Knaggs is a fairly rare English surname.


The principal spelling variations are

  • With or without the initial K - this initial K is silent in English, but is voiced in Scandinavian countries
  • One or two Gs - this quickly settled to two
  • None or one E after the final G - this E was more common in earlier documents, and reflects the original pronunciation
  • With or without the final S - see below


The Dictionary of Surnames gives Knaggs as a North English topographic name for someone who lived by a knagg (a stunted dead branch, or a jagged crag). However, it seems to have originated in Scandinavia where, today in both Sweden and Norway there are people named Knag, Knagg or Knagge.

The name is not present in the Domesday Book, and the earliest documented occurrence is that of Henry Knag, a Yorkshire Templar.


Today, in the British Isles, the surname Knaggs is most common in Yorkshire, in a broad swathe from Bridlington, through Whitby, to Guisborough. There are pockets in the main Yorkshire industrial and commercial cities such as Hull, Leeds, and Middlesbrough, and isolated families throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.

The surname Knagg occurs most often in the industrial cities of Lancashire; most of these descend from a family that originated in Westmorland.

The surname Naggs occurs most in Northumberland and County Durham, and in those places where the name was so rare that nobody knew about the silent “K”.

In 2002, in England and Wales there were 1,286 people named Knaggs, 172 named Knagg and 54 named Naggs.

People with the Knaggs surname have settled in foreign parts since the 18th century, and are now to be found in The United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad, and even Haiti and Singapore.


This surname, and its variants, are registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies, whose online register should be consulted.

Genealogical aspects of the surname are covered at this website

Some People Named Knaggs

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