Recorded as Knee and Kneebone, these are English medieval surnames. Both are residential, and both appear to originate from now "lost" medieval villages. Knee is a developed form of the pre 7th century word cneo meaning knee, and may have described a now lost medieval village on the bend of a river, or one on a piece of land which was considered to be "knee shaped". Kneebone is similar being from a lost Cornish village called Carnebwen. This was recorded in the year 1298, and translated as Ebwen's rock. Research would suggest that from the mid 16th century in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st (1558 - 1603), the village of Bromham in the county of Wiltshire, three miles from the town of Devizes, has been an epi-centre of the Knee surname, church recordings being found there in some number. It is unlikely that Bromham itself was the place of origin, but a villlage where the Knee's settled after leaving their original home. Early recordings for both spellings include Grace Kneebone of St Columb Major, Cornwall in 1585, Bathsheba Knee, christened at Bromham, Wiltshire, on May 5th 1605, Thomas Knee of Croscombe, Somerset, on October 10th 1609, and Anthony Kneebone of Gwenapp, Cornwall, on March 18th 1753. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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