Andrew Knight was born at Wormsley Grange,
Herefordshire in England in 1759. His father had
inherited great wealth and the family estate was
comprised of 10,000 acres of land.
Knight spent some time at Balliol College, Oxford
University. After marriage in 1791 he moved to Elton
Hall where he constructed a greenhouse in accordance
with his plans and developed a walled garden.
Knight began his work in 1786 grafting fruit trees
and breeding fruit trees including apple, sweet
cherry, plum, nectarine and pear. He also crossed
cultivars of strawberry, potato, cabbage and peas. At
one time he had 20,000 apple seedlings.
He also conducted physiological experiments such as
the influence of gravity upon growth and he probably
has actually been associated more with this type of
research than with his fruit breeding. All his
personal papers mysteriously disappeared which
presumably included the date recorded from his rather
extensive experimental work.
Knight contributed to the well-known and very
influential Transactions of the Horticultural
Society of London which appeared in several
volumes. These volumes included reports of
observations of many well-known men of his time
including well known botanists. He was also the author
of Pomona Herefordieneis (1809) which contains
very fine hand-colored illustrations of fruit. These
illustrations are among the best ever published
anywhere in the world. In 1797 he published
Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear
which went through 4 editions to 1818.
He became a member of several American
horticultural societies. Many of his papers were
published in 1841 in A Selection from the
Physiological and Horticultural Societies by the late
Thomas Andrew Knight to which is prefixed a sketch of
Thomas Andrew Knight was the most distinguished
horticulturist of his time. He was an excellent fruit
breeder but few of his cultivars are now available.
His theory of the degeneration or "running out" of
fruit has now been disproved but he was an
exceptionally fine observer of the horticulture of his
His family farm with some remaining cherry trees
developed by him were extant in West England in 1933
when the writer visited the precise walled garden
which he developed.