The Kirby family probably originated in England. Kirby is the name of several small towns in England.     We found that the surname is derived from the English word "kirk", meaning a church and the word "by", meaning a farm, town or village.

We found various spellings of the name including Cerby, Curby, Kearby, Kerby and Kirby.    Occasionally we have found different spellings of the name within the same document.

We found records of early Kirby immigration to America including Alice Curby who immigrated to Virginia in 1636, John Kerby who immigrated to Maryland in 1661, Robert Kirby who immigrated to America in 1755, John Kirby in 1683, Robert Kerby in 1675 and the list goes on and on.     Early Kirby immigrants settled primarily in Pennsylvania and Maryland before migrating to other parts of the United States.     We found a number of Kirby immigrants had been born in Ireland.

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William Kirby was born about 1800, in Tennessee, according to census records.    Some researchers list him as Milton William Kirby.    We have found no documentation to support this, however.

William married Rutha E. (last name unknown) about 1825, probably in Tennessee.     (Some researchers think Rutha was the daughter of Samuel Frazier, Jr. and Mary Parks.    We have found no documentation on this.)     Rutha was born about 1807, in Tennessee.     She was often listed as Ruthy on census records.

We believe William and Rutha were in Blount County, Tennessee in 1830.     The census shows 1 male age 20-30; 1 male under 5; 1 female 20-30 and 1 female under the age of 5 years.

William and Ruthy appear on the 1850 Knox County, Tennessee census.    The census shows William Cerby, 50, a farmer; Ruthy E., 43; Millia M., 23; Abraham R., 21; Susanah S., 20; Archibald S., 17, a farmer; James M., 14; Jeremiah W., 12; Malinda C., 10; Dicie E., 8; William D., 6 and Martha Jane, 2 years old.    The census shows that all the children were born in Tennessee.

By 1860 most of the children had married or left home.    The 1860 Knox County census shows William Cerby, 65, personal property valued at $100; Ruthy, 65; Emaline, 18; William, 16 and Matha, 14 years of age.

By 1870 the family was located in Sevier County, Tennessee.    Additions had been made to the family, as several grandchildren were listed on the census.    The 1870 Sevier County census shows William Kirby, 70, a farm laborer, personal property valued at $245; Rutha E., 63; Dicy E., 27; Martha J., 23; Malinda E., 15; John N. S., 10; Joseph E. W., 6; Malissa C., 3; Rutha L., 1 and Mary Bell, born in April 1870, 2 months old.

William Kirby died between 1870 and 1880, probably in Sevier County, Tennessee.

The 1880 Sevier County, Tennessee census shows Ruth E., 73, mother, living in the household of her daughter Emeline Kirby, who was listed as head of household.     Five of Emeline's children were listed on the census.

We believe Ruthy died before 1900.

Children of William Kirby and Rutha

1. Millia M. Kirby, b. abt 1827, TN

2. Abraham R. Kirby, b. abt 1829, TN

3. Susanah S. Kirby, b. abt 1830, TN

4. Archibald S. Kirby, b. abt 1833, TN; m. Louisa Kyles on Dec 22, 1853, Knox Co, TN (Archibald appears on the 1860 Jefferson Co, TN census with Louisa and on the 1880 Sevier Co, TN census as 47, widowed or divorced.)

5. James M. Kirby, b. abt 1836, TN (We believe he m. S. R. Rule on May 29, 1862, Knox Co, TN.)

6. Jeremiah W. Kirby, b. abt 1838, TN     (our line)

7. Malinda Caldonia Kirby, b. abt 1840, TN; m. Samuel Ranghoff on Dec 24, 1859, Knox Co, TN

8. Dicie Emaline Kirby, b. abt 1842, TN (appears on the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 census with her parents - the 1900 Knox Co, TN census indicates she was a widow and had 7 children: (1) Joseph E. W. Kirby, b. abt 1864, TN; (2) Malissa Caldonia Kirby, b. abt 1867, TN; (3) Rutha L. Kirby, b. abt 1869, TN; (4) Mary Belle Kirby, b. Apr 1870, TN; (5) James H. Kirby, b. Jan 1873, TN; (6) Luther Kirby, b. abt 1875 and (7) Lillie Kirby, b. June 1886, TN)

9. William D. Kirby, b. abt 1844, TN (appears on the 1850 and 1860 Knox Co, TN census with his parents)

10. Martha Jane Kirby, b. abt 1848, TN (appears on the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census with her parents)


I am not a professional genealogist and although I have researched much of the information found at this site, some of it was given to me by other researchers and may not have been documented. Each bit of information found here should be carefully researched and proved or disproved by you, the researcher. Researchers may copy information found at this site for their own personal use and to share with other researchers or genealogical organizations. Any commercial use or distribution without the written consent of this author is prohibited.

Others researching the Kirby line:
Albert Wren
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