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KIRKMAN ORIGINS


The Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames has this on our surname:

Kirkman, Kirman, Kerman: 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’.



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, which is what DNA testing suggests for the European Kirkman branches.

There is a wide footprint of the Kirman/Kerman derivitive in Lincolnshire, as there is for the Kirkman variant. But elsewhere in England, the Kirman/Kerman variants are seen much less. This case illustrates a point made by George Redmonds in “Surnames in Genealogy”: that all surnames are unique and it may even happen that the same one may have developed from a different root in one locality than in another.

And it was to the Lincolnshire coast that the Vikings came in their raids from the 8th to 11th century. Their longboats glided onto the flat sandy shore and the peaceful inhabitants could do little to stay their fierce onslaught. Burning and pillaging, they took their booty and sailed away but, in the ninth century, they were back with a great army and this time they came to stay.  Eventually they integrated with the resident Anglo-Saxons and Lincolnshire became part of the Danelaw (the land ruled by the  Danes)  centred  around  the  Five  Towns  (Nottingham,  Leicester,

So if you want to find out which line you come from, a DNA test could help!

It is interesting that Oxford decided to include Kirman and Kerman as derivatives of Kirkman. It is not uncommon that surnames evolve by omitting a letter, but that would imply  that  the  derivatives  came  later.  Here,  there  is  another  possible  derivation. In
Derby, Lincoln and Stamford). Added to the Norse origins of Kirk, that might suggest a Viking origin. However, DNA testing in the Kirkman Project has revealed that most participants are not of Viking Stock, with the possible exception of the USA Maryland Kirkmans.