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Tony Kirkman

Blessed Richard Kirkman was an English Catholic martyr. Born in Addingham, Yorkshire, he left England in 1577 and studied at the famous Catholic school of Douai, France, the preparatory institution for English Catholics who would then return home and work for the reconversion of the isle.

Ordained in 1579, in Reims, he sailed to England and served as a tutor for Richard Dymake’s family in Scrivelsby, Lancashire. Richard then went to Yorkshire and Northumberland and he was arrested near Wakefield. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered near York with Blessed William Lacey, on August 22 1582, for denying the supremacy of Queen Elizabeth I as head of the Church of England.


His funeral processed through the City to the church of St. Michael Bassishaw. The concourse of people assembled on this occasion were the greatest ever known. Bridge Street was lined on both sides with the Military Association, Gentlemen and on each side the road leading to the Bridge were four ranks of coaches filled with spectators, the windows of all the houses, house tops, ridges and every elevation that could command the least view of this magnificent procession, were crowded with people.

Print of the Funeral Procession for Alderman John Kirkman. Click to enlarge

John is one of the Twyford Kirkmans, and had his own Coat of Arms.

Robert Kirby Kirkman was born on 25 June 1891, the last of John William’s children, Robert also carries the maiden name of his grandmother, Mary Ann Kirby. He fought in the Great War.

Marshall Monroe Kirkman (1842-1921) was a nationally known railroad executive, author of historical novels, and is the only Kirkman listed in the Dictionary of American Biography, the compendium of the nation’s best and brightest.

Born in Morgan County, IL, the son of Thomas and Catherine Sweet Kirkman and a grandson of George Kirkman, Jr., Marshall had a typically American rise to prominence. Though he had a rudimentary education, Marshall became one of the best-known American railroaders of the late 19th century.
At age 14, Marshall became a messenger for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, was repeatedly promoted, and eventually became a CNW vice president. He gained nationwide fame as an expert in railroad operation, management and financing by writing scores of railroad

books, articles and novels, including five volumes that detailed the meteoric rise of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian military genius who conquered the ancient world. Marshall also is commemorated by Kirkman, Iowa, a town 40 miles northwest of Des Moines, the state capitol. Recently  the town had  92 people, four dogs, 13 cats and a high school football team called the Kirkman Wildcats!

Would you like to add a new Famous Kirkman story? If so, please e-mail me a brief description. Once  we have agreed the addition, I will insert it into the web site.

"Building and Repairing Railways" by Robert Monroe Kirkman
T P Kirkman, Mathematician

Thomas Penyngton Kirkman was born in 1806 in Bolton, Lancashire. From age 14, he worked in his father’s office for 9 years. Against his father’s wishes, he went to Trinity College Dublin in 1829 to study mathematics, philosophy, classics & science. On returning to England in 1835 he entered the church of England and became vicar of Southworth in Lancashire for 53 years. But his passion was mathematics. He published over 60 substantial mathematical papers and many more minor ones. Kirkman is best known for the Fifteen Schoolgirls Problem. He published this in the Lady's and Gentleman's Diary of 1850:

“Fifteen young ladies of a school walk out three abreast for seven days in succession: it is required to arrange them daily so that no two shall walk abreast more than once.”

General Sir Sydney Chevalier Kirkman

General Sir Sydney Chevalier Kirkman

The most famous English military Kirkmans of the 20th century are General Sir Sydney Chevalier Kirkman and his brother Major General John Mather Kirkman. Both played significant roles in the British Army during World War II.

Sydney’s career was spectacular. Born July 29 1895 in Bedford England, the son of Judge John P. Kirkman, he served in the British army for 35 years, finally retiring as a General in 1950.

A second lieutenant in 1915, he was an artilleryman on the Western Front in France from 1915 to 1917,  served in Italy in late 1917  and  early  1918,  then  returned to France  to take

part in the Allies’ victorious 1918 offensive. By Armistice Day he was a Major and artillery battery commander, being thrice wounded, twice mentioned in dispatches for gallantry, and decorated with the Military Cross.

Sydney was the finest British artilleryman of World War II, a key figure in the historic 1942 Allied victory at El Alamein, Egypt. He was a division commander in Tunisia and Sicily in 1943, and a corps commander during the 1944 Italian campaign. Post-war in occupied Germany; he was a deputy chief of the Imperial General Staff, a special government investigator, and director of Britain’s Office of Civil Defence during the early, frightening days of the Nuclear Age. Fellow officers say Sydney was a brilliant, intellectual, inspiring commander, but a firm taskmaster. He died Nov. 5, 1982.

Nationally known during the 20th century was Boone Kirkman of Seattle, WA who in the 1960s and ‘70s was a highly ranked contender for boxing’s heavyweight championship of the world. A hard hitter, Boone won a string of matches in the mid-1960s, became boxing’s Great White Hope, and was on the cover of many magazines. In 1970 he had the bad luck to encounter later heavyweight champ George Foreman in New York’s Madison Square Garden and was flattened in two rounds. Boone continued fighting until 1979 and compiled a record of 43 wins and six losses. Daniel is one of the “Walla Walla” Kirkmans from Lancashire.
Daniel Boone Kirkman St Peter's Church, Addingham, Yorkshire

St Peter’s Church, Addingham dating from 1483

Major Thomas Kirkman 1758 to 1813, of Dublin & Tennessee

Major Thomas Kirkman, of Dalkey, Dublin Co, was born in 1758 and served in the British Army as Paymaster-General to the troops in Ireland, an office of great trust.

