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Knowlton family ties

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

Mary Knowlton married Samuel Abbe on October 12, 1672 in Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts. Samuel Abbe was the second son of John Abbe, previously mentioned. They were ancestors of my great-grandmother, Mary Esther (Harvey) Reese.

The Knowlton family is mentioned briefly in Abbe-Abby genealogy, referencing a book called Knowlton Ancestry, by C.H.W. Stocking, 1897. Although full of information, it has recently been proven that Stocking's work has many errors. An errata edition titled Errata and Addenda to the Knowlton Ancestry was published abt. 1903 by George H. Knowlton, but still wasn't completely accurate. Mr. Stocking's book claims the youngest son of Richard Knowlton and Elizabeth Cantize was Capt. William Knowlton, but recent Y-DNA testing is said to have refuted this claim. The tests also indicate that William Knowlton and John Knowlton of Ipswich were not brothers. Furthermore, George and Stephen were not William's brothers either. Finding the truth in records proves difficult, if not impossible, since parish records of the period were burned by Oliver Cromwell.

William Knowlton, was born in England in 1615. He was a bricklayer at Ipswich and took the Freeman's Oath in 1641/1642. (His name was sometimes spelled Nolton in records). He married a woman by the name of Elizabeth and they were members of the First Church of Christ (Congregational). William died in 1655. Their seven known children were: Thomas Knowlton, William Knowlton, John Knowlton, Benjamin Knowlton, Samuel Knowlton, Joseph Knowlton, and Mary Knowlton. It is said that his brother Thomas raised his three younger children (Samuel, Joseph and Mary). His daughter, Mary Knowlton, was the one that married Samuel Abby (Abby/Abbe/Abbey). The Abby family lived primarily in Wenham, about seven miles south of Ipswich.

Knowlton Notes:

Thomas Knowlton is mentioned in "Some old Ipswich Houses", on p. 214. He "bought Cornelius Ken'ts lot, eighteen feet wide, and sold to Fuller, whose lot was then forty-six feet in width".

John Knowlton, a shoemaker, is mentioned in "The Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich: Vol 1". He bought land in Ipswich from William Fuller in October 1639.

The Knowlton's are mentioned numerous times in "Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony". In Volume 1:

p. 42 Thomas Knowlton and several others "for their wives' over dress, were called to account before judge and jury."

p. 66 John Knowlton "was appointed to search and seale leather in 1652, that no unmarketable leather might be sold by any tanner of hides".

p. 82 William Knowlton and John Woodam, bricklayers, helped replace wooden chimneys.

p. 83 Dea. Thomas Knowlton and Nathaniel Knowlton were "cordwainers".

p. 117 and 277 William Knowlton was fined for keeping a pack of gaming cards in his house. He also had to pay the informer "his part as the law provides", and a fee to the treasurer.

p. 199 and 221 Abraham Knowlton marched with Major Appleton in King Philip's War. Abraham and John Knowlton were both at the Narragansett winter campaign, November 1675.

p. 285 In 1674, Thomas Knowlton was charged with making disturbance during the meeting (at church). Common punishments for such charges were whipping, branding, or public exposure such as holding sign announcing his crime.

See more Knowlton results from this book here.

Thomas and Abigail Knowlton are buried in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich. The following Knowlton epitaphs from have been preserved:

Emma O Knowlton and John E Knowlton (Twins?)

FRONT: JOHN - EMMA - The mother gave in tears and pain, The flowers she most did love, She knew she should find them all again, In the fields of light above. Of such is the Kingdom of heaven.

BACK: Emma O born Mar 20, 1877 died Aug 16, 1877.

John E born Mar 20, 1877 died Aug 19, 1877. Children of G W and O J Knowlton.

Nathaniel Knowlton BIRTH: 1657; DEATH: September 24, 1726; AGE: 69; MAP: A8; Here lies the body of Deacon Nathaniel Knowlton who died September the 24th, 1726 in the 69 year of his age. FS: Deacon Nathil Knowlton.

Thomas Knowlton BIRTH: 1661; DEATH: February 13, 1832; AGE: 71; MAP: E189; Deacon Thomas Knowlton deceased Feb 13, 1832 Aet 71. More then 30 years he sustained the office of deacon of the first Church in Ipswich with honesty and fidelity, and he was justly held in high estimation, as a man of faith, prayer, and benevolence. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. FS: TK.

Abigail Knowlton BIRTH: 1759; DEATH: October 9, 1820; AGE: 61; MAP: E190;

Mrs Abigail wife of Thomas Knowlton, deceased Oct 9, 1820, Aet 61. Whoso were happy in life and in death Were resigned to the will of the Lord. FS: AK

If you plan to search the Old North Burying Grounds, see this page first.

The homes of Thomas Knowlton and Abraham Knowlton are still standing in Ipswich. Thomas' house, built in 1688, is located at 27 Summer Street. Visit for more information. The site is loaded with historic facts about the town.

See also the book, "Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, Mass. 1633-1700", by Abraham Hammatt, 1854, also called "The Hammatt Papers, No. 1".

Thank you to Elizabeth Knowlton for sharing her knowledge, corrections, and research. (Rootsweb).

Letter "K" illustration from The Royal Picture Alphabet, by John Leighton, c. 1861.

To learn more about the Harvey/Knowlton connection, see the Harvey page.


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