This interesting surname may be of either medieval English or Scottish origin, and is a locational name from Kirkbride in North East Cumberland, or from an ancient place thus called in Ayrshire. The former place, recorded as "Chirchebrid" in the 1163 Pipe Rolls of Cumberland, and as "Kirkebride" in 1189, is so called from the Northern Middle English "kirk", church, from the Old Norse "kirkja", cognate with the Olde English "ciric", hurch, and the saint's name Bride or Brigid. The name Brigid (Gaelic, Brighid) is believed to mean "exalted"; it probably originally denoted a pagan fire goddess, many of whose attributes have been attached to the historical figure of St. Brigid of Kildare (452 - 523), founder of the first Irish convent. In England and Scotland, churches were dedicated in her honour as St. Bride, and in Wales as Ffraid Santes. Kirkbride in Ayrshire shares the same meaning and derivation. Locational names were originally given to the lord of the manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. In the modern idiom the surname is found as Kirkbride and Kirkbright. On July 9th 1570, Thomas Kirkbride and Susanna Skaife were married at St. Andrew's, Penrith, Cumberland. A Coat of Arms granted to the family circa 1615 is a silver shield, with an engrailed green cross between four black annulets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Kirkebryd, which was dated 1274, in the "Calendar of Inquisitiones post mortem", Cumberland, 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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