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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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. [1]

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The surname Knowles was 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.

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.


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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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  • William E. Knowles, American Democrat politician, Chair of Randolph County Democratic Party, 1950
  • Warren Perley Knowles (1908-1993), American Republican politician, Member of Wisconsin State Senate 10th District, 1941-54
  • William C. Knowles, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Haddam
  • Tony Knowles (b. 1943), American Democrat politician, Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, 1982-87; Governor of Alaska, 1994-2002; defeated, 1990, 2006; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Alaska, 1996, 2000, 2008
  • Sandra Knowles, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Rhode Island, 2008
  • Ronald S. Knowles, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives 63rd District, 1968
  • Robert P. Knowles (1916-1985), American Republican politician, Member of Wisconsin State Senate 10th District, 1955-75; Presidential Elector for Wisconsin, 1956; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Wisconsin, 1972
  • Richard Knowles, American Republican politician, Member of Massachusetts State Senate Third Bristol District, 1917-18
  • Raymond A. Knowles, American Republican politician, Niagara County District Attorney, 1928-31; Justice of New York Supreme Court 8th District, 1948-49
  • Mary Ann Knowles, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Hampshire, 2004

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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. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  4. 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.
  5. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  7. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  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 22 March 2016 at 09:20.

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