Germany has Knies (can be translated as Knee and was so changed by German families settling in the USA).

My thanks to the Godfrey Memorial Library for the following:

PHILIP HERMAN3 KNIE (HENRICH2 KNY, UNKNOWN1 KNEE) was born March 06, 1743/44 in Oberfischbach, Siegen, Westphalia, Prussia1, and died December 1825 in Madison Twp., Montgomery Co., Ohio (Ehrstine Cem. Harrison Twp.)2. He married UNKNOWN FIRST Abt. 1764. She was born Abt. 1745, and died 1833 in 2d Wife, Agnes Klapert Smith Knee lies beside him in Ern Cem. Speculation his 1st wife may have been sister Mary Elizabeth Klappert b. 1745.

Burial: 1825, Ehrstine Cemetery, Harrison Twp., Montgomery Co., Ohio
Last Known fact: 2003, Earliest Ancestor Of Larry Knee And Robert Pohle Who Made Bedford Trip With Jack Knee
Residence: 1775, Frankstown, PA tax rolls also known as Phillip Nea. It is thought Hessian desserter named George Knie along with a Frederic Knie shown on U S Archive microfilm list of Hessian Desserters was a brother Tax Record: 1783, Washington County, MD he had a tax assessment for 2 horses and 3 black cows.

Please see the link below for a full family tree


About 30,000 German soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War, making up a quarter of the troops the British sent to America.[3] They entered the British service as entire units, fighting under their own German flags, commanded by their usual officers, and wearing their existing uniforms. The largest contingent came from the state of Hesse, which supplied about 40% of the German troops who fought for the British. It may be that Philip Knie and his family were linked to this immigration.

One supposes it is unlikely that there is any relation with the Wiltshire UK Knees except that their surname has the same possible origin as the English name. It appears that Knie is a common name in an area north of Frankfurt. The picture depicts a weaver from Nuremberg. This area appears to be a historical centre of the German cloth industry. More work to be done here! Webber, the fifth most common German surname, derives from weaver.

The American (German origin) concentration of Knees is highest in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and California.

The Wiltshire UK Knee descendants are clustered in Newfoundland, Canada, migrating here in search of good fishing grounds.

In 1803 the Knie family founded a circus which is, to this day, one of the great circuses of Europe and is based in Rapperswil in Switzerland.


In 1745 a Philip Herman Knie (changing or ‘anglicising’ the name to Knee on arrival in the US) born Oberfischback, Siegen, Westphalia and emigrating to Pennsylvania. Philip comes up as a Knee on searches and there are a good number (the majority) of US Knees belonging to this line.


I am grateful to a fellow Knee for the following thoughts sent to me via the One Name Study web site –

‘Between 1599 and 1642 nearly all the KNEEs outside Wiltshire and Gloucestershire were baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Chester. In the entries the name is spelled KNEE, NEE, and two entries (1602 and 1603) give KNEY. That last spelling is fairly common in southern France.
Peter Knee’s research in Wiltshire shows that many Huguenots, including some name KNEY or NEY, came to England after the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacres, 27 August – 17 September 1572. Many went first to Protestant Holland, and later to England. King James II’s ‘Declaration of Indulgence’ in April 1687 encourage more to come over and in May 1687 some 500 newly arrived Huguenots presented thremselves at the French Church in Threadneedle Street. Many were silk spinners and weavers, and settled in Brick Lane. In time the families spread, especially to Wiltshire where there was a thriving silk industry, then some later moved to to cotton-working industries around north Cheshire.
In conversation with the French lady in Brantome, she asked my name, and at once said that it should be pronounced NEY, that it is a Huguenot name, and that my ancestors probably came from the southern French area!’


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