WANTED! ~ Books with Montagu George Knight Bookplates

Calling all Booksellers, Librarians, Bibliophiles

Wanted !

The Godmersham Lost Sheep Society*

Cordially invites you to join in the

Global Search

For all books bearing

Montagu George Knight bookplates**

Please help us return these books to the fold

at the

Chawton House Library Chawton, Alton, Hampshire, UK

* The Godmersham Lost Sheep Society (GLOSS) is a research group of scholars and bibliophiles searching for all books that were originally in the libraries of Godmersham Park and later Chawton House, both estates of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight.

**The three Knight bookplates were all designed by Charles Sherborn in 1900 / 1901:

Bookplate 1

Bookplate 2

 

Bookplate 3

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We note here that there are also the bookplates of Thomas Knight (1701-1781) and Edward Knight (1767-1852) and his son, also named Edward (1794-1879) – it is unclear if the bookplate was father or son’s, or if they both used the same bookplate – these bookplates are also to be found in some of the Godmersham library books, so we are searching for these as well, especially if they are listed in the original 1818 catalogue:

 

Thomas Knight bookplate

 

Edward Knight bookplate

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1.  The History:  

Edward Austen Knight inherited three estates from his adoptive family the Thomas Knights: Godmersham Park in Kent, and Chawton House and Steventon in Hampshire. Godmersham and Chawton had large extensive libraries typical of the gentry of the time. Edward had a catalogue of the Godmersham Library compiled in 1818, listing about 1250 titles. These books were later combined with the Chawton House Library when Godmersham was sold in 1874, with many of the volumes sold or otherwise distributed over the years. [Montagu George Knight, grandson of Edward Knight, placed his bookplates in most of the books of this combined library, as well as in the books he added to it. The remaining library (called the “Knight Collection” and still in the family) is now housed at Chawton House Library, which serves as an important literary heritage site and a center for the study of early women writers]. We know Jane Austen spent a considerable amount of time in both these libraries – and an ongoing project has been to try to locate the missing volumes that have wandered away and might still be extant in libraries, in book collectors’ homes, or on bookseller shelves – the “Lost Sheep” of Godmersham Park.

2. The Digital Godmersham Project:

Initiated and run by Professor Peter Sabor (Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies and Director of the Burney Centre at McGill University), this is a web-based open-source project that will include the Knight family books that are recorded in the catalogue of 1818, as they were on the shelves – a virtual library so to speak. It will be called “Reading with Austen.” This Phase I of the project will launch in 2018, the bicentenary of the original catalogue. While it would be a final goal to locate all the missing titles that are out there, this digital project will create for us what Jane Austen would have seen and read when visiting her brother.

3. What we need:

If you have or locate any books with any of the three Montagu George Knight bookplates, or the Thomas or Edward Knight bookplates, please contact us – we would like good pictures of:

a.) the binding/cover;

b.) the inside cover of the book, where Montagu Knight’s bookplate should be attached, often together with a small shelf ticket from Chawton House Library; and

c.) the title page of the book;

d.) any marginalia

These images would be used on the website, with or without your name as the book’s current owner/location (this is up to you).

4. Donation / sell options:

Some of those found thus far have been privately purchased and donated back to the Chawton House Library (they do not have funds for this project). If you would like to “return” the book to Chawton to be part of their permanent collection, you would become one of GLOSS’s Team Heroes and we would be forever grateful. All donations are tax-deductible. Or, if you would consider selling the book back to CHL now or in the future (or making a donation to the cause so we can purchase books as they become available), we would add it to our wish-list of purchases and ask that you send the pictures noted above so it can be added to the website. Progress is slow, and because every book may not be able to return home, we hope this virtual library will serve as a useful research tool for future studies of reading habits in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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[CHL book with bookplate and shelf ticket]

Thank you for any help you can offer! 

For more information, please contact one of us:  

  1. Janine Barchas – Professor, University of Texas at Austin:
    barchas [at] austin.utexas.edu
  2. Deborah Barnum – Board Member, North American Friends of Chawton House Library: jasnavermont [at] gmail.com
  3. Peter Sabor – Professor, Canada Research Chair in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Director of the Burney Centre, McGill University: peter.sabor [at] mcgill.ca
c2017 JaneAusteninVermont

Jane Austen Genealogy ~ The Knight Family Name ~ by Ronald Dunning

UPDATE:  new images have been added!*

Gentle Readers:  I welcome again Ron Dunning on a bit of Jane Austen ancestry – the Knight name of Chawton and Godmersham.  We know that Thomas Knight and his wife adopted Edward Austen as a child, and passed on to him the landed estates they had inherited, both Chawton and Godmersham.  The name of the family eventually became Austen-Knight, but Ron shows us here how far back this connection went – one wonders how much Jane Austen would have actually known of this…**

