William Knopp/Knapp was baptized on January 1, 1580/1 at Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England. On January 11, 1606/7 at Wormingford, Essex county, England, he married Judith Tue, daughter of John Tue and Cicely (____). Judith was baptized at Wormingford on May 31, 1589.
William and Judith immigrated from Bures St. Mary to Watertown, Massachusetts in 1630, with the Winthrop Fleet. Many researchers have claimed that William Knopp and Nicholas Knapp of Watertown were brothers, but there is no evidence for this connection and much against. The most recent investigation of William Knopp shows no evidence of Nicholas Knapp in the family, or even in Bures St. Mary. The two differ in age by about twenty-five years, a full generation. William and Nicholas, despite residing in the same town for fifteen years, are never seen interacting in any way. Finally, although this would not normally be an important consideration, the town clerks at Watertown were consistent in spelling William's surname as "Knopp" and Nicholas's as "Knapp," suggesting that in Watertown the surnames were seen as distinct. Although William's descendants have adopted the surname "Knapp", the name is usually spelled "Knop(e)" or "Knopp(e)" in the records of England and early New England.
William came to America indentured to Sir Richard Saltonstall. William was a carpenter by trade. He is first mentioned in New England on November 30, 1630, when the Court of Assistants ordered that "whoesoeuer employeth Will[ia]m Knopp or his sonne in any work shall pay the one half of their wages to Sr Rich: Siltonstall, & whoeuer buyeth boards of them shall pay one halfe of the price to Sr. Richard, till the money hee hath disbursed for them be satisfied." On March 22, 1630/1, "It appears by Sir Rich: Saltonstall's note of disbursements that Will[ia]m Knopp owes him the sum of £19 5s., as was evidenced to the Court by Richard Browne & Ephraim Childe, being men indifferently chosen betwixt them to judge thereof." (These records suggest that William Knapp borrowed his passage money, and perhaps owed even more, from Sir Richard Saltonstall, and that he was hard pressed to repay his debt, what with all the problems of getting his family settled in the wilderness of New England.)
As one of the first settlers of Watertown, Williams was granted 30 acres in the Great Dividend on July 25, 1636. He was granted seven acres in the Beaverbrook Plowlands on February 28, 1636/7, and seven acres in the Remote Meadows, June 26, 1637. On May 10, 1642 William was granted a farm of ninety-three acres.
In the Inventory of Grants at Watertown, "William Knop, senior," held six parcels: homestall of sixteen acres; seven acres of plowland in the Further Plain; seven acres of Remote Meadow; seven acres and a half of upland beyond the Further Plain; thirty acres of upland in the Great Dividend; and one acre in West Meadow. In the Composite Inventory he held seven parcels; homestall of sixteen acres; seven acres of plowland in the Further Plain; eight acres of plowland in the Further Plain; seven acres in the Remote Meadows; seven acres and a half of upland beyond the Further Plain; thirty acres of upland in the Great Dividend; and a farm of ninety-three acres.
Judith (Tue) Knopp died probably in Watertown sometime before 1651. Soon after June 20, 1651, William married Priscilla, widow of Thomas Akers, with whom he signed a prenuptial agreement.
A carpenter, William performed contracts for repairs on the meeting-house until May 1, 1652, and the construction of an animal pound. William was the "poundkeeper," for which he received a small wage. He is often referred to as "Ould Knop" or "Father Knop" in the records.
William Knapp was never an officeholder, at either the local or the provincial level. He was, however, summoned before the General Court for several offenses against the law. On October 6, 1633 "Will[ia]m Knopp is bound in £10 to appear at the next Court, & to abide the censure of the Court for swearing."
Of a more serious nature, he was directed by the court on June 6, 1637, "upon pain of £100 & imprisonment, to bring in sureties within 8 days for his appearance at the next Quarter Court" for speaking against Governor Vane. The outcome of this charge is unknown. William was fined £5 on June 1, 1641 for selling beer for two years without a license. On November 13, 1644 the records of the court show that a fine of £5 for some unknown offence had been reduced to 20s. On October 7, 1651 he was again presented for his "scurulus and undecent words", this time to the schoolmaster. For this he was sentenced to pay 13s. 4d. or to spend two hours in the stocks.
