This interesting and long-established surname is of Olde English and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century origins. Originally it was a status name deriving from the word 'cniht' meaning 'a mounted soldier' and therefore a man of some importance and substance. Later still, with the changes in the social structure of medieval England, the term 'knight' whilst still principally applying to a horse soldier, also described a status conferred by the king on men who had served him well, but not necessarily in battle. These people were often referred to as 'Sir Knight', although later the suffix was dropped. The modern surname can be found as Knight and Knights, the latter being a patronymic (son of Knight), Knyvett, Knivett, Knivit, Nevet(t), Nevit(t), Newit(t) and Newet(t). Early examples of the surname recording include Oscetel Cniht in the Norfolk pipe rolls of 1166, Walter le Knit in the 1200 Oseney Rolls of Oxford, William Knicht in the 1221 Assize Rolls of Worcester, and Alicia Knyghtes in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Somerset. Other examples include Elizabeth Knight who married William Smith, in 1622 in Dublin, whilst amongst the really unusual recordings of the name is that of Know God Knight, a puritan, whose son John (!) was christened at St James Church, Clerkenwell, London on July 1st 1638. The coat of arms granted in 1550 has the blazon of per chevron engrailed silver and black, three giffins passant counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godefridus Niht, which was dated 1166, in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The Builder of Churches', 1154 - 1189. 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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