This ancient surname recorded in several spelling forms including: Kirby, Kirkby, Kirkebye, Kerbey and Kerby, is English. 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", meaning a farm or settlement. 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. 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 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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