The ceremony was first held in 1801, overseen by John Knill himself and follows the form set out in his Will of 1797. Knill appointed three Trustees (the Customs Officer, Vicar and Mayor) to ensure that the memorial ceremony be carried out every 5 years. The Will calls for a fiddler to lead dancing around the Knill Steeple, a landmark in St Ives, with the dancers to be 10 girls, all under 10 years and the daughters of fishermen, seamen or tinners. The girls are always accompanied by two widows, the widows of fishermen, seamen or tinners. The Trustees fulfilled their duty in ensuring that the ceremony took place, organised on behalf of the Trustees by St Ives Town Council.
The next Knill celebration will take place in 2021.