John Kirkby was born at Londesborough, Yorkshire, though he described himself as a native of Cumberland. He died on 21 May 1754. The son of a clergyman, he was educated at home before entering St John's College, Cambridge in 1723 (BA, 1727; MA, 1745). He was ordained deacon, apparently to a poor curacy in Cumberland, in 1727. He seems to have been curate of Pilham, Lincolnshire and was possibly vicar of Stoke High Cross and Trowse, Norfolk. Kirkby was Rector of Blackmanstone (1743) and Vicar of Waldershare, Kent (1739). He had been ordained deacon in 1723 and priest in 1724 by the Bishop of Chester. Around 1744 he was tutor to the seven-year-old Gibbon. According to Gibbon Kirkby's accidental omission of the King's name from the liturgy offended a patron in Putney and impeded preferment but this could well be a distorted childish memory. A more likely cause was his publication of a pamphlet arguing that the distribution of revenues in the Church of England was against Christian principles.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.