Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knight, John (d.1606)

KNIGHT, JOHN (d. 1606), mariner, apparently of Scottish birth, was in 1605 associated with two other Scots, Cunningham and Lyon, in command of a Danish expedition to the coast of Greenland, which sailed from Copenhagen on 2 May. On the 30th, in lat. 59° 50′, they sighted high land, which they called Cape Christian, but the ice prevented them from reaching it. On 12 June they sighted high land on the west coast of Greenland, and named Cape Anna after James I's queen, Cape Sophia after her mother, King Christian's Fjord, and Cunningham Fjord, in lat. 67° 10′. Some small islands off Cape Sophia were named Knight's Islands (Danish Gov. Chart, 1832). This marks the extent of their voyage, of which few particulars have been preserved. They returned to Copenhagen in August, and Knight, passing on to England, was in the next year employed by the East India merchants to discover the north-west passage. In the Hopewell of forty tons he sailed from Gravesend on 18 April 1606, and, leaving the Orkneys on 12 May, fell in with a large ice-field, and after a long passage made the coast of Labrador, in about lat. 57°, on 19 June. The ice was still very troublesome, and after pushing through it for a couple of days the Hopewell anchored. In a violent gale on the 23rd and 24th the cables parted and the ship drove ashore. She was got afloat again, but her rudder was torn off, and she was making a great deal of water. Gorrell, the mate, was sent on shore to look for a place where she could be beached for repairs, and as he was unsuccessful, on the next day, 26 June, Knight went himself with Gorrell and four men. Leaving two men in the boat, Knight and his three companions went inland over a hill, and were never seen again. It was concluded that they were killed by the natives—little people, tawny-coloured, flat-nosed, with thin or no beards. The survivors on board repaired the ship as they best could, not without opposition from the Eskimos, and so reached Newfoundland, whence they sailed on 22 Aug., and arrived at Dartmouth on 24 Sept.

[Markham's Voyages of Sir James Lancaster, &c. (Hakluyt Soc. vol. lvi.); Purchas his Pilgrimes, pt. iii. p. 827.]

J. K. L.