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The Rushden Echo, 26th February 1915, transcribed by Jim Hollis.
Death of Mr. William Knight

A Prominent Rushden Manufacturer - A Victim to Pneumonia

It is with deep and genuine regret that we have to record the death of Mr. William Cumberland Knight, principal of the firm of Messrs. Knight and Lawrence, boot manufacturers, Manton-road, Rushden. The late Mr. Knight, who had been married twice, leaves a widow, three sons, and one daughter. As his first wife he married Miss Pack, of Higham Ferrers. His second wife, who survives him, was Miss Bessie Hobbs, of Rushden. One son, by his first wife, is in Brisbane, Australia. Mr. Harry Knight and Mr. Horace Knight, sons by his second wife, assisted their father in the business, while the deceased gentleman’s daughter married Mr. Harry Baker, who is on the factory staff.

Acute pneumonia was the cause of Mr. Knight’s death. On Sunday, February 21st, he attended the morning service at the Park-road Baptist Church, with which place of worship he had been closely connected for a number of years. He went out again in the afternoon, but during the day the symptoms of a chill – which, it is believed, he contracted on the Saturday – manifested themselves, and he did not go out again. Dr. Baker was called in, and everything possible was done, but the deceased gradually got worse, and died on Sunday morning last at about 5 o’clock, the sad event causing very real grief throughout the town. The deceased would have been 62 years of age had he lived until Sunday next.

Deceased was the son of Mr. Joseph Knight, sen., who was 82 years old on Sunday last, the day that his son William died. The late Mr. William Knight was the grandson of Mr. Ebenezer Knight, a well-known Rushden worthy, and a leading Baptist. Mr. Ebenezer Knight, up to the time he was about 70 years of age, would on a Sunday walk to Riseley and back, nine or ten miles each way, to preach at the Baptist Chapel there, and he would walk to and from Sharnbrook and other villages in order to preach. Ebenezer Knight died at the age of 72 – a young man as far as his walking powers were concerned. It was Mr. Ebenezer Knight who brought up his grandson William. Mr. Joseph Knight, jun., boot manufacturer, of York-road, Rushden, is a brother of the late Mr. William Knight.

The business career of the late Mr. William Knight was one of remarkable progress, and the firm has a splendid name in commercial circles. The deceased started in business in a small way, about 25 years ago in partnership with Mr. Joseph Abbott, now of Wymington, farmer, and they commenced the manufacture of boots in a small workshop in Alfred-street, owned by Mr. W. H. Darnell. After a brief period this partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Knight was then joined by Mr. Lawrence, and the name of the firm was changed to Knight and Lawrence. In the course of time the firm moved into larger buildings at the back of Ebenezer-terrace, and subsequently Mr. Samuel Knight, jun., built them the spacious factory in Manton-road, and on two occasions – the last being three or four years ago – extensions have been necessary. Just over 100 hands are employed. About six years ago Mr. Lawrence withdrew from the firm and went to Australia, the name of Knight and Lawrence still being retained. The firm have done a big trade in the North of England and Scotland, and they are also doing a good export trade, besides being engaged in the making of Army boots. The late Mr. Knight always did the Scottish journey himself, and he and his customers always felt that they were friends.

Deceased was a lifelong teetotaller and an ardent Liberal, though he never took an active part in public life. He was a member of the congregation of the Baptist Church, and served on the Finance Committee of that place of worship. At one time he was a member of the committee of the Rushden Temperance Society. For a long time he was one of the playing members of the famous Rushden Temperance Band, and he ably carried out the secretarial duties for some years, being succeeded in the office of secretary by Mr. Charles Ashby. A few years ago the late Mr. Knight removed from No. 7, Park-road, to 68 Grove-road, where he was residing at the time of his death. Mr. Knight was very unassuming and of a quiet disposition. He was most generous-hearted, contributing liberally and with remarkable lack of ostentation to all charitable causes. As an employer he was most considerate, and before he died he mentioned the whole of the employees by name. He had won the cordial esteem and affection of all who knew him, and in his death the town of Rushden will suffer an irreparable loss.


A large congregation assembled at the Park-road Baptist Church on Wednesday afternoon, when an impressive service was conducted by the Rev. H. J. Horn (pastor). Before the service the organist, Mr. J. L. Clipson, A.R.C.O., played the appropriate airs “Then shall the righteous shine” (Mendelssohn), and “O for the wings of a dove” (Mendelssohn) and whilst the coffin was brought into the church he played the air “O rest in the Lord.” The scripture readings were the 90th Psalm, part of 1 Cor. Xv., and a few verses from Revelation. The hymns were “Beloved, let us love!” and “When Thou, my righteous Judge, shalt come,” which, Mr. Horn said, were two of the best loved hymns of the deceased.

