This interesting name, with variant spellings Kirtland and Kirtlan, derives from the Northern Medieval English "Kirk" meaning church, plus "land", land, and was originally given either as a topographical name to someone resident on land belonging to the church, or as a locational name from any of the several places named with the above elements, for example, Kirkland in Cumberland, Ayrshire, Dumfrieshire, Lanarkshire etc.. Exceptionally, Kirkland in Lancashire has, as its second element the Old Norse "lund", a grove. The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century, (see below). Other early recordings include, John de Kyrkeland who held land in the territory of Gordon circa 1280, "Register of the Abbey of Kelso" Scotland, and William de Kyrkland, burgess of Glasgow, (1424). An interesting namebearer was Thomas Kirkland, (1722-1798), M.D. St. Andrews, and member of the royal medical societies of Edinburgh and London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Michael de Kerkeland, which was dated 1196, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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