When the early editions appeared Knighton was apprenticed to his surgeon-apothecary uncle in Tavistock, but his ambition was 'to traverse the wilds of America'. More than thirty years later he described Winterbotham as 'an itinerant Methodist preacher, and a very clever man'. Winterbotham was in fact a Baptist preacher at a church in Plymouth, but Knighton was writing a chatty letter to his daughter, not a document of record.
It also slipped the mature Knighton's mind that Winterbotham wrote and published his history while serving a four-year sentence in Newgate for seditious sermons preached at Plymouth in November 1792. Knighton the apprentice would certainly have remembered. Plymouth is only fifteen miles or so from Tavistock, and Knighton's mother sold farm produce there. Winterbotham's trial the following year was national news, and the 1794 press notice for his book referred to its author's 'long unmerited Seclusion'. The 1795 notice described the recently-lost colony as 'this Land of Freedom', and I suspect, on the basis of flimsy circumstantial evidence, that the young Knighton held radical sympathies which the middle-aged Knighton preferred to forget.
The weekly parts cost a shilling each, and the four volumes were £1 16s in boards ready for binding, perhaps a third of the money set aside for Knighton's clothes. His sacrifice for his dream was significant but not total, and he never set foot in America. But neither did the Reverend Winterbotham (portrait).