The English surname Knight is a status name from Middle English knyghte ‘knight’, Old English cniht ‘boy’, ‘youth’, ‘serving lad’. This word was used as a personal name before the Norman Conquest, and the surname may in part reflect a survival of this. The name comes from the more exalted sense that the word achieved in the Middle Ages. In the feudal system introduced by the Normans the word was applied at first to a tenant bound to serve his lord as a mounted soldier. Hence it came to denote a man of some substance, since maintaining horses and armor was an expensive business. The first written reference to the name is in 1166 when Godefridus Niht, is recorded in the "Norfolk Pipe Rolls."
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