See also Knight/Smith Family

The Knight Family

Over the last three centuries, the surname Knight has been the commonest name in Badsey records, and has also featured prominently in Bretforton and Littleton records. As far as the Badsey Knights are concerned, the majority are descended from Joseph Knight who moved to Aldington in the late 17th century. He had 14 children between the years 1686 and 1715. Where Joseph was born is not known, but he died at Aldington in 1727.

We have had an e-mail from Lucy Sweeting, who now lives in North Wales, but is a descendant of the Knights of Badsey. Lucy’s line of descent can be traced as follows:

  1. Joseph Knight (?-1727)
  2. Samuel Knight, son of Joseph (1700-?)
  3. Joseph Knight, son of Samuel (1733-?)
  4. Thomas Knight, son of Joseph (1765-1841)
  5. Valentine Knight, son of Thomas (1799-1849)
  6. Arthur Richard Knight, son of Valentine (1830-1862)
  7. Valentine Orson Knight, son of Arthur Richard (1862-?)
  8. Valentine Sidney Knight (or Sydney Valentine), son of Valentine Orson (1895-1985)
  9. Lucy Amelia Knight (1934) – married Anthony Sweeting (1964)

Between us, Lucy and I have been able to provide the following information about this particular branch of the Knight family (with Lucy providing the photographs and all the fascinating pieces of oral history):

1. Joseph Knight – Joseph Knight was born outside of Badsey, and also married elsewhere. Joseph, and Eleanor his wife, had fourteen children: Thomas (1686), William (1686), Alice (1688), Joseph (1690), Margaret (1693), John (1695), Henry (1699), Samuel (1700), Francis (1702), Edward (1704), Benjamin (1705), James (1707), Valentine (1708) and James (1715). Joseph died in September 1727, but Eleanor appears to have survived to a grand old age, not dying until August 1760.

2. Samuel Knight - Samuel Knight was baptised on 24th November 1700, the eighth child of Joseph and Eleanor Knight. Samuel married Ann around 1732 (not in Badsey). Samuel and Ann had seven children: Joseph (1733-1782), Samuel (1735), James (1738), Ann (1739), Mary (1743), Valentine (1745-1758) and Francis (1749-1798). Ann died in November 1771 and Samuel in October 1783.

3. Joseph Knight – Joseph Knight was baptised on 2nd November 1733, the first child of Samuel and Ann Knight. Joseph married Ann Clifton (Ann was not born in Badsey; her family had moved to the village around the 1740s) on 18th April 1757; both signed their names. Joseph and Ann had seven children: Mary (1758), Valentine (1759-1795), William (1761-1806), Thomas (1765-1841), Ann (1769-1769), Joseph (1770-1791) and Ann (1772-1774). Joseph died in January 1782 and Ann died two years later in January 1784.

4. Thomas Knight – Thomas Knight was baptised 2nd June 1765, the son of Joseph and Ann Knight. Thomas married Badsey-born Ann Simpson (baptised 20th May 1770, the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Simpson) on 26th January 1790; Thomas could sign his name, but Ann signed with a cross. Thomas and Ann had eight children: Joseph (1791-1847), William (1793-1849), Betty (1796), Valentine (1799-1849), Mary (1802), Ann (1804), Thomas (1809-1811) and Charlotte (1812-1833). Lucy Sweeting has in her possession a tambourine which, according to family legend, was made by Thomas Knight. Ann was buried on 20th January 1838. Thomas features in the 1841 census, aged 76, living alone, described as a builder. He died later that year in November 1841.

