Joseph KNIBBS, son of Nathaniel KNIBBS and Elizabeth KERRICK , was born 30 April 1800 in Somerton, Oxfordshire, England. He married Hannah BENNETT 28 August 1826 in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire, England. He died 08 December 1874 in Albany County, New York, USA. Hannah BENNETT, daughter of John BENNETT and Elizabeth UNKNOWN , was born 07 February 1808 in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire, England. She died 11 August 1881 in Athens, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Children of Joseph KNIBBS and Hannah BENNETT are:
1. James KNIBBS, b. 05 October 1827 See James KNIBBS & Rhoda Ann HARVEY OR James KNIBBS & Emma LAWS
2. Elizabeth Ann KNIBBS, b. bef. 08 November 1829
3. George KNIBBS, b. bef. 25 December 1831
4. Cornelius KNIBBS, b. bef. 09 February 1834 See Cornelius KNIBBS & Rosemond C UNKNOWN

Marriage Notes for Joseph KNIBBS\Hannah BENNETT:

Banns read at Somerton, Oxfordshire, England in Jul 1826 identifying that Hannah Bennett was from Duns Tew, Oxfordshire.

Notes for Joseph KNIBBS:

Also known as: Joe

Believed to be Joseph in around 1869, aged 69 years.(click to enlarge)

Whilst as yet, we have no immigration or patriation papers for Joseph in New York, the information that Ana Knibbs-Rizzo has turned up in her enquiries is conclusive evidence that it was Joseph Knibbs of Somerton, Oxfordshire, England who emigrated to New York with his family. It is known from the Somerton PR transcript that Joseph had at least 4 children, James, Elizabeth Ann, George and Cornelius (the latter bap. Feb 1834). He is believed to have emigrated from England to New York in 1840.

Please visit my Notable KNIBBS Page for Joseph


We believe that Joseph and his oldest son James emigrated to new York in the 1840's, leaving his wife Hannah and other children in England, probably until he'd settled, found work and somewhere to live. In 1841, we can see Joseph's wife, daughter Elizabeth Ann and son Cornelius all living in England. Hannah and Cornelius were living at Somerton and Elizabeth Ann was living with Joseph's sister Kitty Payne.

Ann Knibbs 30 Ag Lab Wife
Cornelius Knibbs 7
Mary Knibbs 40 Pauper
Elizabeth Bennett 60 Seamstress

I'm not quite sure who the Mary Knibbs was that was living with Ann but I suspect it would have been Joseph's sister.

A Declaration of Intention was submitted by Joseph on 3 November 1846, Book 8 Page Number 174.
It can be seen that Joseph applied for Naturalization at Albany County, New York, USA on 29 March 1849.

It is understood that Joseph lived at the Albany Medical College, New York with his family, and on 13 Aug 1850, in the City of Albany, Ward #10, he is listed as:

Joseph Knibbs, 50, Janitor at Albany Medical College
Anna Knibbs 40
Cornelius Knibbs 16 Clerk

It can be seen at the 1870 census return that Joseph was living at Albany, New York USA:
Locality: 10-WD ALBANY M593-Roll: 900 Page: 5 State: NY
Joseph KNIBBS 70 Janitor MC England
Anna KNIBBS 67 Keeping House England
James KNIBBS 7 New York

I believe that James is their grandson, the son of Cornelius Knibbs although I note that he was recorded as being at home with his parents when the census was taken.

Joseph died on 8 December, 1874, and reference was made to his passing within the faculty minutes at the Albany Medical College:
Dr. Armsby announced the death of Joseph Knibbs, late janitor of the college. Upon motion Dr. Armsby and Dr. Tucker were appointed to make arrangements for attendance of the faculty and students at the funeral and Dr. Perkins and Dr. Stevens as a committee to prepare a suitable resolution of respect to his memory and to be submitted at the next meeting of the faculty.


