Knowles History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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]

Early Origins of the Knowles family

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.

Early History of the Knowles family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Knowles research. Another 103 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1325, 1407, 1514, 1596, 1521, 1399, 1410, 1547, 1632, 1599, 1691, 1588, 1659, 1614, 1621, 1622, 1624, 1626, 1628, 1629, 1599, 1691, 1646, 1668, 1665, 1537, 1550, 1610, 1571 and are included under the topic Early Knowles History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Knowles Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Knowles family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Robert Knolles (c. 1325-1407), an important English knight of the Hundred Years' War, operating with the tacit support of the Crown, succeeded in taking the only two major French cities, other than Calais and Poitiers, to fall to Edward III, methods earned him infamy as a freebooter and a ravager, the ruined gables of burned buildings came to be known as "Knolly's mitres" Sir Francis Knollys (1514-1596) was an English statesman, elder son of Robert Knollys (d. 1521.) He claims descent from Sir Thomas Knollys, Lord Mayor of London in 1399 and 1410...
Another 133 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Knowles Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Knowles World Ranking

In the United States, the name Knowles is the 995th most popular surname with an estimated 29,844 people with that name. [2] However, in Australia, the name Knowles is ranked the 675th most popular surname with an estimated 5,799 people with that name. [3] And in New Zealand, the name Knowles is the 398th popular surname with an estimated 1,647 people with that name. [4] The United Kingdom ranks Knowles as 303rd with 19,958 people. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Knowles family to Ireland

Some of the Knowles family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Knowles migration to the United States +

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 [6]
  • Henry Knowles, who settled in Salem, Massachusetts in 1635
  • Alexander Knowles, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636 [6]
  • Richard Knowles, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1638 [6]
  • John Knowles, who arrived in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1639 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Knowles Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jane Knowles, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [6]
  • Thomas Knowles, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [6]
  • Abner Knowles, who arrived in America in 1782 [6]
Knowles Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Luke Knowles, aged 33, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1821 [6]
  • Mr. Robert Knowles, (b. 1808), aged 24, Cornish hat manufacturer departing from Liverpool aboard the ship "Clio" arriving in New York, USA on 1st May 1832 [7]
  • David Knowles, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1835 [6]
  • Samuel Knowles, aged 23, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1843 [6]
  • Edwin Knowles, aged 33, who landed in Key West, Fla in 1848 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Knowles migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

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 Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Knowles migration to Australia +

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

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 [8]
  • Mr. Edward Knowles, British Convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • James Knowles, English convict from Devon, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [10]
  • William Knowles, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • Thomas Knowles, English convict from Staffordshire, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Knowles 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:

Knowles Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • A Knowles, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • F W Knowles, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • H H Knowles, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • Hy Samuel Knowles, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • J M Knowles, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Oriental
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Knowles migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [13]
Knowles Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Knowles, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Mr. John Knowles, (b. 1608), aged 27, British settler travelling aboard the ship "Expedition" arriving in Barbados in 1636 [14]
  • Andrew Knowles, who settled in Barbados in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Knowles (post 1700) +

  • James Wallace Knowles III, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Missouri, 2008 [15]
  • Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (b. 1981), known as Beyoncé, American sixteen-time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress
  • John Knowles (1926-2001), American author, best known for his novel A Separate Peace (1959)
  • Warren Perley Knowles (1908-1993), American politician, Governor of Wisconsin from 1965-1971
  • William S Knowles (b. 1917), American chemist, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001
  • Anthony Carroll "Tony" Knowles (b. 1943), American politician and businessman, Governor of Alaska (1994-2002)
  • Daniel Clark Knowles (b. 1836), American politician, Prohibition Candidate for Governor of New Hampshire, 1894; Prohibition Candidate for New Hampshire State Senate 6th District, 1902 [15]
  • Clyde M. Knowles, American politician, Mayor of Phenix City, Alabama, 1955-57 [15]
  • Charles S. Knowles, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Kanawha County, 1968 [15]
  • Charles R. Knowles, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Albany County 2nd District, 1879 [15]
  • ... (Another 54 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. George Knowles, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
  • Mr. Douglas Knowles, British Able Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [16]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Robert Knowles, British Chief Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [17]
  • Mr. Norman Knowles, British Boy 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [17]
RMS Titanic
  • 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 [18]


Suggested Readings for the name Knowles +

  • Descendants & Antecedents of Darius Daniel Knowles by Beverly Metzger.
  • Descendants of John Knowles by Virginia Knowles Hufbauer.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  3. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  4. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  5. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  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. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  8. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1822
  11. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1823
  13. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  14. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 29th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  15. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  16. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  17. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  18. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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