Grange Academy Library is named in honour of Samuel McKnight, a former pupil who served and died in the First World War. The plague, shown above, hangs above the main entrance to the library. When Miss Reid, the librarian, came to the school in 1999, Samuel McKnight’s sister had died and left a legacy of £500 to the school library in memory of her brother. This was used to purchase book carousels. Samuel’s family have kindly donated the next of kin memorial plague (known as the dead man’s penny) , a selection of documents and pictures to the school library. These are now held in our local history collection and are shown below.
Samuel was born in 1893 and lived at 41 North Hamilton Street with his father James and his mother Agnes. He attended Hamilton School, Which eventually became Grange Academy. He was an only son.
Where he won "Burns: Peoples edition" for coming first in English in 1904.
He left Hamilton School in 1906 as the Dux to attend Kilmarnock Academy and left there in 1909 to begin an apprenticeship at the Royal Bank of Scotland on John Finnie Street. In 1914 he was transferred to the Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office in Edinburgh to work in the Inspector’s department.
Dundas House - Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office, Edinburgh
In March 1915, he enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders and transferred later that year to the Royal Scots, the 17th Battalion, Lothian Division.
In 1917 he was promoted to Captain and is mentioned in dispatches for his bravery. In 1918, he married Mary Helen Mason at St. Mark’s Church Harrogate on September 4th 1918.
Less than four weeks later, Captain Samuel McKnight of the Royal Scots was killed in France on the 29th September 1918. He was 25 years old when he died.
Next of Kin Memorial Plaques, Scrolls and a King’s Message were issued to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war. The memorial plaques were commonly known as the "dead mans' penny."
Next of Kin Memorial Plague
“I am quite well”
Was the only message Samuel McKnight could give to his colleagues at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh while he was away. Decades later, his postcards were found tucked into an envelope in The Royal Bank of Scotland's head office, with the following covering note:
“These cards have been placed here by J. Smith, Messenger, in the hope that perhaps long after this dreadful war the name of one may again be honoured who was loved by all. A finer and more promising young gentleman could not be met with – our sorrow was great at his loss. 10 July 1919”
Samuel McKnight was one of nearly 600 men from The Royal Bank of Scotland who joined up during the First World War. Of them, 84 lost their lives and many more suffered lasting injuries. From all the British constituents that make up today's RBS, 1,582 were killed.
Information on this page has been reproduced with kind permission from the Royal Bank of Scotland.