Last name: Kirby

Recorded in many spelling forms including: Cerby, Cirby, Curby, Cerbee, Kirby, Kirkby, Kirkebye, Kerbey, Kerby, and Kurby this is an English surname. It is of locational origin from one of the numerous places named Kirby or Kirkby, as for example, Kirby le Soken in the county of Essex; Kirby Cane in Norfolk; Monks Kerby in Warwickshire; Kirby Hill in the North Riding of Yorkshire; Kirkby on Bain in Lincolnshire; and Kirkby Lonsdale, in Westmorland. These places, recorded variously as Chirchebi, Kerkeby and Kirchebi in the famous Domesday book of 1086 for the above counties, derive from the Northern Middle English word "kirk", meaning a church and ultimately from the Olde Norse word "kirkja," with "byr", a farm. The Olde English pre 7th Century "cyrice", also meaning "church," accounts for the initial "C" in some Domesday Book recordings. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving early registers include: Richard Kyrby in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1524, whilst on October 19th 1589, Ann Kirby was christened at the famous church of St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and Nathaniel Curbee was christened at the church of Holy Trinity in the Minories, in the city of London, on February 21st 1647. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godebold de Kirkebi. This was dated 1121, in the records of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 1st of England, 1100 - 1135. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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Andy Kerby

Yes, "Kirby" is an English/Germanic surname. However, far more of the Kirbys on this fair planet are of Irish descent given that the Celtic O'Ciarmhaic line of Kerry and Limerick was forced to adopt the rough English equivalent, and then they were scattered to the winds during the potato famine. You know who you are.

THE ANSWER TO KIRBY VS. KIRBY (sorry for the caps, just trying to get people's attention). The surname Kirby is derived from the Danish Kirkeby or Kirkby. Kirby was given a baronet in the north of England since their ancestors came over with William in 1066. Remember, the Normans were "Francophized" Danes and Norwegians. Essentially, it is now considered an English surname, though not common. The surname Kirby in Ireland is an anglicized derivative of O'Ciarmhaic from the 18th century (as is Kerwick). This was an attempt to reduce English prejudice against the family. Many Irish families did the same. Since another derivative of the name is O'Cearba which sounds similar to Kirby, and since the English Kirby's and Fitzgerald's were assigned as Marcher Lords governing various conquered Irish holdings (including the barony of Small County which was ruled in the Kingdom of Munster by the Eoganacht Aine Cliach and most of the time by the O'Ciarmhaic), the adoption of "Kirby" was chosen. -Michael Kirby

pat kirby
The surname Kirby (O'Ciarmhaic) has Irish origins and has for many centuries been synonymous with East Limerick, and especially Knockainey. The O'Ciarmhaic tribe were kings of Small County. It would be useful if your website accurately reflected this.. Patrick Kirby (Padraig O'Ciarmac) Gortavcoosh, Murroe East Limerick

The above comments might be true enough BUT DON'T APPLY TO MY Kirby's as I stated before Kirby was the name selected for an Australian Aboriginal NO CONNECTION TO IRELAND ENGLAND SCOTLAND WHATSOEVER just an English whim. in an effort to "civilise" the original inhabitants!

I think that anyone who read your original post understands your Kirby situation. Many people had last names forced on them that did not reflect their true ancestry... Africans who were held as slaves were often given the last names of their "masters." I do believe that many people are simply trying to figure out the origin of the name "Kirby."

My google search lead me here i am trying to trace my ancestors who are of Aboriginal decent Kirby and Catherine Slater can you help

hi Jude
my partner used to play in a band with the kirbys from Tamworth, Kirby's lived orginally in Swan Hill Victoria Joshua Kirby had 9 boys, John, Phillip,there were a few more this is going back about 30 to 40 years ago .Joshua had an album out ,ken robertson the label with maker. hopefully this helps somewhat on your search

Niamh S.Kirby
Hi, it's all interesting, but my parents are Northern Irish born. (Derry) and raised immigrated to NY in the 1960's and my family on both sides is to quote my Nan " as Irish as Patty's pig" my dads last name is Kirby and as far back as his parents can go which is quite far they knew it to be originally O' Ciarmhaic as well. They may find connections with the name to England but to my families knowledge the Kirby's are long time Irish. Either Northern like mine or very much in the South of Ireland. Hope that helps another fellow Kirby.

Came across this site and found it interesting. My grandmothers maiden name was Kirby and her father, Howard Kirby was Irish but unfortunately I do not know much on this portion of my family history because he died when my grandmother was five yrs old from tuberculosis. I do know that he came from the north western part of the United States in Washington state down to southern California.

