Show ContentsKnightley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestry of the name Knightley dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived in the village of Knightly. Knightley is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

Early Origins of the Knightley family

The surname Knightley was first found in Staffordshire where "the first recorded ancestor of this ancient family is Rainald, mesne lord of Knightley, under Earl Roger, in the time of William the Conqueror, as appears by Domesday Book." 1 "Fawsley Hall, co. Northampton, the seat of the present Baronet, was acquired by purchase, temp. Henry V." 2 "This place, which lies in the western portion of the county, bordering upon Warwickshire, has since the time of Henry V. been in the possession of the Knightley family. The extensive mansion of Fawsley Park, the residence of Sir Charles Knightley, Bart., is situated on a gently elevated lawn, commanding a rich expanse of wood and fertile pasturage, enlivened by three fine sheets of water. " 3

Early History of the Knightley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Knightley research. Another 66 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1533, 1615, 1617, 1626, 1639 and 1661 are included under the topic Early Knightley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Knightley Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Knightley have been found, including Knightley, Knightly and others.

Early Notables of the Knightley family

Distinguished members of the family include

  • Sir Richard Knightley (1533-1615) Sheriff of Northamptonshire who was involved in the proceedings which led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots
  • Richard Knightley (died 1639), an English Member of Parliament (MP), High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1626

Ireland Migration of the Knightley family to Ireland

Some of the Knightley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Australia Knightley migration to Australia +

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

Knightley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Knightley, English Convict from Hertfordshire, who was transported aboard the "Aboukir" on December 24, 1851, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia 4
  • Samuel Knightley, aged 28, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" 5
  • William Knightley, aged 30, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" 5

New Zealand Knightley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Knightley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mary A. Knightley, aged 40, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Agnes Muir" in 1872 6

Contemporary Notables of the name Knightley (post 1700) +

  • Keira Christina Knightley O.B.E. (b. 1985), English actress, known for her roles in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and best known for her role as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018 7
  • Sir Henry Francis Knightley (1854-1938), 6th Baronet, English peer
  • Sir Charles Valentine Knightley (1853-1932), 5th Baronet, English peer
  • Sir Valentine Knightley (1812-1898), 4th Baronet, English peer
  • Sir John Knightley (1747-1812), 1st Baronet, English peer
  • Sir Rainald Knightley (1819-1895), 1st Baronet of Fawsley in the County of Northampton, English peer and British Conservative Party politician
  • Sir Charles Knightley (1781-1864), 2nd Baronet of Fawsley in the County of Northampton, English peer and politician, Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire
  • Will Knightley (b. 1946), English television and stage actor, founding member of London's Half Moon Theatre, father of Keira Knightley
  • Steve Knightley (b. 1954), English singer-songwriter and musician
  • Phillip George Knightley AM (1929-2016), Australian journalist, critic, and non-fiction author, British Press Journalist of the Year (1980 and 1988)
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 18) Aboukir voyage to Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island. [These convicts appear to have all landed in Van Diemen's Land], Australia in 1851 with 280 passengers. Retrieved from
  5. South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) EPAMINONDAS 1852. Retrieved
  6. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  7. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, on Facebook