Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kirke, Thomas

KIRKE, THOMAS (1650–1706), virtuoso, born on 22 Dec. 1650, was the son of Gilbert Kirke of Cookridge, near Leeds, Yorkshire, by Margaret, daughter of Francis Layton of Rawden in the same county. He was a distant relative and the intimate friend of Ralph Thoresby [q.v.], whom he often accompanied in his antiquarian rambles. In May 1677 he started on a three months' tour in Scotland, and kept a journal of his adventures, which Thoresby transcribed and placed in his museum (Diary, i. 320, 380, 403, 406). At Cookbridge he devised a 'most surprising' labyrinth, which attracted visitors from all parts (Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis, ed. Whitaker, p. 158). He was elected F.R.S on 30 Nov. 1693 (Thomson, Hist. Roy. Soc., Appendix, iv. p. xxix). He died on 24 April 1706. By his marriage, on 11 July 1678, to Rosamund, daughter and coheiress of Robert Abbot, he had a son, Thomas, who died in January 1709. He helped his father in the formation of a fine library and museum, which were sold by auction in 1710.

Kirke published anonymously a coarse satire entitled 'A Modern Account of Scotland... Written from thence by an English Gentleman' 4to, 1679, reprinted in 'Harleian Miscellany', ed. Park (vi. 135-42). The 'Journal' already mentioned was printed as an appendix to 'Letters addressed to R. Thoresby' (ii. 403). 'Journeying through Northumberland and Durham in 1677' appeared in 1845 in vol. vii of M. A. Richardson's 'Historical Tracts.' The original was preserved among the Thoresby MSS. To the 'Philosophical Transactions' he contributed two letters giving an 'Account of a Lamb suckled by a Wether Sheep for several months after the Death of the Ewe' (xviii, 263-4). Some of his correspondence is printed in Nichols's 'Illustrations of Literature' (i. 478, iv. 72-6). In the British Museum there is a letter from him to Sir Hans Sloane (Addit. MS. 4050, No. 924); also a humorous poetical 'Dialogue betwixt the Ghost of Thomas Kirke de Cookridge, Esq. and Milo Gale, rectro de Kigley,' 8 July 1706 (ib. 4457, No. 90.) Thoresby, (Diary, i. 463) wrote memoirs of Kirke intended for insertion in what he called the historical part of his 'Leeds Topography,' but it was never completed.

[Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis (Whitaker), p. 543 sq.; Gough's Brit. Topogr. ii. 569; Nichols' Illustr. of Lit. iv. 886; Taylor's Biog. Leodinensis, p. 161 n.]

G. G.