There is no mention of a House Noye on AWOIAF, and besides the fact that Donal Noye served at Storm's End, no indication that he is of noble birth. Does anyone know why he has a surname?
Reasons Donald Noye had a surname in Game of Thrones(theories)
Noye helped the king. Maybe the king offered him knighthood, but he turned it down and instead asked for a name. He did show bravery and other knightly qualities, so I think it can be said he was offered the knighthood. But something stopped him from achieving it.
Noye did "great" things and he was rewarded for those things by being given a name.
This quote was supplied by westeros.org, but is apparently from Chapter 19, A Game of Thrones:
Noye made my first sword for me, and Robert’s warhammer as well. Had the god seen fit to spare him, he would have made a better Lord Commander for your order than any of these fools who are squabbling over it now.
This is sort of connected to my above theory. And it was said by Stannis so that sort of talks about a godly interaction or that it just wasn't meant for him. I mean being a lord commander or being a knight.
- He couldn't be knighted
According to the wikia:
He was minorly injured in battle, but the wound festered, and he lost the arm and came to the Wall.
So what would be the use of knighting a armless "knight", its not like he could do anything. So instead he was given a name. This theory, however, has some flaws.
- Is it in the timeline that he was given a name?
Who can knight you so that the knighting would stick? A SFF.SE question.
Alternately(from the westeros.org link) the user RumHam supplies:
haha oops. I guess I should have read more than the title. I still stand the the answer is in that thread somewhere among the following points
- Being knighted is far from a given just because you fought for the winning side in a war.
- Being a knight costs money, you have to be able to afford your own armor, warhorse, and sword.
- There's not really any indication that Stannis, Robert, or Renly especially liked Noye.
- He didn't have an arm, and thus had lost his value even as a non-combatant (he used to be a smith, and was not from an important family) so there was no political reason to Knight him.
This is pure guesswork, but on A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76 (Jon) we learn that he used to work as a blacksmith at Storm's End. There he forged Robert Baratheon's warhammer, which was used to crash Rhaegar at the Rebellion, which led to victory.
So, maybe Robert rewarded him, raising him in the society, by giving him a last name or allowing him to choose one.
I haven't seen any official source explaining why Donal has a last name, so unless Martin tells us, it's just guessing.
Previous answers discuss only one possibility that Donal may have been raised up to nobility by Robert Baratheon. One angle of Donal's name hasn't been discussed yet. That is, he could be a descendant of some minor impoverished knightly house. Westerosi are an old people and it has been 12,000 years since the First Men came to Westeros, followed afterwards by Andals and Rhoynar.
Many a great houses, noble and royal, rose in those 12,000 years. Similarly many a great houses fell in the same years. I would not discount this factor that Donal Noye might be descended from some landless, impoverished noble family. We do not know anything about Donal's family background nor do we know about any House Noye so no one can answer this for certainty. For all we know, House Noye may have been some part of ancient Stormlander nobility which, in current timeline, is diminished.
Examples of Low born people who shared same family name as some knightly/noble family are following:
Masha Heddle - Masha Heddle is a low-born woman who owns an inn named the Crossroads inn. That's the inn where Catelyn Stark captured Tyrion. She has the name "Heddle" because her father was Ser Jon Heddle. Now you may say that Jon must have formed House Heddle after being knighted, but you would be wrong. House Heddle goes centuries back all the way to days of King Aerys I Targaryen. From Dunk & Egg: The Mystery Knight, we know of a reputed knight Ser Tommard Heddle. He was married to Eldest daughter of Lord Ambrose Butterwell who was Lord of Whitewalls. That means House Heddle must be prestigious enough back then to be considered a fit match for eldest daughter of a former Hand of the King. How did House Heddle fall so low that all they now own is an inn? We do not know for sure but it might be because they were supporters of House Blackfyre during Blackfyre rebellions. As explained by Prince (Later King) Aegon to Ser Duncan the Tall the fate of another noble House which lost most of its possessions as a result of supporting the Blackfyres:
"That's down in the Reach, isn't it? Does he really have three castles?"
"Only on his shield, ser. House Peake did hold three castles once, but two of them were lost."
"How do you lose two castles?"
"You fight for the Black Dragon, ser."
Dunk & Egg: The Mystery Knight
- Maynard Plumm - He was a low born Hedge Knight who claimed to be a distant cousin of Lord Viserys Plumm even though he doubted that Lord Viserys would admit that. (There is a theory that he was actually a disguise worn by Brynden Rivers)
Some Lords usually kick out their useless relatives out of their castles. It may have been that Donal Noye is descended from a junior branch of House Noye which was kicked out of their seat by the senior branch. Eventually, Senior Branch lost the seat (Because we don't know of any landed House Noye) and now members of the family are no different than low-born commonfolk. We have seen this trend in Merett Frey's account in Epilogue of ASOS:
It was like to be every son for himself when the old man died, and every daughter as well. The new Lord of the Crossing would doubtless keep on some of his uncles, nephews, and cousins at the Twins, the ones he happened to like or trust, or more likely the ones he thought would prove useful to him. The rest of us he’ll shove out to fend for ourselves.
So it is very likely that in two or three generations, Lords of Twins would start denying any kinship to their impoverished cousins from younger branches of House Frey. Eventually, these exiles would resign to live like smallfolk. Some may even become ironsmiths and swear service to some Lordly house. Some may find their way to Night's Watch. You never know.