Meaning of the Surname McKnight:
http://scripts.ireland.com/ancestor/surname/(fascinating site contributed by Marv Hoffer)
SURNAME DICTIONARY/ SLOINNTE NA h-EIREANN
Knight fairly numerous: all areas, especially N Munster and Connacht. Ir. Mac an Ridire(See Fitzsimons). In Ulster, it is Scottish Mac Neachtain, usually appearing as MacKnight. MIF.
Mac an Ridire Mac Knight, Knight. líonmhar: Cúige Uladh. Is cosúil gur Mac Neachtain ba shinsear don dream sa ach is cinnte gur ghlac muintir Mhic Shiomóin leis an ainm sinseartha sa san Iar-Mhí. Bíonn Knight le fáil sa Mhumhain thuaidh agus Connachta - b'fhéidir go mbeadh daoine ag maíomh gur shíolraigh siad ó ridirí!
MacKnight numerous: Ulster generally. Ir. Mac an Ridire, ridire, a knight. It may also be Scottish Mac Neachtain, from old first name Neachtan (descendant of the waters). This would account for many in Ulster. SI & GPN.
MacNeight Very rare: Down. See Mac Knight.
Managh rare: Tyrone etc. Ir. ? Manach, a monk.
The following is just two of the many versions I have found over the years
regarding the origin of the McKnight name. contributed by Juanita Moston
Copied from:" McKnight Genealogy, 1754-1971", by L. M. Licht. W. B. Moore,
1981, page 15. Available at Denver Public Library, (929.273M218l)
"The McKnights and Their Name.
The McKnights are descended from a certain Laird of Glenara, a chieftain of
the MacNaughton clan (MacNaughtane, MacNaughton, or McNaghten). This is one
of the three clans descended from the old Maomors of Moray, sovereigns of the
Pictish race. The McNaughtons were in the ancient days a powerful family,
and among their large estates were those called Glenara, Glenshire and
Glenfire. In 1267 Gilchrist MacNaughtane of that ilk was by King Alexander
III appointed veritable keeper of his castle and island of Frechelan, whence
the tower was assumed as the heraldic insignia.
Sir Alexander McNaughtane of that ilk was knighted by James IV and
accompanied him on the fatal expedition into England, and was killed in 1513
on the field of Flodden. His son and successor Joh MacNaughtaine, had three
sons: Alexander, who died without surviving issue; Malcolm, called Glenshira,
who succeded his father and died in the reigh of James IV, leaving two sons –
Col. Alexander, his heir and John, who married but had no issue.
John, the third son, called Shane Duh (Black John) who went to Ireland as
secretary to his great uncle, the first Earl of Antrim and settled in
CountyAntrim in 1580, was succeeded by his son and heir, Daniel, and the
latter by his son John McNaughtan of Benvarden, Co. Antrim, whose grandsons
succeeded in the 18th century to the Chieftainship of the MacNaughtan Clan
upon the extinction of the Scottish line descended from Malcolm.
The Laird of Glanara, Chief of the MacNaughtan Clan, was knighted in the
reign of James IV. His son was locally styled McKnight (son of a knight),
from which designation the change in the family name appears to have
subsequently taken its origin. This was possibly influenced by the
circumstance that this branch of the family embraced the doctrines of the
Reformation at a very early period, while the main body of the clan remained
staunch Roman Catholics to a comparatively recent date.
On the crushing of the Irish Rebellion under Sir Cahir O'Dogherty in 1607
King James of England divided the province of Ulster, Ireland into lots and
encouraged it colonization. Due to the fact that the coast of Ulster was so
close to that of Scotland, particularly Dumbarshire, Renfrewshire, Ayshire,
Galloway and Dumfrushire, a steady stream of Scots crossed to Ulster Province
and settled in County Down and Antrim. Members of the MacNaughtan Clan
settled near Lisburn on the Logan River near Belfast. The name MacNaughtan
in Ireland is spelled McKnight.
When the stream of emigration from the colonies to Scotland and Ireland took
place about 1700 to 1750 those from Ireland (Ulster Scots) were the ancestors
of the McKnights now in the United States. Those coming to the colonies
directly from Scotland carried the name MacNaughton, MacNaught or McKnight."
The following is copied from "MacKnight Genealogy 1738-1981 & Allied
Families", page 3. Written by Imogene Millican, at Denver Public Library
"Early History of the McKnight Family in Scotland
The MacKnight fanily in Scotland was in early days a Sept (allied family) of
the MacNaughton (MacNaghten) Clan. The following history of this clan is
from The Clans and Tartans of Scotland (1964, William Collins Sons & Co., ):
"The progenitor of this ancient clan is alleged to be Nachtan Mor who lived
about the tenth century. The clan is supposed to be one of those transferred
from the province of Moray to the crown lands in Strathtay by Malcoln IV.
About a century later the possessed lands bordered on Loch Awe and Loch Fyne
(west Scottish Highlands). In 1267 Gilchrist MacNaughton and his heirs were
appointed by Alexander III, keepers of the castle of Froach Eilean in Loch
Awe. The MacNaughtons also held the castle of Dub Loch in Glen Shira and
castle Dunderave between Loch Fyne and Loch Awe.
Donald Mac Naughton opposed Bruce and lost most of his possessions, but in
the reign of David II, the fortune of the Macnaughtons were somewhat restored
by the grant of lands in Lewis."
The fortresses in Lewis and Strathtay recall their wide ranged influence.
They eventually lost all but the picturesque castle of Dunderae on Loch Fyne,
"Clan" was the name applied to a group of Kinsmen united under a chief, and
claiming a common ancestor. They lived as one great family on the lands they
About the middle of the fifteen hundreds the MacKnight Family, which had been
a Sept under Clan MacNaughton since the early twelve hundreds, met all
regulations and requirements (four generations of ancestors who had been good
citizens loyal and true to Clan and Country) the Chieftain of the fifth
generation was eligible to apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms at Edinburgh
for matriculation as a separate clan. When all credentials were accounted by
the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, they were registered in Court
Records - and so - was born Clan MacKnight.
The Scots love for his clan and his country accounted for the slowness of
Scot emigration to America.
There is conflicting information of the design of the Coat of Arms. One
article gives the MacKnight Motto "Justum et Tenacem Porpositi" (Just and
Firm of Purpose) another "I Hope in God".
Since the "Mac" means "Son of" and "Knight" means "Brave", the name means
"Son of the Brave."