This surname KNIGHT was originally from the French name 'de Knyvet'. It was a name applied at first to a tenant bound to serve his lord as a mounted soldier, and later it came to denote a man of some substance, since maintaining horses and armour was an expensive business. As feudal obligations became increasingly converted to monetary payments, the term lost its precise significance and came to denote an honorable estate conferred by the king on men of noble birth who had served him well. Knights in this last sense normally belonged to ancient noble families. The name has numerous variants which include KNIGHT, KNEVET, KNACHT, KNYVETT and NEVETT. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Early records of the name mention KNYVETTE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Matthew de Knyvet was documented in the year 1273 in County Nottingham. William Knivett of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Thomas Kynvett of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Later instances of the name include William Knevett, 'of the Household of our Lord the King Henry and The Lady Katherine Grey' who was recorded in the year 1523. Nathanial Knevet of County Norfolk, registered at Oxford University in 1633. Henry Knevett of London registered at Oxford in 1671. Thomas Knevit married Easter Hall at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1789. Between the 11th and 15th centuries, it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but it was not common practice in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. The advantages were recognized firstly by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became common practice for all people.
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