Friday, 2 March 2012

Robert Knox: Chartist convention delegate

Robert Knox must have been one of the youngest delegates to the First Chartist Convention of 1839. He was just 24 years old when his profile appeared in The Charter newspaper.
That profile, and the sketch portrait of Knox that appeared in the same paper, now appears on Chartist Ancestors as part of a small-scale project to reproduce the 12 delegate biographies that The Charter ran during the Convention.
Knox served as the delegate for County Durham, and lived in Sunderland at the time. However, he was a Scot, born according to The Charter at Dunse in the county of Berwick.
It is possible that he returned to Scotland in later life. The 1891 census records a Robert Knox, born in approximately 1813 at Duns, Berwickshire, then living at 19 Gowrie Street, Kinnoull, Perthshire.
Was this the same man? The Charter described Knox in 1839 as a slater, while the 1891 census has him as a retired sadler. The discrepancy could have a number of explanations, and the coincidence of name, age and birthplace suggests this may be our man. But it is difficult to be sure.