This curious and uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is in most instances a locational surname deriving from a place called Knewstubb in or near the parish of Ravenstonedale in Westmoreland. The placename means "the place of the new stubs or tree-stumps", derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "neowe, niewe, niwe", new, with "stubb", stub, tree-stump. Locational surnames, such as this, were acquired particulary by residents of an area, and by those former inhabitants of a place who moved to another area, usually in search of work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. In some cases, the surname may be topographical in origin, for someone who lived in or by an area of recently felled trees. The surname development in Westmoreland includes the following examples: Knustopp (1572); Knewstopp (1581); Knoostob (1654); Knustupp (1655); and Knoustubb (1660). Recordings from Church Registers include: the christening of George, son of Henry Knewstub, on April 11th 1634, at Dent in Yorkshire, and the marriage of John Knewstubb and Sibell Shaw in Ravenstonedale, Westmoreland, on April 1st 1675. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Knewstuppe, which was dated June 24th 1561, marriage to Jennet Taylor, at Crosby Garrett, Westmoreland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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