBS, b. abt. 1836 See Joseph Thomas PALMER & Jane Ann KNIBBS

Marriage Notes for Francis KNIBBS\Ann UNKNOWN:

The record we've seen from Pallot's Marriage Index for the marriage between Francis and Ann states that Francis was a widower and Ann a Spinster. Records indicate that her son Henry Theodore Burt was born four years before she and Francis were married so the question remains, was she married to a man with the surname of BURT and we just haven't found a record of it, or was Henry perhaps born out of wedlock.

If we assume that Pallot's Marriage Index is correct, we should assume that Ann wasn't previously married.

Other Marriages/Unions for Francis KNIBBS:
See Francis KNIBBS & Mary Ann SODEN

Other Marriages/Unions for Ann UNKNOWN:

Notes for Francis KNIBBS:

See Francis' Birth Certificate


The A listing of the Public Houses, Publicans and Public House address lists Frances at the Old Rose Public House, 51 Ratcliff Highway as taken from Pigots Directory from 1839.

Ratcliffe Highway ran near the docks of the British East India Company, and I've read that in the first half of the nineteenth century, Ratcliffe Highway, Stepney, was the toughest thoroughfare in the East End of London. It was a place of sailors' lodging-houses, sailors' pubs, sailors' ladies. with tall brazen-faced women dressed in gaudy colours, sly pimps and crimps, roaring sailors out for a good time, bearded foreign musicians from the fifteen dance halls of the locality, and the intrepid policemen of H Division walking through the throng in twos. The area's reputation eventually became so bad that the road was renamed St. George's Street.

For Francis to be running a beer house in this particular area is a good indication that he must have been a pretty tough character.

In fact, The Times Newspaper reported a violent incident, summarised below, that occurred on September 4th, 1839, involving Francis Knibbs, at the Old Rose public house:
Two American sailors were charged with being drunk, creating a disturbance at the Old Rose public house, and attempting to stab the landlord, Francis Knibbs. On the previous evening, the two sailors had entered the pub. Francis recognised they they were heavily intoxicated and with some trouble, he managed to remove them.
After a few minutes they returned to the pub and behaved so badly that he had to remove them once again. One of them drew a knife and after brandishing it about, he made a desperate thrust for Francis. Francis avoided it but the thrust was so great that the point of the knife penetrated a wooden partition by two inches. Both sailors were removed from the pub and witnesses said that both were outside brandishing knives, using most foul language and challenging Francis to come outside so that they would show him "the Yankee touch".
One sailor received a heavy fine or, in default of payment, two months on the treadmill. The other received a severe admonition.

Click to see a larger copy of the Old Rose pub as it was c.1920.

The Old Rose is imortalised in an anonymous old nautical song from the 1840's:

(Anon., circa 1840; tune: Tune: variant of Scots "Caledoni-o")

Come all you jolly seamen,
And listen unto me;
Avast a while, I'll make you smile,
And tell you of a spree.
There's funny craft in Wapping,
In streaming colours gay,
And Pirates too, and Fireships,
In Ratcliff Highway.

So mind those buxom lasses,
In their flying colours gay,
Or soon they'll clean your lockers
In Ratcliff Highway!

The Old Three Crowns I anchored in,
Oh such a jolly crew;
There's rough and smooth from every clime,
And copper colour too.
Such lasses there, so neat and fair,
With hair both grey and red,
Some with no nose and some no teeth,
And damaged figurehead.


The Blue Anchor I next entered –
A Frigate took in tow;
I was run aground, my cargo lost,
I found that I must go;
I sail'd into another port,
And so by the next day
My hulk well-rigged and water-tight
Was in Ratcliff Highway.


Then there's the Three Jolly Sailors,
Such grog there in galore,
And lasses too, there's twenty,
I think as many more;
They foot it there so neatly,
But mind, without a doubt,
You'll find they'll cut your cable,
So keep a good lookout.


The Old Rose and Britannia,
Such Frigates there's at hand,
There's crooked Loo and squinting Sue,
And bandy Mary Ann;
There's skinny Nell the yellow girl,
And flash Maria neat,
There's bouncing Het and brazen Bet
That's been through all the fleet.


