- This famous surname, much associated with the religious zealot John Knox (1505 - 1572) and with no less than three others also called John and also religious divines, can be of Scottish or English origins. In all cases it is either a topographical name for someone who lived on a hilltop, derived from the pre 7th century Old English word "cnocc" or the similar Gaelic "cnoc", both meaning a round topped hill, or it maybe locational from one of the various places called Knock found in both Scotland and Northern England. The surname is one of earliest on record, and dates back to the 13th century as shown below. Further examples of early recordings include Nicholas Knok in the Hundred Rolls of Bedfordshire in England in 1279 and Thomas atte Knocke in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. The spellings of the name include Knox, Knocker, Nock, Knock, and Knockes. Examples in the surviving church registers of the city of London include Katheryne Nockes who married Arthur Lloide on the 25th May 1576 at St. James Clerkenwell, whilst Joseph, the son of Thomas and Angel Knock, was christened on the December 15th 1691 at St. Giles Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Cnoc, also recorded as Knoc, a charter witness who appears in the charter lists of Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1260. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.