Notes from a lecture at the Albany College also show the following:
So on a cloudy 10th December day with 29 degrees Fahrenheit, the funeral procession departed from Albany Medical College. There is no documentation as to whether a church service was involved. The burial was in the Albany Rural Cemetery according to the Bureau of Vital Statistics of Albany and also they record his death as he died of bronchitis. However the caretaker of Albany Rural Cemetery that there records there show the cause of death is congestion of the lung. Combining all three, that is the newspaper account, the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the cemetery and coming up with a different diagnosis, I would conclude congestive heart failure. That way you are covered on all scores.
the remains of Mr. Knibbs are in Lot 30, Section 92 of the Albany Rural Cemetery together with five other people. All the graves are unmarked and nobody knows which one belongs to whom. Four of the graves are members of the Westfield family. However, there is one Hannah Knibbs who died in Athens, Pennsylvania and was buried on the 14th August, 1881. She , like Joseph, was also born in England. Her cause of death interestingly enough was paralysis. She had lived in Schenectady (as far as the Rural Cemetery knows) and this could either be a sister or a wife of Joseph or a relative. No birth records were kept in Albany County prior to 1870, therefore it is not possible except perhaps through a very, very nit-picking search of parish records to determine the number and the names of the Knibbs children if he ever had them baptised. That's the risk we take.
We do know that Mr. Knibbs earned $20. a month as his salary and in addition he was paid $5. a year for Leaming the college privy and $40. for cleaning the college. Further, he received once every year, a varying amount for washing towels. The largest that I could find for any one year was $3.21 for towel washing. He also purchased the charcoal and was reimbursed for this which was duly noted in the fees of the College found in the faculty minutes. In addition to his duties as janitor, he also, (again from the incidental receipts) collected the fees for the dissecting room. (One year it amounted to $34.) However, Mr. Knibbs also served the student body in other ways. Dr. J. W. howser of the Class of 1875, made in his remarks, at the 50th anniversary of his graduation, the following

"As you enter the college building to the right you will see a bronze tablet erected to the memory of old Joe the janitor..........
(Dr Hause's memory didn't quite make it - it's marbl;e).
....who served us many years. In those days we had no soft catheters of rubber , linen, silk or anything but metal and Joe wopuld allow the students to pass a catheter into his bladder for a quarter a throw...........
(These are the catheters, not his, but, Dr. ( ) was a graduatre of 1845 and these belomng to hoim so they were they type to be used. You can fondle them in the History of Medicine room if yiou would like).
Dr. Howser continues: those who took advantage of this opportunity to learn to use a catheter . As for myself I still stick to ,etal in difficult cases. Unfortunately, after many years, Joes's urethre became so dilated that even our largest catheters would almost drop in. So Jpoe's poccupation and his income was lost.

Mt Knibbs and his family lived in the college building itself or 66 Eagl;e Street for in the Faculty Minutes authorisation is given the following year for the facukty to spend money to refurbish the janitor's quartrtd.
There is no further notation as to the results of Dr. Pekns and Dr. Stevens committee activity to prepare a suiytable resoltuioion with respect tophis memory which was to have been submitted to the faculty. It can ve assumed that activity of the student body to erect a plaque to his memory might have replaced the need for rsolution of respect or possibly that the resolution of respect was delivered as a eulogy at the fuineral which was, of course, quire common in those days. This is all that is know oif Jposeph Knibbs.


From The Albany Evening Times, Tuesday December 8, 1874:
A Faithful Servant Gone
Mr. Joseph Knibbs is gone ! Yes; the faithful old janitor of the Albany medical college and law school ended his earthly labors about 4 o'clock this morning. Mr. Knibbs was born in Summerton, Oxfordshire, England. April 30, 1800. He came to this country in 1841. In 1842 he found employment in the drug store of Dexter & Ralis, later Dexter & Nellogar, working for them during the summer months but during the cold season he was employed by Dr. Alden March to take charge of the Albany medical college as janitor. These alternating occupations extended through some fifteen years after which he remained in charge of the college. He was janitor of the medical college and law school for some twenty-two years.
Mr. Knibbs was a man faithful to all the duties of his laborious calling, ever ready to lend assistance in anything that would befit the institutions. He was much beloved and respected by both the faculties and students of the medical and law schools. To show something of the profound regard the students had for him: While an artist was taking a picture of the institution, they took particular pains to have their faithful janitor occupy a conspicuous position in the centre of the group.
The deceased exhibited remarkable fidelity on all matter of trust,acting for his employers with a seal which could hardly have been more ardent had he occupied the position of proprietor instead of that of employee. Of late it has been apparent to the observer that Joseph's days of usefulness were almost accomplished. Disease of the heart began to render labor difficult, but withal, he was only confined to the home this last Wednesday, up to which time he was always at his peak of duty. His demise is an irreplaceable loss to the Albany medical college and law school. The many friends of the deceased will unite in tending their heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved wife and family.


