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Sir Frank Knollys & his Pirate Sons
Reading Men make it Big

Sir Francis Knollys -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • Francis Knollys' father died when he was a boy. King Henry VIII made sure he was looked after. He eventually became one of his personal bodyguard. He married Catherine Carey, the niece of Queen Anne Boleyn. They lived at Greys Court, at Rotherfield Greys (Oxfordshire), between Henley-on-Thames and Reading.
  • He did well during the reign of King Edward VI, because he supported the protestant Reformation. He became a soldier, fought in Scotland and was knighted.
  • A man from Reading, called Jocelyn Palmer, became his children's teacher. During the reign of the Roman Catholic Queen 'Bloody Mary', Sir Francis and his family hid out in Germany. Jocelyn then became Master of Reading School, but he was was burnt alive at Newbury just because he didn't want to be a Catholic. 
  • When the protestant Elizabeth I became Queen, Sir Francis became popular again. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. So Sir Francis' wife was her cousin. She was the only family the Queen had.
  • Sir Francis was given lots of important jobs at court. He became Treasurer of the Royal Household (being in charge of all the money).
  • The Queen even let him live at her palace in Reading. It had been converted out of some of the old buildings of Reading Abbey around the inner gateway. He held a big party for her there in 1572.
  • The Catholic Queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots, was thrown out of her own country. She fled to England and asked for help. Queen Elizabeth was worried she was plotting against her, so she locked her up. Sir Francis was her gaoler for a year. This kept him in the North. Elizabeth eventually had Mary's head chopped off!
  • Sir Francis had 15 children. His sons were very popular at court. They were very sporty and liked to joust. His sons, Henry and Francis were friends of Sir Francis Drake and became pirates for a while! Francis lived at Battle Manor (in Oxford Road) & Abbey House in Reading. Robert was also a sailor and Reading's MP. William was made the Earl of Banbury and lived at Caversham Park.
  • Sir Francis' eldest daughter, Lettice, was very beautiful. She liked to show off at court. The Queen didn't like her because she was prettier than her. She hated her even more when she married her old boyfriend, the Earl of Leicester! His first wife had died in mysterious circumstances. So Lettice was sent away from the Royal Court.


    Nash Ford Publishing 2008. All Rights Reserved.