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Knight of Chawton and Godmersham

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight - wikipedia

Presentation of Edward Austen to Thomas and Catherine Knight – wikipedia

We all know the story of how, in 1779, the 12-year-old Edward Austen charmed Thomas Knight [our Thomas henceforth] of Godmersham, and his newly-married wife Catherine [Knatchbull], when they stopped at Steventon on their bridal tour – so much so that they asked his parents to allow them to take him with them for the rest of the trip. The Knights grew increasingly fond of him, with his sunny and uncomplicated nature, and followed on by inviting him to visit them in Godmersham. When, after a few years, it became apparent that they were unlikely to have any children of their own to inherit their property and fortune, they arranged with the Austens to adopt him, and to give him their surname. There was a family connection – our Thomas Knight and Edward’s father George Austen were second cousins, both descended from John Austen and Jane Atkins.

Thomas Knight, the younger, by Francis Cote – CHL  ~  Catherine Knatchbull Knight, print of portrait by George Romney

Godmersham 1779 - wikipedia

Godmersham 1779 – wikipedia

Transfers of property, fortunes, and surnames were already well established in the Knight Family and make it all very difficult to follow. So I have created the chart below to make it easier for me, and I hope that it helps others too.

So, looking at the chart [see below]:

Chawton House

Chawton House

Beginning on the left, the Knight family had been in possession of the manor of Chawton for some generations. It was inherited  by Dorothy Knight when the male line failed. According to the law of the time, her property, including the title to the estate, became the possession of her husband, Richard Martin. When they produced no children, it passed to Richard’s brother Christopher; when he too died, having remained unmarried, it was inherited by their sister Elizabeth and her two successive husbands. [Note that this line had all changed their name from Martin to Knight, before reaching our Thomas.]

Elizabeth left no children, and the property passed to a second cousin, Thomas Brodnax of Godmersham. In 1727, this Thomas changed his name by Act of Parliament to May, when he inherited property at Rawmere in Sussex from his mother’s childless cousin, Sir Thomas May. Then in 1736, on inheriting the Chawton estate, he changed his name again, to Knight.

Thomas Knight (a.k.a.Brodnax, May) – by Michael Dahl – CHL  ~  Jane Monk, by Michael Dahl

This Thomas Knight and his wife Jane Monk, who was an Austen descendant, produced at least ten children, of whom five were

Edward Austen Knight - austenonly

Edward Austen Knight – austenonly

boys. Only one, our Thomas (the second son of that name), survived childhood. Thomas enjoyed a long life of sixty years, and married Catherine Knatchbull [see portraits above]. When it became clear that they too would remain childless, they chose to adopt the young and affable Edward Austen, whose family were collateral descendants of Thomas’s great-great-grandparents, John and Jane [Atkins] Austen. On his death in 1794, Thomas Knight bequeathed Godmersham to Catherine, and all other properties to Edward; Catherine later moved to Canterbury and gave Edward the Godmersham estate at that time.

Confused? I too struggle to keep it all straight, so hopefully this chart helps.  There is one detail missing, which will necessitate some further research; that is the family connection between the Martin and the Brodnax families, who were said to be second cousins. Once the research is done I’ll amend the chart, but it won’t make any difference to the sequence of surnames and ownership as they are illustrated here.

It’s some time since I last added anything to the Jane Austen’s Family website. It struck me as a good idea to include a pedigree section; this is now the first chart:

knight-estates

 

It can be found at this link: http://www.janeaustensfamily.co.uk/pedigrees/knight/knight.index.html

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Thank you Ron! – if anyone has any questions [are you all sitting out there scratching your heads??], please ask Ron – he would be happy to answer anything you might put to him…!

Without all these family dynamics and the extensive trading of names and the adoption of Edward Austen, Jane Austen might never have had the chance to live and write at Chawton Cottage  [now the Jane Austen House and Museum]– and where would we all be without those six novels??

Chawton Cottage - astoft.co. uk

Chawton Cottage – astoft.co. uk

* The portraits of the Thomas Knights, Jane Monk, and Catherine Knight are all from Ancestry.com, with thanks to Ron for accessing these. You can read about the portrait artist Michael Dahl here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dahl

** Ron has answered my question about whether Jane Austen knew about all these family connections:

Everyone – the Knights, Mr and Mrs Austen, Edward – knew incontrovertibly about the peregrinations at least back to the common descent from John and Jane Austen and, no doubt about the Mays too.  It’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t have discussed it all in front of Jane.

Do you have any questions for Ron?

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont