KIRKE, George (-d.1675), of Whitehall; later of Charing Cross, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1626 - 18 Feb. 1626

Family and Education

s. of George Kirke, gent. of the robes to James VI of Scotland by 1600. educ. Court; G. Inn 1631.1 m. (1) 4 Jan. 1627, Anne (d. 6 July 1641), da. of Sir Robert Killigrew* of Kempton, Mdx., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 26 Feb. 1646, Mary (d. May 1701), da. of Aurelian Townsend, gent. of the privy chamber, of the Barbican, London, 4s (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.).2 bur. 20 May 1675.3

Offices Held

Groom of the bedchamber to Prince Charles by 1608-10, 1613-25;4 page to Prince Henry 1610-12;5 groom of the bedchamber to King Charles 1625-46;6 gent. of the robes 1630-46;7 kpr. Whitehall Palace 1662-d.8

Commr. enclosure, Gillingham forest, Dorset 1624,9 sewers, Northants., Lincs. and Norf. 1629, Lincs. and Hunts. 1635;10 ‘burgess’ and guildsman, Edinburgh 1633.11


Born in Scotland before the Union of the crowns, Kirke claimed to have served the Stuarts since infancy. He was first mentioned as a groom of the bedchamber in Prince Charles’s Household in 1608, served Prince Henry as a page, then returned to Charles’s Household in 1613. He joined his master in Spain in 1623, and in the new reign was reappointed to the bedchamber with a life pension of £500.12

Kirke was returned for the duchy of Lancaster borough of Clitheroe at the 1626 general election. However, shortly after the session began, on 17 Feb., Thomas Fanshawe I*, following the precedent set in the case of Walter Stewart*, declared that as ‘a Scottish man, ante-natus and not naturalized’ Kirke was ineligible. Consequently a new writ was issued. Kirke was subsequently mentioned as a witness during the investigation into the circumstances surrounding King James’s death, but was not called to testify.13 In the following year he married the daughter of a prominent English courtier, and was granted letters of denization, which enabled him to take possession of the Crown manor of Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire, though he remained ineligible to sit in Parliament.14 A bill to naturalize him and two other Scotsmen was introduced into the Commons on 17 Apr. 1628. He took the oaths four days later, but the bill was committed only after Lord Gray’s name had been ‘blotted out’, presumably because of his Catholicism. Even then the original committee, led by Sir Edward Coke*, was so unenthusiastic that it made no progress until his father-in-law and four other Members were added, one of whom, John Bankes, took the chair. The bill may have had more friends in the House of Lords, where it passed without incident, receiving the Royal Assent at the end of the session.15

Kirke’s first marriage involved him in an unpopular Lincolnshire drainage project, which led to rioting on the outbreak of the Civil War, when he accompanied the Court to Oxford. Following the end of hostilities he paid £985 to compound for his delinquency.16 After the execution of his royal master in 1649 he remained in England, but after the Restoration he was rewarded for his service with the keepership of Whitehall Palace. He died intestate on 20 May 1675, and was buried in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. His son Percy achieved notoriety as the commander of ‘Kirke’s Lambs’ in the Sedgemoor campaign, but went over to William III during the Revolution, and sat for West Looe in the Convention Parliament as a Court Tory.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Peter Lefevre


  • 1. GI Admiss.
  • 2. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 185; Westminster Abbey (Harl. Soc. Reg. x), 134, 218; St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 96, 125; W. Hamper, Life of Sir William Dugdale, 34.
  • 3. Westminster Abbey, 295.
  • 4. LS13/280, f. 227; Archaeologia, xv. 8; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 256-7; LC2/6, f. 69.
  • 5. LC2/4/6, f. 37.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 16; J. Philippson, The Key of Historie (1627), ded.; Hamper, 34.
  • 7. E401/2640.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 375.
  • 9. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 649.
  • 10. C181/4, ff. 30v, 40; 181/5, f. 10.
  • 11. Edinburgh Burgesses (Scot. Rec. Soc. lix), 293.
  • 12. LC2/4/6, f. 37; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 480; CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 23, 538; 1629-31, p. 553.
  • 13. Procs. 1626, ii. 68; iii. 73.
  • 14. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 185; VCH Yorks. (W. Riding), ii. 178.
  • 15. CD 1628, ii. 507; iii. 70, 208, 217, 229, 337; Lords Procs. 1628, v. 474, 644, 706-7.
  • 16. K. Lindley, Fenland Riots, 46-7, 89; CCC, 1469-70.
  • 17. CTB, 1660-7, p. 596; PROB 6/55, f. 5; Reg. Westminster Abbey, 295.