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Project Information

James Knight

          Relatively little is known about James Knight himself. He was likely born in the British Isles, but moved to Jamaica and claims that he settled there “upwards of twenty years.”[1] He worked as a merchant, but, by the early 1740s, had taken possession of Molyne’s Estate and Whitfield Pen in the parish of St. Andrew’s.[2] Enslaved people laboured on these estates and when the land was probated, fifty two slaves were working there. Enslaved men made up the majority, thirty nine, although there were thirteen enslaved women and three enslaved people listed as children.[3] This was the only information on these individuals that was discovered by the author of this project. Records from the National Archives claim Knight attained the position of Receiver General on Jamaica.[4] This role, authorised by the crown, involved the control of public monies.[5] On his return to Britain, he settled in Stoke Newington and died sometime in the late 1740s, leaving his Jamaican lands, and slaves, to his son John Knight.[6]

          The manuscripts are part of the Edward Long papers. This collection includes an assortment of literature collected and composed by Edward Long.[7] The collection covers the period 1734 to 1813. The majority of the documents are available in their physical form at the British Library or as digital microfilm through the British Online Archives.

Methodology

          This transcription has attempted to create an exact, digitised replica of Knight’s manuscripts. The grammar and language have been kept as close as possible to the original, although some words have been modified for clarity. Where a word has been indecipherable, the symbol “(IW)” has been used. In some cases, the author has made an informed guess at a word, normally because part of it goes into the margin. These cases have been noted with the symbol “(?)” after the word. Knight’s manuscripts were never published meaning there are frequent crossings out and inserted pages. In most cases, the crossings out have been ignored as the content was often replicated in the succeeding paragraphs. However, in some cases, where the author deemed them useful, they have been included. Knight frequently alerted the reader to inserted pages using an asterix. For clarity, the author has often attempted to insert these pages in their rightful order and has stated when this has occurred.

          As this project is an ongoing process, only a few sections from both volumes are available. The transcription will be updated and added to. In time, it is hoped that any words marked as “(IW)” or “(?)” will be altered as the author becomes more familiar with the text and its context.  

Project Creators

Jamie Gemmell (Researcher): History Undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and recipient of a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship that helped to produce this research. Research interests are focused around Atlantic Slavery, with a specific focus on identity formation throughout the Atlantic world. Contact: jamiegemmell@live.co.uk

Professor Diana Paton (Supervisor): William Robertson Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh. Historian of the Caribbean in global context, with a specific focus on the history of punishment, crime, and state formation; a history of gender in slave and post-slave societies; and the regulation and political status of religious cultures of healing and power. 

Endnotes

[1]James Knight, The Naturall, Morall, and Politicall History of Jamaica, and the territories thereon depending, from the earliest account of time to the year 1742, Vol. 2, autograph, British Library, Archives and Manuscripts, Add MS 12416, ff. 169.

 

[2]Morgan, Kenneth. “Material on the History of Jamaica in the Edward Long Papers: An Introduction to the Microfilm Collection.” Wakefield: Microfilm Academic Publishers, 2006, 7; “James Knight,” Legacies of British Slave-Ownership, UCL Department of History, last modified 2019, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146649569.

   

[3]“James Knight,” Legacies of British Slave-Ownership, UCL Department of History, last modified 2019, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146649569.

 

[4]“Knight, James (fl. 1725-1745),” The National Archives, https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/c/F68836.

 

[5]Jack Greene, Creating the British Atlantic: Essays on Transplantation, Adaptation, and Continuity (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013), 148.

 

[6]“James Knight,” Legacies of British Slave-Ownership, UCL Department of History, last modified 2019, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146649569.

 

[7] Morgan, Kenneth. “Material on the History of Jamaica in the Edward Long Papers: An Introduction to the Microfilm Collection.” Wakefield: Microfilm Academic Publishers, 2006, 7.

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