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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Knowles family come from? What is the English Knowles family crest and coat of arms? When did the Knowles family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Knowles family history?

The ancestors of the name Knowles date back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Knowles family lived in the area that was referred to as the knoll. This surname was originally derived from the Old English word cnolle which means one who lived at the top of the hill or the summit.

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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Knowles are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Knowles include: Knollys, Knoll, Knolle, Knolles, Knowles, Knowlys and others.

First found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Knowles research. Another 205 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1325, 1407, 1588, 1659, 1614, 1621, 1622, 1624, 1626, 1628, 1629, 1599 and 1691 are included under the topic Early Knowles History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 213 words(15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Knowles Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Knowles family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 127 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Knowles or a variant listed above:

Knowles Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Isarell Knowles, who landed in Virginia in 1622
  • Henry Knowles settled in Salem, Massachusetts in 1635
  • John Knowles settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Alexander Knowles, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636
  • Richard Knowles, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1638


Knowles Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Thomas Knowles, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Jane Knowles, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Abner Knowles, who arrived in America in 1782

Knowles Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Luke Knowles, aged 33, arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1821
  • David Knowles, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1835
  • Saml Knowles, aged 23, landed in Key West, Fla in 1843
  • Edwin Knowles, aged 33, landed in Key West, Fla in 1848
  • George B Knowles, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851


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  • John Knowles (1926-2001), American Writer
  • Anthony Carroll "Tony" Knowles (b. 1943), American politician and businessman, Governor of Alaska (1994-2002)
  • William S Knowles (b. 1917), American chemist, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001
  • Warren Perley Knowles (1908-1993), American politician, Governor of Wisconsin from 1965-1971
  • Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (b. 1981), known as Beyoncé, American sixteen-time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress
  • Sir James Knowles (1831-1908), English architect and editor
  • Mr. Thomas Knowles, aged 42, English Firemen's Messman from Lymington, England who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on collaspible C
  • Stanley Howard Knowles (1908-1997), Canadian politician and Clergyman, member of the Canadian Parliament
  • Sir Richard Marchant "Dick" Knowles (1917-2008), British politician


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  • Descendants & Antecedents of Darius Daniel Knowles by Beverly Metzger.
  • Descendants of John Knowles by Virginia Knowles Hufbauer.
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  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  2. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  5. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  7. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  11. ...

The Knowles Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Knowles Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 10 March 2014 at 18:20.

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