This surname KIRBY was derived from the Gaelic O'Ciarmhaic (meaning one with black or dark brown hair and complexion). It has for the most part now become O'Ciarba, which gives the pronunciation Kirby. The branch in County Kilkenny retains the old sound in its anglicized form (Kerwick) while in County Waterford Kervick is found. Kirby is Mayo, however, is the modern form of Kerribly.
When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix 'Mac' was given to the father's christian name, or 'O' to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor.
In England the name was a locational name 'of Kirby' in County Lancashire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Godebold de Kirkebi 1121, County Suffolk, and Ketellus de Kerkebi appears in Yorkshire in the year 1191. Richard Kyrby was recorded in County Suffolk in the year 1200. Adam de Kyrkeby 1273 County Yorkshire. Johannes de Kirkeby of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Kerbie married Elizabeth Bendowe at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1594.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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