Knott, Sir Thomas Garbutt
1879 – 1949
Sir Thomas Garbutt Knott was one of three sons of Sir James Knott (1855 – 1934), 1st Baronet of Close House, Northumberland. Thomas Garbutt was the eldest son; his brothers, James Leadbitter (1882-1916) and Henry Basil (1891- 1915) tragically were killed in World War I. Thomas was, therefore, the sole heir to his father’s estate and shipping business.
Sir James sold his shipping interests in 1916, partly as a result of his devastation at the death of his two sons. He retired to Samares Manor on the island of Jersey in 1924 and at the same time, he established Samares Investments to further his philanthropic interests. In 1931, Sir James built the Church of St James and St Basil, on the corner of Fenham Hall Drive and Wingrove Road in Newcastle, as a memorial to his sons. Sir James died in 1934 leaving his estate, valued at £5m to Thomas. In the 1930s, Sir Thomas supported good causes in the region in his father’s memory. The Memorial Hall in Heddon opened in 1936. The original plans for the building were evidently quite elaborate as the Trustees, with Thomas’s approval, decided to construct a smaller hall. Thomas agreed to provide the same level of funding however with the surplus being invested for an ongoing endowment. The hall was taken from the village during WW2 to provide accommodation for soldiers and not returned until 1954. Northumberland Council had used the hall in the post-war years to provide meals to children.
Sir Thomas died in 1949 and, having no children, his estate was left to the Samares Philanthropic Investment Trust, established by his father. In 1990, the Sir James Knott Trust Settlement was divided to form the Sir James Knott Trust based in Newcastle with the reserve remaining in Jersey. Since 1990, the Trust has made over 8,500 grants totalling over £27.8 million, many of them to charities known to have been of keen interest to Sir James Knott.