James Knight

(c. 1640—1721) colonial administrator and merchant

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(d. 1719/20), English trader in Canada. Neither the place nor date of James Knight's birth is known. The first recorded mention of him comes in 1676 when he entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company as a shipwright. His forceful personality soon gained him promotion, and from 1682 to 1700 he held senior positions as factor, or governor, in Hudson Bay. From 1700 to 1714, at a time of war when the company had only one post in the bay, Knight lived in England where he became a stockholder in the company and a member of its governing committee. In 1714 he was sent once more to Hudson Bay as governor to receive the surrender of York Factory from the French and to revive the company's trade. The journals he kept for the next four years contain full, if rambling, explanations of his plans for the expansion of trade and for the discovery of the Strait of Anian or Northwest Passage. Knight was confident that the elusive waterway would lead to a land of gold far to the northwest, rumors of which had reached him in England.


From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.

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