This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a patronymic form of "Knowl". Knowl derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Cnoll" a small rounded hill, used to denote a short stout person. The surname came from the name of the first bearer's father. This is because European society has been patriarchal throughout history, and as a result the given name of the male head of the household has been handed on as a distinguishing name to successive generations. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 14th Century (see below), and can also be found as Knowles and Knowling. Recordings of the surname from Yorkshire Church Registers include; Thomas, son of James Knowlson, who was christened on April 9th 1716 at Easingwold; and Thomas Knowlson who married Elizabeth Coward on July 27th 1738 at Fishlake. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is red, on a silver chevron three green roses, barbed and seeded red, and on a silver canton a red fleur-de-lis, the Crest being out of a red ducal coronet a silver elephants head. The motto "Lento sed certo et recto gradu" translates as "With a slow but straight and sure step". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Nouelson, which was dated 1383, in the "Pardon Rolls", during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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.

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