Herbert Knevitt was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn on 22 September 1897 at its Isis-Urania temple in London.He took the Latin motto ĎRecte et fortiterí.He never followed up his initiation.


This is one of my short biographies, where I havenít found very much information on the GD member concerned.Iíve done what I can with those people, using the web and sources in London.Iím sure thereís far more information on them out there, but it will be in record offices, the local papers...Iíd need to be on the spot to look at them, and Iíve had to admit that lifeís too short!

Sally Davis

March 2016



This is what Iíve found out about HERBERT KNEVITT.



I couldnít find any documents mentioning Herbert Knevitt.Just noting, however, that Ďrecte et fortiterí is Ďfortiter et recteí the other way round.ĎFortiter et recteí was Annie Hornimanís GD motto.Perhaps they knew each other.



Not that Iíve found.The Freemasonsí Library has nothing in its collection which was either by him or about him.So if he was a freemason, he kept his involvement very local.I didnít find his name in the lists of Theosophical Society members that I checked.



Freemasonsí Library catalogues.Theosophical Society Membership Registers 1890-1900.






Herbert Knevitt was the eldest child of Herbert Price Knevitt and his wife Isabella Ellen, nťe Hardman, who had married in 1866.He was born at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1867.He had several younger sisters but was the only son.


The GD memberís father Herbert Price Knevitt was born in 1834.He joined the Royal Navy and served in the East Indies and the Pacific in the 1850s and 1860s.He was still at sea in 1871 and his family were living with relatives in Lewisham while he was away.He retired early, perhaps due to illness or injury.He was appointed Superintendent of the Industrial Training Ship based at St Germans; was living there in 1881.Herbert Price Knevitt retired to Ealing and died there in 1896. Isabella Ellen Knevitt died in 1922.


Sources: freebmd; census 1861, 1871, 1881; probate registry entries.

Information at www.atu.com.au names Herbert Price Knevittís parents as Thomas Lepard Knevitt and wife Elizabeth Williams Price.Itís not clear where the information came from.

At www.pdavis.nl Herbert Price Knevittís naval postings came up as part of the family background of William Loney RN.

At search.ancestry.co.uk thereís a photo of Herbert Price Knevitt as a midshipman.

Website users.isp.net.au lists the sisters of Herbert Knevitt the GD member.It also names a woman called Una Knevitt as his daughter.Unaís dates are 1885-1978 (see freebmd): sheís another sister.



The GDís Herbert Knevitt attended the Royal Naval School at Dartford.Then London University.


Sources: census 1881 and Work/profession section below.



The GDís Herbert Knevitt studied at London University and London Hospital.He qualified as Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and was licensed to practice by the Royal College of Physicians and the Society of Apothecaries in 1891.


I couldnít find the GDís Herbert Knevitt on the census of 1891 so I donít know what he was doing then.Perhaps he was working for P&O (see Sources below).By 1901 he was working as a GP at 4 Elm Villas Ealing Green.That was still true in 1911 and 1913.I havenít been able to find any information from later than 1913.


Sources: census 1891, 1901, 1911.

Lancet 1888 volume 1 January-June; p805 issue of 21 April 1888:

Lancet 1888 volume 1 January-June; p805 issue of 21 April 1888.Just noting that this volume, p703, issue of 7 April 1888 shows GD member Herbert A W Coryn in a list of students passing the exams of the Society of Apothecaries and thus being licenced to practice.It looks as though Knevitt and Coryn were both studying medicine at the University of London at the same time, and may have been friends.

At www.mocavo.co.uk p179 in a list dated 1910 of fellows and members of the Royal College of Physicians.

Seen via findmypast at British Library: General Medical Councilís Medical Register issue of 1913.



