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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish

Where did the English Kirby family come from? What is the English Kirby family crest and coat of arms? When did the Kirby family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Kirby family history?

The name Kirby came to England with the ancestors of the Kirby family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Kirby family lived at Kirkby in Furness. The name Kirkby means village with a church.


It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Kirby are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Kirby include Kirkby, Kirby, Kerribly, Kerwick, O'Kerwick and many more.

First found in Lancashire. One of the first recorded references to the name was John Kirkby (died 26 March 1290,) an English ecclesiastic and statesman. He acted as keeper of the great seal during the frequent absences of the chancellor, Robert Burnell, during the reign of Henry III. He was Lord Treasurer from January 1284 to his death. On 26 July 1286, he was elected Bishop of Ely, a post he held until his death.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kirby research. Another 269 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1816, 1690, 1753, 1625, 1681, 1661, 1681, 1649, 1709, 1693, 1702, 1708, 1658 and 1703 are included under the topic Early Kirby History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 187 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kirby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Kirby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words(3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Kirby, or a variant listed above:

Kirby Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Richard Kirby, who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1637
  • William Kirby, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1647
  • James Kirby settled in Virginia in 1651 along with Humphrey and Alice his wife
  • Hump Kirby, who landed in Virginia in 1651
  • Ann Kirby, who arrived in Virginia in 1655

Kirby Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • William Kirby, who settled in Boston in 1767
  • James Kirby, who landed in Richmond, Va in 1794

Kirby Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Mary Ann Kirby, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Cornelius, Mary Ann, and Eliza Kirby, who immigrated to New York in 1811
  • Eliza Kirby, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Cornelius Kirby, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • John Kirby, aged 33, landed in New York in 1812


  • Bruno Kirby (1949-2006), born Bruno Giovanni Quidaciolu, Jr., American film and television actor, best known for his roles in City Slickers, When Harry Met Sally..., Good Morning, Vietnam, The Godfather Part II, and Donnie Brasco
  • David Kirby (b. 1944), American poet & academic
  • Dorothy Kirby (1920-2000), American golfer & journalist
  • Jim Kirby (1884-1971), Scottish-born, American inventor of the Kirby vacuum cleaner
  • Stuart Kirby (b. 1981), American race car driver
  • Jack Kirby (1917-1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, American comic book artist, writer and editor, creator of Captain America and Marvel Comics
  • Charles Kirk Kirby (1826-1910), American architect in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Homer Durward Kirby (1911-2000), American television host and announcer, best remembered for his work on The Garry Moore Show in the 1950s, and Candid Camera
  • George Kirby (1923-1995), American comedian, singer, and actor
  • Steve T. Kirby (b. 1952), American politician, the 35th Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota



  • Colonial Settlers and English Adventurers by Noel Currier Briggs.
  • Tidewater Ancestors by Louise Niemeyer Fontaine.

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  1. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  3. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  7. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The Kirby Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kirby Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 31 July 2014 at 11:44.

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