31st January 1855

The Seigneur of Samarès is born

Shipping magnate Sir James Knott was born in Tyne and Wear and stood several times for election to the British Parliament. On his first attempt, in the 1906 general election where he stood for the Tyneside division of Northumberland, he was unsuccessful. However, in the next general election – in 1910 – he was elected to represent Sunderland alongside Samuel Storey.

Knott only appears twice in Hansard, the official record of proceedings in the Houses of Commons and Lords. On 9 March 1910 he asked Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether instructions had been issued to the Income Tax assessors to take compounds allowance into account when calculating how much tax residents owed.

A short political career

On 28 April 1910, he asked whether the Board of Agriculture was aware of the progress the United States and Canada had made on cultivating lobsters and whether the equivalent British authorities had managed to emulate those successes with the aim of avoiding depletion of the natural stocks on the British and Irish coasts. Rather disappointingly, Mr EJ Soares, the Lord of the Treasury, answered that the American and Canadian experiments were being closely watched, but the government would not take any action itself until further results had been obtained.

Unfortunately for Knott – and possibly for the residents of Sunderland – he sat for less than a year, from the election of 15 January, until he retired through ill-health on 3 December 1910.

A fortune spent in Jersey

However, politics was just a side line for Knott. His primary business was shipbuilding. He had established Prince Line in 1895 and built it into the third largest shipping line in the world, eventually running close to 50 ships to far-flung destinations. This earned him a fortune, some of which he spent on Samarès Manor, to which he moved in 1924, thus becoming the Seigneur of Samarès.

He was widowed five years later and, in 1932, found love for a second time. Then aged 77, he married 25-year-old Elizabeth Gauntlet, also of Jersey, at a ceremony in Monte Carlo.


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