I have been trying to uncover the background of my grandfather, Harold L Kirby. So far, I have discovered that his family lived in Montana at one time. I was always told that his family raised horses for the cavalry. I also know that he was a pilot and flight instructor in WWI. He also helped form the first airlines in this country, worked in La Jolla, CA at one time, gave silent movies a try (handsome but no acting ability), and died from lung cancer (?) in the 1960's. I would love information about his parents/grandparents/great grandparents. It is all such a mystery to our family... When I saw that you had a Howard Kirby it sparked an interest.

there are two origins of kirby english irish (from cierbha/ciarmhaic), which originates in limerick and clare

As far as being found across the globe (in countries not ruled by England), immigration, especially to the US and Australia I've heard, played a role -especially during the Irish Potato Famine.

Absolutely right that immigration played a major role in dispersing people around the globe. The Irish Potato Famine played an important role in motivating people to move away from poverty and starvation. That story is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

It's not about travelling. It's about being ruled by England. Ireland and Scotland were taken over by England. They had to change their names to be more English. O'Ciarmhaic was the original in Ireland and the English obviously weren't going to be speaking Gaelic. For example, one of my ancestors had to make sure his last name was English (Kirby) so he could be a teacher in Kerry, Ireland, at least so I was told.

You are so right! When England took over those countries - becoming part of the British Empire many names were changed. This is similar to when immigrants were processed at Ellis Island - If an employee could not understand or pronounce a person's last name they would spell it the best that they could (especially if the immigrant was illiterate and could not spell the name for them) and write down a name that was not accurate....or, ask what they did for a living, and give them a new last name ---- perhaps "Blacksmith" "Tailor" or "Taylor" etc... Researching a family history can be very challenging with spelling changes over time and literal name changes.

That's all fair enough. But if people didn't travel why would there be kirby's found in all three countries and across the globe. Not saying you have to be english. but they must all have common descent somewhere. Lots of places called Kirby here, but maybe named after settled families. I'm not from that time but wasn't told anything like that by previous generations that were not english. But hey i'm english and proud to be so. Peace and happiness to all.

It may be that the Kirby named originated in England, but my Kirby family is from Ireland, Southern Ireland that is, the Green! They came from County Kerry or County Kildare. If my ancestors were alive today, they would be appalled to think they would be considered as of English descent. Because of the civil war in Ireland, and my people being from the south, they despised the English. They made sure that my generation (I was born in the 1950s) knew the history of Ireland, and my dear old Irish mother used to look me in the eye, every St. Patrick's day, and say, "Don't ever forget that you are Irish!" She is long gone now, her name was Catherine Kirby; but, I have never forgotten that I am Irish.

Oh, that is interesting. I have an Aunt Cynthia a few years older than I so she would have been born in the 50's. Her mother, my grandmother, was Catherine Kirby prior to marriage, but my great-grandparents Kirby came from Scotland. They would not have considered themselves "of English descent."

Francis MacGeraghty

Your ancestors can rest peacefully mate, the English anglicised the surnames of every nation they oppressed, The took off the Mac's the O's they used phonetics as best they could to do this, they used Irish trade names like Gow, McGowan etc. meaning blacksmith, (Fion or Finn was renamed White) and changed it officially in their records as Smyth -Smith, they did it with many, many more, the ones they could not anglicise they just made them as English as possible, Roan and Rowan from Irish O'Roughaine, O Cuinghan to Cunningham, Fox, Herne, Murray, Clarke are others, there are loads more, So if you know you family history find the real Irish surname that is rightfully yours before it was stolen from you and edited and tampered with to make it easier for foreign civil servants and officials. Clarke is O' Cleary, O'chleaghreaidh, etc, with many district local differences in actual spellings.

My partners surname is Kirby and so are my children's. I only ever thought it was an English surname; because there are so many places with that name in this country. Never heard of anyone saying it is Irish or mentioning it when they talk of there Irish history. Maybe some families from Eire have the name, but the British Isle and Ireland are small small and close that I think you would find it hard for anyone from these Islands not to have ancestors from any of the neighbouring countries. For myself, I know I have lots from Ireland and also one or two from Scotland. I think displacement of surname comes from people moving freely - through trade etc (not always negative ventures). All people in the British Isles share common ancestors - it would be mad to think the surnames don't spread!!!!!!

