Archibald Knox Timeline

Please note that this document Is not a finished product and much more research into Knox’s life is needed. If you have any additional or contradictory information please write to The Archibald Knox Forum at akforum@manx.net. This document will be updated as new research comes to light.

1864
On 9th April Archibald Knox was born to Scottish parents, William and Ann, at Cronkbourne
Village, Tromode, in the parish of Braddan on the Isle of Man. He was the 5th of 7 children.
1871
By the 1871 census the Knox family had moved to 20 South Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man, as his father
had set up a successful engineering business at 29 – 30 South Quay.
From age 7, Archibald Knox attended St. Barnabas Elementary School.
After St. Barnabas, it is believed that Knox attended the Douglas Grammar School. More research is needed into
whether he first went to the Old Grammar School in New Bond Street or he went straight to the New
Grammar School in Dalton Street, which became the New Douglas Grammar School in 1878.
In an 1882 letter to an editor Knox said that he had not had a grammar school education so more research is
needed as to whether he only attended the grammar school as an art teacher.
1880
Knox became a student at the newly formed Douglas School of Art that was set up temporarily on
Loch Promenade. The Head Teacher and driving force of the school was Mr Merritt.
In other pursuits, Knox gained a certificate for sight singing that year.
1881
By the 1881 census the Knox family had moved to 24 South Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Archibald passed examinations in Freehand drawing and Geometry.
1882
On 1st March Archibald was presented with a book prize for freehand drawing at the Douglas School of Art.
Later that year Knox became an assistant pupil/teacher and gained a free scholarship at the School of Art.
At the Annual School of Art exhibition Archibald’s picture of “The Slave” was picked out for comment and,
although it was not quite finished, “it was a brilliant study showing great power.” His sketches from nature were also
commented upon for “their strong individuality.”
Archibald Knox wrote a scathing letter to the editor of Mona’s Herald in reply to a letter appearing in the
newspaper which was criticising the School of Art and Mr Merritt, based on false gossip.
1883
John Quine became the headmaster of Douglas Grammar School. He influenced Knox, who was a part
time art teacher at the school, by introducing him to The Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian
Society and in particular to the ancient Celtic crosses a of the Island.
1884
The new Douglas School of Art was completed and still stands as The Youth Arts Centre in Kensington
Road, Douglas. Here Knox studied and taught and was influenced by such artists as John Miller Nicholson
and George Sheffield who both gave freely of their time.
It is a great tribute to Lord and Lady Loch, who were passionate about having such a facility in Douglas, the many
sponsors and, in particular, Mr Philip Christian who donated 3 plots of land for the site of the School.
1891
At the time of the 1891 census the Knox family were still living at 24 South Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man.
1892
The highest possible grant was awarded for the works of Mr Archibald Knox, to whom the examiners had
awarded a silver medal for studies of Celtic ornament, and Mr Alfred Collister, a former student, who had been
awarded two bronze medals for drawing from the antique, and studies of drapery. These were UK National awards.
1893
Carmichael Knox, Archibald’s younger brother was tragically drowned in Douglas harbour.
By 1893 the Knox family had moved from 24 South Quay to 70 Athol Street, Douglas.
Archibald had an article published in “The Builder” magazine “Ancient Crosses in the Isle of Man.” His silver
medal of 1892 may have been in whole, or in part, due to the content that was reproduced in this article.
1896
“The Studio” magazine published an article by Knox entitled “The Isle of Man as a sketching ground”
Knox began designing gravestones and the first was probably for Catherine Louise Quayle (aged 22),
daughter of Thomas Quayle , the stonemason whose company produced many of Knox’s subsequent
gravestones and monuments. This gravestone, along with other Knox examples, can be see in New Braddan Cemetery.
1897
Archibald left the Isle of Man and moved to London where he took up residence in Fulham.
He worked for the Silver Studio producing designs for fabrics and metalwork etc. Silver refers to the name of the head
of the studio rather than the metal. The Silver Studio was an important supplier for Liberty & Co. in Regent Street,
London.
There is a copy of the “Chickens Rock” visitors’ book dated 10th August 1897, showing that Archibald, Annie and William
Knox, together with A J Collister and Mr and Mrs Napper of London were on the same boat trip. At that time Harry Napper was the
managing director and lead designer for the Silver Studio.
A J Collister had become a teacher at Redhill School of Art and he was influential in securing a teaching post for
Archibald at the college.
In 1897/98 Liberty & Co. in London, with William Hair Hasseler in Birmingham and Oliver Baker (designer) started
the “Cymric” silver range of products and Knox was soon to become the main designer for this Celtic revival range.,
1898
“The Antiquary” magazine published an illustrated article by Knox on “Old Kirk Lonan, Isle of Man.”

