The Scottish, and northern English, name Kirk is of Viking origin. The name is derived from northern Middle English, Danish word kirk meaning “church” (Old Norse kirkja), a topographic name for someone who lived near a church. In Scotland the surname is first recorded in 1456, in the Register of the Abbey of Aberbrothoc, where Sir Patrick Kyrk appears as chaplain of the altar of St. Mary in Perth, while Alexander Kirk was bailie of St. Andrews in 1520. A Coat of Arms granted to a Kirk family is a gold crosier, and silver sword saltireways, on a gold chief a green thistle, all on a red shield. The name is first recorded in the US in Virginia when Christopher and Judith Kirk settled there in 1635. Today there are approximately 52,000 bearers of the name Kirk in the US.