Transcription: modern spelling

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This is a modern-spelling transcription of a letter from Matthew Knightley to Robert Coke, the husband of his niece, Winifred Knightley, giving him part of the Knightley’s pedigree. The letter contradicts the 1558 Knightley pedigree given in the Essex Visitation.

I am sharing this so that people know the facts about the Knightleys from an invaluable primary source. If you wish to quote from it, please make sure you credit as follows: Letter from Matthew Knightley to his nephew Robert Coke re Knightley family genealogy, 1557, held at Norfolk Record Office, reference: EVL 584, 463 x 6. Transcribed by Helen Barrell Please also include a link to the page with the transcription on, so anyone finding a reference to it has the full context.

See also the original spelling.

Sir for so much as you desire to have a pedigree of the stock that your wife comes from, I cannot remember the proper names, except of a few of them. It is so long since they departed, for my grandfather Knightley departed (as I suppose) above a hundred years since, and my mother’s father Thomas Daniell nearly 80 years since, for this I can remember I did see, [unclear if “for this I can…” refers to Thomas Knightley or the Giffords below]

John Knightley, my father, and Dame Cassandra Gifford were full cousins-german [first cousins]. The which Dame Cassandra had a son called Sir John Gifford, a man aged 98, and he departed a little before Christmas just gone. The which Sir John left a son called Sir Thomas Gifford, a man aged about 68. He married four of his children to 3 worshipful men’s heirs upon one day, and keeps a worshipful house, at his manor of Chillington. And he has a sister married to Mr Francis Sherlowe [Shirley] of Staunton [Harold] esquire of 600 or 700 marks two miles from Ashby-de-la-Zouche where my Lord of Huntington lives. To either of these two places you may be heartily welcome if you have any business in these parties, if that you come with half a score horses, Sir these Gifford of Staffordshire and the Giffords of Northamptonshire be either fare of or no kin as they likewise of Buckinghamshire be, [they either live far away, or they’re not kin, such as the Buckinghamshire Giffords]

My uncle Robert Knightley of Engletone in Brewood parish had one daughter called Isabel. The which Matthew Morton, my godfather, did marry. By whom he had James and Thomas Morton, who I trust be alive at this day. The which is toward the law and well accepted in his country and keeps a good house.

There is not one that bears the name of Knightley in Staffordshire; I was the youngest and last of that name. My great-uncle Knightley married a gentlewoman who was the heir of the Charltons in Shropshire. The which gentlewoman would not marry with him except he would be called after her name Charlton. And so because of the great land he was content. By these meane all the worshipful men of the Charltons, which be very many, be Knightleys indeed.

Sir Richard Knightley of Fawsley 3 miles from Daventry in Northamptonshire said to me that his grandfather and mine were brothers. The which Richard had children: Richard, Sir Edmund, John and Sir Valentine. The which Sir Valentine is now alive, and keeps a worshipful house, And has married his son and his heir into the house to him for the lady his wife is departed. If God had not sent Sir Valentine Knightley heir male, the name of the right Knightleys would have would at an end.

My lady Knightley, the Earl of Oxford’s daughter, sometime the wife of Sir Edmund Knightley, a man of 1,500 marks land, she being one of the heirs generally (as you know), lives now at Colchester as I have heard, if you want anything with her.

Sir I have left out more of the kindred than I have expressed that be both of owners of houses and faire lands. Thomas Daniell, my grandfather, had a son called John Daniell, who was of the old Earls of Oxford’s counsel and one of his executors. The which John Daniell gave me liberal exhibition to both universities and also gave me my promotions. The which John Daniell had one daughter only, the which he married to the son and heir of Mr Newport of Furneaux Pelham in Hertfordshire. By whom the aforesaid daughter Mary Daniell had a daughter by her husband Mr Newport called Grace. The which Sir Henry Parker son and heir to my Lord Morley did marry, by whom he had a son which is called Sir Henry Parker for that if that my old Lord Morley be alive, or else he is Lord Morley. He had by my kinswoman Dame Grace Newport nearly three hundred marks of sack rent.

Sir I have sent for your pleasure a part of your wife’s pedigree, and if you journey into any of these places that I have spoken of, you may be bold to claim kindred of the foresaid parties. They will doubtless make you good cheer and show you more of your kindred then I have done. By the grace of God who preserves you, I thank you for your gloves. [presumably Robert sent Matthew a present of a pair of gloves]. I pray you keep this well and let my other nieces have a copy thereof.

Written at Cossington 6th November 1557: your uncle Matthew Knightley

There is a tailor, a good, poor man, in Southwark, who calls himself Knightley. His mother’s name was Ringley. He says he was my brother Sir Thomas’ bastard. [This might be William Knightley, mentioned in Matthew’s will, to inherit his legacy “if he be still alive”] If there be any of the name of Knightleys they be no soul sibling to you, for my cousin Richard Knightley caused a Herald of Arms to take the Knightley’s arms of a [conune? Tomure?] in [Fowles? Sowles? Powles?] because he was not of the right stock. [it would be very interesting to know more about who the pretend Knightleys were] [On the reverse]:

Doctor Knightley’s letter: To his worshipful cousin Mr Robert Coke in Lincoln’s Inn, be these delivered from Cossington.