The descent of the surname of Knight, and its transfer from one family to another, is very difficult to follow
when simply reading about it. The charts below were created to help make sense of the sequence.
To begin on the left, the Knight family had been in possession of the manor of Chawton for some generations. When
the male line failed with Sir Richard Knight, Chawton was devised to Richard Martin, the grandson of his aunt, Dorothy Knight.
As a condition of the bequest, he changed his surname to Knight. When he died without issue, the estates passed to his brother
Christopher; and when he died unmarried, they were inherited by their sister Elizabeth and her two successive husbands.
Elizabeth left no children, and the property passed to a second cousin, Thomas Brodnax of Godmersham. Thomas had already changed
his surname to May, after inheriting Godmersham from his mother's family; and changed it again to Knight on receiving Chawton.
Thomas and his wife Jane Monke, who was an Austen descendant, produced at least ten children, of whom five were boys.
Only one, Thomas (the second son of that name), survived childhood. Thomas enjoyed a long life of sixty years, and married
Catherine Knatchbull. When it became clear that they too would remain childless, they chose to adopt the young and affable
Edward Austen, whose family were collateral descendants of Thomas's great-great-grandparents, John and Jane Austen.
Jane Monke was the link between the Austens and the May family; and the Mays were the link, through the Lewkenors, to the Martins:
Note that this interpretation follows that in Chawton Manor and Its Owners, by William Austen-Leigh and Montagu George
Knight, published in 1911. I had for a long while relied on Burke's Landed Gentry, in various editions including that of 1879,
and on the recent Burke's Peerage Online. There are discrepancies, in a few generations, between the two Burke's formats
themselves, and Chawton Manor and Its Owners – though in some cases where the Burkes disagree with one another,
Landed Gentry of 1879 concurs with Chawton Manor and Its Owners. This latter work ought to be the best authority, since
the authors consulted deeds, charters, Wills, etc., many of them from the collection in the library at Chawton House.