5. Valentine Knight – Valentine Knight was baptised on 2nd May 1799, the fourth child of Thomas and Ann Knight. Valentine was a carpenter and married Badsey-born Sarah Houghton (baptised 22nd December 1800, the daughter of Richard and Ann Houghton) on 6th March 1823; both were able to sign their name. Valentine and Sarah had ten children: Anne Phillis (1823-1892), Valentine Orson (1824-1848), Fanny Caroline (1826-1844), Sophia Letitia (1827-1845), Malachi (1828), Arthur Richard (1830), Charlotte (1833), Sarah (1835), Elizabeth (1837-1851) and Thomas (1840). For some reason, Fanny was not baptised as a child, but was baptised in 1842; she died two years later, aged 17 years 10 months. Valentine died in 1849 when his youngest child was only eight years old. By the time of the 1851 census, his widow, Sarah, was described as a pauper living in The Street, with four of her children: Anne, Malachi, Sarah and Richard, all grown-up. Anne, the eldest at 27, was deaf and dumb, but working as a gloveress, as was her sister, Sarah; 22-year-old Malachi was a carpenter. 20-year-old Richard was a farm labourer and he and his young wife, Eliza, were lodging with Sarah; they had recently had their first child, Fanny Elizabeth. Ten years later, in 1861, Sarah still had Anne, Malachi and Sarah at home. No job was given for Anne, but Malachi was still a carpenter and young Sarah was now employed as a servant. Richard and Eliza and their young family were living in a separate household. Sarah Knight, Valentine’s widow, died in October 1866, aged 66.

6. Arthur Richard Knight (and his brother, Malachi) – Arthur Richard Knight was baptised on 31st October 1830, the sixth child of Valentine and Sarah Knight. Arthur Richard was a farm labourer and married Badsey-born Elizabeth Moysey (baptised 5th July 1829, the daughter of William and Sarah Moysey) on 21st December 1850; Arthur signed with a cross but Elizabeth signed as Eliza Moysey. In some records he appears as Arthur and some as Richard. At the time of the 1851 census, Arthur and Eliza were living with Arthur’s mother, but by 1861, they had their own household. Arthur was working as a shepherd in 1861. Arthur and Eliza had five children: Fanny Elizabeth (1851), Sarah Ann (1855), Charlotte Sophia (1857-8), Bertha Maude (1859) and Valentine Orson (1862). Arthur Richard died in an agricultural accident (according to family memories), aged 32, and was buried on 14th November 1862. Arthur’s widow, Eliza, with four young children to look after, received great support from her brother-in-law, Malachi, Arthur’s elder brother. Unfortunately for Malachi and Eliza, it was forbidden by law for a man to marry his dead brother’s wife. It was not until the Marriage Act of 1907 that husband’s brother was removed from the catalogue of prohibited relatives, provided the husband had died. They lived together, however, as common-law husband and wife, and Eliza is described in the 1871 and 1881 Census Returns as wife and as widow in 1891. Malachi and Eliza had three children together: Arthur Edward (1865-1868), Allan (1867) and Clara (1869).

The Knight family lived at The Mill in 1871 and 1881, which had been converted into housing in the early 1870s. The family unit in 1871 comprised of Malachi, a 42-year-old carpenter; Eliza, a gloveress, living with him as his wife; their two young children, Allan (3) and Clara (1); Eliza’s daughter, Fanny (20), and son, Valentine (9); and Malachi’s spinster sister, Ann (48). Fanny was rather indelicately described as a "lunatic" and Ann was deaf and dumb. Malachi was obviously a very caring person, as it was he who had taken on the role of looking after his sister when his mother died. In 1881, just Allan and Clara were living at home with their parents, together with Malachi’s sister, Ann. Malachi was still working as a carpenter. According to the family, he was a wheelwright as well, making farm carts. A lifelong friend of the family, Nora Ballard, told the younger generation of the family that until well after the end of the Second World War, there used to be a large sign painted on the side of a village building advertising the Knights’ business.

By the time of the 1891 census, Malachi was dead, and the family had moved to Village Street. Sixty-one-year-old Eliza was then described as a Market Gardener, and had four of her children living with her, Bertha, Valentine, Allan and Clara; her deaf and dumb sister-in-law was still alive, but died a year later.

A lovely piece of oral history has come down through the family about Malachi’s last day. Lucy’s father Sid (who was born three years after Malachi died, but always referred to him as his Grandfather) was fond of telling the tale. Malachi was keen on playing his fiddle, which he kept in a green baize bag. One night, he stopped playing, broke the violin across his knee saying, "Liza, I shan’t be needing this again." He went to bed and never woke up.

