This is an English habitation name from the village of Kirkshaw in the parish of Rochdale in Lancashire. The place name derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "kirk", church and "sceaga", "shaw" in Middle English meaning a copse or thicket. The surname would therefore denote someone who lived near the "church-wood". Locational names were usually bestowed on those who moved from their original habitation to live or work in another village or town. The spelling of the name varied from "Kyrkeschawe" in the 14th Century to "Kyrkshagh" in the 15th Century, before becoming Kershaw in the late 16th Century, and in general losing the second "k" of "kirk" from that time on. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Kyrkeschawe, which was dated 1307, in the "Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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