The Alexander Knight House in Ipswich MAPlaces

The sad story of Alexander Knight

The Alexander Knight House next to the Whipple House on the South Green is a re-creation of an early, English-style timber frame house from 1657 as described in Ipswich town records. This exhibit was built with traditional tools, materials and construction methods of the First Period, complete with a stone foundation, timber frame, wattle and daub chimney, water-sawn white oak boards and thatched roof. Jowled posts, girts, and braces were fitted to form an end wall. after which plates, studs, joists, principal rafters and purlins were pegged in place to complete the frame.

Alexander Knight was from Chelmsford, Essex, England and his wife Anne Tuttle was from London. They arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with sufficient resources, were granted land as was customary in the early years of settlement, and he built a home near Meeting House Green. Their lives took several bad turns, including the death of their child Nathaniel in 1648 when his clothes caught on fire. A jury was impaneled concerning the death: six from Ipswich, three from Newbury, four from Rowley and one from Andover. Knight was fined for carelessness in not preventing a fire after being warned. He faced the court several other times for charges which included lying, and threatening Richard Shatswell.

The family apparently lost their house in the same fire, and began boarding with Aaron Pengry under an arrangement with the town. By 1656 Alexander Knight was indigent, had sold his land, was working as an indentured servant, and Pengry asked the town to end the arrangement. A long discussion arose at the April 1657 Town Meeting about how to help the family. The town took mercy and voted to provide him a piece of land “whereas Alexander Knight is altogether destitute, his wife alsoe neare her tyme.” The vote provided that it should be 16 feet long, 12 feet wide, 7 or 8 feet stud, with thatched roof, for which £6 was appropriated. The new house upon which this house is modeled was located on High Street near Lords Square.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.