- This is a medieval status name from the Olde English pre 7th Century "criht", meaning boy, youth or serving lad, later extended to mean a tenant bound to serve his lord as 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", (Middle English "knyghte") meant an honourable estate conferred by the king on men of noble birth who had served him well. The "Knights" of today, however, are far more likely to be descended from a servant in a knight's household or from someone who played the part of a knight in a medieval pageant or won the title in some contest of skill. Early recordings of the surname from this source include: Walter le Knit (1200, Oxfordshire), William Knight (1221, Worcestershire), and John Knyght (1275, Suffolk). Over fifty Coats of Arms have been granted to this illustrious family, one of the earliest being that granted to Thomas Knight of Hol, Northampton, in 1546. The Arms are on a silver shield, on a fesse between three bulls' heads erased black, armed and ringed at the nose, gold, a fret between two doves of the field. The Crest is a dexter arm embowed, vested bendy wavy sinister of four gold and red supporting with the hand a sword in pale, the point resting on the wreath, the pommel surmounting a pair of spurs, all proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godefridus Niht, which was dated 1166, in the "Norfolk Pipe Rolls", 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.