KNIGHTLEY, Valentine (c.1555-1618), of Fawsley, Northants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1555, 1st s. of Sir Richard Knightley by his 1st w. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1568. m. Anne (d.1596), da. of Sir Edward Unton of Wadley, Berks., 1s. d. young, 3da. Kntd. 1603; suc. fa. 1615.

Offices Held

J.p. Northants. from c.1583-7, by 1594-1605, Berks. by 1603; sheriff, Berks. 1617-18.2


Knightley’s long parliamentary record was one of many in his family. He was, like his father, a puritan, receiving from Edward Snape in prison the smuggled account of his trial in 1590, and being even more obstinate than his father over the 1605 petition mentioned in the latter’s biography.3

Knightley first came into Parliament for Tavistock, through the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. He was brought in again in 1586 by his relation by marriage the Earl of Warwick, Bedford’s son-in-law. In 1593 he found a seat nearer home where his family influence was sufficient to secure his election. On 17 Feb. 1593, just before the session was due to open, Knightley obtained a pardon for outlawry. He was appointed to a minor committee, 19 Mar. 1593, but apparently played no part in the bill for securing his stepmother’s interest in certain lands sold by his father. In 1597 when both Northampton seats were held by the Yelvertons, he was returned by his former constituency of Tavistock. During this Parliament he served on another minor committee, 25 Nov.

Knightley’s part in county life was restricted while his father was alive. In 1587 he was removed from the commission of the peace because his father was a member, and although he was later restored, he is known to have been appointed to only two special commissions in the whole of Elizabeth’s reign. Knightley accompanied his brother-in-law, (Sir) Henry Unton, on an embassy to France in December 1595, being one of six gentlemen who took their own servants.4

Knightley’s provision for his family was also hampered by his father’s long life. As the eldest son, the manor of Upton was settled on him at his marriage, but by 1596 he was anxious to provide for his daughters. He therefore attempted to overthrow the settlement that Unton had made for his nephew, under which only Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire and Worth in Berkshire would be available for division between Unton’s two sisters or their heirs. The attempt evidently failed and therefore, with his father’s consent, Knightley sold Upton and acquired instead the freehold of Badby and Newnham which he could leave to his daughters. Badby caused him considerable trouble as the tenants unsuccessfully sued him for part of the demesnes, and at one point he had to appear before the Privy Council over their rights of common. He died 9 Dec. 1618 and was buried, as he requested, in the church at Fawsley, near his father.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 2. VCH Northants. gen. vol. 85; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 32; PCC 124 Meade.
  • 3. VCH Northants. ; W. Pierce, Hist. Intro. Marprelate Tracts, 178; ms cal. and index pat. rolls 31-7 Eliz. PRO 31(7), p. 8; 31(14), p. 25; 33(5), p. 9; Collinson thesis, 1029, 1060; Lodge, Illus. iii. 140; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 203.
  • 4. Ms cal. and index pat. rolls 31-7 Eliz. PRO 35(7), p. 25; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 332; D’Ewes, 503, 563; Lansd. 54, f. 178; 121, f. 69; APC, xix. 68; xxiii. 330; HMC Hatfield, xi. 437-8; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 361.
  • 5. C142/375/65; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 378; ms cal. and index pat. rolls 37-43 Eliz. PRO 41(22), p. 46; 42(31), p. 51; Bridges, Northants. i. 45, 255, 539; PCC 124 Meade; APC, xix. 294.