Select Quirk Surname Genealogy

The origin of the name Quirk or originally O'Cuirc or MacCuirc is the Gaelic name corc, meaning "heart."  It is traditionally thought of as being Manx, that is from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, and of Scandinavian origin - the Isle of Man being at one time a major Viking center.

Spellings are Quirk and Quirke.  Quirk - originating from the Isle of Man -  tends to be the English spelling, Quirke the Irish.  The surname bears no relation to the English word “quirk” meaning “a peculiar aspect of a person’s character or behavior.”  This word seems to have first surfaced in the English language in the 1500’s as a verb referring to a person’s sudden twist or twitch.

Select Quirk Resources on The Internet
Select Quirk Ancestry

England.  Quirk is a Manx surname.  It was recorded as Quyrke in 1511, Queerke in 1601, and Quirk in 1641. Thomas Quork married Mary Corkish in 1662.  The early pronunciation was Kirk.

It is thought that the first family on the Isle of Man by the name of Quirk lived on a farm called Ballquirk in Braddan.  There was a Ballquirk pew in the old Kirk Braddan church and these Quirks held their land for centuries.

"The ancient Quirks were said to be of a retiring disposition, cautious in friendship, dubious of strangers, industrious and hard-working.  They were religiously inclined and of a studious nature.  The remark has often been made: 'Where there's a Quirk, here's a book.'"

Branches of the family farmed Ballavar, Knockaloe and other farms in the Patrick and Foxdale districts.  James Quirk was a member of the House of Keys in 1797 and was later appointed Attorney General.

By the time of the 1881 census Quirk was the tenth most common Manx surname and had spread across to England.   For instance, Thomas Quirk was born at Kirk Rushen on the Isle of Man in the early 1800's.  He married Mary Johnson in Warrington in Lancashire in 1840 and they settled there.  Randolph Quirk the linguist was born at Lambfell on the Isle of Man but spent most of his working life in London.

Ireland.  Before the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Quirke clan ruled over a considerable territory in the barony of Clanwilliam in the southwest of county Tipperary, known as Maigh Cuirc or Muscraighe, the plain of the Quirkes.  Ceinnedigh O'Cuirc, the lord of Muscraighe, was slain in 1043.  Then there was a robber by the name of Murchad O'Curk who was sheltered by the Archbishop of Cashel in 1295.

Quirkes were in Tipperary at the time of the Cromwellian invasion.  There were records of Quirkes fighting in the Ormond army in 1649 and also in the Irish army of the 1670's.  The Dominican father Thomas O'Quirke was a priest who was chaplain to the Confederation of Kilkenny at this time.

Father William Quirke was a later Quirke who was an archdeacon in Tipperary.

"Father Quirke was born in Rathsallagh in the parish of Fethard in 1808.  Early in his youth his family moved to Ballyvadlea in Cloneen. .He was ordained at Maynooth.  He was in various places during his ministry, ending up at Cashel.  He was a lifelong nationalist and took a part in the land agitation movement.  He died in 1887 and was interred at Cashel church."

The Quirke surname today is most common in Tipperary and the nearby county of Limerick.

.  Most Quirks in America are of Irish origin.  Irish Quirkes generally became Quirks in America.  Among the migrants in the 19th century were:

  • Thomas and Ann Quirk from Cashel in Tipperary who came to America in the early 1840's and settled in Waukesha county in Wisconsin (his brother Edmund had earlier migrated with the Power group to Texas).
  • James and Emily Quirk, famine emigrants, who sailed from Dublin on the Charlotte for New York in 1846.
  • and Timothy and Bridget Quirk, also famine emigrants, who left their home in Limerick for Susquehanna, Pennsylvania in 1848.
James R. Quirk was born in Boston in 1884, the son of Irish immigrant parents.  He made his career in magazine editing, most famously with the Hollywood magazine Photoplay during the golden age of Hollywood.  His nephew Lawrence continued the reporting on Hollywood and its movie stars in various books and magazines.

Australia.  Michael and Honorah Quirk from Tipperary came out to Australia in 1841, settling at Adjungbilly Creek out in the bush in NSW.  Their daughter Mary, left behind, joined them with her grandmother fifteen years later.  She lived onto 1924.

Select Quirk Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Quirk Names

James Quirk was the editor and publisher of the Hollywood magazine Photoplay during the 1920's and 30's.
Randolph Quirk, Manx born, was a linguist, the instigator of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language that was compiled in the 1960's.
Pauline Quirke is an English TV actress.

Select Quirks Today
  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts) 
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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