KNATCHBULL, Sir Norton, 1st Bt. (1602-85), of Mersham Hatch, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640

Family and Education

b. 26 Dec. 1602, 1st s. of Thomas Knatchbull of Maidstone by Eleanor, da. and coh. of John Astley of Maidstone. educ. Eton 1615-18; St. John’s, Camb. 1619; M. Temple 1624. m. (1) lic. 22 Oct. 1630, Dorothy, da. of Thomas Westrowe, Grocer, of London, 3s. 10da.; (2) lic. 27 Nov. 1662, Dorothy, da. of Sir Robert Honeywood of Charing, Kent, wid. of Sir Edward Steward of Barking, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 1623; uncle Sir Norton Knatchbull in Mersham Hatch estate 1636. Kntd. 30 July 1641; cr. Bt. 4 Aug. 1641.2

Offices Held

J.p. Kent by 1634-44, Mar. 1660-d., commr. for levying money 1643, militia Mar. 1660; freeman, New Romney Apr. 1660; commr. for assessment, Kent Aug. 1660-80, Kent 1662-3, sewers, E. Kent Sept. 1660, Denge marsh Oct. 1660, Walland marsh Dec. 1660, corporations, dep. lt. 1662-d., commr. for recusants 1675.3


Mersham Hatch, 15 miles north of New Romney, had been in Knatchbull’s family since 1485, but they did not enter Parliament till 1609, when his uncle and namesake was successful at Hythe in a by-election. Knatchbull originally sympathized with the opposition to Charles I, but in 1643 he was fined 1,000 marks for neglecting the service of the House and the county committee, and he showed his distaste for militant Presbyterianism by his long delay in taking the Covenant. Although he did not sit after Pride’s Purge, he could be described as well-affected to the regime in 1656; but during the Interregnum he devoted himself principally to Hebrew studies, publishing in 1659 his Animadversiones in Libros Novi Testamenti, which won him a great reputation. At the general election in the following year his old constituency of New Romney conferred on him the unique honour of electing him together with his son, on condition that they both took out their freedom. He was named to only five committees in the Convention, of which the most important was for settling ecclesiastical livings. He probably voted with the Court.4

Re-elected in 1661, Knatchbull was, until his years began to tell on him, a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, serving on 33 committees. He took no part either in the Clarendon Code or in the measures against its author. In 1668 he acted as teller for the Lords’ bill to ascertain the rates of subsidies and alnage, and was appointed to the committee for amending habeas corpus. Sir Thomas Osborne included him in 1669 as one of the Members to be engaged by the Duke of Buckingham. On 5 Mar. 1673 Knatchbull was named to the committee for preventing abuses in elections, but this was probably the last session he attended. Sir Richard Wiseman listed him with a query as a government supporter in December 1675, noting that he had been absent, while two years later Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’, probably because his younger son was secretary to the lord chancellor (Heneage Finch). He died on 3 Feb. aged 83, and was buried at Mersham.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitred 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. C142/398/114.
  • 3. Keeler, Long Parl. 242; Kent AO, NR/AC2, f. 429.
  • 4. Keeler, 242 CSP Dom. 1655-6, p. 289.
  • 5. CJ, ix. 84; HMC Finch. ii. 16.