Page 3d(2) - K/NIBB/S Inventors


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Over the years the K/NIBB/S have been an enterprising lot!  We've already come across Joseph KNIBB who famously developed the seconds pendulum fitted with his special escapement mechanism. In 1673, amongst other items, James GREGORY, the Scottish mathmetician, ordered from Joseph, a split-second timepiece, the first such instrument ever produced.  It is still in the possession of St Andrew's University.

Joseph may also have been the originator of the anchor and tic-tac escapement, both of which it is known he used before other makers.  He certainly introduced new methods of striking and, in particular, invented Roman Notation.  This incorporated two bells of different pitches.  One represented the Roman V and the other the Roman I.  By interpretating X as two V's, only four strikes were required at most to record the correct hour.  As shown by David KNIBB in his article on The KNIBB Family of Clockmakers, this was hugely beneficial when considering the number of strikes that would occur in eight days, the generally expected period between windings.

His Roman striking clocks had a dial with IV, in contrast to the more normal IIII. I recommend the very interesting article by horologist Donn Haven LATHROP entitled 'To IV, or not to IV' which contains a picture of such a clock.  I thank him for giving permission to provide this link.

Only recently have I truly appreciated just how early, after their introduction, were the KNIBBs making longcase clocks.  The seconds pendulum was patented by HUYGENS in 1656 and only subsequently were hoods, then longcases, made to protect the inner workings.  Yet Joseph KNIBB was making longcase clocks with anchor escapement by 1671, and other longcase clocks earlier still.

Less renowned but equally resourceful were James Syson NIBBS, James KNIBBS and Leroy Hayes KNIBB and others whose inventions are detailed below.

James Syson NIBBS  1819 - 1889

Oil & Special Lamp Maker

He invented the oxidate condensing lamp made famous by Florence NIGHTINGALE.  A description of it appears in the Official Catalogue of the world renowned Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations 1851 held in the newly built Crystal Palace.  It reads as follows:-


472  NIBBS, James Syson, Baslow, Blakewell (sic)

Forms of the "oxidate condensing lamp" for economical distribution of artificial light.  The burner is constructed to effect the combustion of the whole of the carbon of the oil, and is said to produce a greater amount of light from a given quantity of oil.  The common oils may be used.

Improved weather lantern, for outdoor purposes, cellars, etc constructed on the same principle with other improvements: and used for ships, railway carriages, and other vehicles, as side lights, etc

ACJ: For "Blakewell" read "Bakewell" near to where James was headmaster at a school and where his wife also taught.

James KNIBBS  1827 - 1901

Fireman extraordinary

Born in Somerton, Oxfordshire, James made his mark in the City of Troy fire service, New York.  From 1860 to 1883, he was the Engineer of the Arba Read Steam Fire-Engine Company, after which he became Superintendent of the fire alarm telegraph service.  The value of the Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph proved to be immense under his care and management as one of the most important and effective divisions of the service of the Troy Fire Department.

The Arba Read Steamer No1 at work

He himself had suffered from the devastating effects of fire when the house he was living in was burnt down by a conflagration that ravaged a whole district of the City in 1862.  As one of the three engineers in charge of their respective steamers at the time, the Board of the Company formally recognised his service as follows: 'In addition to their labors, at and subsequent to a fire, their mechanical ability has been the means of saving no inconsiderable sum to the department in the repair and construction of fire apparatus'.  Inspired no doubt from his experiences, James invented and patented in 1864 a valve for relieving the pressure on steam fire engines, resulting from the sudden cutting off of the flow through any of a number of hose nozzles that radiate from the engine.  In 1877, he sued the City of New York for $50,000 for unlicensed use and appropriation of his invention.  Litigation continued for years and years and despite judgement and assessment of damages at $1,182,117.39 being awarded in 1881, that was not the end of the matter.  An appeal was lodged to recover over $10 million which with interest later amounted to over $26 million dollars.  With this case in the background, perhaps it was no surprise that endless litigation also surrounded the trust funds set up under James's Will.

The patent litigation was eventually settled for a mere $1,500.

