This name, with variant spellings Kirkby, Kirkebye, Kerbey and Kerby, is of English locational origin from one of the numerous places named Kirby or Kirkby, for example, Kirby le Soken (Essex); Kirby Cane (Norfolk); Monks Kerby (Warwickshire); Kirby Hill (North Riding of Yorkshire); Kirkby on Bain (Lincolnshire); Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland). These places, recorded variously as "Chirchebi, Kerkeby and Kirchebi" in the Domesday book of 1086 for the above counties, derive from the Northern Middle English "kirk", a church (ultimately from the Olde Norse "kirkja") with "byr", a settlement. The Olde English pre 7th Century "cyrice", also meaning "church" accounts for the initial "C" in some Domesday Book recordings. One Richard Kyrby was recorded in the 1524 Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, and on October 19th 1589, Ann Kirby, an infant, was christened in St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts on a blue shield, six lions rampant, silver, three, two and one, on a gold canton a red mullet, (knights spur). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godebold de Kirkebi, which 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 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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