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|Not an Austen connection.
Written by Anielka
(2/27/2003 9:47 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Edward's adoption ..and possible legalities., penned by Caroline
Was there something about the inheritance of the Knight estates that precluded them being inherited by children of Thomas Knight? Was, there, in fact, an entail on the estate that stipulated that it must go to a child of an Austen? If there was, it suddenly makes penniless George Austen an interesting marriage prospect- he doesn't have any expectations for himself, but he has great expectations for at least one son....
] Is there any hint anywhere about this?
] I ask this now, because the whole action seems a bit strange to me. And also becaue later in life, Edward's inheritance was contested ...but we will come to that bit later.
Here is my best version of the Strange And Tenuous Chawton/Godmersham/Steventon Inheritance based on Austen Leigh/Le Faye and my own genealogical research.
We start with the rather lucky Elizabeth Martin. She had the good fortune to outlive both her brothers and so became sole heiress to two properties (1) The property of Chawton from her paternal grandmother, Dorothy Martin nee Knight whose name she took (because there had been Knights at Chawton since Edward II so they all took that name) and (2) the property at Steventon (I think) through her maternal grandfather Christopher Lewknor.
Elizabeth married twice and both husbands took the name of Knight but she was left without issue. Both properties were then left to her second cousin Thomas Brodnax of Godmersham. Thomas was the son of Col. William Brodnax and Anne May. Anne May was the 1st cousin of Mary May, Christopher Lewkenor's wife and hence Elizabeth Martin's grandmother.
Thomas Brodnax had already changed his name once to May to inherit and then changed it again to Knight to inherit the Chawton property too.
This Thomas married Jane Monke. Jane Monke was the daughter of Hannah Stringer who was in turn the daughter of Jane Austen (an earlier one than our JA, her great, great aunt, in fact). This Jane Austen was daughter to John Austen III. John Austen III was our George Austen's great-grandfather. This means there was no reason to stipulate an Austren inheritance as the Austens were a maternal line that had just happened to marry into the property.
Thomas Brodnax/May/Knight and Jane Monke had a son called Thomas Knight who married Catherine Knatchbull. It was this couple who "adopted" Edward. Those keen genealogists amongst you will spot that this makes the last-mentioned Thomas Knight the third cousin of Edward Austen and JA.
Catherine Knatchbull didn't get left out of the family connections completely. JA mentions that the widowed Mrs. Knight (as she became) was very obliging to JA's brother Edward. Mrs. Knight's first cousin once removed, Sir Edward Knatchbull, married JA's brother Edward's eldest daughter, Fanny. Also, Sir Edward Knatchbull already had a daughter, Mary Dorothea Knatchbull, from his first wife (Annabella Honeywood) who completed the circle by marrying her own step-mother's brother, Edward Austen/Knight II. (Technically her uncle although not genetically related and a weensy bit frowned on)
As Edward Austen/Knight II was the first son of JA's brother, (the "adopted" Edward) this means that the two properties would go to relations of both Thomas Knight AND his wife Catherine Knatchbull. Edward Austen/Knight II and his wife Mary Dorothea Knatchbull had several children. These offspring were third cousins twice removed to Thomas Knight and 1st cousins 3 times removed to his wife Catherine Knatchbull. So they had successfully managed to leave their properties to people who were related to both of them.
Phew! What a tangled web they wove!
Who contested the inheritance? (so I can research for later on)
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