Recorded in the spellings of Kneesha, Kneeshaw, and Kneeshall, this is an English medieval locational surname. It originates from the parish of Kneeshaw, near Ollerton, in the county of Nottinghamshire, a village first recorded in the 11th century in the spelling of 'Cneshala'. The meaning is obscure, but is likely to be a personal name of the pre 7th century Olde English period such as 'Cyne' meaning chief, plus 'halh', a farm or homestead. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. This is to say that they were given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. However there are exceptions in that the name could also be that of the lord of the manor. and in the Nottinghamshire 'Hundred Rolls' for the year 1273 we have the very early recording of Ballivus de Kneshale, suggesting that this may be the case. Early recordings from the medieval period and showing the surname development over the centuries include: Richard de Knewshale, given as being the rector of Beetley, county of Norfolk, in 1341, and Ricardus Knesall in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire, in 1379. Other recordings taken at random from early surviving church registers include: Margaret Kneeshaw, the daughter of Samuel Kneeshaw, christened at Christ Church, Greyfriars, city of London, on January 23rd 1697, and her brother Etherington Kneeshaw, christened at the same church on Agust 22nd 1703.
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