Joseph Knibbs is commemorated at the Albany Medical Hospital in New York for his faithful service as a janitor there for 30 years. There is an extremely large plaque in the hallway of the hospital which says:

(Click thumbnail to see a larger version)

Joseph was either extremely important or well thought of as his plaque is the same size as that of the hospital founder, and even bigger than some of the famous doctors' plaques.

Story has it that as a means of earning extra cash, Joseph permitted students to practice on him with an experimental catheter. He charged 25 cents per insertion.

On the same topic, I found an article produced by Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC on 18 May, 2003, at the following web site of the
Holy Cross Family Ministries

Fr Robert tells how, many years ago, he recorded a quotation from an unknown source into his now old and well worn notebook:
"This is what I would want to be above all - God’s love with skin on."

He recalls his posthumous encounters with two men which reminded him of that quotation. One of those encounters was with our Joseph Knibbs. Fr Robert wrote of a time when he was leaving the Albany Medical College via a maze of unexplored corridors, where a dozen portraits of centuries old graduating classes line the walls, when a large marble plaque caught his eye inscribed "Joseph Knibbs, the faithful janitor during nearly thirty years, died Dec. 8, 1874. Erected by the students of 1874. "The walls of the College abound with portraits and plaques of medical worthies, with photographs of graduating classes vying for what space remains. But no memorial so caught his attention as this singular one to a faithful janitor now dead so long. What was it that inspired a graduating class to honor him, he wondered? What lessons about doctoring had this janitor taught? No clues remain to provide answers, only this singular plaque. While the tangled arms of the college corridors remember hundreds of physicians, professors, researchers and students, a singular janitor taught quiet lessons to medical students for nearly thirty years.

In the spirit of their founder, Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, and under the sponsorship of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Holy Cross Family Ministries serves Jesus Christ and His Church throughout the world by promoting and supporting the spiritual well-being of the family.

The following appeared in the Albany Morning Express, Saturday, May 16, 1874:
More About Those Boiled Bones - They Were Taken from our Medical College.
The following from the Schenectady Star of Thursday, while it will not prove very pleasant reading, show that the remnants of bodies dissected at our Medical College are disposed of at lottery!
Coroner Wicks, yesterday, concluded the inquest on the human bones found on the farm of Jasper Mead, in Glenville. Among those sworn was Anthony Sweet, of Amsterdam, brother-in-law to Jasper Mead, Jr., who testified in regard to the arrival of the bones on the farm from Albany, and concerning the boiling and final disposal thereof. Joseph Knibbs, of Albany testified that he is janitor at the Medical College; Jasper Mead Jr., is a student at the same institution; the students regularly have "subjects" for dissection; after the dissection. the students "draw cuts" for the nones or remains. Mead had drawn the bones of a subject last February. The bones had been shipped to Glenville. Young Mead was also examined and testified the bones were the remains of a "subject" drawn by him at the Albany Medical College; that he had taken them to the farm and followed the usual mode of cleaning them. The jury then rendered a verdict as follows: "We find that the bones of an unknown man, found in a creek on the farm of Jasper Mead, in Glenville, were brought from the Albany Medical College, and deposited at the place where found, by Jasper Mead, Jr., a student at that institution."

Joseph was buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery, New York, USA but was moved in 1939 when the cemetery was converted into a city park. He is now buried in Albany rural cemetery, lot 30 section 92.

Find A Grave
Birth: 1800, England
Death: 1874, USA
He was a janitor at Albany medical college for nearly 30 years. There is a huge plaque erected in his honor hanging in a hallway at Albany Medical college. He and his wife Hannah was buried in a cemetery that now is Washington Park. They were dug up and moved to a unmarked grave at Albany Rural Cemetery in the 1939's. He and Hannah are buried in a Knibbs-Westfield plot Lot 30 section 92 in an unmarked grave.

Albany Rural Cemetery
Albany County
New York, USA
Plot: 30 section 92

Record added: Aug 1 2001
By: Ana Rizzo

From the Albany New York Evening Journal, Wednesday December 9th, 1874.

On Tuesday morning, after a short illness, JOSEPH KNIBBS, in the 75th year of his age. Funeral from the Medical College, on Thursday afternoon, at half-past one.

Joseph is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany County, New York, USA.

