Born in January 1855
James Knott was born on the 31st January 1855 at Howdon on Tyne. He was the eldest of ten children. His father, Matthew, was a Customs Searcher. James was educated at the Scotch School in North Shields, which he left at the age of 14 to start work as a shipping clerk on Newcastle Quayside.
At the age of 19, James started as a shipbroker. In 1878 he married Margaret Annie Garbutt and acquired his first ship, a collier brig named ‘Pearl’ for £186. In 1881 he purchased his first steam ship the ‘Saxon Prince’. By 1883 he added a further 8 steam ships and by 1886 owned a total of 17 and had purchased his first tanker.
James and Margaret Knott had three sons, Thomas Garbutt (1879), James Leadbitter (1882) and Henry Basil (1891).
During the First World War the Prince Line lost 21 ships through enemy or other maritime actions. 86 crew members lost their lives.
The Knott family lost two sons, who were serving officers in France. Henry was killed in action on the 7th September 1915, aged 24, and James was killed at the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916, aged 32. The two brothers were buried side by side in Ypres cemetery. The eldest brother, Thomas, was captured and interned in Germany until Armistice Day.
In 1925 the Memorial Park at Heddon, Northumberland, was created in memory of his sons. At Fenham, Newcastle, St James and St Basil Church built in 1931 was named after them.
Sir James Knott died in 1934.