Knipe, James Frederick Dr

Date of Birth/Death:


James Frederick Knipe MRCS was a committed medical practitioner until his death in 1870 at White’s Valley near Aldinga. He was born in Wales and baptised 10 October 1822 at Llanbeblig, Caernarvon, son of George Frederick Knipe and Mary Anne Williams (they were married at Bedwardine, Worcester in 1808 with George Frederick’s residence listed as Dublin). His father was a Lieutenant, later Captain, in the English army who had served during the Napoleonic Wars and in England. At the time of the 1841 Census James Frederick Knipe lived at Chapel Street, Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, with his married brother George a surgeon. James was noted as a surgeon’s apprentice. In July 1847 he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons.

James was a ship’s Surgeon Superintendent on three immigrant vessels. In a letter addressed to his sisters during the voyage of the Sea Queen (1850) he noted: “…I have had a great deal of sickness in the ship…the Cabin passengers…are all snobbs shopkeepers & their servants…[they] can hardly be called vulgar but [are] not ladylike… I will write again when I am settled… in the Wakefield or at the Strathalbin Mine”. He also indicated he had been to Adelaide before. Francis Knipe (age 69, Solicitor) was living at 1 Bourne Villa, Hanley Castle, a village in Worcestershire in 1891. Research suggests Francis was James’s brother. Francis’s birthplace is shown as Greenville, Co Cavan, Ireland. Although Knipe is a common name in Cavan and Armagh, no birth record for Francis has yet been found. It is clear, however, that the Knipes of Cavan were landed gentry who had among their ranks many doctors, solicitors and ministers. James registered as a medical practitioner with the South Australian Medical Board on 2 April 1850. Despite his expressed intention to go elsewhere, James settled at Noarlunga with an advertisement in May 1850 showing he succeeded a C. Lloyd.

His life was varied. He was a memorialist advocating for the construction of the Goolwa Railway and port facilities at Encounter Bay and delivered triplets at Morphett Vale. Unfortunately, he also went into debt, and was forced by the Courts to sell off furniture, surgical instruments and other items to pay back the money. By 1853, his financial situation must have prospered as he posted a reward for the return of what was clearly a much-loved pet, Bully, a white bull terrier who Knipe suspected was stolen. We do not know whether Bully was ever returned but life became increasingly busy. He was appointed as the medical practitioner attending the destitute in Aldinga and an accredited vaccinator under the Compulsory Vaccination Act of 1854, intended to eradicate smallpox. He was also a member for the Southern Racehorse Committee and the Lodge Surgeon for the Loyal Noarlunga Lodge of Oddfellows. As well, he was a councillor on the Aldinga District Council. James was a keen supporter of local cricket played between Willunga and Morphett Vale and occasional teams from Adelaide. In 1856 he secured regulation cricket material from England.

Although he was the medical officer of Aldinga, he was also called to Noarlunga and other places to aid the sick and injured. By August 1854 he was living at Aldinga Plains as he had donated to the War Relief Fund, a patriotic fund set up to aid Britain’s involvement with the Crimean War.

In 1855, the Nashwauk was wrecked at the mouth of the Pedlar’s Creek at Moana. Dr Knipe had a role in tending sick passengers from the ship as the Nashwauk’s ship-surgeon was disabled by intoxication. This was not the only time that James had to fill in for a deficient medical colleague, with less happy consequences. In 1869, a little girl fell under the wheel of a dray. Dr Smales, the Noarlunga medical officer, refused to attend the accident, and by the time Dr Knipe was fetched, the little girl had died.

An advertisement for a tender was published in 1867 to build Dr. Knipe a house in Aldinga. It is probable that this is the “Doctor’s House” in Little Road, White’s Valley, now McGaffin Farm.

It seems that he suffered from ill-health for a considerable time. One week before he died, James married Elizabeth Nancarrow/Nacarrow, also from Aldinga. Hence, he appeared in the newspapers for three consecutive weeks, once on the occasion of his marriage, second on the occasion of his death and third on the occasion of his funeral. He was eulogized as follows: “Doctor Knipe was a gentleman of first-class ability, of sterling integrity and practical wisdom. His professional abilities were of the highest order, which is fully testified by the extraordinary amount of practice he had gained in the South, where his loss will be deeply regretted by the general public — no less than by his more immediate friends, as leaving in our community a void not easily to be filled by a man of equal merit and sterling worth. He was ever ready and willing in his professional capacity to render his skilful assistance with a generous feeling, and administer to the wants of the poor as well as those of the rich”.

James left £40 to his servant Ann, and the rest of his estate to his new wife. He died without issue. He is buried in St Ann’s cemetery, Aldinga.


Genealogy SA,

Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga Doctors, Folder 42:9.

Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga District Doctors 1841-1909

Extracts from SA General Registry Office (GRO) Information,

Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service; Worcester, England, UK; The Diocese of Worcester Parish Registers – father’s marriage 1808.(

Welsh Archives Services, Gwasanaethau Archifau Cymru, Caernarvonshire Baptisms. (Findmypast).

1841 census: Class: HO107; Piece: 1126; Book: 14; Civil Parish: Old Stratford; County: Warwickshire; Enumeration District: 1a; Folio: 10; Page: 13; Line: 10; GSU roll: 464169,

‘Royal College of Surgeons’, The Era, 1 August 1847, 7. (Findmypast)

1850 ‘SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE.’, South Australian Register, 26 March, p. 2. ,

1850 ‘GOVERNMENT GAZETTE.’, Adelaide Times, 5 April, p. 3. ,

1850 ‘LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.’, South Australian Register, 13 September, p. 2. ,

1851 ‘NEWS FROM EUROPE RESUMED.’ [‘Triple Birth’], South Australian Register, 20 January, p. 3. ,

1854 ‘DISTRICT VACCINATORS.’, South Australian Register, 10 February, p. 3. ,

1854 ‘WAR RELIEF FUND.’, South Australian Register, 2 August, p. 2. ,

‘Nashwauk’, Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database, Australian Government,

1862 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Weekly Chronicle, 29 March, p. 1. ,

1862 ‘DISTRICT COUNCILS.’, South Australian Register, 24 November, p. 3. ,

1863 ‘DISTRICT COUNCILS.’, South Australian Register, 9 May, p. 4. ,

1863 ‘Advertising’ [‘District Councils’], South Australian Register, 3 September, p. 4. ,

1864 ‘THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE.’, South Australian Register, 22 January, p. 4. ,

1867 ‘Advertising’, The South Australian Advertiser, 10 January, p. 1. ,

1870 ‘Family Notices’, Evening, 12 December, p. 2.

1870 ‘COUNTRY NEWS.’, The Irish Harp and Farmers’ 24 December, p. 3. ,

‘Deaths’, Worcestershire Chronicle, 1 March 1871. (Findmypast).

1870 ‘COUNTRY CORRESPONDENCE.’, South Australian Register, 30 December, p. 6. ,

1870, Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), 22 December, p. 2. , ,

Stamp Circuit, viewed 30 December 2023.

The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891; Class: RG12; Piece: 2331; Folio: 25; Page: 15; GSU roll: 6097441. 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Australia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records,  FamilySearch,  Entry for James Frederick Knipe, 7 Dec 1870.

Australia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records, FamilySearch,  Entry for James Frederick Knipe, 1 Feb 1871.

1898 ‘SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CRICKET.’, Evening Journal, 17 February, p. 4. ,


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