Headington history: People

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Tyrrell Knapp (1790–1869)

In 1839 Tyrrell Knapp inherited the house called The Rise on the corner of Cheney Lane and Headington Hill and all the land in St Clement’s parish attached to it. The site of the house is now Granville Court, and some of its land is now occupied by Headington reservoir, Morrell Avenue, the remains of Cheney Farm, and Cheney Student Village, but South Park has survived.

Tyrrell Knapp was born in Abingdon in 1790, the son of the grocer Henry Knapp the grandson of George Knapp, a grocer and later a banker and Mayor of Abingdon, who on 29 April 1753 at Kidlington Church married the heiress Catherine Tyrrell of Hanslope in Buckinghamshire).

On 2 August 1787 at St Helen's Church, Abingdon Tyrrell's father Henry Knapp had married Ann Spicer and they had the following children, with Tyrrell being the fourth son but the first to survive infancy:

  • Henry Knapp (baptised at St Helen's Church, Abingdon on 17 May 1788 and buried there on 29 April 1794)
  • Twins George Knapp I and Lawrence Knapp I (baptised and buried at St Helen's Church, Abingdon in April 1789)
  • Tyrrell Knapp (born in Abingdon and baptised at St Helen’s Church on 17 June 1790)
  • George Knapp II (baptised at St Helen’s Church, Abingdon on 9 December 1791 and buried there on 19 August 1800)
  • Lawrence Knapp II (baptised at St Helen’s Church, Abingdon on 29 September 1793; Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 19 May 1804 reports how Lawrence died at the age of ten when thrown from a horse in the street, and he was buried in St Helen's churchyard on 20 May 1804)
  • Henry Knapp II (baptised St Helen’s Church, Abingdon on 2 July 1795).

In 1802 Tyrrell’s father Henry Knapp started a bank in Abingdon (and in 1816 when he reached the age of 21 Tyrrell’s only surviving brother Henry became a partner in that bank). Tyrrell himself, however, was articled as a clerk to John Roberts of Wokingham, Berkshire in 1806 when he was aged 16.

On 25 June 1810 at the age of 20, Tyrrell was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Exeter College. He gained his BA in 1814 and his MA in 1818, and between the years 1815 and 1828 his address was given as Exeter College whenever he appeared in lists of those who paid game duty in Oxfordshire.

The Knapp family were major landowners in the village of Hampton Poyle near Kidlington: under the Enclosure Award of 1797 George Knapp (gentleman) was awarded 88 acres there, and George Knapp (merchant) 43 acres. This land included the present Model Farm, which was known as Knapp's Farm until the 1890s. In 1818 they acquired another seven acres there in an exchange for land in Kidlington with Merton College.

In October 1825 Tyrrell’s father Henry Knapp died aged 70 at Northcourt near Abingdon, and it was probably then that Tyrrell inherited the land in Hampton Poyle. That village is given as his address in Jackson’s Oxford Journal in April 1830 when people were asked to apply to him there in connection with the letting of Manor Farm, and again in February 1831 when he subscribed towards a church for Summertown. In December 1840 it was recorded that Richard Wootten of Oxford had permission to shoot on his land there. Gardner's Directory of 1852 explains Knapp's relationship with that village, stating: “The chief landowners are lord Valentia, and Tyrrell Knapp, Esq.; and the manorial rights of the lordship are claimed by both of these proprietors. The manor house is now a farm house.”

Tyrrell Knapp must have married his first wife in the late 1820s, and they had the following six children. No baptisms can be found for the first three, and the last three were not baptised until 1843/4 when Tyrrell was married to his second much younger wife Harriet, with the mother's name given as Harriet. (This may mean that both of Tyrrell's wives were called Harriet):

  • Harriet Anne Knapp (born 1830/1 in Paddington)
  • George Henry Knapp (born 1832/3 in Paddington)
  • Catherine Knapp (born 1833/4 in Hyde Park Square, Paddington)
  • Charles Tyrrell Knapp (born on 22 September 1835 at Paddington but not baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn until 6 October 1844, at the same time as his half-sister Alice, with their current address given as Thavies Inn)
  • Francis Adam Tyrrell Knapp (born on 16 September 1837 in Paddington but not baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn until 7 May 1843)
  • Elizabeth Knapp (born on 24 April 1839 in Paddington but not baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn until 7 May 1843)

Tyrrell and his first wife appear to have lived in Paddington (Hyde Park) between 1830 and 1839, although Tyrrell is listed at Hampton Poyle in the poll book of 1831. During this period he was described as an attorney. He evidently held property at Withington near Cheltenham in the 1830s (Gloucestershire Archives D181/box98073/5).