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

Sources for Joseph KNIBBS:

  1. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Somerton,
  2. Obituary,

Notes for Hannah BENNETT:

Hannah was baptised in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire, England, the daughter of John and Elizabeth

We believe it's Hannah who appears in the 1841 census living with her son Cornelius, her mother Elizabeth and her husband's first cousin, Mary Knibbs, living in the same household at Somerton, Oxfordshire, England.
Ann Knibbs 30 Ag Lab Wife (born in the county)
Cornelius Knibbs 7 (born in the county)
Mary Knibbs 60 Pauper (born in the county)
Elizth Bennett 60 Seamstress (born in the county)

Hannah's husband and older son had emigrated to New York in 1840, presumable leaving Hannah, Cornelius and their daughter Elizabeth in England until things were in place.

Hannah appears in the 1880 Federal Census living at Schenectady, New York with her grand-daughter Martha Knibbs. Martha is also listed as being with her parents at Troy at the census.
They were staying at the house of a family named LINDLEY:
Mary LINDLEY Self W Female W 60 ENG Farming & House Keeping ENG ENG
Lillian May LINDLEY Dau S Female W 15 NY Home E
William I. FOX Other S Male W 14 MA Farm Laborer NY CT
Anna KNIBBS Other W Female W 67 ENG ENG ENG
Martha KNIBBS Other S Female W 15 NY School ENG NY

From the Troy Times, August 18, 1881:
KNIBBS - At Athens, Penn., August 11, 1881. Hannah, widow of the late Joseph Knibbs, and mother of James Knibbs of this city, aged 71 years.


Albany Rural Cemetery has the following information about Hannah:
Hannah Knibbs
Born England
Died Athens, Pennsylvania
Resided in Schenectady, New York
Died Aug 11, 1881
71 years old
Died of paralysis
Lot 30 section 92
Knibbs-Westfield Plot
Unmarked grave

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

Sources for Hannah BENNETT:

  1. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Somerton,
  2. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Duns Tew,
  3. Troy Times,

Notes for Elizabeth Ann KNIBBS:

Baptism records for Somerton show Elizabeth Anne being the daughter of Joseph & Ann rather than Joseph and Hannah. Positioning of the baptism between the other children of Joseph and Hannah, as well as there being no known Joseph and Anne at Somerton at that time, it's considered to be an error in the register.

We can see Elizabeth in 1841, living with her aunt Kitty 'Catherine' and uncle John Payne at Whitfield, Northamptonshire. Kitty was a sister of Elizabeth's father, Joseph Knibbs.
John Paine 30 farmer - born in the county
Catherine Paine 30 - not born in the county
Elizabeth Knibbs 11 - not born in the county
George Gackins 14 - born in the county

From the Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York), August 20, 1847:
At 9 o'clock this morning, Miss Elizabeth Knibbs, aged 18, daughter of Joseph and Ann Knibbs, of this city.
The relatives, friends and acquaintances, likewise the Daughters of Temperance of Clinton Union, No 26 , are respectfully invited to attend her funeral, at 62 Eagle Street at 5 o'clock unday Afternoon.

Sources for Elizabeth Ann KNIBBS:

  1. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Somerton,
  2. Obituary,

Notes for George KNIBBS:

We don't know for sure what happened to George Knibbs. We know his father Joseph and older brother James emigrated to New York in about 1840, leaving George's mother Hannah, his brother Cornelius and sister Elizabeth living in England until he was ready for them to join him. George would have been 9 years old at the time but we can see no sign of him in England.

We see that George wasn't with the family in Albany, New York in 1850. Maybe he joined them in New York but was married before 1850. Maybe he stayed in England, but there is also the possibility that he died in infancy, although I've seen nothing to confirm that.

The 1880 US census shows just one George Knibbs who was born in England and living at Binghamton, Broome, New York, but we know for sure this wasn't him.

One theory is that he did indeed join the family in New York and married at a relatively young age (before 1850) to a girl named Elizabeth with whom he had five children between 1852 and 1861. There was an Elizabeth Knibbs listed in the 1880 census, a young widow, keeping house at District 3, Fishkill, Dutchess, New York. We have no record of her husband's name but do know that he was born in England.
Elizabeth KNIBBS Head Wid 53 Keeps House New York
Annie KNIBBS Daur UnM 23 Wks Carpet Mill New York
Hattie KNIBBS Daur UnM 19 NY Wks Carpet Mill New York
George J KNIBBS Son UnM 21 Wks Carpet Mill New York

The census shows that Elizabeth's parents were both born in New York.

This shows that the birthplace of the children's father was England but it's pure conjecture that there's any connection.

My belief is that it's most lilely that George died in infancy, en England.

Sources for George KNIBBS:

  1. Oxfordshire Parish Register - Somerton,