This interesting English surname recorded in several spelling forms including: Knapp, Knappe, the diminutives Knappett, Knappitt, Knapping, and Knappen, and the occuptional Knapper and Knapman, has at least two possible origins. The first is locational from a number of places called Knapp in the counties of Devonshire, Hampshire and Surrey. The derivation being from the Old English pre 7th Century word "cnoepp" meaning a hilltop. An early example of the name recording from this souce is that of Henry de Cnappe, who appears in the charters of Devon, in the year 1301.The second possible origination which probably applies to most spellings, is one of status and occupation. In this case the derivation is from an old Anglo-Saxon word "knappe" which described in medieval times a knights squire, a young man who was responsible for looking after the knights armour and clothing, and who in time, would usually have been expected to train on to become a knight himself. Early examples of the surname recordings include: Henry Knappyng of Sussex in the Subsidy Rolls of that county in 1327, William Knapper who appears in the tax rolls known as "The feet of fines" also for Sussex in 1360, and John Knappett in the Friary Rolls of Yorkshire in 1473. Notable namebearers include William Knapp (1678 - 1768) a well known musical composer of his day and John Leonard Knapp (1767 - 1845) a renowned botanist. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William atte Kneppe. This was dated 1294, in the placenames listing for Surrey, during the reign of King Edward 1st, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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