Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knatchbull, Norton

KNATCHBULL, Sir NORTON (1602–1685), scholar, son of Thomas Knatchbull (d. 1623) by his wife Eleanor, daughter of John Astley of Maidstone, born in 1602, matriculated at Cambridge as a fellow-commoner of St. John's College on 20 March 1618–19, and graduated B.A. in 1620. He was a nephew of Sir Norton Knatchbull, knight, of Mersham Hatch, Kent, who was sheriff of Kent in 1608, M.P. for Hythe in 1609, and founder of the free school at Ashford. The elder Sir Norton ‘was,’ says Philipot, in his ‘Visitation of the County of Kent,’ ‘a person who, for his favour and love to learning and antiquities in times when they are both fallen under such cheapness and contempt, cannot be mentioned without an equivalent to so just a merit.’ Sir Norton the younger succeeded to the family mansion and estate at Mersham Hatch upon his uncle's death in 1636. He at once confirmed the deed of endowment executed by his uncle in behalf of Ashford grammar school, continued to pay the master a yearly stipend of 30l., and subsequently added to the buildings. In 1639 Knatchbull was elected M.P. for Kent, and was knighted at Whitehall by Charles I. He was member for New Romney in the Long parliament, and was made a baronet on 4 Aug. 1641. On 12 Nov. 1642 he was summoned, with twenty-seven others, to appear before the House of Commons as a delinquent (Commons' Journals, ii. 845). But though a loyalist, Knatchbull seems to have remained in strict seclusion during the civil wars; and his name does not appear in the calendar of the committee for compounding. On 6 May 1661 he was again returned for New Romney (Members of Parl. i. 447, 495, 532).

In the year before the Restoration he published his ‘Animadversiones in Libros Novi Testamenti. Paradoxæ Orthodoxæ, London. Guil. Godbid. in vico vulgo vocato Little-Brittain,’ 1659. The work consists of a large number of critical emendations, based upon a fair knowledge of Hebrew, and showing considerable intrepidity for a critic of that period. A second edition with appendix was published in 1672, a third, ‘auctæ et emendatæ,’ Oxford, 1677; a fourth edition, in English, appeared in 1692, entitled ‘Annotations upon some difficult Texts in all the Books of the New Testament,’ Cambridge, 1693. The translation is, according to Darling (Cyclop. Bibl. 1738), the author's own. It is preceded by an ‘Encomiastick upon the most Learned and Judicious Author,’ by Thomas Walker, Sidney Sussex College. The original was reprinted at Amsterdam, and also at Frankfort, where it formed part of the supplement to N. Gurtler's edition of Walton's ‘Polyglot,’ 1695–1701. The work was held in great estimation for a century after its publication, and figures in a list of books annotated by the learned Ambrose Bonwicke (1652–1722) [q. v.] (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. v. 141). Kitto, however, says that Knatchbull's remarks ‘are entirely wanting in depth, and we cannot read them without wonder at the small amount of knowledge which procured for their author such a widespread reputation’ (Cyclop. Bibl. ii. s.v.) In 1680 Peter du Moulin the younger [q. v.] dedicated to Knatchbull his ‘Short View of the Chief Points in Controversy between the Reformed Churches and the Church of Rome,’ being a translation from an unprinted manuscript by his father, Peter du Moulin the elder, which had been made over to him for purposes of publication by the baronet. James Duport [q. v.], the tutor of his son John, addressed three Latin odes in his ‘Musæ Subsecivæ’ to Knatchbull, and the latter, according to Ballard, himself acted as tutor to the learned Dorothy, lady Pakington.

Knatchbull died at his seat in Kent on 5 Feb. 1685 (N.S.), and was buried in the chancel of Mersham Church, where a Latin inscription describes him as ‘Ciceronis et Chrysostomi facundia, Varronis et Hieronymi judicio ornatus.’ He married, first, Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Westrow, sheriff of London, by whom he had eleven daughters and two sons. The elder son, Sir John, second baronet (1636–1696), was author of a manuscript diary for 1688–9, from which an interesting narrative of the arrest of James II at Faversham was printed in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 3rd ser. vi. 1–3, 21–3. The younger son, Sir Thomas, was third baronet (d. 1711). By his second wife, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Robert Honywood [q. v.] of Charing, Kent, and relict of Sir Edward Stewart, kt., he had no issue. A contemporary half-length portrait of Knatchbull by Hoogstraten has been engraved (Evans, ii. 234).

[Hasted's Kent, iii. 287, ii. 127, 444; Wotton's Baronetage, i. 402; Collins's English Baronetage, ii. 232; Addit. MS. 5520, ff. 257–8 (pedigree); M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclop. Eccles. Lit. v. 124; Duport's Musæ Subsecivæ, pp. 262, 295, 309, 311; Life of Dr. R. Warren, prefixed to his Sermons, 1739, pp. iiisq.; Knatchbull's Works in Brit. Mus. Library; information kindly supplied by R. F. Scott, esq.]

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