KIRKBY, JOHN (d. 1290), English ecclesiastic and statesman, entered the public service as a clerk of the chancery during the reign of Henry III. Under Edward I. he acted as keeper of the great seal during the frequent absences of the chancellor, Robert Burnell, being referred to as vice-chancellor. In 1282 he was employed by the king to make a tour through the counties and boroughs for the purpose of collecting money; this and his other services to Edward were well rewarded, and although not yet ordained priest he held several valuable benefices in the church. In 1283 he was chosen bishop of Rochester, but owing to the opposition of the archbishop of Canterbury, John Peckham, he did not press his claim to this see. In 1 286, however, two years after he had become treasurer, he was elected bishop of Ely, and he was ordained priest and then consecrated by Peckham. He died at Ely on the 26th of March 1290. Kirkby was a benefactor to his see, to which he left some property in London, including the locality now known as Ely Place, where for many years stood the London residence of the bishop of Ely.
Kirkby's Quest is the name given to a survey of various English counties which was made under the bishop's direction probably in 1284 and 1285. For this see Inquisitions and Assessments relating to Feudal Aids, 1284-1431, vol. i. (London, 1899).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)