Show ContentsKerby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 added many new elements to an already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Kerby family lived at Kirkby in Furness. The name Kirkby means village with a church.

Early Origins of the Kerby family

The surname Kerby 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. "John de Kirkeby, [was] Bishop of Ely in 1286, and founder of Ely Palace, Holborn." [1] 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.

Another John de Kirkby (d. 1352) was Bishop of Carlisle, an Augustinian canon at Carlisle and later prior of the house.

Early History of the Kerby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerby research. Another 128 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1816, 1548, 1690, 1753, 1625, 1681, 1661, 1681, 1649, 1709, 1693, 1702, 1708, 1658, 1703, 1634, 1690 and 1753 are included under the topic Early Kerby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerby Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Kirkby, Kirby, Kerribly, Kerwick, O'Kerwick and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerby family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Thomas Kirkby, rector of the church of St. Michael in Aughton, Lancashire in 1548 [2]; 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 son Colonel Roger Kirkby (c.1649-1709) was an English soldier and politician. He was Governor of...
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerby Ranking

In the United States, the name Kerby is the 7,200th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Kerby family to Ireland

Some of the Kerby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Kerby migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Kerby or a variant listed above:

Kerby Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jo Kerby, (Kerbie), aged 12, from Warwickshire, who landed in New England in 1635 aboard the ship "Hopewell", bound Plymouth [4]
  • Richard Kerby, who landed in Virginia in 1651 [5]
  • Joseph Kerby, who landed in Virginia in 1657 [5]
  • John Kerby, who arrived in Maryland in 1661 [5]
  • George Kerby, who landed in Maryland in 1661 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Kerby Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hanna Kerby, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [5]
  • Henry Kerby, who landed in Virginia in 1706 [5]
Kerby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Cornelius Kerby, aged 31, who arrived in Maryland in 1812 [5]
  • Mich Kerby, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [5]
  • Isaiha Kerby, who landed in Texas in 1835 [5]
  • James Kerby, who arrived in America in 1847 [5]

Canada Kerby migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kerby Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Eliz Kerby, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
Kerby Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Kerby, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843
  • Edward Kerby, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843

Australia Kerby migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Kerby Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary Ann Kerby, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dorothy" in 1849 [6]
  • Julia Kerby, aged 25, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Sea Park"
  • Mary Kerby, aged 34, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • Cornelius Kerby, aged 26, a farm labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Escort"

West Indies Kerby migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [7]
Kerby Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Humfrey Kerby, aged 18, who arrived in Barbados in 1635 [5]
  • Mr. Humfrey Kerby, (b. 1617), aged 18, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Alexander" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Kerby (post 1700) +

  • William F. "Bill" Kerby (1908-1989), American chairman and CEO of Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of The Wall Street Journal from 1966 to 1975
  • Bill Kerby (1940-1970), American screenwriter, best known for writing or co-writing the 1970s films Hooper and The Rose
  • Yale Leland Kerby (1925-2013), American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State Senate 19th District, 1948; Candidate in primary for Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals 2nd District, 1974 [9]
  • William Kerby, American politician, Postmaster at Hampton, Virginia, 1794-96 [9]
  • Leland Kerby, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 2004 [9]
  • Air Vice-Marshal Harold Spencer Kerby CB DSC AFC (1893-1963), Canadian senior Royal Air Force officer, Commander of the British Air Forces in East Africa during World War II
  • Edwin Thomas John Kerby (1885-1971), Australian politician
  • Henry Briton Kerby (1914-1971), British Conservative Member of Parliament for Arundel and Shoreham

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. 'Townships: Scarisbrick', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1907), pp. 265-276. British History Online [accessed 21 January 2017].
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's retrieved January 6th 2023 from
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The DOROTHY 1849. Retrieved from
  8. Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 28th September 2021 from
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook