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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

Kirkby is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Kirkby family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Kirkby family lived at Kirkby in Furness. The name Kirkby means village with a church.


Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Kirkby have been found, including 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 Kirkby 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 Kirkby History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Kirkby 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.


For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Kirkby were among those contributors:

Kirkby Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • John Kirkby, his wife Anne and two children, settled in New York State in 1774


  • John Kirkby (1929-1953), American footballer
  • Stanley Kirkby (1878-1949), English baritone singer
  • Gordon Kirkby (b. 1958), Canadian politician and lawyer, was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1993-1997
  • Bruce Kirkby (b. 1968), Canadian adventurer, photographer, and author who has climbed Mount Everest and crossed the Arabian Desert by camel
  • Elisabeth Kirkby (b. 1921), Australian actress and politician
  • Dame Emma Kirkby DBE (b. 1949), British soprano singer
  • Geoffrey John Kirkby (1918-1998), British Royal Navy officer
  • Ian Kirkby (b. 1968), British actor and writer
  • Sydney Lorrimar Kirkby MBE (b. 1933), Australian surveyor and Antarctic explorer, eponym of the Kirkby Glacier and Mount Kirkby, Antarctica
  • Sydney James Kirkby (1879-1935), Australian bishop of the Church of England in the Diocese of Sydney


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  1. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  6. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. 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).
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The Kirkby Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kirkby 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 16 October 2014 at 18:20.

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