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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

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, 1691, 1646, 1668, 1665 and are included under the topic Early Knowles History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 249 words(18 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 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 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 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


Knowles Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Henry Knowles, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760

Knowles Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Eliza Knowles, who arrived in St John, New Brunswick in 1907

Knowles Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Richard Knowles, English convict from York, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • James Knowles, English convict from Devon, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • William Knowles, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • Thomas Knowles, English convict from Staffordshire, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Henry Knowles, English convict from Worcester, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia


Knowles Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • A Knowles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • F W Knowles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • H H Knowles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • Hy Samuel Knowles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • J M Knowles landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental


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  • John Knowles (1926-2001), American author, best known for his novel A Separate Peace (1959)
  • 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 collapsible C
  • John Knowles (1781-1841), English biographer of Henry Fuseli
  • 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. 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.
  2. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  4. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  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 26 March 2015 at 15:56.

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