James KNIBBS c1895

The likeness of James KNIBBS above was taken from a book by Arthur James WEISE called 'The Firemen and Fire Departments of Troy, N.Y. published by Albany N.Y. 1895.  This was copied by Ana KNIBBS-RIZZO, a direct descendant of James who also provided the photograph of the Arba Read fire steamer and carried out all of the research about the family.


Mar 2001

Leroy Hayes KNIBB  1896 - 1984

Prolific inventor

(Contributed by Leroy Hayes KNIBB Jnr, son of the inventor, as edited and expanded by ACJ.  Also see CREDITS at end)

As a young man he worked on the idea of using ultrawave current to harden steel.  This was used in World War 2 to harden the ball bearings in US military equipment and after the war it was the major component of the microwave oven.

He also had something to do with recycling oil to reconstitute it to be used again;   for the benefit of service military trucks in Europe during WW2.

He patented several items during his lifetime as follows:-

A fitting that makes oil drilling simpler.

An ice cream freezer that makes ice cream in the frozen food section of a household refrigerator.  Here are a couple of super photographs taken for me by Dennis CLARK (not a K/NIBB/S researcher) who surfed into the website having acquired a machine and wanting to know more about it.

Label reads 'KNIBB Home/Ice Cream FREEZER   Inscription on rim reads 'KNIBB INDUSTRIES INC CHICAGO ILL' with some patent info

And a copy of a recipe book cover kindly copied by Sidney KELLEY, bless her.

Full text available on request

He was one of the first to make a fibreglass fishing rod.  He made it by making the fibreglass as a string instead of wrapping it.

Fibreglass Fishing Rod

Another invention that went into production was a plastic yoyo, the Dyna Glo skill top shown below:-

Dyna Glo yoyo

A watch band made of a stainless steel coil similar to a slinkey but of course flat.

Five Patents related to beauty products throughout beauty salons which really never got off the ground.  All the major manufacturers in the USA later copied it and he lost out.

At the time of his death he was working on a bag for men who could not hold their urine.  This was the forerunner of the product which sells in the USA under the name of 'Depends' as advertised on television.

He made money on some of these patents but lost money on others.

More details of his patents from 1949 to 1967 can be viewed at The US Patents Office website under the following Patent Numbers:  2488668 D161189 D182768 2649956 2823113 2845658 3078471 3190502 322349 392/480


Sep 2000-11


Yoyo photograph copied from this site


Roger G KNIBB of Hove (now deceased) - Treatment of sludge.  US Patent No 3493494 3/2/1970
Terence F KNIBB of Northampton (now Bristol) - Display devices comprising a light emitting diode chip mounted on a substrate, metallic parts being eletroplated with a light absorbing material to reduce or eliminate reflections from metallic connections to the chip.  US Patent No 4259679 31/3/1981
John Allen KNIBBS of Missouri - Sander with depth guide and process of sanding a surface.  US Patent No 6035474 14/3/2000
Richard H KNIBBS of Steventon - Filter apparatus.  US Patent No 4219421 26/8/1980
Robin K KNIBBS of Southwick - Model figures representing a horse and rider  US Patent No 4251948 24/2/1981 and another that moves forward by pressure applied to the animal's head  4218844 26 Aug 1980

(See The US Patents Office website for more details.  You may need to download a G4 TIFF Image Viewer if you do not already have one on your computer.)

Lloyd (1931-2011) & Dion KNIBB


This father and son team were born in Jamaica but moved to the States.


In the world of ska, Lloyd Knibb is a household name. Born though Ferron Lloyd George KNIBB (?) in Portland, Kingston, Jamaica, Lloyd was the drummer who invented the unique modern Ska beat at a recording session in Studio One at Kingston for producer Clement "Sir Coxsone" DODD.  Ska is a cocktail of sounds and beats (local Mento, a touch of Calypso, with influences from Cuban melodies and American Rock & Roll, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues etc).  Essentially based on the 'burru' style, Lloyd's major contribution was to emphasise as 'direct' the second and fourth beats of the bar.   It produced the signature ‘oom-cha’ for the rhythm section and caught on immediately.  However simple the switch may seem, the effect was enormous, writes Alex BUTLER. The slightly jerky, danceable feel, persists to this day, through mutations such as the slower 'Rocksteady' and better known 'Reggae'.

