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About the study

I registered the Knightley Name for a One Name Study in April 2017.  Most of my data to date has encompassed English holders of the name. At the moment I have about twenty constructed Family Trees which vary from three hundred and twenty Knightleys to just three.  

I look forward to hearing from anyone of this name wherever they may live.  I am aware many of the name who travelled to America did so from Ireland in the nineteenth century. 

Variant names

Knightley,  Knightly are the two most common, Knightlie, Knightle, Knyghtlye, Nightlie are also found in earlier records.  There seems to be a preponderance of Knightleys in Engand and Wales and of Knightlys in Ireland and USA.

Name origin

The KNIGHTLEY  name is fairly uncommon, it seems to derive from the two old Anglo-Saxon words - cnitl - a servant and leah - a clearing in a wood.  

Historical occurrences of the name

The first time the name Knightley  appears is reflected in a Pedigree Roll of 1166 when Nicholas Maucovenant de Knightley (Cnihteleia) appears in the Ronton Chartulary. This is the first time the village of Knightley in Staffordshire is mentioned.  His son Robert confirmed to the Monks of Ronton in about 1186 that his father had made a grant of land in the woods of Knightley.

Sir Jordan Knightley is mentioned in a Staffordshire Pipe Roll of 1207.

Earliest Known in each County:-

Bedfordshire 1589      John Knightlye married Ann Younge 26th October 1589 at Sutton. 

Cambridge 1605          Francisci Knightly s.o. Willimi Knightly bapstised 20th October 1605 Kirtling.

Devon 1626                France Knightlye married Sibbell Cookworthy 10 July 1626 at Marlborough. 

Essex 1681                 David married Sarah Lewis 16th Nov 1681 at Colchester St James

Gloucestershire 1643 Richard Knightley s.o. Richard and Elynor baptized 19th October 1643 Saint Augustine the Less, Bristol.

Hampshire 1539         John Knightley s.o. William Knightley and Alyce Gilbert baptized 7 September 1539 Ropley.

Hertfordshire 1602     Ed. Christened 17th November 1577 Hertford All Saints and St John.

 Huntingdon 1589       Thomas Knightley s.o. Thomas Knightley and Grace Gedge baptized 6th June 1589 Bluntisham-cum-Earith.

Kent 1564                   James Knightley married Grace Scate 6th November 1564 at Snodland.

Leicester 1599            Dorothy Knightley married William Pym 3rd November 1599 at Hathern.

Lincolnshire 1605       Edward Knightley married Dorothie Peele 7th November 1605.

London 1551             William Knightley married Mawdlyn Duffin 26th June 1551 St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey.

Middlesex 1799          Hannah Knightley d.o John & Catherine born 5 Mar 1799 St Luke’s Tabernacle Ind, Finsbury, Middlesex.

Name frequency

In England the 2002 ONS Survey shows 563 Knightleys, ranking 10350 and 128 Knightlys, ranking 28353 - Total 691. Estimated living population in England now ( X 0.93 ) is 643. Estimated living from 16th Century is ( X 3.5 ) 2429. No of Knightl(e)ys in the England Censuses. 1841 Census - 235. 1851 Census - 187. 1861 Census - 246. 1871 Census - 282. 1881 Census - 425. 1891 Census - 424. 1901 Census - 536. 1911 Census - 634. In the US 2000 Census there were 475 Knightlys Ranked No 42912 and with a frequency of 0.18 / 100,000.

Distribution of the name

The Knightleys started off in Staffordshire in the 12th century, they then moved to Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and on to London.

Other Knightl(e)ys are found in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex and several other counties.



Fully transcribed BMDs from the GRO 1837 - 2006

Data on Mortallity derived from all the Deaths in BMD registers, including average age of Death over twenty year periods,  Deaths of Children under 1. Deaths of Children under 5. Average age of Death of those who survive to six years.

Fully Transcribed Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 for England and Wales.

IGI records England printed by County

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

Transportation and Passenger Records for Australia

Some Indian Records

Irish Censuses 1901 & 1911

Irish Land Registry Records

Irish Catholic Records

Some Criminal Records

Ellis Island Records

Ancestry USA Census records

Ancestry WWI Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918 (41)

I welcome inquiries, and the opportunity to exchange data. Offers of assistance with some or all of the study would be gratefully received.