William James Knowles (1832 - 1927):
W. J. Knowles was born in Fenagh, near Cullybackey, County Antrim. He was educated privately, and later taught botany and geology. He taught in Cullybackey, Portglenone and Ballymena, such diverse subjects as heat and light and the principles of agriculture. He was the land agent for the Casement estate, and from 1879 to 1920, secretary of the Antrim County Land, Building and Investment Company. He embarked on his antiquarian career in 1870 and in 1871 discovered sandhill settlement sites in Portstewart, excavated at Whitepark Bay and at Tievebulliagh, where his major achievement was the discovery of a Neolithic Axe Factory. In 1878 he was secretary of the committee set up by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in order to investigate such sites. He founded the Ballymena Naturalists' Field Club and the Ballymena Archaeological Society. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, a fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, a member of Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, and a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. He published more than seventy papers in journals. His fine collection of antiquities was dispersed in 1924 and he left Ballymena and retired to Ballvcastle. He is buried at the Craigs.