This is an old name of Norse origin found particularly in the north of England and in Scotland. It can be either a topographic name denoting residence near a church or a metonymic occupational name for someone employed in a church. The derivation of the name is from the Northern Middle English word "Kirk", church, from the Old Norse "Kirkja". In England the name development has included Richard Attekirck (1301, Yorkshire), Adam Ofthenkirke (1308, Suffolk) and Robert de Kirke (1379, Yorkshire). In Scotland, the name is first recorded in 1456 in the Register of the Abbey of Aberbrothoc where one Sir Patrick Kyrk appears as chaplain of the altar of St.Mary in Perth. Alexander Kirk was bailie of St. Andrews in 1520. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Attekireke, which was dated 1209, in the "Fines Court Records of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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