Kirke History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Kirke 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. The name Kirke translates as church, and indicates that the original bearer of the name lived in a village with a prominent church.

Early Origins of the Kirke family

The surname Kirke was first found in Cumberland, where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Kirke family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kirke research. Another 132 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1258, 1600, 1590, 1597, 1553, 1613, 1644, 1692, 1638, 1638, 1646, 1691, 1681, 1683, 1641, 1692, 1646, 1691, 1650, 1706 and are included under the topic Early Kirke History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kirke Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Kirke family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Edward Kirke (1553-1613), English poet ans 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...
Another 63 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kirke Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Kirke family to Ireland

Some of the Kirke 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 Kirke migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kirke Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Kirke, who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Richard and John Kirke, who settled in Virginia in 1651
  • James Kirke, who settled in Virginia in 1656

New Zealand Kirke migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Kirke Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Kirke, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Swordfish" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 12th July 1859 [1]

West Indies Kirke 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. [2]
Kirke Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Christopher Kirke, who settled in Barbados in 1663

Contemporary Notables of the name Kirke (post 1700) +

  • Luke Kirke Swann (1983-2022), English professional cricket coach who worked for Northamptonshire County Cricket Club (2017-2022)
  • Henry Kirke Brown (1814-1886), American sculptor
  • Elizur Kirke Hart (1841-1893), American Democratic Party politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Orleans County, 1872; U.S. Representative from New York 30th District, 1877-79 [3]
  • Hazel Kirke DeFoe (1881-1955), American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1932 [4]
  • James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860), American politician, Secretary of the Navy, 1838-41 [5]


The Kirke 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. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  2. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  4. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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