With regard to sometimes the reference John Knell Niles:
While I was looking in the old English reference and came across Simon Niles as mentioned in yesterday's posting....just for fun for a search I did "Knell". On the page listed below it comes up quite often and it seems to reference with regard to burials and a payment and ringing of the bell, evidently part of a burial.
'Pytt" is also listed for payment often preceeding "Knell", that one seemingly meaning (digging the pit or grave)
So, perhaps our John Niles rang the bell at burials.