Connoisseur art historian; critic of the Elgin marbles debate. Knight was the grandson of a Shropshire ironmaster, Richard Knight, whose fortune he inherited. His parents were Thomas Knight, a clergyman, and his mother, his father's onetime servant girl, Ursula Nash. Knight was educated at home. He made many trips to Italy during his youth, collecting coins and antique bronzes. In 1774 he inherited the Downton Castle property, on which he built a "castle" beginning in 1772, transforming the grounds into an important example of British landscape architecture of the time.