Show ContentsKneller History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Kneller comes from the family having resided in Kneela, in Devon, or at Knell House in Sussex, or in Knill, in Herefordshire. 1 The place-names described above are all derived from the Old English word cnylle, which meant knoll. The name means "dweller at the knoll." 1 It seems likely that the name originated at Knill, in Herefordshire, as this is the oldest place that bears that name. Knill appears in the Domesday Book as Chenille. 2 Knell House in Sussex derives its name directly from the family name. 1

Early Origins of the Kneller family

The surname Kneller was first found in Herefordshire, at Knill, a "parish three miles from Kingston." 3 Alternatively the name could have originated at Nill Well in Cambridgeshire. 1

Early rolls give us a glimpse of the many spelling in use over the centuries. Alvredus de Knelle was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls for Sussex in 1220 and William atte Knells was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296. 1

The source "Testa de Nevill, sive Liber Feodorum, temp. Henry III-Edward I." lists Henry de Knell, Bedfordshire, Henry III-Edward I. 4

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had two entries for the family, both in Cambridgeshire: Gille de Knille and Robert de Knille. 3 In Somerset, early rolls there listed John atte Knyle, but not date was provided. 5

Early History of the Kneller family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kneller research. Another 139 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1220, 1273, 1296, 1327, 1560, 1569, 1570, 1571, 1573, 1581, 1600, 1615, 1646, 1656, 1660, 1662, 1664, 1723, 1826, 1835, 1846, 1852, 1857, 1866 and 1875 are included under the topic Early Kneller History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kneller Spelling Variations

Kneller has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Spelling variants included: Knell, Kneller, Knill, Knille, Knelle and others.

Early Notables of the Kneller family

Distinguished members of the family include

  • Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1st Baronet (1646-1723), born Gottfried Kniller, was the leading portrait painter in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Kneller Hall, a stately home in the Twi...

United States Kneller migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Knellers to arrive on North American shores:

Kneller Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elias Kneller, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1753 6
  • William Kneller, who arrived in America in 1764 6
Kneller Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Kneller, who landed in Washington, DC in 1809 6

Canada Kneller migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kneller Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Elias Kneller, who settled in Halifax in 1751

Australia Kneller migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Kneller Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Kneller, British Convict who was convicted in Winchester, Hampshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Corona" on 13th October 1866, arriving in Western Australia, Australia 7

Contemporary Notables of the name Kneller (post 1700) +

  • John William Kneller OAP (1916-2009), English-born, American French language professor and scholar, and the fifth President of Brooklyn College
  • Arthur Kneller (1894-1969), English cricketer who played first-class cricket for Hampshire County Cricket Club between 1924 and 1926
  • Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), 1st Baronet, a leading portrait painter in England from Lubeck, North Germany, owner of Kneller Hall in Witton, London
  • Scott Kneller (b. 1989), Australian freestyle skier who represented Australia at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics
  • William Kneller, renowned geologist
  • Andreas Kneller, German composer

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
  5. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from on Facebook