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Pinders & The Crossing

Land Grants

D-46 (60 acres, 28 Jun 1788), D-35 (357 acres, 27 Jun 1788)

James Knowles Sr. Origin; Old Inhabitant.

James Knowles’ father, John, was born circa 1699 in the Bahamas, and later baptized several children at Christ Church cathedral in Nassau in 1733 (when James was thought by the priest to be “about ten years of age”). James Knowles married Patience Darville (Johnson?) and secondly, Hannah Campbell on 7 Oct. 1777, and amongst an unknown number of children, he had James Alexander Knowles.

James Knowles, Sr was granted 357 acres in The Crossing area of Long Island on 27 June 1788. The land was bounded by that of James Spatches and James Knowles (whether himself or son James Alexander Knowles is unknown at this time), by a pond, and by the sea. He or his son received a second grant of 60 acres in the current settlement of Pinders, Long Island on 28 June, 1788, although this exact same parcel is depicted on the Tatnall Map as having contained 150 acres! Because of the extreme sloppiness of Josiah Tatnall’s 1792 Map, and even the inaccuracies of the Lands & Surveys maps for Long Island, we were not shocked by this discovery. A 20-acre cay off the western coast of Lower Deadman’s Cay is also shown on the Tatnall map as having been owned by James Knowles (no suffix) in 1792.

The Foxes and Knowles families were two of the earliest Long Island settlers, having arrived no later than 1776, and more likely in the 1740s. James Knowles Sr was a man of color, per his Christ Churcg (Nassau) baptism record. We believe that both the Foxes and James Knowles Sr and James Alexander Knowles the son were persons of color, having lived in a tightknit community in Nassau with other free mulatto and black families. The first settlement on Long Island (with Fox, Knowles, and Simms families) was at The Crossing, now the south end of the Salt Pond settlement.

Recent genetic research (DNA and Y-DNA testing) shows that many branches of the Knowles in the Bahamas (especially those on Long Island) were originally Rogers; that is to say that they are not related to other Knowles men around the world, but instead are related to Rogers males. The implications for this are that, at some point in time (during the 17th or 18th century), a Knowles man raised a Rogers son as his own, so that this man was biologically a Rogers, but carried and transmitted the Knowles names to his descendants’ generations. Although certainly not “proof” of anything, it is interesting to note that Michael Rogers was a close neighbor just to the south of the main Knowles Crossing/Pinders grant parcels, and Michael Rogers was also signatory as a witness to the will of James Knowles, Sr.

It has never been proven that very early Bermudian inhabitant Damon Knowles was ancestral to any of the Bahamian Knowles families, though to us it seems likely. In summary, although we realize there is more left to discover about James and his family, we can now say that not only was James Knowles an Old Inhabitant, but he was a very early resident of Long Island, the founder of a large Bahamian family on Long Island, a mulatto, and the carrier of an important secret in his genes.

Reference: DM, Bahamas Genealogy, Will, Grants, 1734 Census

James Knowles Sr.

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