1899
On 16 September SS Peveril was sunk and Archibald started proceedings against The Isle of Man Steam Packet
Company for the loss of his paintings.
1901
Archibald Knox’s father, William died on 3rd February 1901.
By the 1901 census 70 Athol Street was the home of Archibald Knox, his mother and younger sister Annie.
On 27th December Archibald bought property in Sulby from Humphrey Daniel Callister and his wife for £300.
1902
Knox moved into the property in Sulby in May 1902 and there began his most prolific period of designing
for Liberty & Co. Across the road from his house and studio was the post and telegraph office where he
sent his designs off to Liberty & Co. in London. He was paid for each accepted design and they became the property
of Liberty & Co. to do with as they wished.
Archibald Knox really remained a “Ghost Designer” up to the 1970s because the head of the Siver Studio and the name of Liberty & Co.
took credit for the designs. This was common practice at that time. When research was beginning in 1970s scholars began
to realise that much of the design was by Knox with clues from the Celtic forms and such names as the “Conister” candlesticks
and the “Olaf” clock etc. Both names are associated with the Isle of Man.
NOTE: 1900 – 1904 have generally been given as the dates for Knox in Sulby and it is posible that he could have rented
there before buying the property. However, he definitely did not leave before 1905.
Whilst at Sulby Knox was instrumental in starting the reading room and was on the Board of Lezayre School.
Liberty & Co. launch their new pewter range “Tudric” and Archibald Knox was their main, but not sole, designer.
1905
Archibald Knox left Sulby as he was told there was an unpaid mortgage on the property and he moved back to London.
He held art teaching posts at several art schools in Surrey and he was greatly admired for his teaching methods by his
students.
1912
Archibald Knox resigned from his post as teacher at the Kingston School of Art. There appear to have been two main
reasons for his snap decision: An adverse report by the inspectors on his teaching methods and the fact that his long time
friend A J Collister had used some of the work of Archibald and his students in his own portfolio when applying for the
position of Art Master in Cambridge. The two men were never to talk again.
Archibald left in a rage and much of his work he consigned to a wastepaper basket. Only because it was saved by a
student, Denise Tuckfield (after marriage Denise Wren) do we have this work. 134 such items were donated to the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London by Denise Wren. These works include designs and also early sketches for the Deer’s Cry which
will be mentioned below.
Knox sailed to Philadephia in America from Liverpool on 21st August 1912 on board the SS Dominion.
Knox’s students at Kingston College left en masse at hearing of Knox’s departure and they formed the Knox Guild of Design
and Craft. The Guild continued Knox’s legacy and teaching methods and held many large exhibitions in London over its 25 year life. Two of
the founder students were sisters, Winifred Tuckfield and Denise Wren (nee Tuckfield) and we owe much to them for saving Knox’s work.
1913
After an unsuccessful trip to America, Knox returned home to the Isle of Man.
John Miller Nicholson, the great Manx artist, died and Knox wrote an article about him for the Mannin magazine..
Back In the Isle of Man Archibald spent his time as an art teacher, a designer of gravestones, memorials and plaques etc, painting
and producing the magnificent illuminated illustrations of the Deer’s Cry. This is also known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate
being an Irish 5th century poem or hymn. At his death Knox had produced 56 pages of illuminated illustrations (some in
unfinished sketch form). This work was produced for his own personal spiritual devotion and had taken over 20 years of his
life, working in his spare time. The work is now housed as a National Treasure at the Manx Museum in Douglas, Isle of Man
Knox also refurbished at least one property on the Island – “Cadran Cottage.”
1914
Knox also refurbished at least one property on the Island – “Cadran Cottage.”
Knox became a censor at Knockaloe Internment Camp at Patrick in the Isle of Man in November 1914.
He designed a pavement for the interior of All Saint’s Lonan Church which was being refurbished under the
supervision of Canon John Quine who was the vicar at the church and held the position for over 40 years.
The May 1914 Mannin magazine published an article by Knox on the artist George Sheffield in Douglas.
1916
Winifred Tuckfield had her famous artcle on Knox published in the Mannin magazine, May 1916, amonst all the other items about him
she finishes with the following: “As T E Brown has given the poetry of your people, so has Mr Knox given in watercolour the poetry of
your skies, shores, and buildings, painted your boats, trees and bridges, flecked with sunlight and shade as no other man has painted
them. If you built a gallery for his work in the centre of your Isle, future generations would bless your name.
To you who possess work by Mr Knox I say treasure it, and leave it to your Island, that your children’s children may learn from it, and
produce perhaps, yet greater work.”
1917
On the death of Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty Knox was commissioned to design his gravestone which stands in the
graveyard of St. John’s Church, The Lee, Buckinghamshire, England.
1919
Knox left his position as censor at Knockaloe in October 1919.
1920
Throughout the 1920s the Knox Guild of Design and Craft held exhibitions in London and especially at the Whitechapel Gallery.
1921
Knox was commissioned to produce the illustrated Book of Remembrance and Roll of Honour for St. Ninian’s High School in Douglas. This work was commissioned by the “Old Scholars’ Union” for those, of the school, who fought and died in WW1.

1922
Apparently Knox visited Ravenna and Milan in Italy.
1926
The National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, held an exhibition of 80 Archibald Knox watercolours from 3rd
to 28th March. It was reported that somebody wanted to buy the whole lot but Knox would not hear of it and
had the pictures sent back to the Isle of Man.
1929
Apparently Knox visited Dublin
1933
Archibald Knox died of heart failure at 70 Athol Street on 22nd February at the age of 68.
He is buried at New Braddan Cemetery in the Isle of Man and the gravestone was oriiginally intended for
a member of the Quayle family (of the stonemason company) but it was reported that as they could not decide
about who it should be for, it was considered fitting that it should be used for Archibald Knox’s own grave after his
sudden death. Later the plot was used for the burial of his brother William and his siter Annie.

On the grave stone is written ” Here lies Archibald Knox Artist…………….A humble servant of God, in the
ministry of the beautiful.”