His son Thomas was born in Bally Bay, Monaghan, Ireland in 1779 and emigrated to America in 1805. Thomas Snr followed his son, and they settled in Nashville Tennessee, where Major Kirkman died in 1826. He is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville. Thomas Jnr  became a successful merchant in Nashville and later in Florence, Alabama. His  great grand-daughter Elizabeth (Lizzie) Kirkman became the wife of  Emmet O’Neal, Governor of Alabama from 1911 to 1915. These Kirkmans have their own Coat of Arms.

Thomas’s son Hugh married 17-year-old Eleanora Van Leer in 1839. She was undisputedly the city’s most beautiful belle and he was its most eligible bachelor. They were Nashville’s most glamorous family.  Eleanor’s father was Anthony Van Leer, owner of Cumberland Iron Works. He built her a magnificent home on the southwest corner of Cedar and Summer streets, worthy of her appearance, as a gift from himself.  When everything was completed, he escorted his daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren into the stunning home for the first time. The 27 year old Eleanora was breathless with excitement. “I can never hope to be nearer heaven than this!” she exclaimed. At  the  end of  the day,  with all  the chandeliers   
Eleanora Van Leer Kirkman
lighted, she stood  at the  top of  the winding stairway “for a last admiring glance before retiring for the night.” Suddenly, she turned to her husband and declared “I shall never see this stairway again.” The next day, February 23, 1849, her son Van Leer Kirkman was born. Complications occurred during the birth and for more than three months she was bedridden. On June 1, 1849 she died from complications of childbirth.

This Irish/USA Kirkman line also has branches in Tuscaloosa & Florence, Alabama.

Wilbur Daniel Kirkman (1885-1958) was a journalist, editorial writer, newspaper library director and a major contributor to this section of the Kirkman Family History.

Born in Union, OR on Jan. 31, 1885, he was the son of John C and Jennie Cook Kirkman. Raised in Spokane, WA, Wilbur graduated from the University of Washington and had a 41-year career in journalism. He established the Dickinson, ND Post; was a reporter for the Duluth, MN News-Tribune; an editorial writer for the St. Louis Globe Democrat, and spent 34 years with the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Wilbur is best remembered as the founder and long-time director of the Spokesman-Review’s reference library, or as it’s known in the newspaper business, the "morgue." He retired from the Spokesman-Review in 1947 and moved to Pasadena, CA. With the assistance of several genealogists, Wilbur carried out an extensive investigation of early Maryland and North Carolina Kirkmans. He died in Pasadena on Jan. 30, 1958, one day before his 73rd birthday.

The Soap Company Kirkman & Son Co. was established in New York City in 1837 by John Kirkman b abt 1800 from Lancashire, England. They sold bars of Kirkman Borax Soap and boxes of Kirkman Pure White Flakes, both used for washing laundry & dishes.

John’s son, Alexander Samson Kirkman (b 1844) took over the running of the business when his father died and moved the company to Brooklyn. Their factory was built around   

The Kirkman Soap Company, Brooklyn, New York

Kirkman Soap Flakes, Courtesy of Kirkman Library, Cotuit
1880 by Ralph Kirkman, son of Andrew Kirkman (b 1792), also of Lancashire & brother of John. In 1895 Alexander moved to much bigger premises in Brook St in Brooklyn where initially they had 85 employees. Tragically, Alexander’s eldest son John was killed by a trolley while riding his bike in Oct 5th 1895. He left a wife May Lulu and 3 year old daughter Dorothy.

When Alexander Snr died in 1912, his sons, Sydney Alexander (pictured left) & Ralph Kirkman took over. By 1913 the Company had grown to have 375 employees. In 1929 the Company was bought by Colgate Palmolive, but Kirkman branded products continued to be available in New York City until the mid 1950’s.

The solution to the Fifteen Schoolgirls Problem is not particularly hard. Nevertheless it is his most lasting memorial.

Portrait of Sydney Alexander Kirkman, Courtesy of Kirkman Library, Cotuit
Alderman John Kirkman was born in Oct 1743, the son of John Kirkman of Coventry and Ann Garland, his wife. He served his apprenticeship to weaving with his father in Coventry, and then established himself in the London weaving trade about the middle of the eighteenth century. In June 1766 he married Maria Marsh, the daughter of Robert Marsh, Governor or the Bank of England. He was a silk merchant with premises in College Hill in the City of London.

John Kirkman was elected Alderman of Cheap Ward on the 21 January 1768 and sworn in on the 2 February 1768. In the elections for sheriffs in June 1780, he was elected to be one of the two Sheriffs of London and was expected to take office on the 28 September that year. He also stood as a member of parliament in the September 1780 elections. He became a City Alderman in 1768 and a freeman of the Weavers' Company at the end of the following year. He was elected Sheriff of London in 1766, and MP for the City in 1780. Unfortunately he was unable to take up his seat in parliament or to take the role of Sheriff as he died on 19 September 1780, the last day of the elections.
Robert Kirby Kirkman's WW1 Medals

Captain Robert Kirby Kirkman of Great Britain's Royal Flying Corps was an eight-victory World War I ace who was shot down in early 1918, survived a crash landing and became a German prisoner of war.

Like many British fliers, Robert first served in Western Front trenches during the war's early years - in his case with the Leicester infantry regiment.
Alderman John Kirkman's Funeral in 1780 Painting of Major Thomas Kirkman of Dalkey, Ireland