7. Valentine Orson Knight – Valentine Orson Knight was baptised on 23rd February 1862, the fifth child of Arthur Richard and Eliza Knight. He was less than a year old when his father was killed in an agricultural accident. Valentine married Amelia Jessie Locke around 1894; Amelia had not been born in Badsey, so presumably they married in her parish. Valentine and Amelia had four children: Valentine Sidney (1895), Arthur Orson (1896), Adelaide (1898), Lawrence Richard (1900). Valentine and Amelia and their family lived at Blenheim Cottage. The following are a selection of family photographs:


Arthur and his dog Timmy (c 1915). Arthur served in France in WW1 (regiment unknown). He suffered severe shrapnel head wounds. Shrapnel remained embedded in his skull for the rest of his life and his mind "shut down" from the moment of impact. Although he lived for a further 54 years (he died in November 1971 and his funeral was held at Badsey), he never recognised the passing of time. He was frightened by any sudden loud noise, like a thunderstorm, and would barricade the door because "the Germans were coming". He remained hospitalised for the rest of his life.

Valentine and Amelia with Adelaide (c 1920s). Adelaide married Walter Howley in the late 1920s/early 1930s. At some time she was an "outworker" for a glove manufacturer in Worcester. She lived at 6 Hyde Close, South Littleton, and died on 15th May 1981.

Lawrence (date unknown). Very little is known. During WW2 he was thought to be living in the Manchester area and possibly killed in the bombing raids there.

Valentine Orson Knight with "gras". On the back of the photo is the caption: "July 24th 1936, Asparagus bud over 6 feet long, 3 inches wide, 5 distinct tassels on the tip, grown by V Knight, Badsey". The photo appears to have been in the newspaper, as there is a stamp on the back saying: "Copyright by The Evesham Journal & Four Shires Advertiser, Swan Lane, Evesham".

8. Valentine Sidney Knight (Sid) – Valentine Sidney Knight was baptised on 21st July 1895, the first child of Valentine and Amelia Knight. He attended Badsey Council School and was confirmed into the church on Tuesday 21st February 1911 (ref: Badsey Parish Magazine, March 1911). During the First World War, he served in the 9th Worcestershire Regiment. He enlisted at Drakes Broughton and was posted to Mesopotamia. The following photographs reflect his war-time career:

Valentine Sidney Knight, c 1915


Sid took part in the battle to relieve Kut-el-Amara where he was wounded. This photo shows a dented clip of bullets (now in the possession of Lucy Sweeting); they saved her father’s life as they were in his ammo pouch and deflected a Turkish sniper’s bullet (the Parish Magazine mentions him being wounded and this may well have been the occasion).

As Sid showed the initiative to learn Arabic, he was selected to instruct local volunteers in fire-fighting. He was sent to to Ashar in Iraq, then Basra, to form fire services. This shows Sid (left) and his fire crew of Arabs. It was and is their custom to show their respect for their superiors by bringing them little gifts. They gave him a cruet set – then another one – then another one! It transpired that they were being "acquired" from the local hotel. Needless to say, they were all returned by Sid.

Sid stayed on with the fire services after the war, rising to the rank of Company Sergeant Major, returning to the UK in 1920. He then took up the traditional Vale trade of horticulture. After his marriage in 1923 to Ellen Mary Jane Willetts, the family lived in Cropthorne until moving to North Wales in 1947. Sid died in North Wales on 25th January 1985.


9. Lucy Amelia Knight - Lucy was born on 18th September 1934 at Cropthorne, the third and youngest daughter of Valentine Sidney and Ellen Mary Jane Knight. Her elder sisters were Margaret Mary Knight born at Fladbury on 31st October 1925 and Barbara Winifred Knight born at Cropthorne on 20th February 1928. Margaret married Russell Herbert Harrison of Toronto, Canada, at Grand Bahama, Bahamas, on 22nd June 1951 and Barbara married Clifford Spencer Morgan Cooke of Evesham on 16th August 1947. Lucy married Anthony Hubert Sweeting of Little Common, East Sussex, on 4th April 1964. As her parents had only daughters, Lucy is the last Knight of that particular branch of Badsey Knights.

Updated 18 August 2002. Contact email: