Show ContentsKerk History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Kerk is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. The name Kerk is a "northern pronunciation of Church. Many parishes in the northern counties have this prefix, as Kirk-Heaton, Kirk-Newton, Kirk-Malew, Kirk-Linton, Kirk-Oswald, Kirk-Sandal." [1]

Early Origins of the Kerk family

The surname Kerk was first found in Yorkshire, England where Robertus del Kirke and Johannes de Kirke were listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [2]

As a name found on the border with Scotland, we must look to the 15th century to find the first occurrences there. "Sir Patrick Kyrk, chaplain of the altar of S. Mary, Perth, 1456, Andrew Kyrk, witness at Arnbroath, 1459." [3] Later we found Alexander Kirk, bailie of St. Andrews, 1520. James Kirk, charter witness at Inveraray, 1608. The old Dumfriesshire surname of Kihkhok is now merged in this name. [3]

Early History of the Kerk family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerk research. Another 167 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1258, 1547, 1553, 1590, 1597, 1600, 1613, 1629, 1638, 1641, 1644, 1646, 1650, 1654, 1675, 1681, 1683, 1691, 1692, 1706, 1742 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Kerk History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerk Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Kirk, Kirkhoe, Kirkaugh, Kirko, Kirkoe and others.

Early Notables of the Kerk family

Notable among the family at this time was Edward Kirke (1553-1613), English poet and scholar, a close friend of the poet Spenser; Robert Kirk (1644-1692), a Scottish minister, Gaelic scholar and folklorist from Aberfoyle, Stirling, best known for his "The Secret Commonwealth," a treatise on fairy folklore, witchcraft and ghosts; John Kirke (fl. 1638), English dramatist, author of a popular tragic comedy "The Seven Champions of Christendome" in 1638; and Lieutenant General Percy Kirke (c. 1646-1691), an English soldier and diplomat, Governor of Tangier (1681-1683.)Robert Kirk (c. 1641-1692) was a Gaelic scholar, the youngest son of James Kirk, minister at Aberfoyle...
Another 127 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerk Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Kerk family to Ireland

Some of the Kerk family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 76 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Kerk migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kerk Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Kerk, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [4]
  • Johann Kerk, who landed in Texas in 1854 [4]


The Kerk Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Optimum quod primum
Motto Translation: That is best that is first.


  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. 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)


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