John C. Knox (Pennsylvania)

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John Colvin Knox
John C. Knox of Pennsylvania, 1817-1880.jpg
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
In office
May 23, 1853 – January 19, 1858
Succeeded byWilliam A. Porter
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
In office
January 19, 1858 – January 16, 1861
GovernorWilliam F. Packer
Preceded byThomas E. Franklin
Succeeded bySamuel A. Purviance
Personal details
Born(1817-02-18)February 18, 1817
Knoxville, Tioga County, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 26, 1880(1880-08-26) (aged 63)
Wellsboro, Tioga County, Pennsylvania
Spouse(s)Adaline Kilburn[1]
ProfessionAttorney, Judge

John Colvin[2][3] (or Colton)[4] Knox (February 18, 1817 – August 26, 1880) was a Pennsylvania lawyer and judge. He served as an associate justice of the state Supreme Court and a term as state Attorney General.

Biography and career[edit]

Knox was born the son of William Knox and Sally Colvin.[3] His father died in 1832, his mother in 1835,[3] and Knox was mostly self-educated. He rose extremely rapidly in the legal profession. He served as a deputy attorney general 1840–1842, and was sent to the state legislature in 1845, which he left early when appointed president judge for various districts in western Pennsylvania. He was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1851, which he left when appointed state Attorney General, 1858–1861. He co-authored during that time a revision of the Pennsylvania Penal Code. During the Civil War, he served as a judge advocate in the United States Army.[5]

After the war, Knox went into private practice in Philadelphia. He came down with "paralysis of the brain" and had to retire, and lived helplessly until his death.[5]

Ira Kilburn Knox[edit]

Knox's oldest son, Kilburn, had completed two years at the University of Pennsylvania when the Civil War broke out. He withdrew from college and enlisted. At the end of the war, he was an aide to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton with the rank of major. The night before the Lincoln assassination, Michael O'Laughlen (a childhood friend of John Wilkes Booth) showed up at the Stanton residence and made somewhat drunken inquiries that were handled by Kilburn. Kilburn's testimony was the strongest link connecting O'Laughlen to the Booth conspiracy, and helped secure a conviction.[6]


  1. ^ Payne Kenyon Kilbourne (1856). The History and Antiquities of the Name and Family of Kilbourn (in Its Varied Orthography). Durrie & Peck. p. 310.
  2. ^ History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania. Syracuse, N.Y: D. Mason & Co. 1887. p. 395.
  3. ^ a b c Nathaniel Foote (1926). William Knox of Blandford, Mass: a record of the births, marriages and deaths of some of his descendants. p. 24.
  4. ^ John L. Sexton (1885). An Outline History of Tioga and Bradford Counties in Pennsylvania, Chemung, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins and Schuyler in New York. Bradford County (Pa.): Gazette Company. p. 26.
  5. ^ a b R. C. Brown (1897). History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Harrisburg. p. 157.
  6. ^ Dr. Robert Girard Carroon (Fall 2006). "Witness! Kilburn Knox and the Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators" (PDF). Loyal Legion Historical Journal. 63 (3): 1–4.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas E. Franklin
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Samuel A. Purviance