The surname KNAPP, has been found in England since the 5th century, in various forms of spelling. It has been claimed that it is of Saxon origin though proof for the thought is lacking. While it is common in all Teutonic countries, it is just as probable that it is of Angelican origin. It is also, possible that the name did not have a common origin for all families that bear it. There are many variations to be found, some families not adhering to any particular form, while others were quite persistent in doing so, even though the liberty in that matter was practiced moreso then than now. The earliest known individual mention of the name is found in " Routuli Curioe Regis\plain ", I139. It identifies as an individual "Petrus Knape - 1198". From that point on the name is found frequently in the English records. The most common form of spellings found in America were "Knapp" and Knap", though other forms of spelling are found in early records as Nap, Napp, Knopp, Knape, et al. The most common form of the spelling, and predominately throughout our American history, is "Knap" and "Knapp", the latter spelling being used following the Revolutionary War and is the current excepted spelling today.
In the ancient districts of East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria, we later find that East Anglia was the land of the North Folk and South Folk, which is now known as Norfolk and Suffolk counties in England. Mercia or Middle Anglia became the central shires [counties] of England. Northumbria dominated the northern limits of the domain. These three regions were settled in the 6th century by the Angles. The Saxons settled Sussex and Wessex to the south and the Jutes held Kent in the southeast. All three tribes were of Germanic origin. While this still does not identify the origin of the various Knapp families it does have possible bearing on the traditional thought passed down throughtime that we of the name are of German stock. In England we know that there were no less that 6-8 family groups bearing the name; all living in different parts of England, and bearing no known relationship with one another. Of these groups it is believed that all were of independent origin.
As most of the early immigrants to America were dissenters from the Church of England, their births, marriages, etc, are not recorded there to any great degree, making it nearly impossible to trace many of them to their particular origin accurately. In general they were a religious people, though independent in thought, who took the Bible as their guide and rule in life, and migrated to escape persecution in England and to worship as they pleased in the "New World".
Prior to 1700, there were three immigrants bearing the surname Knapp, namely NICHOLAS, Aron, and Roger Knapp, followed later by Job Knapp, of Bristol, Massachusetts. As far as is known none of these immigrant families bear any relationship with one another., though the contrary is found in many printed works of early origin. There remotely may be some relationship, however, to date, nothing has been forthcoming to prove the claim. There are early claims that one William Knapp, immigrant of 1630, was a brother to our Nicholas. Current research disproves this claim and it has been proven that the spelling of his surname is "KNOPP", not KNAPP", and bears no relationship that can be proven through research of extant records, to any other Knapp family, regardless of such claims.
In-so-far as our immigrant ancestor, Nicholas Knapp, is concerned. many unproven and suggested theories abound as surrounds his ancestry, none of which have the slightest "hint" of proof recorded to establish such claims. All claims of a known ancestry for our Nicholas, and his first wife, Elinor, are considered to be "atricious genealogical blunders", and should be regarded as such by those having this ancestry by surname or through an allied family. As far as is known, a proven ancestry for Nicholas or his first wife, Elinor , has never been found, nor has any record of either been found prior to their arrival in America in 1630, though admittedly it remains quite possible that their origins were in County Suffolk, England, though proof of this statement is lacking.
As the ancestry of our early Knapp immigrant is highly questionable as found in many writings of today, I have not been able to determine an origin except England for our ancestors, nor to my knowledge has anyone else, with a definable source for making any such claims. Our ancestry begins in 1630, at Watertown, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts. The chance that we will ever discover the ancestry of either Nicholas or Elinor, is nil, and if such should ever occur it no doubt will be quite by an accidental find, as the English records that remain extant do not bear the needed fruit to find an ancestry for either of them, and as such that stands as the "state of the problem, today!".
THE KNAPP KNIGHT
Many stories are found in print today that claim "Roger de Knapp" was Kinghted in 1530, by King Henry VIII, at a Tournament held in Co Suffolk, England, was the ancestor of our Knapp Family. This story in it's many forms has been proven false and that the story was the product of some fanciful mind. It has not the least foundation in fact, not withstanding the number of times it is found in print. A search of the records and correspondence with the College of Heraldry officials in London, England, do not agree with any of these writings. The search proved that there was never a Roger de Knapp, Knighted by King Henry VII, nor was there any Tournament held in Suffolk in 1530. In fact, they could find no record of a Knapp by the name of Roger living in Suffolk nor in Essex at any time. It is believed that the story first appeared in America and that a high probability exists that it was developed and the invention of some unscrupulous English genealogist, in an attempt to satisfy the ambitions of an American client!
KNAPP COAT OF ARMS
Some 6-8 Coats of Arms have been granted in England to persons bearing the name of Knapp, and are found recorded there. The Suffolk Coat of Arms was first granted to Henry Knapp, of Hintelsham, England and later to George Knapp of Tuddenham, and then to Robert Knapp of Needham, probably both descendants of the first mentioned Henry Knapp. Needless to say, we of today still find those who emphatically lay claim to the 'KNAPP KNIGHT" as a true accounting, yet the College of Heraldry cannot document the claim. A copy of the Crest or Coat of Arms appears in this writing and bears the information about the Coat of Arms. This Crest was prepared for the Knapp Family Association of America in 1940, by Winfield Scott Downs, the former managing Editor of the American Historical Company of New York. For more information about the Knapp Coat of Arms, consult BURKES "General Armory-Visitation of Suffolk, 1577.