|Wool House Book recording Kirby's accounts, 1693-1703 [C WW]|
Papers held at Hull History Centre include a pedigree showing Kirby family members [U DDSY/105/9], a book said to belong to Kirby [U DDSY4/7/1], and his will [U DDSY/110/8] which shows that he owned properties all over the East Riding. The will also records various bequests, including one to the vicar of the ‘high church in Hull’ who received 2 guineas and a pulpit cloth for preaching the sermon at Mark’s funeral. But his most generous bequest, now known as ‘The Mark Kirby Charity’, was the gift of two pieces of land to the ‘Free School’ in Cottingham:
‘I give and devise…the yearly rents and profits…shall be paid to the schoolmaster…and to his successors forever for teaching 10 poor children whose parents are not of the ability to pay for their learning’
|Mark Kirby's signature and seal at the foot of his will [U DDSY/110/8]|
Kirby’s bequest was not responsible for establishing the school as it was already in existence, however, his generosity led to the school becoming known as ‘the Mark Kirby Free School’ and it survived as such until 1876. By 1860 a new school had been erected at the side of the churchyard in Church Passage, which was later taken over by St Mary’s Church and is now the church’s coffee shop. The original school building was situated in the churchyard and can be seen in an engraving which appeared in the ‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’ in 1797.
When the school ceased to function, the charity continued to exist. The trustees took several years to decide upon a new scheme which would be true to the spirit of the original bequest. Kirby had made his bequest to support pupils in the parish of Cottingham. In 1897 Reverend Malet Lambert was appointed Chairman of the trustees, and under his leadership the decision was taken to use the proceeds for scholarships. There were to be 6 general scholarships and 2 for pupil teachers.
By the 1920s these had become scholarships to high schools. By the 1960s grants were being awarded for school uniforms and today grants are given for musical instruments, school trips and children’s activities. The bequest has become a lasting legacy from a man who was well known in his day, and whose family went on to play an important part in the history of the East Riding.
|Mark Kirby's notebook [U DDSY4/7/1]|
Kirby’s son, another Mark, must have inherited his father’s business acumen as he was known locally as ‘the Merchant Prince’. Kirby Jr’s financial success allowed him to purchase the Sledmere estate. On his death, the estate passed to the children of his sister Mary who had married Richard Sykes, and thus Sledmere passed into the hands of the Sykes family. Their descendants still own the estate today and the house is a significant part of the local East Yorkshire landscape.
Elaine Moll, Archivist/Librarian (Hull City Archives and Local Studies)