Thomas Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet

Thomas Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet

Thomas Knyvet (or Knevytt, Knyvett, Knevett, Knevitt), (1558-27 July, 1622) was the second son of Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire and Anne Pickering, daughter of Sir Christopher Pickering of Killington, Westmoreland. His half-sister Catherine Knyvet was married to Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk.

He attended Jesus College, Cambridge. He was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Queen Elizabeth I, and in 1592, he was made Master at Arms; and Member of Parliament for Thetford in 1601. In 1603, King James I gave him the manor of Stanwell, Middlesex.

On 21 July 1597 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Roland Hayward and widow of Richard Warren of Essex. He was knighted in either 1603 or 1604. After foiling the Gunpowder Plot, he was appointed a Privy Councillor, Member of the Council to Queen Anne, and Warden of the Mint, and was granted the manor of Stanwell and later (in 1613) the manor of Staines. He was given charge of the education of Princess Mary. He sat in Parliament as Baron Knyvet of Escrick, Yorkshire in 1607.

Lord Knyvet was also famous for a long running feud with Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, whom some theorists claim to be the true identity of William Shakespeare. Knyvet's niece was Anne Vavasour, the mistress of the Earl of Oxford who bore him a child. On numerous occasions, servants on either side were killed. On one occasion, Knyvet injured Oxford, apparently in the leg.

Lord Knyvet was the first domestic resident of the site of 10 Downing Street, the modern-day residence of the British Prime Minister, in a building called Knyvett House. It was first leased to him by Queen Elizabeth I. This house later passed to his niece, Elizabeth Hampden, whose nephew was Oliver Cromwell. After the lease expired in 1682, George Downing developed the site.

When Lord Knyvet died in July 1622 his will provided for the foundation of a free-school in Stanwell, and the Lord Knyvet School was founded in 1624. There is an effigy of him and his wife in the chancel of Stanwell parish church.

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