In his last years, William became a charge of the town. On March 25, 1655 he sold much of his outlying property to his son John for "sundry and good considerations" and £5 10s. Late in 1656, William applied for assistance to the selectmen of Watertown, who in turn proposed that he place his estate in the hands of his children in exchange for their support; if the children refused this proposal the town should undertake a similar agreement on the same terms. The children were apparently reluctant. During the last years of his life, the town leased out William's lands and reimbursed others for their assistance to him.
At Watertown selectmen's meeting, 11 Dec 1656:
Ould Knap being in want and complayning to the Select men they make this proposition, that if his children will take his estate into theire hands, & provide such necessaries for theire father and mother as is convenient, they shall have the sd estate for the performance thereof when theire father & mother cease to be, but if the said children refuse thus to doe, then the town will undertake the same, upon such tearms as the children should, & this to be fully concluded upon the next second day being the 15th of decem:
Court record "old Knap estate" December 1656.
Court being Credible informed that old Knap of Watertowne, by reason of his
age, and other infirmity, is so infeebled in his understanding and other naturall
abilities, that he is either able to labor, nor yet capeable of a prudent improvement
of what lands or goodes he hath yet left to releive his necessity, do therefore
order that Henceforth no Bargaine made by the said Knap for the disposeing of
any of his estate, shall henceforth be vallid and stand good in Law, unless
it shalbe approved of by the Select men of Watertowne for the time being, and
for that end this order to be forthwith published at some Publique meeting of
the Inhabitants of that place, and this order to remaine in force untill the
Generall Court shall please to take further order therein. Also it is hereby
declared to be the true intent of the Court herein, that the select men above
named, shall in no wise dispose of any of the sd Knaps esetate, without his
William died at Watertown on August 30, 1659 "aged about 80 years." William wrote a defective will on July 5, 1655. The will was never proved, possibly because of the ambiguous language. The bequests made to the wife are unclear; if only £2 10s. was her intended legacy, the will would certainly have been challenged. The daughter Anne had died prior to the death of her father, but the will had not been modified to dispose of her portion. Elizabeth (Knapp) Buttery of Bures St. Mary refers to the will of her late father in her 1660 power of attorney. However, the remaining heirs in New England indicated in a deed, dated 1 April 1662, that he died intestate.
this 5th of July 1655.
After all [the ju]st debts of the aforesaid William Knope is Satisfy the estate that remains is to bee Equally devided Amongst [illeg.] children viz. William Knope John Knope James Knope Elizeath [sic] Knope Mary Knope Ane Knope Judeth Knope the house and land Adjoyninge to it and Cattell and Moveables viz I give unto my wife two pound tenn shillings.
Court Record December 1658
Ephraim Child, Ri: Beers, and Priscilla Knap, are granted powr. of administration on the estate of Wm. Knap deceased
Court doth order that the Constable of Water Towne shall deliver unto widow
Knap her chest, with those things therein, and other her necessary household
utensiils, which Jno Knap by attachment hath deteined from her.
Bond of William Knopp, dated 20 June 1651.
of June 1651
Widow Released from Administration 5 April 1659
Widow Knap, is released from the power of an Administratrix upon the estate
of her husband Wm. Knap deceased.
The inventory of the William Knopp estate, valued at £130, was taken 31 August 31, 1658, and it includes a note from John Knopp to his "mother" for £1 5s. 0d. The creditor was apparently his stepmother, Priscilla; she received the money as part of her settlement at the court held at Cambridge on 5 Apr 1659, along with £10 as payment for a note she held from her late husband. The note, dated 20 Jun 1651 and almost certainly a prenuptial agreement, was payable to Priscilla upon the death of William from his estate, or was to be paid by William to Priscilla's heirs if she should die first. Priscilla presented the note at the court of 5 Apr 1659, receiving in return for it a total of £11 5s. plus the use of one-third of the lands of her late husband during her lifetime, as well as a moiety of the rest of the moveable estate after the debts were paid. The balance of the estate was divided among the surviving children or their heirs, with the eldest son receiving a double portion.
