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The ancient name of Knight finds its origins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from a name for a knight, who was usually a feudal tenant deriving its origin from the Old English word cniht, which means knight. The word cniht also means servant and common soldier. Knighthood was established as a military profession by the 10th century. With the Norman Conquest and the resultant changes in the social order, knighthood became an established feudal rank, directly under that of a Baron. It was associated with the holding of land, but was not hereditary. Because land was hereditary and knighthood was not, there grew up a body of landless knights, who often banded together into military orders, such as the Knights Templar, and the Knights Hospitalers. As time went by, cavalry decreased in importance in warfare and the excesses of the Knights Templar brought the institution of knighthood into disrepute. The Knights Templar were suppressed by Pope Clement V in 1312. By the 16th century knighthood became a civil distinction.

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The surname Knight was first found in Suffolk where one of the first records of the name was John le Cnitht who was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. The same rolls also lists: Gilbert le Knyt in Cambridgeshire; Roger le Knith in Oxfordshire; and Ellis le Knyght in Wiltshire.

The surname was "well distributed over England south of a line drawn from the Humber to the Dee. In the northern part of England it is singularly rare. Sussex stands foremost for the number of its Knights, and after it come, in their order, Hants, Leicestershire and Rutland, and Gloucestershire. In Norfolk and Suffolk we have the form of Knights." [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list: Johannes Knyght; Willelmus Kneyte; Thomas Knycht: and Willelmus Knygth. [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Some of the family were found in Scotland in early times. Robert dictus Knycht was burgess of Abirbrothoc and had a charter of a piece of land in Aberbrothoc in 1331. In 1435, John Knycht was canon of Brechin and rector of Funewyn (Finhaven.) He is probably the John Knycht who appears on an inquest on the lands of Tulloch in 1438. [3]CITATION[CLOSE]
Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)

More recently some of the family held estates at Aston-Sub-Edge in Gloucestershire. "Norton-Burnt House, so called from the greater portion of it having been destroyed by fire while the seat of Sir William Knight, Bart., is the property of the Earl of Harrowby." [4]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Another branch was found at Letwell in the West Riding of Yorkshire. "The family seat of the Knights, here, an ancient house, was taken down by the late Mr. Gally Knight when he removed his residence, a few years since, to the mansion at Firbeck; but the offices, with the gardens and pleasure-grounds, in the latter of which is an extensive lake, are still remaining." [4]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Knight family name include Knight, Knights and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Knight research. Another 153 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1613, 1683, 1660, 1619, 1691, 1660, 1673, 1718 and 1686 are included under the topic Early Knight History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Distinguished members of the family include Sir William Knight, Ambassador to Maximilian; Sir John Knight (1613-1683), an English merchant and politician, Member of Parliament for Bristol (1660); Sir Ralph Knight (c 1619-1691), an English soldier and politician, Member of Parliament...

