- This interesting surname, with variant spellings Knoller, Knowller, etc., widely recorded in church registers of Sussex from the mid 16th Century derives from the old English pre 7th Century "cnoll", (Medieval English "knoll"), meaning "hill top", and was originally given either as a topographical name to one resident on a hill top, or as a locational name to someone from any of the places named with this element. These places include Knowl in Kent and Sussex, and Knowle in Devonshire, Dorset, Somerset, etc.. Toponymics formed by the addition of -er to some topographical feature e.g., brook, knoll, were particularly common in Sussex at the beginning of the 14th Century. The meaning is "dweller by the brook, knoll", etc.. Occasionally, the -er is attached to a particular placename as in "Knoler" from Knole, (Sussex). On October 1st 1559 John Knowler and Agnes May were married in Frant, Sussex. Allisse, daughter of John Knoller, was christened in Slingford on January 25th 1580, and on March 2nd 1581 Joane Knowller, an infant, was christened in Wisborough Green, Sussex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John le Knollere, which was dated 1296, in "The Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.