Finding the elusive Ernest Knight
A name not recorded on the War Memorial or the Church Window is an Ernest Knight. The database ‘Soldiers who Died in the Great War’ lists his name as having been born in Blackmore, enlisting at Epping, and being resident in Magdalen Laver. He served in the Essex Regiment, 6th Battalion and died in Palestine on 2nd January 1918.
Further details could not immediately be found on the ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ website.
Our next lead was the Essex Regiment Museum database in Chelmsford where we were able to confirm details and add the fact that he was the son of Mr & Mrs D Knight of Keepers Lodge, Wintry Park, Epping. His full name was Ernest Samuel Knight. He died at the age of 21, thus giving him a birth year of 1896.
A search for an Ernest Knight born at this time did not reveal his name on the Statutory Register for the Ongar Registration District.
His name could not be found in the Baptism Register of St Laurence Church, Blackmore for 1896 and afterwards. We found that perhaps he had older siblings baptised: Joseph George on 2nd July 1893 and George, baptised on 23rd June 1895, to parents David and Emma Knight.
Remembering that names could be inverted we looked at the CWGC website again for an ‘S Knight’ and found his details under Samuel Ernest Knight. Who were we looking for? Was it someone by the name of Ernest or someone by the name of Samuel?
There was no Blackmore Parish Register entry for either an Ernest or Samuel Knight.
Progress was slow and seemed to be coming to a stalemate.
The 1901 census revealed two Knight families in Blackmore. These were:
1. Ingatestone Road, Blackmore
David Knight. Head. Married. [Age] 18. Milkman (to cattle) on farm. [Born] Blackmore
Emma Knight. Wife. Married. [Age] 19. [Born] Blackmore
2. Chelmsford Road
David Knight. Head. Married. [Age] 42. Horseman on Farm. [Born] Fryerning
Emma Knight. Wife. Married. [Age] 39. [Born] Chelmsford
William Knight. Son. [Age] 14. Grocers Errand Boy [Born] Blackmore
Agnes Knight. [Age] 11. [Born] Blackmore
George Knight. [Age] 6. [Born] Blackmore
Elizabeth Knight. [Age] 4. [Born] Blackmore
There were two households, each with David and Emma and adult occupants but no Ernest or Samuel.
More detective work was necessary. A search of the Internet revealed a site listing the descendents of Thomas Knight of Blackmore (1775 – 1835). It is large site (part of http://www.myfamilytree.110mb.com/) and is the work of Rosalind Lloyd, created in 2002. It stated that “A second Emma Rebecca Knight is buried in Magdalen Laver with her husband David, this is the couple who were living at Gander Hall Blackmore Road rather than the couple I have linked to this tree who were living in Chelmsford Road in Blackmore in 1901”. [http://www.myfamilytree.110mb.com/Knight/ pafg03.htm]. Could this be the family we were looking for?
I contacted Rosalind Lloyd who admitted that “There are a lot of Knights who lived in the Blackmore area, so it's not surprising that you are finding the research confusing.”
Ancestry had the following information about this family on the 1901 census.
Gander Hall, Blackmore Road, Ingatestone
David Knight. Head. Married. [Age] 38 Agricultural Labourer. [Born] Highwood
Emma Knight. Wife. [Age] 37. [Born] Ingatestone
Alfred Knight. Son. [Age] 18. Worker. [Born] Roxwell
William Knight. Son. [Age] 16. Worker [Born] Roxwell
Arthur Knight. Son. [Age] 13. Worker. [Born] Highwood
George Knight. Son. [Age] 7. [Born] Fryerning
Ernest Knight. Son. [Age] 4. [Born] Fryerning
Ada Knight. Dau. [Age] 11. [Born] Fryerning
Dorothy Knight. Dau. [Age] 2. [Born] Fryerning
The 1911 census showed the family living at Cold Harbour, High Ongar. Ernest, and the other younger siblings were said to have been born in Blackmore, not Fryerning.
There were two further lines of enquiry. Firstly, to see whether the village of Magdalen Laver has a War Memorial and, if so, see whether an E or S Knight was commemorated. Secondly, we needed to establish whether the family lived outside Blackmore and was covered by a Blackmore postal address, as had been established with Frederick and Charles Root, living at “Horsfrith via Blackmore” or Fred Garnham, living at “Radley Green via Blackmore” on the electoral roll for 1914.
Having been to a ‘Through Changing Scenes’ history event at Magdalen Laver a few years ago and purchased a booklet on the villages history I read that thirteen names of those who fell in the First World War are recorded on the War Memorial outside the church.
I went to the quiet church in the fields at Magdalen Laver to see the War Memorial and have found on the list ‘E Knight’. The 1918 Electoral Roll for the Epping Division [ERO C/E 2/1/3, viewed online] has a David Knight and Emma Rebecca Knight living at Hall Lodge. The fact that the name of the mother was Emma Rebecca suggested fact that surely these must have been the same parents of a 4 year old Ernest living at Gander Hall, Blackmore Road in the 1901 census?
Gander Hall Cottage, (CM4 0SG) is in Chelmsford Road, Blackmore [http://www.zoopla.co.uk/home-values/essex/blackmore/chelmsford-road/]. It is opposite Spriggs Lane [source: Google]. It looked as if Ernest Knight was born in Blackmore after all.
But there was a problem. The 1901 census referred to the Gander Hall as being in Blackmore Road, Ingatestone. A fellow researcher commented, “It's very unusual for the census return to be as much in error as to assign a property to the wrong parish.”
Perhaps there was a Gander Hall on the Blackmore Road nearer to Ingatestone near Fryerning Church? The only way to solve the mystery was to visit the Essex Record Office to look at the census piece and work out the route the enumerator took to call at Gander Hall.
On inspection of the census return for Ingatestone and Fryerning parish for 1901, Gander Hall is the first entry on one of three census returns for the parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning. There are two properties labelled ‘Gander Hall’ with the third in the sequence being ‘Howletts Hall’. This matches the sequence of properties in what we know as Chelmsford Road, Blackmore. An inspection of a six inch to one mile map dated 1923 shows that these properties were outside of the Blackmore parish boundary although the road in front of the properties was in Blackmore.
There was one matter to settle. Was Ernest Knight baptised at Fryerning Church?
The Baptism Register for Fryerning [ERO D/P 249/1/7] has the following entries for Ernest’s younger siblings: Dorothy Emma Knight, and Ethel Susan Knight, daughters of David and Emma Rebecca Knight were both baptised on 14th July 1901.
We have not found any record of Ernest Knight other than in the census returns but are convinced that although technically his place of birth was Fryerning, it would be incorrect to disregard the family as having no connection with Blackmore.
We will include Ernest Knight on our Roll of Honour.