Inventory dated August 31, 1658, sworn April 5, 1659.
Mich Bairstow, Charles Chadwicke, Ri: Beers
[Endorsement] Att a County Court held at Cambr Apr. 5 1659, Ephraim Child and Leift. Ri: Beers admrs to Wm Knap, appearing in Court and being Sworne do say that is a true Inventory of th'estate of Wm Knap deceased
Court Record 5 April 1659
Child, and Leift. Ri: Beers attested on oath unto the Inventory of Wm Knap
Court Record 15 April 1659
refference to a divission of th'estate of Willm. Knap deceased, This Court
doth order that priscilla the relict of said Willm. Knap, shall have one third
part of her husbands lands and houses, dureing her life according to the law
of dowries, and her debt of Eleven pounds and five shill: pd her out of the
moveables, and the one moyty of the rest of the moveable estate, that shalbe
remaineing when all debts are pd. And the rest of the estate to be divided
according as the Law in that case provides, vizt. to his Eldest sonne a double
porccon, and to the rest of his Children equall shares, and in case any of
them be deceased, their Children shall have such their shares.
Accounting of sales with receipt of widow
Reced. by me Priscilla knap, the late wife of will. knap, upon the 18th of Aprill (59) of the administrators of the goods of the sd william knap the some of eleaven pounds and five shillings, which is the some given unto the sd Precila, by the apoyntment of the Court held at Cambrig and by vertew of the same, I the sd Precilla doe acquitt and discharg the sd administrators, of the sd some of 11-5s.
presence as wittnes
Division and Receipt of Heirs April 1660
(1659) January 2d wee whose names are under written, have recd. by the hands of the administrators apoynted by the Court, (in refference to the estate of our deceased Father Will. knop of Watertown) of Lefft. Beers and Ephraim Child, the Full portion of all such goods as they had in there hands, and do acquitt the sd administrators both wee and our heires for ever, them and theire heires, as being fully satisfied with what we have rec'd and doe give full power unto John knop to take all that now is our pts out of the estate yett remaining either of goods or Lands
Aprill 2d (1660) delivered to John knap
Receipt of John Knop, April 1660.
Court Record April 1660
Child, and Leift. Ri: Beers, admrs., on the estate of William Knap deceased,
presenting to this Court an acct. of the said estate, their accounts are allowed
and passed by the Court.
New Administrators Appointed December 1662
Child, and Sergt. Beers are discharged of their administration to the estate
of old Wm. Knap of Water Towne, and Jno. Coolidge and Henry Bright are impowred
in their stead, by mutuall consent of both partyes
Deed, Heirs of William Knap to John Knap, 1 April 1662
To All People to whome these presents shall come, Greeting. Whereas William Knap lae of WaterTowne in the County of Midd. in New England, who died intestate, was in his life time seized of one messuage or tenement scittuate, lying and being within the bounds and limmitts of Watertowne, above named, conteyneing one dwelling house and barne, with orchard, yards, and lands adjoyneing by estimation about eighten acres more or lesse, and is bounded with the Country Highway on the north, Edmund Bloyse on th'east, Wm. Barsham and Thomas Fanning on the South, and on the west with the land of Jno. Sawine, with all previledges and appurtenances to the same apperteyneing or in any wise belonging, The which was by the Court of the said County held at Cambr. october 15th 1659 divided to Priscilla Knap his relict widdow, one third part of the said message or tenement dureing her naturall life, and the remainder there of together with the Reverssion of the sd widows thirds was divided unto and between William Knap, Jno, Knap, James Knap, Mary Smith, Judeth Cady, children of the said Wm. Knap, together with the Children of John Philbricke deceased, being the grand Children of the said William Knap deceased, Also whereas the aforesaid William Knap, James Knap, Thomas Smith, husband of the aforesaid Mary Smith, and Nicholas Cady, Husband of the aforesaid Judeth Cady, Joyntly and severally for vallewable consideration to them in Hand payd to their full content and sattisfaction by John Knap their Brother Have granted bargained and sold assigned, enfeoffed, and confirmed to the said Jno. Knap their respective shares and parts in all that above named messuage or tenement (excepting only their interest in the reverssion of the widowes third), Also whereas the said Jno. Knap hath by one deed by Him and Sarah his wife signed and sealed, and bearing date novemr. 