When Tyrrell Knapp’s mother Ann[e] Knapp died at Northcourt, near Abingdon, on 17 January 1836 at the age of 83, the Gentleman’s Magazine described him as “Tyrrell Knapp, Esq. of Hampton Poyle”. Tyrrell and his brother Henry put up the following memorial in St Helen's Church, Abingdon in memory of their parents:

Memorial in Abingdon to Knapp's parents

On 27 August 1839 Miss Anne Knapp, described as being formerly of Headington but now of Headington Hill, died at The Rise. in Cheney Lane, Oxford at the junction with Headington Hill, which was in the parish of St Clement's. She left this house and all its land to her nephew Tyrrell Knapp.

The Rise was a tall gabled house (photograph), built or rebuilt in the seventeenth century and owned by the Smith family in the late eighteenth century, most recently by Elizabeth Smith. It was set in over six acres and included a coach house and pleasure ground with a croquet lawn. There were also 66 acres of pasture and arable land attached to the house (now South Park, Morrell Avenue, and Cheney Farm). The detail below from an engraving from a painting by J. M. W. Turner shows Headington Hill, with The Rise on the left and Cabbage Hall on the right:

The Rise

Tyrrell Knapp's first wife must have died between April 1839 and January 1841: she may be the Mary Knapp whose death was registered in the Headington district in the fourth quarter of 1840. (She does not appear to be the Harriet Knapp of St George's, Hanover Square who died near the beginning of 1841.)

On 20 January 1841 at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden, London, Tyrrell Knapp (who gave his rank or profession as “Esquire”) married his second wife Harriet Harris: she was described as the daughter of the gentleman George Harris. This appears to be very soon after the death of his first wife, but the marriage was urgent, as Harriet appears to have been 7½ months pregnant at the time of the wedding. Tyrrell had been residing in the parish of St Paul for fifteen days, and in his application for a marriage licence and in the parish register itself he oddly described himself as a bachelor. Harriet's origins appear to have been left deliberately obscure, with the censuses variously recording her birthplace as Hampton Poyle, Bolshipton (the old name for St Clement’s), and Hook Norton. Her age also varies and seems to be rounded up. The plaque recording her death suggest that she was born in 1813/14 (making her 24 years younger than Tyrrell), and iIt is therefore possible that she was the Harriet Harris, daughter of the labourer George Harris and his wife Ann, who was baptised at Hampton Poyle on 11 August 1813.

They had the following eight children, with the eldest born in London soon after the wedding and the rest all born at The Rise on Headington Hill:

  • John Walter Knapp (born on 8 March 1841 at Hyde Park Terrace in London but not baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn until 7 May 1843)
  • William Frederick Knapp (born on 24 September 1842 in St Clement’s, Oxford and baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn on 7 May 1843)
  • Alice Knapp (born 15 June 1844 in St Clement’s, Oxford and baptised at St Andrew's Church, Holborn on 6 October, with the family address given as Thavies Inn)
  • Laurence Knapp (born 1845/6 in St Clement’s, Oxford)
  • Arthur Tyrrell Knapp (born 1847 in St Clement’s, Oxford)
    Died aged four on 15 July 1851 and buried at St Clement’s Church on 23 July 1851
  • Amy Knapp (born 1849 in St Clement’s, Oxford)
  • Clara Knapp (born 1851 in St Clement’s, Oxford and baptised there on 3 May 1853 at the same time as her younger brother)
  • Arthur Henry Knapp (born 1852 in St Clement’s, Oxford and baptised there on 3 May 1853 at the same time as his older sister)
  • Lucy Knapp (born 1854 in St Clement’s, Oxford and privately baptised there on 5 April 1855)

Until 1844 they appear to have also kept a residence at Thavie's Inn in Holborn, London (possibly where Tyrrell worked as an attorney). They are hard to find either in Oxford or London in the 1841 census, but by 6 November that year they had moved into The Rise, and for the first time Tyrrel Knapp is listed on the Oxfordshire game list as living in St Clement’s. Thereafter he is always described as being “of Headington and Hampton Poyle”.

