Transferred use of the surname, originally a northern English and Scottish local name for someone who lived near a church (from Old Norse kirkja). Recent use has probably been influenced to some extent by the film actor Kirk Douglas (b. 1916 as Issur Danielovich Demsky).
English: from Anglo-Norman French pur die ‘by God’ (Old French p(o)ur Dieu), a nickname for someone who made frequent use of the oath. The surname was taken to northeastern Ireland during the 17th century, and is now to be found chiefly in northern Ireland and eastern and northern England.