The Knight Family

Knight Road is a common road everyone knows in Ambler when driving on the way to Wissahickon High School. But where did this name come from? Were there people associated with this last name?

Giles Knight, Jr.

The first Knight to arrive in the New World with William Penn was Giles Knight, Jr. (1653-1720). Giles was raised as a Quaker in Gloucestershire, England. He was married in England to Mary English, and they boarded on the ship with William Penn to settle in the New World. His wife's father purchased 500 acres of land in Byberry, Philadelphia: he gave one half to her brother Henry, and gave Giles the other half.

Fun Fact #1: Giles's friends in England tried to persuade him and his wife to leave his first son Joseph behind, fearing he would get devoured by wild animals like wolves, bears, and panthers in Pennsylvania.

After Giles, his wife and his son Joseph arrived in Byberry, his family spent 6 weeks in a cave until he constructed a wigwam where his family spent several months in. Due to his growing family, he built a log house. He was also a prosperous businessman. He owned a store selling dry goods, groceries, and other things in Byberry.

The Knight Family Tree

Descendants of Daniel Knight

Daniel Knight (1697-1782) was born in Byberry near Poquessing Creek, and the second-to-last son of Giles and Mary Knight. He was married 3 times: the first he married was Elizabeth Walker and had 3 children, including his son Jonathan Knight (1722-1772). Second he married Esther Walton after the death of his first wife. Third he married Mary Wilson after the death of his second wife.

Dr. Alexander Knight (1786-1827)

Dr. Alexander Knight (1786-1827) was born in Byberry to Dr. Samuel and Mary Knight. He was educated at Byberry School, that was run by Watson Atkinson and John Comly, where he studied Latin.

With his interest in science and medicine, he decided to pursue this career, and graduated at the University of Pennsylvania with honors and support from Dr. John Otto, whom he maintained his friendship with until Dr. Otto's death.

He went on a voyage to Lisbon and Canton where he established himself without any sponsorship or fortune. But with perseverance and commitment to his career, he began to get noticed by others.

As a result, in 1814, he was appointed to Port Physician in Philadelphia, and served there for 13 years. He died with hemoptysis (coughing up blood).

Fun Fact #2: Alexander faced the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 while taking care of the poor. He contracted the disease afterwards.

Some Remarks Upon a Publication by the Philadelphia Medical Society Concerning Swaim's Panacea, Page 26

The Arrival of George K. Knight

George Knorr Knight (1818-1903) was born on November 6 in Philadelphia to Dr. Alexander and Mary Knight. At the age of 8, he was left as an orphan. He decided to follow his father's footsteps by becoming a doctor, but he decided to pursue his career in business by entering a business house in New York City. Unfortunately his health began to fall, and decided to stop pursuing his career.

After his marriage to Sarah A. Arthur in 1846, he began to pursue farming, and purchased a tract of land in Germantown on Washington Lane. But in 1856, he found more opportunities when the North Pennsylvania Railroad was built, and purchased 45-50 acres of land in Ambler. In 1863, George purchased a lumber yard, general store, and coal business with 10 acres of land from Joseph L. Wilson. George remained as an agriculturalist throughout his life.

Fun Fact #3: "Mr. Knight was one of those, who with Benjamin P. Wertsner conceived the idea of establishing a national bank in Ambler and subscribed for a quantity of stock. After the organization he was made vice president serving for several years."

His daughters Elizabeth, Sarah "Sally", and Cordelia were principals of the Sunnyside Academy that stood on their father's property. The school was used as a bank before the actual bank (First National Bank) was erected.

Read more about the Knight sisters and the Sunnyside School here!

Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher
North Pennsylvania Railroad 1886 Philadelphia - Bucks - Montgomery Counties, Ambler; J. D. Scott, Publisher
Montgomery County 1893, Ambler Borough; J. L. Smith, Publisher
Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 26; A. H. Mueller, Publisher
The Knight Building (1906); Now occupied by the Ambler Plaza on Butler Pike
Alexander Knight (1846-????)

George's son Alexander Knight (1846-????), meanwhile, had his own successes from his sisters. He was born on July 3 in Germantown where he attended school, and finished school in Ambler that became his family home in 1856. He began his career in business in 1867 as a salesman with Phineas Hough, Jr. of the Carpet Store in Philadelphia. Alexander continued his career with Hough's successor, Thomas C. Lippincot. He stayed with the Carpet Store for 17 years.

He moved on to Strawbridge & Clothier in the same city where he worked in the carpet department for 12 years as a salesman. He was then promoted to "buyer and manager" in his department, and spent 15 years in that position. He retired in 1914 from the business.

He was the Director the First National Bank of Ambler for 12 years.

Fun Fact #4: In 1903, he was appointed by Governor Samuel Pennypaker to serve on a commission to select a site to build a state institution for the feeble-minded of Eastern Pennsylvania. The institution was built in Spring City, Chester County, PA.

Clipping from Ambler Gazette (October 23, 1924): Page 2


"Emmy Simon Postcard Collection." Wissahickon Valley Historical Society. Accessed November 8, 2021.

"Giles Knight Jr." Find a Grave. Accessed February 8, 2021.

"Giles Knight, Jr." Geni. Accessed February 8. 2021.

"Golden Wedding Celebrated." Ambler Gazette. October 23, 1924.

Hunsicker, Clifton Swenk. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: A History, Volume 2. (New York; Chicago, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1923): 311-312.

Kenderdine, Thaddeus Stevens. The Kenderdines of America: Being a Genealogical and Historical Account of the Descendants of Thomas Kenderdine, of Montgomery Shire, Wales, who, Two Hundred Years Ago, Settled in Philadelphia County. (Doylestown: Doylestown Publishing Company, 1901): 53, 77, 164-165.

Martindale, Joseph C. A History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland in Philadelphia, PA, From Their Earliest Settlement by the Whites to the Present Time. (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1867): 299-300, 310-315.

Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 26, 1916.

"Obituaries, Death Notices, and Funeral Notices - Ki-Kn." Montgomery County Pennsylvania Genealogy. Accessed February 17, 2021.

"Samuel Knight (1760 - 1796)." WikiTree. Accessed February 8, 2021.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.

Scott, J.D. North Pennsylvania Railroad 1886 Philadelphia - Bucks - Montgomery Counties, Ambler, 1886.

Smith, J.L. Montgomery County 1893, Ambler Borough, 1893.

Swaim, William. Some Remarks Upon a Publication by the Philadelphia Medical Society Concerning Swaim's Panacea. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Medical Society, 1828): 26.

Webster, James, Caleb B. Matthews, and Isaac Remington. The Medical Recorder of the Original Papers and Intelligence in Medicine and Surgery, Volume 12. (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1827): 462.

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