Kerkham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name Kerkham is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of when the family lived in the region of Kirham. Kerkham 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. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.
Early Origins of the Kerkham family
The surname Kerkham was first found in Lancashire at Kirkham, a market-town and parish, in the union of the Fylde, hundred of Amounderness. Dating back to Saxon times, the parish took its name from its church.  There is another Kirkham in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The first record of the family was Simon de Kirkeham who was listed in the Assize Rolls of Yorkshire in 1219.  Later, Walter de Kirkham (died 1260) was an English divine, Bishop of Durham. He was of humble parentage, but became one of the royal clerks. He is first listed in records from 1225 when he was chaplain of Eastrington, Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 list: Adam de Kirkham; Agnes de Kyrkham; and Johannes Kvrkam.  Despite the name having the Scottish word "kirk" meaning "church" as its root, it was "probably a recent incomer from England to Scotland."  Alexander Kircum was listed in parish of Birsay, Scotland in 1640.
Early History of the Kerkham family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerkham research. Another 146 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1575, 1507, 1582, 1523, 1525 and 1582 are included under the topic Early Kerkham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Kerkham Spelling Variations
The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Kerkham has been spelled many different ways, including Kirkham, Kirkam and others.
Early Notables of the Kerkham family (pre 1700)
Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerkham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Kerkham family
Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Kerkhams to arrive in North America: Edward Kirkham who settled in Maryland in 1774; John Kirkham arrived in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1858; Watson Kirkham arrived in Philadelphia in 1833.
Contemporary Notables of the name Kerkham (post 1700) +
- Derrick Francis Kerkham (1918-1978), birth name of David Ellis, English Writers Guild of America Award winning co-writer of the Doctor Who serial "The Faceless Ones" and writer of "No Justice for the Judge" (1966)
- Samuel Kerkham Ratcliffe (1868-1958), English journalist and lecturer
Related Stories +
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- ^ 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)