In 1847 the Knapp family's bank in Abingdon collapsed and Tyrrell’s brother Henry Knapp went bankrupt.

The 1851 census shows Tyrrell Knapp (59), described as a landed proprietor, living at The Rise with his second wife Harriet (39) and all six children from his first marriage (Harriet, George, Catherine, Charles, Francis, and Elizabeth) and the first six children from his second marriage (William, Alice, Laurence, Arthur, Amy, and baby Clara), with the eldest John (10) boarding at a prep school in St Lawrence, Middlesex. The large family was looked after by six servants, including a ladies' nurse and a governess.

A wooden board inside St Clement’s Church dated 1851 shows that Knapp was also a Churchwarden there in that year.

In February 1855 he was listed as a member of Congregation of the University of Oxford. His son Charles Tyrrell Knapp was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Exeter College at the age of 20 on 18 January 1856 and was described as being of Kent, while when his fourth son John Walter Knapp was matriculated by Exeter College at the age of 18 on 7 July 1859 he was described as being of St John's, Paddington.

The Knapp family were again listed at The Rise in the 1861 census. Two children from Tyrrel's first marriage were still at home (Catherine and Elizabeth) and six from his second (John, Alice, Amy, Clara, Arthur, and Lucy). Captain Francis Dalmahoy Wyatt. who nine days later on 16 April would marry Tyrrell's daughter Catherine at St James's, Piccadilly, was staying at the house. Lawrence (14) was boarding at the Diocesan School in Temple Cowley.

Tyrrell Knapp died at The Rise on 17 September 1869 and was buried in St Clement’s churchyard four days later: he has a flat grave topped with a cross. His death announcement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 25 September 1869 read:

Sept. 17, in the 80th year of his age, at his residence, Tyrrell Knapp, Esq., of Exeter College, M.A. and of Headington Hill and Hampton Poyle, Oxfordshire.

Memorial to Tyrrell Knapp\
Memorial to Tyrrell Knapp, his second wife Harriet, and his son
Francis by his first wife on the wall of St Clement’s Church

Tyrrell Knapp's will was proved in the Oxford District Registry just a month later on 18 October 1869, his executors being his wife and his son Charles, plus Frederick Joseph Morrell and the surgeon Edward Law Hussey. His effects came to nearly £30,000. The shop he owned at 46 High Street in Oxford and a farmhouse and premises with several enclosures of old pasture land in Begbroke were put up for sale almost immediately. His land at Hampton Poyle (which in 1869 had consisted of Model Farm and about 230 acres) remained with the Knapp family and was owned by Captain George Knapp in 1891.

At the time of the 1871 census The Rise was occupied by three of their unmarried children: George (35), Elizabeth (25), and Clara (19). Mrs Harriet Knapp (57) and her unmarried daughters Alice (23), Amy (21), and Lucy (17) were visiting 6 Sillwood Road, Brighton, where Miss Elizabeth Hall (37) and her sister kept a school.

His seventh son Arthur Henry Knapp was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Magdalen Hall at the age of 21 on 13 October 1873 and was described as being of Headington.

Near the end of 1874 the Oxford Corporation decided to construct a reservoir in an arable field held by the Trustees of the late Tyrrell Knapp.

In 1875 those Trustees put The Rise itself and its land, including the present South Park, up for auction as a possible site for an upmarket housing estate. The following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 31 July 1875:

HAVE received instructions from the Representatives of the late Tyrrell Knapp, Esq., to SUBMIT to PUBLIC COMPETITION, some time in September next,—Upwards of 65 Acres of most eligible FREEHODL BUILDING LAND, situate on Headington Hill, within five minutes' walk of Magdalen Bridge, presenting charming Sites for the erection of Mansions and Villa Residences, and commanding extensive and unequalled views over the University of Oxford and the surrounding country. Also the RESIDENCE, Premises, and Gardens, occupied by the late Proprietor.

