William Knight

Date published: 23/01/2014
© Newbury Weekly News

William Knight 1894

By the death of Mr William Knight, of Cyprus-villa, Greenham, which was briefly announced last week, a familiar figure has departed, and the town loses quite a public character. Mr. Knight was the member of an old and respected Newbury family, his father having been the local agent of the Canal Company for many years. Although mixed up with most matters of public business in the borough, he never sought office, being the more anxious to secure the return of others than to assume the responsibility himself. Both his brothers, the late Mr. George Mitchell Knight, and Mr Councillor Stephen Knight, passed the civic chair honours which none appreciated more than Mr William, who acted with that dignity of deportment as became the brother of the chief magistrate of the borough. Indeed such was the prominent part which Mr. Knight took in public matters, that he became widely known as “the member for Greenham”, a title of which he was exceedingly proud. Nothing pleased him better than to be addressed as such, especially at public gatherings, where he was generally to the fore. Mr. Knight espoused the Conservative cause of which he was a staunch and zealous champion. During the excitement and turmoil of an election he was in his element. He would travel many miles to distant parts of the constituency night after night to support the Conservative candidate and frequently to arouse and direct local enthusiasm. He could stir up political laggards to intense interest, and his commanding figure was sure to be found where any opposition was likely to raise its head. At any great public political meeting in Newbury he was an indispensable feature, when armed with an imposing wand and all the stately dignity of a court chamberlain he conducted the principal people to the platform. On the day of the election he was red-hot with enthusiasm. It is still a vivid reminiscence of both the elections of 1885 and 1802(1892?) how he organised the triumphant demonstration in honour of Mr Mount, how he marched at the head of the procession and how he made himself hoarse in leading the cheering. At a municipal election it was the same, and those who had to fight Mr.William acknowledged that he was a powerful opponent.

He was a man of many parts. One of his pet hobbies was an intimate knowledge of Shakespeare. Few had a better acquaintance with the works of the great dramatist, and for every-day occurrence he was ever ready with an apt quotation, while it was his delight to recite with dramatic gesture and eloquent declamation, some of the best known passages from ”Othello”, “Macbeth”, “Hamlet” and other plays. His admiration for Shakespeare was one of the leading traits in his character. He was a Freemason of long standing, and a member of the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope for twenty years. There was no more scrupulous observer of the mystic rites and ceremonies: indeed he was the Director of Ceremonies, and carried out his duties with a zeal and energy that was characteristic of the man. He was a hard working member of the Committee of the Working Men’s Conservative Association and did good service on the Council of the Newbury Horse Show. His speciality was acting as keeper of the gate and in this capacity proved of great service to the Horticultural Society.

In his own parish of Greenham he was a leading man and acted as overseer. His earlier years were spent in Newbury , being originally apprenticed to a brush-maker, but he lived in London for a considerable time. Returning to his native town he became a prominent personage. He was very fond of all kinds of sport, and now and again would indulge in fishing and shooting excursions. He was a warm supporter of the Volunteer Fire Brigade, whose funds considerably profited by his recitations.

During the last few months he has been laid by with illness, to which he succumbed just before midnight on Wednesday. He was in his sixtieth year, and his death is much deplored by a large circle of friends, among whom he was ever welcome, being of a sociable and genial disposition. This was abundantly testified at the funeral in Newbury Cemetery on Monday afternoon., when the various institutions with which he had been associated were largely represented. The Freemasons were represented by Bros.F.J.Harrold, R.Ravenor, W.T.Graham, G.Boyer, Rev.W.M.Hope, W.Balding, R.Mees, J.Hattatt, C.J.Pillin, J.M.Gilkes, W.Beames, J.Rolfe, J.Legg; the Horticultural Society by Councillors W.Hall and G.Withers, Messrs W.Miller, J.Stradling, W.Edmonds and J.W.H.Kemp, the hon secretary Mr Councillor Hanington being in the funeral arrangements. The Conservative Club  was represented by Mr. Henry Wilder (chairman), Mt Jos. Smith (secretary), Messrs L. Cleeves, G. Paulin, G.B.Doe, ; and the Fire Brigade by the Captain, Mr Albert Church, Branchman Harrison and Fireman Adey. Mr.J.Hiscock, Mr E.C.James and Mr.C.H.S tradling attended on behalf of the Bowling Green Club of which he was a member. There were also present Messrs D.R.Jones, F.J.Coldicutt, F.Pocock, S.P.Burton, H.Brickell, W.Pope, E.C.howard, C.Ive, R.Reeves, J.Dalby, J.Salter, F.H.Stillman J.M.Ing,&c. these were in waiting at at (sic) the gates of the cemetery, and joined in the procession to the chapel. The service was conducted by the Rev R Dunn, vicar of St John’s and the interment was close to the grave of deceased’s father, mother and sister. The mourners were Mrs W.Knight (widow), Mr Councillor S.Knight (brother), Mr and Mrs T.Knight (brother-in-law and sister, Messrs Hubert Knight, S.Knight, jun., W.Knight, , Stanley Knight, Sidney Knight (nephews), Mr Hopwood (Teddington), Mr J.N.Day (W.M. of Berkshire Lodge of Hope).

There were a large number of wreaths […] Mrs Baxendale and Mr Lloyd H. Baxendale (Greenham Lodge) […} Mr and Mrs T.A. Stillman; his niece and nephews at Donnington Square  &c; the servants at Donnington Square &c. The outer coffin was of polished oak, and inscribed:

William Knight

Died August 22nd, 1894

Aged 59

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr.H.S.Hanington, of Northbrook-street

Newbury Weekly News,  30th August 1894


Sources:Newbury Weekly News 30 August 1894

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