This unusual and interesting name is of Northern English and sometimes Scottish origin, and can be either a topographical or an occupational surname. As a topographical name, "Kirkman" described someone who lived near a church, and as an occupational name, described someone employed in a church, or the custodian, guardian of the church. The surname derives from the northern Middle English "kirk", church, from the Old Norse "kirkja", in Old English pre 7th Century "cyrice", with "man", man. The southern English surname "Churchman" is an equivalent formation. "Kirkman" can also be found as "Kirckman" and "Kyrkeman". One Charles Kyrckham appears in the Register of the University of Oxford for 1597, and the marriage of Richard Kirkman and Agnes Cowburne was recorded at Fewston, Yorkshire, on May 16th 1622. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Kirkeman, which was dated 1230, in the "Yorkshire Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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