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Origins Available: English, Irish


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.

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The surname Kirby was 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.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kirby research. Another 255 words (18 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 and printed products wherever possible.

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Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Kirby (1690-1753), an English land surveyor and topographer, best known for his book The Suffolk Traveller; Richard Kirkby (c.1625-1681), an English politician, from Kirkby Ireleth in Lancashire. He was a Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament for Lancaster (1661-1681). His...

Another 51 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kirby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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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 and printed products wherever possible.

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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 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
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Kirby Settlers in 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 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
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Kirby Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Kirby, who settled in Nova Scotia in 1814
  • Thomas Kirby, who immigrated to Saint John, New Brunswick in 1846
  • William Kirby, who immigrated to New Brunswick in 1847
  • Patrick Kirby, who was counted in the 1871 census in Ontario

Kirby Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Kirby, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • John Kirby arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839
  • Catherine Kirby arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Baboo" in 1840
  • Matilda Kirby arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Baboo" in 1840
  • Richard Kirby arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Baboo" in 1840
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Kirby Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Kirby, aged 24, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • James Kirby, aged 21, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Assaye" in 1874
  • Johanna Kirby, aged 20, a housemaid, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874
  • Catherine Kirby, aged 17, a housemaid, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874
  • L. D. Kirby arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "William Fruing" in 1875
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  • Jack Kirby (1917-1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, American comic book artist, writer and editor, creator of Captain America and Marvel Comics, eponym of the Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame
  • William Fosgate Kirby (1867-1934), American Democratic Party politician, United States Senator from Arkansas (1916 to 1921)
  • Steve T. Kirby (b. 1952), American politician, the 35th Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
  • George Kirby (1923-1995), American comedian, singer, and actor
  • 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
  • Charles Kirk Kirby (1826-1910), American architect in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Stuart Kirby (b. 1981), American race car driver
  • Jim Kirby (1884-1971), Scottish-born, American inventor of the Kirby vacuum cleaner
  • Dorothy Kirby (1920-2000), American golfer & journalist
  • David Kirby (b. 1944), American poet & academic
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Kirby Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • Mr. James Thomas  Kirby (1862-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Samuel M.  Kirby (1867-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Walter Norman  Kirby (1876-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. George E Kirby, British Boy, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking

HMS Repulse

  • Mr. Frank Kirby, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking
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  • Colonial Settlers and English Adventurers by Noel Currier Briggs.
  • Tidewater Ancestors by Louise Niemeyer Fontaine.
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Citations



    Other References

    1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    2. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
    3. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
    6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    7. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
    8. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    9. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
    10. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    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 1 May 2016 at 18:23.

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