At users.isp.net.au I found information on the GDís Herbert Knevitt, which I am worried about.On the subject of his working life, it says that he first worked for the East India Company.This is wrong on two counts: firstly, by the time Herbert Knevitt has qualified itís not the East India Company itís the Indian Medical Service.Secondly, I canít find any evidence that he worked in India in any capacity.I checked these sources: Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930; India Office List editions 1892, 1895, 1897 and 1910; Thackerís Indian Directory editions of 1895 and 1901.There was no sign of him on any of them.I take that to mean that he definitely didnít work for the Indian Medical Service and probably never lived in India at all.The website also says that he later worked (as a doctor) for the P&O shipping line.Information from the census indicates he was in practice as a GP in Ealing from the mid-1890s.This doesnít discount the P&O information, but I did notice a Herbert Pakeman Knevitt (born 1891 Lewisham) who definitely did work for P&O as a pursar; I wonder if the two Herbert Knevitts have got mixed up?For Herbert Pakeman Knevitt see www.atu.com.au.



I havenít found any.


ANY PUBLIC LIFE/EVIDENCE FOR LEISURE TIME?Bearing in mind, of course, that most leisure activities leave no historical traces.


I couldnít find any evidence.



1881: Royal Naval College Deptford.

1901-11 and probably much later: 4 Elm Villas Ealing Green.

?in retirement 1920s 1930s: South Lodge Ealing Green.

At death: Freeland Nursing Home, Freeland Road Ealing.


Sources: census 1881, 1901, 1911.†† GMC Register 1913 seen at findmypast. Probate Registry entries 1943.



The GDís Herbert Knevitt was married twice.


His first wife was Alice Ada Spencer, born Hackney 1873.They were married in 1897.However, in 1903 Alice Ada Knevitt filed for divorce.The petition was thrown out but in 1904 they tried again, this time with Herbert Knevitt as the apellant; Alice Ada Knevitt as the respondent; and a co-respondent (none was mentioned in 1903), a man called Rothwell.Itís not clear whether the second attempt at divorce was successful.On the day of the 1911 census, Alice Ada and Herbert were not together; and he was employing a cook/housekeeper which he hadnít been before and which I take to mean that his wife was not living with him.He also employed a parlourmaid.I searched for Alice Ada on the 1911 census but couldnít find her; sheís probably there, living with the co-respondent but using a surname thatís not Knevitt or Rothwell.


Alice Ada died early in 1914; her death was registered with the surname ĎKnevittí.


Herbert Knevittís second wife was Alice Marion, daughter of the late Rev W Thorp.They were married at St Benedictís Ealing in January 1916.They had one child.



Seen via findmypast at the British Library: the Divorce Index application number 4246 dated 1903.Alice Ada Knevitt as apellant; Herbert Knevitt as respondent; no co-respondent.

Seen at discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk Divorce Index application number 4934 dated 1904. Herbert Knevitt as the apellant; Alice Knevitt as the respondent; co-respondent, no forenames, surname Rothwell.Reference: J77/820/4934.

The Lancet January-June 1916 p276 issue of 29 January 1916.



The GDís Herbert Knevitt died in an Ealing nursing home, on 9 December 1943.Alice Marian Knevitt died in 1957, in the British Home for Incurables.


Sources: probate registry entries.



Just the one, I think: Herbert John Knevitt, born 1917.He was probably at school at Stonyhurst College.He then went to Imperial College London: B Sc mechanical engineering ?1938.Joined the RAF as a career officer.Retired 1962 as a Wing-Commander.



At www.stonyhurst.ac.uk, website of Stonyhurst College, a donation in his memory.

At //workspace.imperial.ac.uk p12 a list of donors from the Annual Fund-Raising Report 2011-12 includes a donation in memory of the late Wing-Commander Herbert John Knevitt.

London Gazette Supplement 10 April 1962 p2930.




BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.


Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert.Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986.Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914.The list is based on the Golden Dawnís administrative records and its Membersí Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation.All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but itís now in the Freemasonsí Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01.I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.


For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howeís The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923.Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972.Foreword by Gerald Yorke.Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist.He has no axe to grind.


Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burkeís Peerage and Baronetage; Burkeís Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.


Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.

Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette.Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasonsí Library.


Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources.I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historianís point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.






Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: