One possible route for tracing our family’s ancestry was our alleged coat of arms and crest (see below). Apparently, when my mother first met my father’s parents, there wasn’t a piece of china or silver that didn’t have the crest on it. She also remembers her future father-in-law making a big deal about her family coming from trade and even saying how lucky she was to be marrying my father.
It’s rather ironic now to hear about my grandfather’s snobby (read another story here), seeing that the crest appears to be “bogus” and “probably a charming and late example of the outrages that the painter stainers/undertakers/stationers were carrying out on an unsuspecting public” back in the day. Well, at least this was the opinion of a Bluemantle Pursuivant at the college of arms, before he suggested to my elder brother the “possibility” of “petitioning for these armorial ensigns to be made permantly and legally” for his children and all for a mere £2,200. So much for the “outrages” of the painter stainers/undertakers/stationers he mentioned!
I did find two different Kirby coat of arms, one English and one Irish, but neither looked anything like our ‘bogus but charming’ one. The site also explained that there are various spelling variations of the Kirby name in England and Ireland, including: Kirkby, Kerribly, Kerwick, O’Kerwick and O’Kirby.
In England, it’s apparently first found in Lancashire where the Kirby family were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. So there’s another Lancashire connection.
In Ireland, the name is first found in Knockany in County Limerick, where members of the family were chiefs of the Eoghanacht clan of Munster. Funnily, Kerwick is the anglicisation of Ó Ciarmhaic, which is descriptive of the son of dark brown father. This could explain rather a lot about my family.