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About the study
The Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames has this on our surname:
Kirkman, Kirkman, Kirchman, Kirkmann: Robert Kirkeman 1230 (source Pipe Rolls, Yorkshire); Roger le Kirkeman 1259 (source Cavalry Charters, Yorkshire).Old Norse kirkja and Middle English man. 'Custodian of a church'.
Kirchman is a variant of Kirkman
The word Kirk also has its counterparts of Kirche in Germany, Kirkke in Danish and Kirk in Scotland (although the latter did not seem to be adopted until the mid seventeenth century). These could lead back to Celtic origins.
There is a preponderance of early Kirkman in Lincolnshire. This could suggest Viking Origins.
George Redmonds in "Surnames in Genealogy" purports that all surnames are unique and it can happen that the same one may have developed from different roots in one locality than in another.
There is more on Kirkman Origins here.
Historical occurrences of the name
The first family member to be registered on an ancient British census was Robert Kirkeman, a Yorkshire squire cited on a Pipe Roll in the year 1230. Roger le Kirkeman was recorded in Yorkshire in 1259 and two family members were noted in eastern England in 1273 (Roger le Kyrkeman of Lincolnshire and Symon Kirkeman of Suffolk).A Feoffment dated pre 1290 records the sale of land by Walter son of John Kirkeman of Sproatley, close to Hull in Yorkshire and the east coast. Click here for more on early UK Kirkmans.
The Kirkmans were very, very early American pioneers. The first was George Kirkman who was transported from London in 1649 "in bondage" to work the land. He would have laboured for 7 years before being granted 50 acres of land. Further information on early US Kirkmans is here.
Distribution of the name
There were 1926 Kirkman in the 1881 UK Census. Of those, the 3 largest concentrations of Kirkmans by County of residence in the England are Lancashire with 1271, then Yorkshire with 122 and Derbyshire with 106.
There were 1423 Kirkmans and in the 1880 USA Census. Of those, the 3 largest concentrations of Kirkmans by State of residence in the USA are North Carolina with 345, Indiana with 128 and Missouri with 116.
I have over 10,000 individual records for Kirkman events all over the world. Some are on the Kirkman website database page, including a listing of all KIRKMAN immigrants to USA over the period 1649 to 1900. If in doubt, contact me to find whether I have the information you need to break through your research barrier!
The main objective of the KIRKMAN DNA Project is to link together branches of our family that cannot otherwise be linked due to lack of documented genealogical records. A secondary goal is to determine the number of unique (i.e. not connected) lines that exist. Joining the DNA Project has many benefits.
Perhaps you are stuck in your genealogical research, or have got back so far that you cannot make further discoveries? Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your family history research. We will also discover which family trees are related. By joining the project, you also may find that the conventional research others have done benefits you. Already, more than half of participants have found out new information about their line - some going back to the fifteenth century! You can learn more at our website below.
Join the Kirkman DNA Project today!