Biographical Sketch for:
Edmund "OSH' Knowles
Edmund "Old Silverhead" Knowles is the
Knowles Progenitor for a significant percentage of the Knowles (and Noles)
families living in the U.S. today. Much is known about "Old Silverhead"
and his descendants, but much is also unknown; so the research continues.
For example, other than his children, all of the known descendants of "OSH" are
via his oldest son, Richard Knowles, Sr. (1715 - 1791). Many of the
descendants of his other children, particularly the sons, may be known, but are
not known to be "OSH" descendants. Perhaps genetic genealogical
testing of living Knowles men will assist us in the determination of the other "OSH" lines where traditional
paper trails have lead to dead ends.
Edmund's nickname, "Old Silverhead", has
been widely used to identify his Knowles line and descendants. There are
two very different credible old family stories (stories not verified) as to how
Edmund earned such a moniker. The first is that he was wounded as a
young man by an Indian who fractured Edmund's skull with a tomahawk. As
the story goes, someone fashioned a plate from a silver coin, which was inserted
in his scalp to cover the head wound. The other story, a more
practical one, is that Edmund had a full head of silver colored hair. You
may choose the family story that you believe.
Edmund "Old Silverhead" Knowles was born in
Quarlton, Lancashire, England in early 1685. He was baptized on 6 March
1685 in Bolton, Lancashire, England parish church. According to the church
records, his father was Thomas Knowles of Quarlton and his mother was probably
The Edmund "Old Silverhead" Knowles line has been proven by the
research of Jean and John Watson back to Richard Knowles born 18 March 1573 in
Quarlton, Lancashire, England and from him to his son James and to his son
Thomas and to his son Edmund. Edmund was the youngest child of Thomas who
died one year after Edmund was born. The Watson research also indicates
that this Knowles line 'originates' even further back with a Harry A. Knowe (or
Knowles) (c 1500 - 1574). It's quite likely that many of the Knowles
Progenitors who immigrated to the British Colonies before the American
Revolutionary War are also descendants of this Harry A. Knowe. Genetic
testing results and analysis (yet incomplete) will help determine which of the
other Knowles lines can be attributed to Harry A. Knowe.
In November of 1699 (or 1700, depending on
the calendar you use), Edmund, at the age of 15, indentured himself to Jonathan
Leivsay, a ship captain (and a Virginia plantation owner) who sailed out of Manchester to the colony of Virginia
frequently. Edmund sailed from Liverpool on 19 November 1699 to Virginia
aboard the ship, Elizabeth and Judeth. Edmund apparently served his
seven-year indenture in Virginia, and then sometime before 1724, he migrated up
the coast and settled in Naticke Hundred of Somerset County, Maryland, where he
is shown on the tax rolls in 1724 (Note: in 1775 Somerset County, Maryland
became Sussex Co., Delaware). It appears Edmund spent his indentured years
about 25 miles below Richmond on the south side of the James River.
Edmund apparently died in early October,
1762 in Somerset County, Maryland. The appraisal of his personal estate
was made 26 October 1762. The inventory of the estate was filed for
probate 16 March 1763, by Richard Knowles, his son, as administrator. A
copy of Edmund's will has previously been published in a KKNFA Special Edition
Newsletter. After paying the debts of the decedent and other expenses of
the estate, the balance was distributed with one-third going to his wife (no
name provided), and the balance divided in seven equal shares. The heirs
named were: George Oaks, Thomas Wilson, John Knowles, Ruth Knowles, Richard
Knowles, Thomas Knowles and Edmund Knowles. Edmund's share was apparently
for a son, Edmund, Jr. Edmund, Jr.'s share was held and secured according
to the law, probably because he was no longer living in the area. George
Oaks and Thomas Wilson were apparently son-in-laws married to the daughters of
Family stories indicate that Edmund married
a Swedish woman, but her name has not been seen in any record.
The children of Edmund "Old Silverhead" Knowles and
his wife were:
1. Richard Knowles,
in Somerset Co., MD, c 1715 m Patience
2. UnkFirst Knowles, born
in Somerset Co., MD, c 1718 m George Oaks
Knowles, born in Somerset Co., MD, c 1720 m Thomas Wilson
4. John Knowles, born
in Somerset Co., MD, c 1722 m (?)
5. Ruth Knowles, born
in Somerset Co., MD, c 1724 m Rebecca Blake (?)
6. Thomas Knowles, born
in Somerset Co., MD, c 1727 m (?)
7. Edmund Knowles,
Jr., born in Somerset Co., MD, c 1730 m (?)
See additional "Old Silverhead"
Knowles family history as described in the
Covered Wagon Club membership application
submitted for Forman Enis Knowles (1853 - 1956). Forman was a 3rd great
grandson of "Old Silverhead" Knowles.
NOTE: All the known descendants of Edmund "Old
Silverhead" Knowles are descendants of his oldest son, Richard Knowles, Sr.
Obviously, if anyone has evidence of Knowles descendants of "Old Silverhead"
from his children other than Richard should contact
Robert B. Noles as soon as possible.