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File:Benjamin Knight Rhode Island textile industrialist.jpg

Benjamin Knight

Benjamin Knight (1813–1898) was a New England industrialist and philanthropist, who was a partner in B. B. & R. Knight and was one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world when he died in 1898. He co-founded the large and famous brand, Fruit of the Loom.

Early life[]

Benjamin Brayton Knight was born in Cranston, Rhode Island on October 3, 1813 to Stephen Knight and Weltham Brayton. Knight worked on the family farm until he was 18 and went to work at Sprague Print Works in Cranston, but eventually returned to farming. In 1835 he opened a general grocery store near the print works. In 1838 he moved to Providence, and founded Winsor, Knight & Company, a grocery business, with Onley Winsor and L. E. Bowen and eventually his brother, Jeremiah Knight, and the firm became B. B. Knight & Co. Knight later partnered with D. T. Penniman as Penniman, Knight & Company in the flour and grain trade in the Amasa Mason Block on Dyer street Providence, Rhode Island. After buying out Penniman, Knight continued alone for about four years until 1849 when he sold his grocery business to Jeremiah. In 1852 Knight sold half of his flour and grain interest to Robert Knight, another brother. He then purchased from Robert a one-half interest in the Pontiac Mill and Bleachery, and the firm of B. B. and R. Knight was formed. The brothers later began to focus solely on the textile manufacturing. The company became the largest textile manufacturer in the world. Benjamin Knight also served as in several political offices, including as a member of the General Assembly and city alderman. Knight also became involved in various banking and insurance companies.[1][2]

See also[]


  1. History of Providence County, Vol I & II Ed. by Richard M. Bayles; W.W. Preston & Co., NY. 1891 [1]
  2. History of Providence County, Vol I & IIEd. by Richard M. Bayles; W.W. Preston; Co., NY.Biographical sketches Volume 1 "City of Providence"[2]