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Thomas Andrew Knight , (1759-1838) was a and who lived at Downton Castle, . He was the brother of .He used the 10,000 acres (40 km²) he inherited to conduct breeding of , , , and others. He also built an extensive . In 1797 he published a . He was one of the leading students of horticulture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but his personal papers disappeared after his death.
Thomas Andrew Knight introduced controlled pollination for plant breeding in the late eighteenth century. His interest was aroused by his observation that new types were needed for fruit orchards to replace existing varieties. The earliest recorded introduction into cultivation of a new variety was that of the ‘Grange’ apple in 1792.
KNIGHT, THOMAS ANDREW (1759–1838), vegetable physiologist and horticulturist, born at Wormesley Grange, near Ludlow, Herefordshire, on 12 Aug. 1759, was the younger son of Thomas Knight, rector of Ribbesford and Bewdley, Worcestershire, a member of an old Shropshire family, whose fortunes had been made by his father, Richard Knight, an ironmaster. Richard Payne Knight [q. v.] the numismatist was Thomas Andrew Knight's elder brother. Knight was educated at Ludlow grammar school, at a school at Chiswick, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 13 Feb. 1778. He was early distinguished as an eager sportsman, a good shot, and a keen observer. He settled at Elton, near Downton Castle, Herefordshire, his brother's residence, and began there his experiments in raising new varieties of fruits and vegetables. He was also a successful cattle-breeder, and was accordingly recommended by his brother to Sir Joseph Banks as a correspondent for the board of agriculture. In 1795 his work as a horticulturist first became generally known through some papers which he read before the Royal Society on grafting and the inheritance of disease among fruit trees. In 1803 Banks introduced him to Sir Humphry Davy, who soon became his greatest friend. Knight was an original member of the Horticultural Society (established in 1804), of which he was president from 1811 until his death, and he contributed to every part of its ‘Transactions’ issued during his lifetime from their first publication in 1807. He was in 1805 elected fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1806 received the Copley medal from the society. He became a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1807, and he was also a member of many American and other horticultural societies.
Thomas Andrew Knight is credited by Darwin in the first chapter of ‘The Origin of Species’ for his pioneering work on the origin of cultivated plants. It is also believed that Knight’s observations on the results of breeding work with peas may have influenced Mendel to use peas for the basis of his important studies into inheritance, but many people do not realise that he was born and spent much of his life in Herefordshire.