KNIGHT. A title of honour conferred upon a subject for eminent services performed in war. In the course of time, knights that had gained riches and high titles formed societies under the control and direction of their monarchs in every part of Europe. The limits of this work will only permit us to notice the orders of knighthood introduced into England.
KNIGHTS-BACHELOR were the earliest order of knighthood in England. The title was conferred for services in war. It was merely personal, and, like the knighthood conferred upon individuals at the present time, did not descend to their posterity.
KNIGHTS-BANNERET. This ancient and honourable order has become extinct in England. It obtained the title of banneret from the knights having the right of having a square banner borne before them on the field of battle, and at jousts and tournaments. It is a military order, and can only be conferred upon persons that have performed some heroic act in the field. When this action is known to the king, or general of the army, he commands the attendance of the gallant warrior, who is led, between two knights, into the presence of the king or general with his pennon of arms in his hand, and there the heralds proclaim his merit, and declare him fit to become a knight-banneret, and thenceforth to display a banner in the field. Then the king or general causes the point of the pennon to be cut off to make it square; it is then placed at the top of his lance, and the new-made knight returns to his tent, the trumpets sounding before him.” Knights-banneret were certainly created in the reign of Edward I., but how long before that time it is impossible to tell.
KNIGHTS OF THE GARTER. This is considered the most honourable order of knighthood in England: it was founded by Edward III. in 1349; the fraternity consists of twenty-six knights, to which are added the princes of the blood royal. The king of England is the sovereign of the order; their officers are a prelate, chancellor, registrar, and king-at-arms.
KNIGHTS OF ST. PATRICK. This illustrious Irish order was founded by George III., 1783. The device on the jewel of this order is argent, a cross saltier gules surmounted with a trefoil vert, charged with three imperial crowns or, the whole enclosed in a circle of gold, bearing the motto QUIS SEPARABIT. MDCCLXXXIII.
KNIGHTS OF THE THISTLE. The most ancient order of the Thistle was founded by James V. of Scotland, 1540, and revived by James II., king of Great Britain, 1687, incorporated by Queen Anne, whose statutes were confirmed by George I. The order consists of the sovereign and twelve brethren or knights. Their motto is the national motto, NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET; their badge or jewel, St. Andrew, supporting a cross, surrounded with rays of gold.
KNIGHT AND BARONET. A degree of honour next to a baron, created by King James I. to induce the English gentry to settle in the province of Ulster. The title is knight and baronet; it is hereditary: the arms are distinguished by an augmentation of a human hand gules, generally borne on an escutcheon in the centre of the shield.
KNIGHT AND BARONET OF NOVA SCOTIA. A new creation during the reign of George I. to induce capitalists to settle in that part of North America. The title is hereditary: the arms are argent, St. Andrew’s Cross gules surout, an escutcheon or, with a lion rampant gules within a double tressure of the same, surmounted by a king’s crown as a crest.
KNIGHTS OF THE BATH. An ancient and honourable military order of knighthood. The date of its origin is too remote to be traced with certainty: by some authors it is said to have been instituted in Normandy before the Conquest; it was re-established in England by Henry IV., and revived by George I.