26th 1661, granted bargained, and sold, aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed, th'one moyty of the said messuage or tenement to Nathaniel Coolidge of the same Towne Taylor, the said moyty or one halfe part comprehending and conteyneing as well the parts and shares purchased by the said John Knap of his Brethren William Knap, James Knap, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas Cady, as also the part and share of the said John Knap, Now this witnesseth that the said William Knap, James Knap, and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, for themselves, their Heyres, Executors, and administrators, them and everie of them, do fully, cleary and absolutely confirme and release unto the said Nathaniel Coolidge His Heyres and assignes forever, All that their estate, right, title, or interest, in or unto the abovesd, messuage or tenement, being the late mansion place of their father Wm. Knap deceased, with the lands adjoyneing and bounded as above said. Further also know ye that the above named William Knap, John Knap and Sarah his wife, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, for and in consideration of a vallewable Summe or Summes of money to them well and truly payd by the above named Nathaniel Coolidge, the receite whereof they the said William Knap, Jno. Knap, James Knap, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas Cady do acknowledge and therewith to be fully satisfied and contented, and thereof and of everie part and parcell thereof, do fully, cleerly and absolutely, exonerate, acquitt, and discharge the said Nathaniel Coolidge his Heyres, Executors, and administrators forever by hese presents, Have granted, bargained and Sold, Aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed, and by these presents do fully, cleerly, and absolutely, grant bargaine and ell, alien, enfeoffe, and confirme, unto Him the said Nathaniel Coolidge, All their right, title and interest that they either have or might claime in the reversion of th'one third part of the above named messuage or tenement assigned unto Priscilla the relict widow of the aforenamed Wm. Knap deceased as is above premised, To Have and to Hold all the above named released, granted, and bargained premises, or Hereby meant, mentioned, or intended to be released, granted, bargained, and sold, unto Him the said Nathaniel Coolidge His Heyres and assignes forever, to his and their only propper use and behoofe, And the said William Knap, John Knap and Sarah his wife, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, for themselves, their Heyres, Executors, and administrators of them, and of everie of them, do covenant, promise and grant to and with the said Nathaniel Coolidge His Heyres and assignes by these presents that He the said Nathaniel Coolidge his Heyres and assignes shall or may at all times, and from time to time for ever hereafter, Have, Hold, occupy, possesse and injoy the premises in and by these presents granted, bargained and sold, aliened and released, and everie part and parcell thereof without the lett, trouble, expulsion, distrubance, contradiction, or deniall of them the said William Knap, John Knap and Sarah his wife, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, their Heyres, Executors, administrators and assigns of them, or of either of them, or by any other persons lawfullie claimeing and haveing any right, title, or interest in or unto the above named messuage or tenement by, from, or under them or either of them, In witnes whereof the above named William Knap, Jno. Knap and Sarah his wife, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, Have hereunto put their Hands and Seals the first day of April, In the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred sixty and two.
William Knap his mark and a seale, Jno. Knap and seale, Sarah Knap her mark and seale, James Knap and seale, Elizabeth Knap and seale, Thomas Smith his mark and seale, Mary Smith her mark and seale, Nicholas Cady his mark and seale, Judeth Cady her mark and seale.
Signed sealed and delivered by Wm. Knap, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, In presence of Jno. Jackson, George Read, John Babern his mark, Thomas Danforth.
Signed, sealed and delivered by Jno. Knap and Sarah his wife, In presence of Joseph French, Daniel Markham.
March 31, 1662. Acknowledge by Wm. Knap, James Knap and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Smith and Mary his wife, Nicholas Cady and Judeth his wife, and afterward by Jno. Knap and Sarah his wife, to be their Joynt act and eed, Signing, Sealing, and delivering the same before mee
Aprill 30th 1662 Entred and Recorded
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See lineage of Knapp Family
Read the Biography of William's father, Thomas Knapp
Read the Biography of William's bewitched granddaughter, Elizabeth Knapp
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