Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

1,399 total views, 1 views today




About the study

I began tracing my own ancestry in 1993. The name is relatively rare and concentrated in a handful of places in Wiltshire and environs. Consequently, most of what is discovered is interesting both from a personal and One-Name point of view. In July 1994 I was contacted by Peter Knee who had seen an article in the Eastern Daily Press describing my daughter's visit to my grandfather's grave near Arras. Peter, sadly now deceased, was engaged in a One-Name Study. In some ways I am trying to contribute to his work although I don'€™t know if any of Peter'€™s contacts are continuing with his study or of the whereabouts of his archive material. The name was registered with the Guild on One-Name Studies in 2010. Please see also my home site at

Variant names

Kneebone (Cornish) , LeKne, McNee or Ne (Irish), Nee

Name origin

The name is has three possible derivations. Cneo is a medieval term for knee and the name could have stemmed from a nickname for odd shaped knees. Alternatively (or additionally) the name comes from a knee shaped piece of land or a bend in a river. Finally and perhaps the strongest, that the name came from the skill of Knee Carding required in the weaving process. The 'cradle' of the Knees was Bromham in Wilts which was heavily involved in the key Wiltshire Cloth Industry.

Historical occurrences of the name

  • Fred Knee (1868-€“1914), a printer by trade from Frome in Somerset, who became the first secretary of the London Labour Party in 1914 (to be succeeded by Herbert Morrison) and who once shared a stage with Trotsky.
  • William Knee who established a Removal firm in Bristol in 1839 and who designed a purpose built removal vehicle -€“ the pantechnicon.

Name frequency

From the British Surnames data base:

492 (current) 0.001%

463 (1881) 0.002%

Distribution of the name

In 1881 and in the present day the name is found predominately in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Also in the USA today (probably originating from migration in the 19th Century) the numbers are 3038 or 0.001% and Australia (probably from deportation in the 17th,18th and 19th Centuries) 164 or 0.001%