Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knight, John (1748?-1831)

KNIGHT, Sir JOHN (1748?–1831), admiral, son of Rear-admiral John Knight (d. 1788), was born at Dundee about 1748. He entered the navy in 1758, on board the Tartar frigate, commanded by his father, in the expedition against St. Malo and Cherbourg under Lord Howe. After the peace of 1763 he served in the Romney, carrying the flag of Lord Colville as commander-in-chief on the coast of North America. He was promoted to be lieutenant on 25 May 1770, and in 1775 went out to North America as second lieutenant of the Falcon sloop with Captain John Linzee, arriving there three days before the skirmish at Lexington. The Falcon was one of the vessels that covered the attack on Bunker's Hill. In the early part of the following year, in attempting to destroy a schooner which had been driven on shore in Cape Ann harbour, Knight was taken prisoner. He was exchanged in December 1776, and was appointed by Howe to command the Haerlem hired ship, in which he was actively employed against the enemy's coasting trade. He was afterwards ordered to join the flagship, and in her he returned to England, October 1778. In 1780 he was appointed to the Barfleur, going out to the West Indies with the flag of Sir Samuel (afterwards Lord) Hood [q. v.], and was first lieutenant of her in the action off Martinique on 29 April, and off Cape Henry on 5 Sept. 1781. On the 21st he was posted to the command of the Shrewsbury, from which in the following January he was moved back to the Barfleur as flag-captain, and commanded her in the engagements at St. Kitts, in the skirmish of 9 April, and in the battle of Dominica on 12 April 1782. In 1787–8 he was again captain of the Barfleur with Hood at Portsmouth, and in 1793, when Hood went out as commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, Knight was flag-captain on board the Victory. In 1794 he returned to England with Hood; but on his going back to the Mediterranean, Rear-admiral Mann hoisted his flag on board the Victory, in the action of 13 July 1795. Knight shortly afterwards went home overland, and was appointed to the Montagu in the fleet under Admiral Duncan in the North Sea.

On the outbreak of the mutiny the Montagu was taken by her crew to the Nore, where her surgeon was tarred and feathered, rowed through the fleet, and afterwards put on shore with some other obnoxious officers. When the mutiny was quelled the Montagu rejoined Duncan, and took a distinguished part in the battle of Camperdown. In 1798 Knight commanded a detached squadron on the coast of Ireland, and in 1799–1800 took part in the blockade of Brest. On 1 Jan. 1801 he was promoted to be rear-admiral, and in the summer of 1805 succeeded Sir Richard Bickerton at Gibraltar. He became vice-admiral on 9 Nov. 1805, admiral on 4 Dec. 1813, and was made a K.C.B. on 2 Jan. 1815.

Knight died on 16 June 1831. He was twice married, and had a large family. Knight Island, to the south-east of New Zealand, in lat. 48° S., long. 166° 44′ E., was named after him by Captain W. R. Broughton [q. v.], who, as a midshipman of the Falcon, was a fellow-prisoner in America in 1776.

[Ralfe's Naval Biog. ii. 352; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. i. 154; Naval Chron. (with a portrait), xi. 425.]

J. K. L.