Then in the famed King William
That's in New Gravel Lane,
There's Jenny Jones all skin and bones,
And ugly Molly Payne;
Thick-lipped Kit as black as jet
With a bustle such a size,
And snuffling Liz, with such a phiz,
And Sukey Gravy-eyes.


So all you jolly sailors,
I'd have you bear in mind
There's Pirate craft in every port,
And Fireships you'll find;
And if you wish to have a spree,
When out upon a cruise,
Get moored all right, so snug and tight,
In the port of the Paddy's Goose.


From The London Gazette, July 1830:
The Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors.
The Matters of Petitions and Schedules of the Prisoners hereinafter named (the same having been filed in the Court) are appointed to be heard at the Court House, in Portugal Street, Lincoln's-in-Fields, on Thursday 8th day of July, 1830, at Nine o'clock in the Forenoon:
Knibbs, Frances, formerly of Westcote Barton, Oxfordshire, Harness Maker and Brewer, then of Red Lion Street, Holborn, out of business, then of the Union, Essex Street, Battle Bridge, and late of No. 20, Essex Street aforesaid both in Middlesex, formerley Victualler, late out of business.


We can see Francis in 1841 living at what seems to be Ratcliffe Highway, in the borough of Middlesex:
Francis Knibbs 49 Victualler
Ann Knibbs 33
Edwin Knibbs 20
Isabella Knibbs 16
George Knibbs 13
Henry Knibbs 12(?)
Jane Knibbs 5
Francis Knibbs 3

The children Edwin, Isabella and George are from his first marriage to Mary. Jane and Frances are clearly from his second marriage to Ann. We believe Henry is probably Henry Theodore BURT, the son of his second wife from her first marriage.

Kelly's Directory in 1843 lists Francis as the Publican of the Old Rose public house, Ratcliffe Highway.

In 1851, Francis was living at 4 Maberly Place, Islington, London:
Francis Knibbs Head Mar 57 Retired Victualler Oxon Oxford
Ann Knibbs Wife Mar 42 Somerset Shepton Mallett

Francis died on 12 April 1856, aged (according to his death certificate) 61 years. He was living at 3 St. George's Street.

Read Francis' Last Will and Testament


From The Times, Wednesday, Apr 16, 1856;
On the 11th inst., Francis Knibbs, aged 61, many years a licensed victualler in St. George's East.


See a copy of Francis' Death Certificate.

Sources for Francis KNIBBS:

  1. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Deddington,
  2. Death Certificate,
  3. 1841 British Census,
  4. Pigots,
  5. Kelly's Directory,

Notes for Ann UNKNOWN:

We don't yet know the full history behind Ann.

The baptiosmal record for her sone Henry Theodore Burt indicates that she was married to a man named John Burt. We know that Ann married Francis Knibbs in 1832, so if indeed Ann was previously married to John Burt, we can assume that he died at some time between 1828 and 1832.

The record of the marriage between Francis Knibbs and Ann Burt causes some confusion as it clearly identifies Francis Knibbs as a widower but shows Ann Burt as a spinster.

Another theory is of course that Ann was never married and her son Henry Theodore was born as a result of a previous relationship.

In 1851, after Ann married Francis Knibbs, their son Francis could be seen living in Shepton Mallet with his aunt, Uncle and cousin:
George Witcombe Head Mar 40 Cabinet Maker Somerset Downhead
Selina Witcombe Wife Mar 42 Somerset Dinden
Jonah Witcombe Son Unm 17 Cabinet Makers Apprentice Somerset Shepton Mallet
Francis Knibbs Nephew 12 Scholar Middlesex Ratcliffe

We assume that George, Selina and Jonah are relatives on his mother Ann's side of the family, so was Ann perhaps a Witcombe, and did she perhaps marry John Burt as story has it?

Another part of the mystery is that in 1841, living next door to George and Selina Witcombe in Shepton Mallet, there's a Samuel Burt, age 55 years and of "independent means" so is he perhaps related to Ann's first son, Henry Theordore Burt?

Another option could be that Ann and Selina Witcombe were both daughters of Samuel Burt.

Sources for Ann UNKNOWN:

  1. 1841 British Census, 1841 British Census gave her age as 33