In a brief and sympathetic address Mr. Horn said : I have in my hand our friend’s Bible. It is worn; it shows evidence of use; and in looking carefully through it I find there are just two or three verses in the Psalms which he had marked and which seem to me a wondrous indication of his character. “Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths” – that is one verse he has marked. Here is another: “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, have mercy also upon me, and answer me.” And another : “Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path.” Surely these passages are revealing. No man more earnestly desired a plain path before his feet, and few men have more carefully and exactly trodden a plain path before them. And the hymns he has chosen and another passage of scripture which he has marked are wonderful revelations of his own innermost thought. The marks are not opposite any text from which I have preached – they are just his own quiet reading. “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” Perhaps not many of us understood how, underneath a reserve concerning things that are spiritual, there existed so deep a spring, quiet and still, as deep waters ever are; a quiet trust in God, and a great depreciation of self. This hymn, “When Thou, my righteous Judge, shalt come,” was his favourite, and the second verse was an especial favourite:-

I love to meet among them now,
Before Thy gracious feet to bow,
Though vilest of them all;
But, can I bear the piercing thought –
What if my name should be left out,
When Thou for them shalt call.

Is not that a revealing of his humility. There was a great fund of deep humility in our friend’s heart, and there was a great trust in Christ. He said little, but he knew Him in whom he had believed and the closing hours were hours of quiet confidence, hours during which he had leisure from all the things that would otherwise have pressed upon him, to send good-bye messages to scores of people. Many of your names he mentioned and set a good-bye to you. Because he understood that his soul was right with God, he could spend a few moments near the end in sending messages to you. His death is a call to us to rejoice, as he rejoiced in the God of his salvation. How he lingered over the words oftimes, “What if my name should be left out?” and he would say, “I trust not.” Now he is where God is; the spirit that filled the casket is with God, and our sympathy goes out to the loved ones.

As the coffin was carried out of the church the organist played “Funeral March” (Beethoven) and “Funeral March” (Chopin).

The mourners were : Mrs. Knight, widow; Mr. Harry E. Knight and Mr. Horace C. C. Knight, sons; Mrs. H. Baker, daughter; Mrs. Harry Kinght and Mrs. Horace Knight, daughters-in-law; Mr. H. Baker, son-in-law; Mr. Joseph Knight, sen., father; Messrs. Joseph Knight, jun., Charles Knight, Arthur Knight, and Thomas Knight, brothers; Mrs. Childs and Mrs. Dickens, sisters; Mr. Childs, brother-in-law; Mrs. T. Knight, sister-in-law; Mrs. F. Bunn, niece; Miss Winnie Knight, granddaughter; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hobbs, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Farey, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Cunnington, nephew and niece; Mr. and Mrs. William Clarke, friends; Mrs. Ibbett, St. Neots; Mr. Albert E. Bates, Dr. H. S. Baker, Mr. J. T. Morgan (solicitor), Mr. F. Roberts (accountant), Mr. H. T. Westley. Representing the Baptist Church were Messrs. W. B. Sanders, F. Corby, C. A. K. Green, J. F. Knight, Herbert Lack, B. Ladds, and others. The whole of the employees also followed. Among those in the church and at the graveside were many representatives of the Baptist Church, the Temperance Society, and other movements in which the deceased was interested, members of public bodies, and representatives of the staple trade, including Messrs. J. S. Clipson, J.P. (chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), G. Selwood, A. Gadsby, J. Claridge, J.P., C.C., W. L. Sargent, F. Knight, J.P., W. H. Darnell, C. Cross, C.C., F. S. Knight, G. Tailby, J. Sargent, W. Knight, H. H. Hobbs, C. Putnam, the Rev. C. J. Keeler, and many others.

The interment took place at the cemetery, in a grave lined with moss, violets, mimosa, and roses. The coffin bore the inscription:-

Died 21st February, 1915,
Aged 61.

Wreaths were sent by the following: Widow and family, Grandchildren, Employees of Knight and Lawrence, the Baptist Church, Mr. and Mrs. J. Knight, Mr. and Mrs. A. Knight and family, Mr. and Mrs. T. Knight and family, Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, Mr. and Mrs. Childs, Mr. and Mrs. J. Sykes and family, Mr. A. Ibbett, Mr. A.E. Bates, Mr. H.T. Westley, Mr. R.C. Cunnington, Mr. H. Ingle, Mr. Gramshaw, Mr. Chubb, Mr. A. Sanders, Mr. W. Clacke, Mr. A.E. Roadhouse, Mr. and Mrs. F.E. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. James, Dr. and Mrs. Baker, Mr. C. Sanders, Mr. J. Ibbett, Mr. C. Ibbett, Central Machinery Co., and Mr. Joseph Ibbett.

Mr. Arthur Sanders (Messrs. Clark and Sanders) efficiently carried out the funeral arrangements.

Mrs. Knight and family desire to thank all the many friends who have sympathized with them in their bereavement.


Verses composed 38 years ago by the late Mr. William Knight.

Life is like a bubble
On the stream of time,
With it cometh trouble,
With it joys sublime.

Life is like a vessel
On the stormy wave,
With it we do wrestle,
For it we do crave.

Life is like a dewdrop
On some tiny flower,
When the sun ariseth
‘Tis gone in one short hour.

Life is like a sunbeam
Sporting in the light,
When the sun is waning
Cometh on the night.

Life is ever flying,
Time is on the wing,
Round us some are crying,
Comfort to us bring.

Hark, the solemn bell!
How sacred is the toll,
Speaking the departure
Of an immortal soul.

Life, thou art so frail!
Death, thou art so sure;
Hark, the bitter wail,
For man is now no more.

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