Ska proved very popular from the outset and returns in phases but, unlike some forms, Ska music is strictly non-political.

In his playing, Lloyd combined together the bass drum, the funde and the repeater.  He was self taught.  Back in the 1940's, Lloyd lived at West Street, Kingston and picked up music in his mid-teens by listening to jazz drummer Donald JARRETT.  The band he played with, practised nearby.  Lloyd acknowledged the help he had from him and other drummers but repaid those debts many times over by teaching others.

His first professional work, other than playing at the beach or on board ships, was in the Val BENNETT band.  Next he was in the Stanley HEADLAM band and others followed, including Sonny BRADSHAW, Stanley EDLAM, Chistian SCOTT, Jack BROWN and a settled period with Eric DEANS.  Notably Lloyd was a founder member of The Skatalites in early 1964 (previously individuals who 'backed' others in the studio) and, in the same year, the band released their first LP, ‘Ska Authentic’.  By 1965, they had a catalog of over 200 songs.  Don DRUMMOND, the trombonist, was the powerhouse writer and his original, ‘Man in the Street’ rose to a Top 10 list in the UK. With KNIBB pushing his new revolutionary ska rhythm, the group backed other up-and-coming Jamaican roots musicians at the time, including Toots and The Maytals, Bob MARLEY and the Wailers, Peter TOSH, and Jimmy CLIFF.  However, after DRUMMOND's mental breakdown and murder conviction in 1969, the Skatalites disbanded.  Meanwhile, KNIBB had joined the Supersonics with fellow Skatalite, saxophonist Tommy McCOOK.  The Skatalites reformed in 1983 and played at the Sunsplash Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica and have not looked back since with success all around the World.

The band's website is at and click here for a photograph of Lloyd.  He has sat in with his son's band on numerous occasions.  But even he suffers the K/NIBB/S surname syndrome.  Here's a short extract from one interview -

Lloyd KNIBB, with an estimated 2000 or more recordings to his name, and bassist Lloyd BREVET were simultaneously honoured with silver Musgrave Awards for outstanding musical merit on 13th October 2010.  (Marley had typically said on being offered a gold award, 'Rasta no take medal'.)   He also received the Prime Ministers' Award, the Order of Distinction, citations from city and state representatives across the world, and induction into the Jamaican Music Hall of Fame.  Truly a legend in his own lifetime.

Lloyd had already contracted liver cancer to which he finally succumbed on 12th May 2011, returning against medical advice from his residence in Hull, Boston, MA to his home in Harbour View, Jamaica to die.  His funeral was held at the Sts Peter and Paul Church on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.  Former Prime Minister of Jamaica,P J Patterson, once served as manager of the band, paid tribute to his prowess, ending "To Lloyd, ... - "One Love, my Brother, as you jam with your Brothers".  Lloyd KNIBB is survived by Enid, his wife for more than 50 years, their children Merrick, Donna, Claudia and Dion, and his sons Mark and Conrad, from another relationship.

See David KATZ 's Lloyd KNIBB Obituary in The Guardian. Also and


Soulful growling vocalist Dion KNIBB heads up the Agitators who are, according to one commentator on Ska, breathing new life and style into this great Jamaican art form.  The band's story is told at their website which I invite you to visit.

It reports that Dion Knibb & the Agitators formed in the winter of 1995-96 in Boston, Mass., bringing together musicians who had worked with Steady Earnest (Art Cohen, Mike Hartford, Patrick Faucher and Keith Yaun) and the Skatalites (Ken Stewart and Dion Knibb himself).

They played their first gig at Boston's Mama Kin Music Hall on February 15, 1996, opening for Dub Syndicate, and have since become one of Boston's most popular ska/reggae bands.

