James Knott, founder of the family of this name in Maryland and Virginia, came out of England about seventeen years before Leonard Calvert planted his first settlement in Maryland in 1634. In "Hotten's Lists of Persons of Quality who Emigrated to Virginia" is the following:
"Mr. James Knott, age 23, came from England to Virginia in the ship George and settled in Accomac County on the Eastern Shore in 1617." The word Accomack was in that day used to designate the whole of that fertile strip of Virginia between the Atlantic ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, beginning at the southern line of what was afterwards Somerset (since 1742 Worcester) County, Maryland, to the tip end of Cape Charles. But one will look in vain for traces of James Knott in the records of the present Accomac County, for it was not cut off from Northampton County, where the ancient records are kept (dating from 1632), until about 1660-62. As James Knott's interests on the Eastern Shore were in Northampton County, it is there we find him, in Liber No. 1, folio 10, of these old records, as owner of land in 1632, situation "on the other side of K ng's Creek." He is also referred to on page 2 of the same book, in 1632, as having an apprentice named Phario Winen, the son of Jane Winen. Again we find mention of James Knott and his wife, Elinor, June 11, 1634, in Court Order Book No. 1, folio 37, Northampton County Reocords. After this he appears to have removed to Nansemond County, Virginia, for he is recorded as a land owner in that county in 1635, in volume 3, p. 188, of the Virginia Magazine. Also in volume 2, of the same magazine, p. 308, it is stated that James Knott, of Accomack, was granted 50 acres of land in Virginia City County, March 12, 1632.
Mr. Knott appears to have been a close friend of Governor Leonard Calvert, of Maryland. In this conneciton the following quaint document, executed by Giles Brent, October 10, 1642, speaks for itself:
"These prts witness that I Giles Brent of Kent ffort in the Isle of Kent have conveyed & sold & doe hereby convvey and sell unto my sister Mrs. Margaret Brent of St. Maries in Maryland all my lands goods debts due to me in the Province aforesaid for the consideration hereafter expresst, viz.: for satisfaction and payment of L73 English money wch I doe owe to herselfe, also of about L40 English money or between that and L30 2wch I owe to Mr. Richard Reed, also 1400 pounds of tob and cask I owe to Mr. Wm. Blunt and of 900 lbs. tob. & cask for 8000 of it to certain assignes of Mr. John Lewger also of 400 lbs. of tob. & cask I owe to Mr. Purfrey of Virg. of 1200 lbs. tob. & cask I have assumed to pay to Mr. Knott of Virginia for Mr. Leonard Calvert, Governor of Maryland" &c. Signed -- Giles Brent (Testamentary Business Prov. Court., Vol. 4, pp. 132,133, Maryland Archives).
Kilty* mentions the fact that Governor Leonard Calvert admonishes the people not to encroach upon the lands of "my friend Mr. Knott." As there is no record of James Knott having been granted lands in Maryland at the period contemplated, it may be that the following will explain it: Court at St. Maries, 1652:
"James Knott, defendant; John abbington, plaintiff; on petition for relief from act of Knott who cleared 100 acreas of land that Abbington claimed as his own. Knott claimed to have had a verbal grant of land from Governor Leonard Calvert prior to the claim of Abbington" (Liber B, volume 10, p. 220, Provincial Court Proceedings, Maryland Archives).
James Knott was evidently a man of restless activity and is a very interesting personality to the delver in our ancient records. Wile he is known to have been an extensive land owner in Nansemond County, Virginia, he demands and receives 200 acres of land in St. Mary's County, Maryland, in 1651, for transporting himself and his minor son, Nathaniel, into the Province (Liber A B H, folio 237, Annapolis Land Records).
In Liber No. 1, folio 402, Annapolis Land Records, Thomas Warr in 1651, sells to James Knott, Gent., of Virginia, 200 acres of land which he describes as "the equal half of my plantation which I now live upon at Mattapony, ... St. Mary's County.: Consideration, 1390 pounds of tobacco.
Following is his will, in which, however, he does not mention all his sons.
Liber No. 1, folio 51, Annapolis Wills; James Knott, of Nansmond, in Virginia: Will dated September 4, 1651, proved May 13, 1653. Witness: George White, Devises: - To my threes sonnes Bernard Knott, Nathaniel Knott and William Knott, four cowes (mentions Bernard as his eldest son and stipulates that the "cowes" shall be kept together until he comes to the full age of 20 years); to my dau. Mary 6 cowes to be delivered by 25th of Dec. next, also a negro man to dau. Mary, to be delivered her in Oct. 1654; to son Bernard Knott 600 acres of land, "plantation whereon I now live, with reversion to his other children;" to sons Nathaniel & William Knott 600 acres of land, equally divided between them, "being the upper part of this division now in my possession, with reversion in case of death of either;" "I give to my sister E. M. Colins, Anna Young or any of her children 2 Cowes that shall come here to demand them: I give to my dau. Elizabeth Thomas, one cowe;" balance of estate divided into five parts, viz.: "one part to my wife & four parts to my four children, Bernard, Nathaniel, William and Mary Knott; my loving wife and my son Bernard Knott to be my joint Exces; my loving son-in-law Thomas Thomas and my loving friend John Ascumb to be overseers of this my last will and testament."
Ellinor Knott, the late wife of James Knott, deceased, made oath that the will was that of her late husband, James Knott, May 13, 1653. On January 22, 1653, Thomas Cornwallis, Esq., filed a caveat to the will as the greatest creditor of James Knott, deceased.
"Daughter Elizabeth Thomas" was the wife of Thomas Thomas, of Calvert County, Maryland: "John Ascumb," overseer in the will, was John Ashcom, of Patuxent River, Calvert County, Maryland.
The lands of James Knott in St. Mary's County were conveyed to his son Francis, who conveyed some of them while living, and devised them in his will, proved in St. Mary's County, Mary 14, 1705, in his old age (Liber T B No. 2, folio 500, Annapolis Wills).
The lineal descendant of James Knott, Gent., General A. Leo Knott, has reflected honor on the name as one of Maryland's most distinguished legal lights."Landholder's Assisstant", Printed History, Kilty