Now available on Ancestry.com.au is the Catalogue of Knights 1660-1760, revealing the 17th and 18th century British heroes who were made Knights of the Realm in recognition of their service to the crown. The records, which feature the names of almost 1,300 knights, also include the date of knighthood, death date, age at death, birthplace and names of relatives within a short biography.
From around 1560, purely honorific orders of the crown were established as a way to recognise prestige and highlight distinction separate from military service. And, just like today, knighthoods were granted for a range of accomplishments, from business to politics, bravery, dedication to duty and to a lesser degree entertainment and literature.
For example, the British entrepreneur Sir William Penn, famed for ‘breaking’ America in founding the Province of Pennsylvania, features in the records.
A number of notable politicians also feature in the collection, including Sir Thomas Bloodworth, the Lord Mayor of London during the Great Fire of London who was knighted despite receiving public criticism.
On the cultural front, 18th century playwright Sir Richard Steele can be found in the records, famed for his work of sentiment, comedy and satire.
Other famous names in the collection include:
- Sir Isaac Newton – Newton was the first scientist to be knighted in 1705, paving the way for many science-related knighthoods including, in recent years, Sir Patrick Moore.
- Sir James Creed – Creed, knighted in 1743, was a businessman and merchant in the East India Company who made his fortune by patenting white lead.
- Sir Winston Churchill – an earlier ancestor of the famous Prime Minister, Churchill was an historian who was knighted in 1664.
The records span the period of the English Restoration – when Charles II returned from exile and claimed the English throne following over a decade of civil war – and through the so-called ‘Age of Enlightenment‘, in which scientists, philosophers and thinkers made some of greatest breakthroughs of the modern age.
Browse the Catalogue of Knights 1660-1760