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Henry Gally Knight, writer on architecture, was born on 2 December 1786. He was the only son of Henry Gally Knight of Langold Hall, Yorkshire, barrister, and his wife Selina, daughter of William Fitzherbert of Tissington, Derbyshire. His grandfather, John Gally (who assumed the additional name of Knight), was M.P. for Aldborough and Boroughbridge, and a son of Henry Gally, D.D., the classical scholar.
Knight was educated at Eton, and apparently at Trinity College, Cambridge, though his name does not appear in the list of graduates. In 1810 and 1811 he travelled in Spain, Sicily, Greece, Egypt, and Palestine, in company with the Hon. Frederick North and Mr. Fazakerly. His first publications were in verse, being Ilderim, a Syrian Tale, (1816); Phrosyne, a Grecian Tale; Alashtar, an Arabian Tale, (1817); Eastern Sketches, in verse (1830).
In 1828, he published a pamphlet A Foreign and Domestic View of the Catholic Question, in the middle of the debates on the issue of Catholic Emancipation.Firbeck Hall
Byron bestowed praise on some of Knight's oriental verses, though he does not seem to have relished Ilderim. Knight turned from poetry to architecture. In May 1831 he landed at Dieppe, and during the year examined the buildings and libraries of Normandy. After his return to England he published An Architectural Tour in Normandy ( 1836). In August 1836 he started for Messina, and afterwards published The Normans in Sicily (1838) and Saracenic and Norman Remains to illustrate the 'Normans in Sicily (1840). He was assisted in his studies by professional architects: in Normandy by Richard Hussey, in Sicily by George Moore. In 1842-1844 he published The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Italy from Constantine to the 15th Century, with eighty-one litho-chromatic plates by Owen Jones. Knight was also the author of some minor works.
Knight, who had succeeded to the family estates on his father's death in 1808, was elected M.P. for Aldborough (between 1824 and 1828?); for Malton in 1830; for North Nottinghamshire in 1835 and in 1837. The last seat he held from 1837 till his death, which took place in Lower Grosvenor Street, London, on 9 February 1846. He was buried in Firbeck Church, Yorkshire, on 17 February.
In 1828, Knight married Henrietta, third daughter of Anthony Hardolph Eyre of Grove, Nottinghamshire, but they had no children. By his will he directed that his Langold estate should be sold for the benefit of some friends. His other estates at Firbeck, Kirton, and Warsop were left to his widow for her life; the Firbeck estate and mansion were to go after her death to the ecclesiastical commissioners for charitable uses.
Some manuscripts relating to Knight's tour in 1810-11 remained in the hands of his family. In parliament Knight was a fluent but infrequent speaker. He was a kind landlord, and on 19 October 1841 was presented by his tenants with his portrait, painted at a cost of 250 guineas. He held the office of deputy-lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and was a member of the commission for the advancement of the fine arts.
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