Robert Knox was born in Clady, County Tyrone, third son of Hugh Knox, who was an elder of the nearby Urney Presbyterian Church. He was educated in Strabane, at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, and Glasgow University (MA, 1837). He was licensed to preach by Strabane Presbytery, and spent some years in southern Ireland, before returning to Ulster in 1842 answering a unanimous call to New Row in Coleraine, County Londonderry (in the Presbyterian Church a “call” is a rather technical term for the process of the appointment of ministers). In 1843 he answered another call, this time to Linenhall Street in Belfast where he would remain for the remainder of his life.
Knox was an energetic and dedicated minister, publishing pamphlets (for example on the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland); he was founding editor of the (monthly) Irish Presbyterian; he represented the Presbyterian Church of Ireland at conferences as far away as the United States; he was influential in the formation of new congregations at a time of rapid population growth in around Belfast; he was prominent in the Belfast Town Mission; and he was enthusiastic about the Pan-Presbyterian Council (a kind of intra-Presbyterian ecumenical body, there being different Presbyterian churches throughout Ireland and the world).
Knox was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Divinity) by Schenectady University, New York.
He died after a long illness at his home in Windsor Avenue, south Belfast.
||16 August 1883