Every surname has an origin. That is because surnames were not always used. In the very earliest of times, people were known by their given name and the place they were from…meaning that I would have been Caryn of Superior. I’m not sure when the changes took place, but it often started by giving the people who lived in a town the town name as their last name, so since my husband’s family came from a town called Schulenberg, Germany, their last name became Schulenberg, and so it has continued to this day.
The Knox family name, however, has changed extensively over the years. The name is Gaelic, and it means a little hill. Figuratively is could also mean a stout man. The name was originally spelled Cnoc, and has since taken on many spellings, such as, Knox, Nox, Nock, Nocks, Nockes, Knock, Knocks, Knockes, Noke, Nokes, Noake, Noakes, and possibly more. What that says to me is that we may be related to many more people than we know, and how will we ever find out…seriously, how? This kind of a thing is truly a genealogical nightmare. Then, to complicate matters further, these people move from one country to another, and sometimes the records are not well kept, or worse yet, the names are changed to make them fit the country they are now living in.
The forebear of the Knox family was said to be Adamus, of Saxon origin, who received the barony of Cnoc or Knox in Renfrewshire as part of a dowry. The first recorded spelling of the name was that of John de Cnoc, his son, in 1260 in the charter lists for Renfrewshire. Over the centuries the family has included royalty, presidents, and others from aristocracy. Some of those notables are names I recognized before I was even a part of the family, such as James K Polk, who was our 11th President. I still have to wonder how many others out there who might have been notable and related to us.
Since I have been more and more interested in Heraldry, I also checked into the heraldry of the Cnoc name. The oldest known coat of arms is in colors of gold and red. The gold signified generosity. The red signified warrior, martyr, and military strength. The helmet signifies wise defense. The dove signifies love and peace. In Ireland, the Dove was regarded as the bird of God. The shield Bordure – represents honor. It is a beautiful coat of arms, and is an item of proud heritage belonging to the Knox or Cnoc family. Nevertheless, while there is much known information, there is still much that is unknown, and that makes it a genealogical nightmare.