Nights History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Nights is an Anglo-Saxon name. The name was originally given to a knight, who was usually a feudal tenant deriving its origin from the Old English word cniht, which means knight. The word cniht also means servant and common soldier. Knighthood was established as a military profession by the 10th century. With the Norman Conquest and the resultant changes in the social order, knighthood became an established feudal rank, directly under that of a Baron. It was associated with the holding of land, but was not hereditary. Because land was hereditary and knighthood was not, there grew up a body of landless knights, who often banded together into military orders, such as the Knights Templar, and the Knights Hospitalers. As time went by, cavalry decreased in importance in warfare and the excesses of the Knights Templar brought the institution of knighthood into disrepute. The Knights Templar were suppressed by Pope Clement V in 1312. By the 16th century knighthood became a civil distinction.

Early Origins of the Nights family

The surname Nights was first found in Suffolk where one of the first records of the name was John le Cnitht who was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. The same rolls also lists: Gilbert le Knyt in Cambridgeshire; Roger le Knith in Oxfordshire; and Ellis le Knyght in Wiltshire.

The surname was "well distributed over England south of a line drawn from the Humber to the Dee. In the northern part of England it is singularly rare. Sussex stands foremost for the number of its Knights, and after it come, in their order, Hants, Leicestershire and Rutland, and Gloucestershire. In Norfolk and Suffolk we have the form of Knights." [1]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list: Johannes Knyght; Willelmus Kneyte; Thomas Knycht: and Willelmus Knygth. [2] Some of the family were found in Scotland in early times. Robert dictus Knycht was burgess of Abirbrothoc and had a charter of a piece of land in Aberbrothoc in 1331. In 1435, John Knycht was canon of Brechin and rector of Funewyn (Finhaven.) He is probably the John Knycht who appears on an inquest on the lands of Tulloch in 1438. [3]

More recently some of the family held estates at Aston-Sub-Edge in Gloucestershire. "Norton-Burnt House, so called from the greater portion of it having been destroyed by fire while the seat of Sir William Knight, Bart., is the property of the Earl of Harrowby." [4]

Another branch was found at Letwell in the West Riding of Yorkshire. "The family seat of the Knights, here, an ancient house, was taken down by the late Mr. Gally Knight when he removed his residence, a few years since, to the mansion at Firbeck; but the offices, with the gardens and pleasure-grounds, in the latter of which is an extensive lake, are still remaining." [4]

To the far south and west in Stoke-Climsland, Cornwall, in early days the Knight family had a family seat at Aldren. [5]

Early History of the Nights family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nights research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1606, 1605, 1612, 1683, 1660, 1718, 1619, 1691, 1660, 1673 and 1686 are included under the topic Early Nights History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nights Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Nights has appeared include Knight, Knights and others.

Early Notables of the Nights family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir William Knight, Ambassador to Maximilian; John Knight (died 1606), Scottish mariner and commander of an expedition off the coast of Greenland in 1605, he named Knight's Islands there; Sir John Knight (1612-1683), "the elder" an English merchant and politician, Member of Parliament for Bristol (1660), Mayor of Bristol; and his...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nights Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Nights family

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Nights arrived in North America very early: George Knight, who settled at Hingham in 1630; Ezekiel Knight settled in Salem Massachusetts in 1630; Giles Knight settled in Pennsylvania with his wife Mary and son Joseph in 1682.

  1. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print on Facebook
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