A 1998 highly rated recording of theirs (Driving Me Mad! CD - DVS Media "a classic in one listening") has a wordless track entitled "Monica LEWINSKY" - skankin' goodness per Phillip HAIRE.  Enough's been said about her already, I guess!

August 2001
(with much help from 'Scratchie' Art and especially Brian KEYO)
Updated 2011

Mary Morris KNIBB c1881-1964

Educator and Benefactor

Married to Alex, a brother of Enos, I gather, this is a preliminary note about her.   I am endeavouring to find out more.  She featured on one of a set of three Moravian Church commemorative stamps, at which time this article was written, long after her death on 21 September 1964 at her home in Woodford Park, St Andrew at the age of 83:-

'A pioneer in many regards, Mary Morris Knibb rose to become the first elected woman representative of the Moravian Church in Jamaica.  She continued her ascendancy when she became the first female councillor of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and this major accomplishment was attributed to her established record of civic leadership and commitment to excellence.

Her leadership endeavours continued when she became President of the Women's Liberal Club, which included the likes of Molly Huggins, Edith Clarke and Amy Bailey.  Morris Knibb was a champion of women's rights in Jamaica and was at the forefront of women's struggle for the right to vote.  Her leadership aspirations and ambitions saw her becoming the vice president and co-founder of the Moravian Women's Fellow.  She later became the founder of the Shortwood Teacher's College Alumni Association.

It is said that her greatest achievement was being the founder and manager of the Morris Knibb Preparatory School.  Many, who have passed through the school, continue to speak of the strong influence she has had on their formative years.  The church hall at the Redeemer Moravian Church and the extension college on the grounds of Morris Knibb Preparatory, are seen as edifices of her philosophy of self-reliance and development.

The Moravian Church and the Jamaican society were recipients of Morris Knibb's leadership, managerial and fiduciary competencies as manifested in her creation of a deaconess fund for the church, designed to promote leadership among girls.  The hall of The Church of the Redeemer, Jamaica is named after her, its chief benefactor.   Her legacy has survived and continues to create leaders in the society, 40 years after her death.'

From the Jamaican Information Service
Friday, December 24, 2004

The Moravian Church in Jamaica as part of its 250 anniversary year celebrations in collaboration with the Postal Corporation of Jamaica launched a commemorative stamp series to honour posthumously, three of its stalwarts.  One of these was Mary Morris Knibb.


Councillor Alfred Talbot KNIBB/S 1907-1991

"Extract from" :-Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser
Coun. A T Knibbs Invited to be next Mayor

Meeting in Committee on Wednesday night, Warwick Town Council decided unanimously to Invite Councillor A. T. Knibbs to be the next Mayor.
The Nomination of Councillor Knibbs, who accepted the Council’s invitation, was proposed by Councillor A. Woodward and seconded by Councillor C. C. Wilkins.

Councillor Kibbs has been a member of the Council since 1935 and has served on all committees.
He was Chairman of the Finance Committee for some years and is the present Chairman of the Rating and Valuation Committee.

He has represented the Council on the Mid-Warwickshire Executive for Education and many years has been a Manager of Warwick Borough School.  He was a Member of the old Board of Guardians.  Coun. Knibbs other Public Work includes Membership of St. Nicholas Parochial Church Council, on which he has served for about 28 Years.

Councillor Knibbs is a Master Printer and established his business in Smith Street in 1923.

When the Chamber of Trade was founded after the First World War he was the First Secretary, a post he held for over 10 years.
He has been a Member of the Typographical Association since 1905 and is a Past President of the Local Branch.

NOTE:-  Councillor A. T. Knibbs was Installed as Mayor of Warwick on Wednesday, May 21, 1952

George Henry KNIBB (1877 - 1940)

George Henry KNIBB, a coal miner by trade, was Mayor of Bunker Hill, IL for ten years and also held other city offices.  He was voted into office under the Independent ticket.  His obituary notice in the Alton Evening Telegraph rightly described him as a leading citizen of Bunker Hill.

John KNIBB (1649 - 1722)

John KNIBB, the clockmaker, became Mayor of Oxford in 1698 and again in 1710.   He was also bailiff, keykeeper, and alderman.


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