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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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.


The surname Kirkby 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.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kirkby 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 Kirkby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 Kirkby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 and printed products wherever possible.


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
  • Walter A. Kirkby, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 2nd District, 1940
  • S. T. Kirkby, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 10th District, 1923-24
  • Elmer Kirkby, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1896, 1928 (alternate), 1932; Candidate for Michigan State Attorney General, 1930
  • Stanley Kirkby (1878-1949), English baritone singer
  • Captain Geoffrey John Kirkby CBE, DSC & Two Bars (1918-1998), British Royal Navy officer, father of Dame Emma Kirkby
  • Elisabeth Kirkby OAM (b. 1921), English-born, Australian actress and politician
  • Sydney James Kirkby (1879-1935), Australian bishop of the Church of England in the Diocese of Sydney
  • Sydney Lorrimar Kirkby MBE (b. 1933), Australian surveyor and Antarctic explorer, eponym of the Kirkby Glacier and Mount Kirkby, Antarctica
  • Ian Kirkby (b. 1968), British actor and writer
  • ...

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    Other References

    1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
    6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
    7. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
    8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    10. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
    11. ...

    The Kirkby Family Crest was acquired from the 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 28 October 2015 at 19:57.

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