"KNOCKIN, a parish in the lower division of the hundred of Oswestry, a rectory discharged, in the diocese of St. Asaph, and the deanery of Marchia. 46 houses, 236 inhabitants. 5½ miles south-east of Oswestry.
Knockin Castle was built by Lord L'Estrange, the first of whose family was Guy L'Estrange, a younger son of the Duke of Bretagne. He had three sons, Guy, Hamon, and John, all of whom held lands in Shropshire, by gift of Henry the second. The younger Guy was Sheriff of this county, from the sixth of Henry the second to the eleventh of Henry the second; and again from the seventeenth of Henry the second to the twenty fifth of Henry the second. Ralph, his son, gave (the first of Richard the first) the chapel of Knockin to the canons of Haughmond. He left no issue, and his three sisters became his coheiresses. John, grandson of Guy, in the thirty third of Henry the third, procured a market for the town on Tuesday, and a fair on the eve day, and day after the anniversary of the decollation of St. John the Baptist. Madoc, who was at the head of an insurrection against the King's officers in North Wales, marched against the Lord Strange, and defeated bin at Knockin. The male line of the family failed in John L'Estrange, who died in the seventeenth of Edward the fourth, leaving an only daughter, Joan, who married George, son and heir of Thomas Stanley, who was created Earl of Derby by Henry the seventh. The castle was first demolished in the civil wars in the reign of King John, and repaired by John Le Strange, in the third of Henry the third. The title of Knockin is still kept up, though the family is extinct, the eldest son of the Derby family being styled Lord Strange. At present there is scarcely a vestige of the castle remaining. The property having been entrusted to improper hands, the stones have been worked up to build the church yard walls, and a bridge over the brook: a few years ago a quantity of them was carried away, and broken to mend the roads. The Keep may still be seen; it has a few straggling fir trees upon it. The town has now neither market nor fair.
There is a singular story relating to this castle narrated by Phillips, on the authority of Mr. Gough's manuscript account of Middle and its neighbourhood. It is without date:-
' One Thomas Elkes, being guardian to his eldest brother's child, who was young, and stood in his way to a considerable estate, in order to remove the child, hired a poor boy to entice him into a corn field to get flowers. Elkes met the two children in the field, sent the poor boy home, took his nephew in his arms to the farther end of the field, where he had placed a tub of water, into which placing the child's head he left it there. The child being missed, and enquiry made after him, the poor boy told how he was hired, and where he had left him. Elkes fled, and took the road to London. The neighbours sent two horsemen in pursuit, who riding along the road near South Mims, in Hertfordshire, saw two ravens sitting on a cock of hay, making an unnsual noise, and pulling the hay about with their beaks; upon which they alighted, and found Elkes asleep under the hay: he confessed that these two ravens had followed him from the time he did the fact. He was brought to Shrewsbury, tried, condemned, and hung in chains on Knockin heath.'"
[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)
[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]