The Myths and Mysteries and Hunt for Nicholas Knapp

The Myths and Mysteries and Hunt for Nicholas Knapp

A source I return to every few years as I dive into my Knapp family history is Sandie’s Genealogy Pages site by Sandra L. Reynolds-Owens. While my family Knapps closer to my generation came from hardy loggers, she traces the Knapp family line, among others, as far back as possible, stopped like most of us at the Atlantic Ocean.

She updates the site frequently as she digs into her Reynolds, Knapp, Tanner, Phelps, Baker, Trudeau, Wade, and Wilder family trees. I find the Knapp line in her section on The Reynolds Descendants and Associated Families.

Knapp Logging Crew members in Northern Wisconsin c1920.

A few hardy Knapp loggers in Northern Wisconsin c1920, including my great-grandfather, James Asa Knapp Jr, and a few of his sons.

Her Knapp Database offers extensive family lines within the Knapp family starting with Nicholas Knapp, my ninth great grandfather. Sandra’s expanded the information to also include the Knapp line DNA markers, excellent as some in my family have just done the DNA test including myself.

Here is a list of the sections on the static HTML site that is part of RootsWeb, now controlled by

Her ongoing researching into the mysteries of the Nicholas Family Line includes updating her research on her summary and Myths and Mistakes web pages.

Two things still hold true from my own start in researching the Knapp line. First, while others make claim to finding the leap across the Atlantic to England to trace back Nicholas Knapp’s arrival to a homeland, there continues to be no direct evidence to designate where he came from. Most claim he came from Suffolk, and they find records of a Nicholas Knapp and his assumed relatives, One of the plagues she mentioned is the example of this Nicholas Knapp (1592-1670) Genealogy Page at Geni, which cites that Nicholas Knapp was the son of John and Martha Knapp and was born in Wells-Next-Sea, Wells, Norfolk, England, an example myth that she and others have proven repeatedly as not true because that Nicholas Knapp was still in England long past the time our Nicholas Knapp was in North America.

The best we family history researchers can do, until records and proof is uncovered and shared, is to rely upon DNA testing and research and rely upon known information. The last name Knapp is well documented in England. According to Sandra’s research, “The earliest known individual mention of the name is found in Routuli Curioe Regis\plain, I139. It identifies as an individual Petrus Knape – 1198.” The name then appears in many records under various spellings as Knapp, Knap, Nap, Napp, Knopp, Knape, etc. According to historical research, three Knapps arrived before 1700, Nicholas, Aron, and Roger Knapp, then Job Knapp. She claims that none of these Knapps have any familial relationship with each other, but many records claim otherwise.

Living in Israel, a friend there explained that so many people come to the country to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and biblical history. “The best they can do now is take in a deep breath and inhale the dust of history. You might get lucky and inhale something Jesus stepped on (or in).” That’s how I feel about researching the Knapp family, I can just breath in the UK air and hope that something they touched enters my lungs and be satisfied that I’ve touched our shared history.

Nich. Knapp is fyned 5 pounds for taking upon him to cure the scurvy by a water of noe worth nor value which he solde att a very deare rate, to be imprisoned till hee pay his ffine or give secuitye it, orelse be whipped and shall be liable to any mans ac’cn of whome hee hath receaved money for the s’d water. Mr. Will’m Pelham and Mr. Edward Lockewood both promised to pay the court the sum of five pounds for Nich. Knapp before the first court of May next.
Massachusetts Bay Company Records 1630-31

Sandra claimed that while many have added surnames of Lockwood, Disbrow, and Waterbury, there is no evidence other than a record that states she “was of England.” The above quoted record is assumed by many to be some sign that Lockwood was Knapp’s brother-in-law, a huge leap. In fact, Lockwood was just doing his job as Pelham’s deputy to pay the fine for whatever reason, a sign of how desperate some people were to make a connection. According to her research as of 2004, no last name is proven for Elinor and it remains a mystery.

She explains many of the myths and mysteries and errors of “genealogical viruses” that spread by assumption and “amateur level” genealogical research.

Early genealogies and printed works contributed many myths, misconceptions and out right “atrocious genealogical blunders” as related to the early Knapp immigrant families. Many of these errors currently referred to in today’s jargon as being “Genealogical Viruses”, are yet being quoted and tend to make one wonder just what is to be believed. As many of us beginning genealogical research at the amateur level and before we are fully aware of what is required to make an acceptable Family Research Project valid, start by copying anything and everything we can get our hands on that apply to what we hope is our family ancestors and history, which includes copying down bad information and broadcasting it further without knowledge that we are doing the same. Result: More compounded problems for those of the future and many incorrect lineages developed.

Her intensive investigative research lists many examples of myths and errors found in the Nicholas Knapp and Noses Knapp family trees, including these examples and conclusion.

No marriage date has ever been found for Nicholas and Elinor, however based on the birth of their first child, Jonathan their estimated date of marriage was probably 1629/30, in England and is quoted as such in many current writings, though some seem to believe they married at Watertown, MA.

…There are previous thoughts that Nicholas Knapp was probably the Nicholas Knapp of Wells-by-the-Sea, Co Norfolk, EN and that he married one Susan Mitterson. While this connection would seem highly probable, and does fall within the time-frame of our immigrant ancestor, it has been proven that this connection is invalid as the Nicholas Knapp of Wells-by-the-Sea, Co Norfolk, EN, that married Susan Mitterson is accounted for and was living in Co Norfolk, England [1660] well past our immigrants known residence in America!!

…There are early claims that one William Knapp, immigrant of 1630, was a brother to our Nicholas. Current research disproves this claim and it has been proven that the spelling of his surname is “KNOPP”, not KNAPP”, and bears no relationship that can be proven through research of extant records, to any other Knapp family, regardless of such claims.

In-so-far as our immigrant ancestor, Nicholas Knapp, is concerned. many unproven and suggested theories abound as surrounds his ancestry, none of which have the slightest “hint” of proof recorded to establish such claims. All claims of a known ancestry for our Nicholas, and his first wife, Elinor, are considered to be “atrocious genealogical blunders”, and should be regarded as such by those having this ancestry by surname or through an allied family. As far as is known, a proven ancestry for Nicholas or his first wife, Elinor , has never been found, nor has any record of either been found prior to their arrival in America in 1630, though admittedly it remains quite possible that their origins were in County Suffolk, England, though proof of this statement is lacking.

As the ancestry of our early Knapp immigrant is highly questionable as found in many writings of today, I have not been able to determine an origin except England for our ancestors, nor to my knowledge has anyone else, with a definable source for making any such claims. Our ancestry begins in 1630, at Watertown, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts.

Sandra’s intensive investigation also include a list of other Knapps to help those researching those lines.

To help with more research on the Knapp family, she provided a list of Knapp related sites, but many of the links are dead. Please note that some of these sites might still be updated regularly, but they feature information in archaic web formats and styles. Just breathe and take your time to explore, questioning everything. Here is an updated list to help you, and myself, following our Knapps.

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About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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