The KNAPP Family of Watertown and Groton

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WILLIAM KNAPP (c. 1578 - 1658) of Watertown
SGT. JAMES KNAPP (c. 1627 - c. 1695) of Watertown and Groton m. Elizabeth Warren
ELIZABETH KNAPP (1655 - 1700/6) m. Samuel Scripture

First Generation

WILLIAM KNAPP (c. 1578 - 1658) (also spelled "Knopp")


William Knapp was born about 1578. He died in 1658, aged about 80, in Watertown. [Ref, p. 111] He married an unknown first wife about 1605. [Ref, p. 110] He married the widow Priscilla Akers about 1658. [Ref, p. 110]

William Knapp arrived in Massachusetts in 1630; his brother Nicholas came at about the same time. They both belonged to a party recruited by Sir Richard Saltonstall to settle at Watertown. [Ref, p. 111]

William was a carpenter. [Ref, p. 111] His wife was licensed to keep a tavern. [Ref, p. 111] "Fragmentary information suggests that this family possessed no more than an average amount of property ... And their social position was equally modest." [Ref, p. 111]

William held no offices. [Ref, p. 111] He was summoned before the General Court for swearing, speeches against the governor and selling beer without the proper authorisation. [Ref, p. 111] On a later occassion he was convicted of "unseemly speeches" and made to sit in the town stocks. [Ref, p. 436]

He was judged to enfeebled of understanding to manage his own affairs on 30 Dec 1656. [Ref, pp. 112,436]

Inventory on William's estate, taken 31 Aug 1658, amounted to £129. [Ref, p. 436]

Children of William Knapp and his first wife:

  1. William Knapp [Ref, p. 110]
  2. John Knapp [Ref, p. 110] was convicted of theft in 1657 and severely punished. [Ref, pp. 112,438]
  3. Mary Knapp [Ref, p. 110]
  4. Elizabeth Knapp [Ref, p. 110]
  5. Ann Knapp was born about 1625. [Ref, p. 110] Ann, the wife of Thomas Philbrick, She died on 17 May 1667. [Ref, p. 918] Ann Knapp of Watertown married Thomas Philbrick. [Ref, p. 918] Thomas was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Philbrick. [Ref] Thomas was born in 1624. [Ref] He died in 1700. [Ref] Thomas married second the widow Hannah (French) White on 22 Sep 1669. [Ref, 8;82][Ref]
  6. Sgt. James Knapp was born about 1627. He died about 1695. He married Elizabeth Warren.
  7. Judith Knapp was born about 1630. [Ref, p. 110]

Second Generation

SGT. JAMES KNAPP (c. 1627 - c. 1695) of Watertown and Groton

Parents: William Knapp [Ref, p. 110]

James Knapp was born about 1627. [Ref, p. 110] He died about 1695. [Ref, p. 110] He married Elizabeth Warren in 1654 in Watertown. [Ref, p. 113]

He took the oath of fidelity in 1652 in Watertown. [Ref, p. 111]

In 1656 James was charged with adultery. Mary Davis, a Watertown widow, had recently died in childbirth in prison and claimed that James was the father. James was apparently not convicted. [Ref, p. 112] James was called before the court for drunkeness in 1657. [Ref, p. 112]

In 1662, James moved to Groton where he received land as an original proprietor. [Ref, p. 112][Ref, p. 26] In about 1665 the town of Groton offered James and three others 20 acres upon which to erect a grist mill and freedom from taxes for 20 years. The men agreed to build a corn mill that would be ready for operation on 1 d. 11 m. 1666. But on 15 d. 6 m. 1665 they were released from the obligation. [Ref, p. 36] On 10 Jan 1672 James was one of three men appointed to a committee to meet with Chelmsford and Concord men to "lay out a way to the bay". [Ref, p. 47]

James's economic position in Groton was above average, but distinctly below that of the most wealthy. [Ref, p. 112] He was a selectman in 1665 and almost every other year until 1692. [Ref, p. 112] He is referred to as "corporal" and later "sergeant". [Ref, p. 112] "The sum of this evidence reveals a quite exemplary career. Moreover, given the absence of special distinction in the family line, his checkered past, and his relatively modest wealth, James Knapp must have earned his honors chiefly by way of energy, talent and (reformed) character." [Ref, p. 112]

Children of James Knapp:

  1. Elizabeth Knapp was born on 21 Apr 1655. She died between 1700 and 1706. She married Samuel Scripture.
  2. James Knapp was born on 26 May 1657. [Ref, p. 110] He died on 26 Sep 1657. [Ref, p. 110]

Third Generation

ELIZABETH KNAPP (1655 - 1700/6)

Parents: James Knapp and Elizabeth Warren [Ref, p. 110]

Elizabeth Knapp was born on 21 Apr 1655. [Ref, p. 110] She died between 1700 and 1706. [Ref, p. 110] She married Samuel Scripture on 11 Sep 1674 [Ref] in Cambridge. [Ref][Ref, p. 114]

As a girl, Elizabeth was sent to the neighbouring town of Lancaster to live -- perhaps as a maidservant -- with the family of Simon Willard. She moved into the household of Simon's son Rev. Samuel Willard in Groton in 1671, where in early autumn she began having fits. These fits became increasingly bizarre and alternated with coherent spells. She blamed the devil, saying that he wished to gain a new follower and accused two neighbours of being witches. [Ref, pp. 99 - 114] See John Demos's book Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England for a description. The fits must have resolved themselves as she apparently spent the rest of her life as an ordinary 17th century New England housewife.

Increase Mather [Ref, pp. 21-22] wrote in 1684:

Another thing which caused a noise in the Countrey, and wherein Satan undoubtedly had a great influence was that which happened at Groton. There was a Maid in that Town (one Elizabeth Knap) who in the Month of October, Anno 1671 was taken after a very strange manner, sometimes weeping, sometimes laughing, sometimes roaring hideously, with violent motions... Six men were scarce able to hold her in some of her fits ... a Daemon began manifestly to speak in her ... the Daemon belched forth most horrid and nefandous Blasphemies ... She cried out in one of her Fits, that a Woman (one her Neighbours) appeared to her and was the cause of her affliction...


Butler, Caleb, History of the Town of Groton, Boston, T.R. Marvin 1848. Click here to read it on Google Books.

Demos, John Putnam, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, New York, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850. Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2007.

Mather, Increase, "An Essay for the Recordings of Illustrious Providences," in George Lincoln Burr, ed., Narratives of New England Witchcraft Cases, New York, Dover Publications, 2002, pp. 1-37.

Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700, (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.)