Another 40 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Knight Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Knight surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Knight Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Walter Knight, who landed in Nantasket, Massachusetts in 1622
  • John Knight settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Richard Knight settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Mordecay Knight, who arrived in Virginia in 1624-1625
  • Robert Knight settled in Boston in 1630
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Knight Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Henry Knight, who arrived in Virginia in 1702
  • Frances Knight, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • Joseph Knight, who arrived in Virginia in 1711
  • Jung Peter Knight, aged 31, landed in Pennsylvania in 1732
  • Jacob Knight, aged 36, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1740
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Knight Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Knight, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Daniel Knight, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • David Knight, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Abraham Knight, aged 25, landed in New York in 1812
  • James Knight, who landed in New York in 1827
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Knight Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Jane Knight, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Mr. Knight John U.E. born in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA from Abington, Pennsylvania, USA who settled in Beaver Harbour, Pennfield, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada c. 1783 listed as signing the Quaker Loyalist Agreement
  • Mr. Knight Joshua U.E. (b. 1731) born in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA from Abington, Pennsylvania, USA who settled in Beaver Harbour, Pennfield, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada c. 1783 listed as signing the Quaker Loyalist Agreement, leader of the Quakers from Abington married to Sarah Tyson having 10 children, he died in 1801
  • Mr. Knight Joshua Jr., U.E. born in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA from Abington, Pennsylvania, USA who settled in Beaver Harbour, Pennfield, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada c. 1783 listed as signing the Quaker Loyalist Agreement
  • Mrs. Knight Sarah U.E. born in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA from Abington, Pennsylvania, USA who settled in Beaver Harbour, Pennfield, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada c. 1783 listed as signing the Quaker Loyalist Agreement
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Knight Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Knight, English convict from Dorset, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • William Knight, English convict from Cornwall, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Margaret Knight, Scottish convict from Aberdeen, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Knight arrived in Glenelg Roads aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1838
  • James Knight arrived in Glenelg Roads aboard the ship "Pestonjee Bomanjee" in 1838
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Knight Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Samuel M Knight landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840
  • Charles Knight landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • James Knight landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Duke of Roxburgh
  • William Knight, aged 39, a miner, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
  • Mary Ann Knight, aged 36, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
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  • Gladys Maria Knight (b. 1944), American R&B/soul singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, humanitarian, and author best known for her group Gladys Knight & the Pips
  • Ted Knight (1923-1986), American actor best known for playing the comedic role of Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Wayne Knight (b. 1955), American actor
  • Charles Landon Knight (1867-1933), American lawyer, newspaper publisher and politician
  • Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924), American artist
  • Charles Knight (1874-1953), American artist, known for his paintings and sculptures of animals
  • Philip Knight (b. 1938), American businessman, co-founder of Nike
  • First Lieutenant Raymond Larry Knight (1922-1945), United States Army Air Force officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945
  • First Lieutenant Jack L Knight (1917-1945), United States Army officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945
  • Nicholas Verity Knight (b. 1969), English former cricketer
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Knight Historic Events



Empress of Ireland

  • Mr. Robert Knight, British Butcher from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking on May 29th 1914

Halifax Explosion

  • Mr. C. Knight, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mrs. Minnie Knight (1895-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMAS Sydney II

  • Mr. Neil Kenneth Knight (1921-1941), Australian Steward from Midland Junction, Western Australia, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking

HMS Hood

  • Mr. Roy F Knight (b. 1923), English Midshipman serving for the Royal Navy Reserve from Goring-by-Sea, Sussex, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
  • Mr. Stanley R Knight (b. 1913), English Joiner 4th Class serving for the Royal Navy from West Ham, London, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
  • Mr. John Knight (b. 1919), English Engine Room Artificer 4th Class serving for the Royal Navy from Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
  • Mr. James A P Knight (b. 1916), English Stoker 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Calbourne, Isle of Wight, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. Jack Knight, British Petty Officer, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Frederick Knight, British R D F Operator from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Frederick Knight, DSM, British Joiner 3rd Class, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died during the sinking
  • Mr. Esmond Pennington Knight (1906-1941), English Lieutenant Gunnery Officer from England, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales May 1941 and survived but was blinded, before the sinking of the HMS Prince of Wales

RMS Lusitania

  • Mr. C. T. Knight, English Able-Bodied Seaman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Charles Knight, English Night Watchman from Liverpool, England, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and Survived the sinking but later died
  • Mr. Charles Harwood Knight, American 1st Class Passenger from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Miss Elaine Harwood Knight, American 1st Class Passenger from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking

RMS Titanic

  • Mr. Robert J. Knight (d. 1912), aged 39, Irish Fitter from Belfast, Ireland who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Mr. George Knight, aged 44, English Saloon Steward from Woolston, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 13
  • Mr. Leonard George Knight (d. 1912), aged 21, English Steward from Bishopstoke, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Mr. Robert J. Knight (d. 1912), aged 39, Irish Second Class passenger from Belfast, Ireland who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
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  • A Genealogy of Some Early Missouri Settlers by Donald Jack Knight.
  • Kennard, King, Knight, Hardin, Goodin by Alta Kennard Patterrson.
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Citations



  1. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  4. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...

The Knight Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Knight 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 6 July 2016 at 13:49.

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