KNOWLES, Charles (c.1704-77), of Lovelhill, nr. Windsor, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



28 Nov. 1749 - Mar. 1752

Family and Education

b. c.1704, reputedly illegit. s. of Charles Knollys, titular 4th Earl of Banbury, the fa. of William Knollys. m. (1) 22 Dec. 1740, Mary (bur. 16 Mar. 1742), da. of John Alleyne of Barbados, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) 29 July 1750, Maria Magdalena Theresa, da. of Henry Frances, Comte de Bouget, 1s. 1da. cr. Bt. 31 Oct. 1765.

Offices Held

Entered navy 1718, lt. 1730, cdr. 1731, capt. 1739, r.-adm. 1747, v.-adm. 1755, adm. 1760, r.-adm. of Great Britain 1765-70.

Surveyor and engineer of the fleet on the Cartagena expedition 1741; gov. Louisburg 1746-8; c.-in-c. Jamaica 1747-8; gov. Jamaica 1752-6; pres. of the Russian Admiralty 1770-4.


Knowles, who entered the navy as a captain’s servant, spent much of his naval career in the West Indies, where he married the daughter of a leading Barbados planter. After serving in the expeditions against Portobello and Cartagena, on which he published several pamphlets, he was appointed governor of Louisburg, but soon applied for a transfer to the West Indies, explaining to Anson that he had ‘more the glory of his Majesty’s arms at heart than views after private lucre’.1 Appointed commander-in-chief in Jamaica, he co-operated with Edward Trelawny, the governor of the colony, in using their posts to secure personal privileges in trading with the captured French colonies, to the exclusion of other local merchants.2 Ordered to be court-martialled in 1749 on charges of negligence in an action of 1748, he took steps to have himself returned for Gatton on the nomination of Paul Humphrey. A letter to one of his brother officers on 5 Dec. 1749 mentions that ‘the cunning admiral has got a seat in the House of Commons last week, and it is supposed he will have art enough to acquit himself at his trial’.3 In the event he was reprimanded. He gave up his seat in 1752 on being appointed governor of Jamaica.

He died 9 Dec. 1777.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: A. N. Newman


  • 1. Add. 15956, f. 136.
  • 2. R. Pares, War and Trade in W. Indies, 183-4.
  • 3. HMC Du Cane, 203.