NOTES ON SURNAMES (HULL) 76
THIRSK From the North Yorkshire place name, early spellings of which often reverse the I and the R, so also with the surname.
John Thirsk, merchant of York, was Mayor of York in 1442 and 1462, and represented the town in Parliament in 1448 and 1450
Robert Thirsk, chaplain in Hull, pre-1445
John Thirsk in Beverley, 1547-8
John Thriske in Beverley,1578
James Thriske at Bentley, near Cottingham, 1584
Elizabeth Thriske in Hull, 1695
W.G.Hoskins, “Local History in England” (third edition, 1984), references a study of this surname by a Mr. J.W.Thirsk –
“The Thirsks began moving from the North Riding to the East Riding at some unknown date, though some remained. A complete count of all Thirsk deaths from 1837 to 1947 shows that of the 492 deaths, no fewer than 185 took place in Hull and Sculcoates (now part of Hull) and 128 in other places in the East Riding, including York. The West and North Ridings contributed only 62 deaths; Lancashire and Cheshire 71; and the remainder of England only 46. Thus the Thirsks remained remarkably concentrated over a period of 110 years, four generations which one commonly associates with increasing mobility. About 63 per cent lived and died in the East Riding, most of them in a much smaller area than this.
Turning to the registration of births, and taking only the period 1837-87, there were 361 births of which 290 – exactly 80 per cent – were in the East Riding. After 1887 there is much more dispersal …”
The name Thirsk derives from the Old Scandinavian word Ƿresk, meaning either ‘lake’ or ‘fen’. Reaney and Wilson’s dictionary of surnames lists Trask as a surname from the name Thirsk.
[The Sandinavian letter Ƿ represents the -th- sound as in words such as the, this, that, not as in thin, thick.]