Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knox, Robert (1815-1883)

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KNOX, ROBERT (1815–1883), Irish presbyterian divine, third son of Hugh Knox, who was for forty years a ruling elder of the parish of Urney, co. Tyrone, was born at Clady, in that parish in 1815. In 1834 he entered Glasgow University, where in 1837 he took M.A. He subsequently studied at the old Belfast College, where during his student days he was an active promoter of the union between the synod of Ulster and the secession synod, which resulted in the formation of the general assembly of the presbyterian church in Ireland in 1840. He was licensed to preach in 1840, and sent as a missionary to the south of Ireland, being ordained by the presbytery of Strabane in April of that year. Several congregations owed their origin to his labours. On 10 June 1842 he was installed as assistant and successor to the Rev. John Whiteside, pastor of the second congregation of Coleraine. Next year he became minister of the Linenhall Street Church, Belfast.

Knox was soon one of the most energetic of the Belfast clergy, being particularly active in promoting the erection of new churches and school-houses, and in furthering the work of the town mission, of which he became honorary secretary. He established and edited a monthly periodical entitled the ‘Irish Presbyterian,’ and published many sermons. A prolonged newspaper controversy with the Rev. Theophilus Campbell of Trinity Church, Belfast, afterwards dean of Dromore, on the question of baptismal regeneration, brought him into much prominence. The letters were subsequently collected and published. In 1863 he received the degree of D.D. from the university of Schenectady, U.S. He was one of the founders of the Sabbath School Society for Ireland in connection with the presbyterian church, and one of the earliest and most enthusiastic promoters of the presbyterian alliance, in which all the presbyterian churches of the world are represented. While actively engaged in preparations for the meeting of this body in Belfast, arranged for 1884, he died on 16 Aug. 1883, leaving a widow, daughter of William Gilbert, esq., of Belfast, who subsequently married the Rev. George Matthews, D.D., of Quebec. Dr. Knox was buried in the Belfast borough cemetery.

[Personal knowledge; obituary notice in Belfast Witness.]

T. H.