By kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London, under creative commons licence http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw02604/William-Godwin?
The link between Godwin and Knighton was their mutual friend, the painter James Northcote. In the summer of 1827 Northcote sent Knighton a list of appeals that he had received from people seeking Knighton's intervention on their behalf. Among them was one from Godwin, who successfully requested that his ailing brother be admitted to the Charterhouse. As I couldn't envisage Knighton and Godwin having much in common I attributed Knighton's actions to the Northcote connection, but it's possible that Knighton and Godwin had known each other for many years.
By 1825 Knighton declined invitations to dine because hosts expected him to divulge confidential information. So I hope it was 'my' Knighton whom Godwin noted at three dinners between 1809 and 1810. Two were held at the home of publisher Joseph Johnson. The other was 'at St Paul's', which I suspect meant Dolly's Chophouse. The guests were from diverse professions, well able to provide the intelligent conversation Knighton relished. And, as he had no influence at Court during those years, he would have been there on his own merits.
I'm not going to research the other diners to see whether they met a Dr Knighton and what they thought of him. But I hope someone does.
John Bonneycastle, mathematician
Thomas Cooper, actor
Sir Humphrey Davy, chemist
Henry Fuseli, artist
John Hewlett, biblical scholar
John Knowles, naval surveyor and biographer of Fuseli
William Hamilton Reid, writer
- Knighton, Lady [Dorothea], Memoirs of Sir William Knighton, Bart., Sir William Knighton G.C.H., Keeper of the Privy Purse during the Reign of His Majesty King George the Fourth. Including his correspondence with many distinguished persons, 2 volumes (London: Richard Bentley, 1838)
- The Diary of William Godwin, (eds) Victoria Myers, David O'Shaughnessy, and Mark Philp (Oxford: Oxford Digital Library, 2010). http://godwindiary.bodleian.ox.ac.uk.