The surname of QUIRK was derived from the Gaelic 'O'Cuirc'. It is the name of one of the leading septs of Clanwilliam, for which a number of synonyms have been used. e.g. Kirke, Quick and Oates. The name was originally a baptismal name 'the son of Corc' meaning 'heart'. Early records of the name mention Ceinnedigh O'Cuirc, 1043, McQuryke, 1511. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The family of Sir Randolph Quirk who was born in 1920, formerly Porfessor of English Language at the University of London, have farmed the same piece of land, Lambell on the Isle of Man since the year 1654. The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came from in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America.
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