Gayle Jackson
hi my great grandfather left scotland in the 1800's and ended up in St Vincent in the Caribbean. His name was Newton Kirby, he married a local girl, she was a carib indian. The name Newton stayed within the family, even upto now

my greatgpa was curtis newton kirby and he married a half lenape (delaware) indian. here in ks.

Gayle Jackson
Could be a connection to my family. We also have portuguese and south american ancestors in our family. Some of us look european and some look Indian. Interesting mix i think.

Jacqui Walker
Hi Gayle........ My grandfather is Newton Kirby who owned L'Anse Mahaut and my grandmother is Eunice Kirby who was half Carib Indian and African (garifuna)...if this is the same Newton Kirby then we are cousins....

A. Kirby
The Kirby history is very interesting.

My great grandmother's name was Kerby. She always said her people were from Ireland.

lin adams
My great-grandmother's name was Elizabeth (Lizzie) Kerby, from Ireland!! She died in Oklahoma.

con kirby listowel ireland
was Lizzie associated with mining etc my e mail is

con kirby
Any more details on "Lizzie" Kirby (kerby) Please
My E mail Address Is

con kirby listowel
e mail address should be

Hey, my name is Barry Kirby. I'm working on my family tree. Does anyone have a Morgan Butler Kirby in their history?

heather cullen
nsw married in Goulburn, lived around Trunkey Creek/Tuena may have come from Crookwell. No record of death. two sons. possum

site doesn't claim everyone is of the race where the name originated but endeavours to explain source. In my own family the names of Kirby and Slater were given to two full blooded Australian Aborigines - couldn't have any connections whatsoever! Their own tribal names would have been ignored- they would have been called William Kirby and Catheran Slater by the people who "civilised" them!

The commenter does not dispute the fact that Kirby is an English surname.

Kirby (Kerby) may be an English surname, but the majority of persons in the world today bearing this surname have Irish not English ancestry. And why is that? Because the English forced the anglicization of many Irish surnames in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Irish antecedent is O'Ciarmhaic from Knockainey in what is now County Kerry. And if you don't believe it, just check out the DNA studies.

MArgaret Kirby
There were heaps of Kirby's in Limerick County. Are they the same family?

Michael Kirby
Hi Margaret, My dad Gerard Majella Kirby was born at Newcastle West, Co. Limerick in 1923. He had three sisters. He emigrated to England, Leeds during the Second World War. He had an aunt in Newcastle West called Margaret or Margie. I think she died during the late 60s. My dad died at 48 in 1971. Perhaps we are related. My mother was a Collins from Clonakilty. So I guess that makes me a Munster man!

Hi there Just so you all know, any name ending in 'by' is a viking name. These hardy sailors were navigating the world when everyone else thought it was flat and set out from what is now Denmark and invaded all nearby lands i.e. Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, England and Wales. They went east aswell - Russia, Poland and North Germany. Kirk means church and by means settlement. Look at present day maps of Sweden, Denmark and England to see Grimsby, Selby, Ostby, Hellingsby, Rugby etc my surname is Kirby, I am Irish but I and all my relations, we definitely have viking heads on us!

patrick kirby, east limerick
Indeed so, the name Kirby is originally a Viking name (O'Ciarmac) brought to Ireland, It is most definately not originally an English surname, but was latterly adopted by the English. Much accurate info is available on the web.

sean kirby, telford
Just an update- looking into some research for a book I'm writing and kirby also has roots in- old german, danish, scandanavian, anglo-saxon, irish and angle from angeln migration near baltic sea to britain as mentioned in anglo-saxon chronicles 790 ad, the latter area being recognised as a source for england's name and language- ancestory of which can be found from danish/scandanavian viking and germanic tribal descents. Looks like our name is older than england itself :) although first reference in english chronicle is John Kirkby, a variation of the name.

Eddie Kirby
Hello all. My family all originate from Southern Ireland, Limerick, Adaire and surrounding area's.I am pleased to read the Gaelic "O'Ciarmac" spelling for my surname. My farther still speaks fluent Gaelic at the age of 80 (well we think he's 80, could be older. You've got be Irish to understand this) Maybe we should have a WEB site - Kirby's (O'Ciarmac) of Southern Eire. It would be interesting to see how far around the globe we Kirby's have spread.

Jim Kirby
Hi ... I live in South Africa. My grandfather came here from Britain in the 19th C and his name was George Alfred ... Other than that I don't know much.


I am a Kirby also and an looking into NY history, I an looking to find out who my great grandfathers parents are. His name was clarence Rufus Kirby