This unusual and picturesque name is of late Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational surname for a mounted servant or retainer. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "radcniht", from "rad", an abstract derivative of the verb "ridan", to ride, with "cniht", servant, the early medieval English form of the word was "rodknicht". Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The Olde English "cniht" was a name for a boy, a serving lad, and later in the Middle Ages came to mean a tenant bound to serve his lord as a mounted soldier. To be a knight therefore was to be a man of some substance, since he was expected to meet the expenses of maintaining horses and armour, and from this usage developed the idea of an honourable title bestowed by the monarch. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Robert Rodcnicht (1221, Warwickshire), and John Rodknyth (1332, ibid.). The modern surname can be found as Rodnight, Roadnight and Roadknight. Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriage of William Roadnight and Hannah Jones in April 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John le Roadknicht, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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