The full advertisement appeared on 18 September 1875:

The Rise and its estate for sale

The Morrell Trustees purchased both for £26,000 in 1876 to prevent this development, which they thought was too near Headington Hill Hall. Herbert Morrell let out Tyrrell Knapp’s former house, and the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 27 January 1877:

TO be LET,— “HEADINGTON RISE,” 1 mile from Oxford; this very desirable large Mansion, containing 14 rooms, kitchen, laundry, and offices, with large cellar in the basement, stabling for four horses, two coach houses, harness rooms, corn room, kennels, lawn, large kitchen garden, standing in its own grounds, on an eminence commanding a splendid view of Oxford and neighbouring country. Immediate possession may be had. — Apply to Mr. David Martin, auctioneer, &c, 10, Beaumont-street, Oxford.

By 1876 Tyrrell's widow Harriet Knapp had moved to Cheltenham. At the time of the 1881 census she was living alone at 3 Royal Parade, Cheltenham with her two servants (a cook and a housemaid). She died at the age of 67 on 11 October 1881 in Tunbridge Wells at the house of her stepdaughter, Mrs Catherine Gibbons.

Later history of Tyrrell Knapp's property

Headington Hill: “The Rise”, Knapp's house with its five-acre paddock, continued to be let out by the Morrell family until 1926: it was occupied by Mrs Mary Sivewright in 1892 and Miss Sivewright in 1899, and by His Honour Judge Francis Reynolds Young, K.C, in 1915. In 1926 James Herbert Morrell, the elder son of George Herbert Morrell & Emily Alicia Morrell and the Managing Director of Morrell's Brewery, moved into the house and continued to be listed there until 1968, although in fact he died in 1965 and it was then occupied by his widow Julia Maud Mary Morrell, née Denton. She died at the age of 80 in 1970 and it was bought by a building speculator and demolished. The site is now occupied by Granville Court.
    For the rest of Knapp's estate, see South Park, Cheney Farm barn, and Headington Reservoir

Hampton Poyle: The estate in this village remained with the Knapp family until 1910, when it was sold by F. G. Knapp to Viscount Valentia. By 1899 Knapp's Farm there was renamed Model Farm

Tyrrell Knapp's fourteen surviving children

By his first wife:

  • Harriet Anne Knapp (born 1830/1) married the Revd George Howard Waterfall of Worcester College, Oxford and Evesbach Rectory, Herefordshire at All Souls, Langham Place on 2 August 1855, and gave birth to a daughter, Harriett Laura Knapp, at The Rise who was baptised at St Clement's Church on 11 November 1856
  • George Henry Knapp (born 1832/3) was an army officer. He married Frances Emily Major in 1881. He died in Surrey in 1909
  • Catherine Tyrrell Knapp (born 1833/4) married Captain Francis D. Wyatt of the 90th Regiment at St James’s, Piccadilly on 16 April 1861. She was widowed, and married the Revd Robert Gibbons, Vicar of Handley-cum-Gussage, St Andrew's, Dorset at St Clement’s Church on 21 December 1869
  • Charles Tyrrell Knapp (born 1835) was ordained. He died aged 59 at Great Yarmouth on 29 December 1895
  • Francis Adam Tyrrell Knapp (born 1837) was a Captain of the 2nd West Indies Regiment. He died aged 29 in Jamaica on 8 October 1866
  • Elizabeth Knapp (born 1839) married Roger Oakden, D.L. at St James's Church, Piccadilly on 11 April 1871

By his second wife:

  • John Walter Knapp (born 1841)  played cricket for Middlesex. He married Kate M. Taylor at Woodmansterne, Surrey on 30 July 1878. He died aged 40 at St Leonard’s-on-Sea on 22 June 1881
  • William Frederick Knapp (born 1842) was a Surgeon-major in the army. On 25 July 1883 at St Peter's Church, Flushing, Cornwall he married Maude Webb. He died on 27 September 1896
  • Alice Knapp (born 1844) married RN Captain Louis Hutton Versturme in 1877. She died at Coningham Road, London on 1 July 1892
  • Laurence Knapp (born 1845/6) married Julia Tilley at St Budock, Cornwall on 30 March 1880
  • Amy Knapp (born 1849) married Charles John Griffiths in 1877. She died at Bristol on 21 October 1919
  • Clara Knapp (born 1851) died at Emsworth, Hampshire on 6 March 1944
  • Arthur Henry Knapp (born 1852) was ordained. He married Annie Beatrice Lush at Southsea on 5 September 1883. He became Rector of PIxley near Ledbury. He died at Hereford on 17 January 1943
  • Lucy Knapp (born 1854) married the Revd Rowland Palmer at Cheltenham on 19 December 1876.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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