KNIGHT, Richard Payne (c.1750-1824), of Downton Castle, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1750, 1st s. of Rev. Thomas Knight of Wormsley Grange, Herefs. by Ursula, da. of Frederick Nash of Dinham, Salop. unm. suc. fa. 1764; uncle 1767.
Richard Payne Knight’s grandfather became rich through Shropshire iron works; and bought Downton, about five miles from Ludlow and ten from Leominster. Knight was the first of his family to sit in Parliament.
John Robinson wrote about Leominster in his electoral survey of July 1780: ‘A gentleman not a friend to Government it is thought will step forward.’ Knight was returned after a contest, and voted consistently against North’s Administration.
He voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was classed by Robinson as a follower of Shelburne. He voted for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; was classed by Robinson, January 1784, as ‘hopeful’; but by Stockdale, 19 Mar. 1784, as a follower of Fox. He belonged to the St. Alban’s Tavern group of country gentlemen which tried to unite Fox and Pitt, and both in 1783 and 1785 voted for parliamentary reform. In the Parliament of 1784 he uniformly voted against Pitt. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.
Knight was well known as a collector of coins and bronzes, a classical scholar, and a minor poet. He died 23 Apr. 1824.