Recorded as Knapp, Napp, Knappe, Knappen, Knapman and Napman, this very interesting English surname has two possible origins. The first is locational from a number of places called Knapp in Devon, Hampshire and Surrey, deriving from the Old English pre 7th century word "cnoepp" meaning a hilltop. The name was originally given to one dwelling on a hilltop, or hillock or to the Lord of the Manor as in Henry de Cnappe, recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in the year 1301. Secondly the name may have been a status name for a servant or squire.If so the derivation is from the German word "Knappe" or the Old English "Cnapa" meaning a boy or servant. Early examples of namebearers include Elizabeth Knapman whomarried Richard Hill at St Michaels Cornhill, in the city of London, on February 2nd 1648, and William Knapp (1678 - 1768), a well known musical composer in his day who published "A sett of New Psalm Tunes and Anthems", in 1738. John Leonard Knapp (1767 - 1845) a renowned botanist published "Gramina Britannica or Representations of British grasses" in 1804. A coat of arms was granted to a family from Tuddenham, County Norfolk, and has the blazon of a gold shield charged with three closed helmets in chief and in base a lion passant of the last. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William atte Kneppe, which was dated 1294, in the Pipe rolls of Surrey, 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.
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