The Kirckman (also Kirkman, Kirchmann) name of piano manufacturing began with Jacob Kirchmann (1710-1792), born near Strasbourg. He began as a cabinetmaker and in the 1730s moved to England where he became an apprentice alongside Burkat Shudi to Hermann Tabel, a Flemish harpsichord maker working in London. In 1738 Tabel died and the business passed to his wife Susanna, who Kirckman quickly married to gain control of the company. With the death of Susanna in 1840 and no heirs, Kirckman took a relative, Abraham Kirchmann (1737-1794) as a partner in the company. The earliest surviving square pianos with the Kirckman name date to around 1770, although harpsichords were still being made by the firm until 1809. Jacob Kirckman died in 1792, leaving the company to Abraham Kirckman and his son Joseph Kirckman (the Elder); Joseph Kirckman had full control of the company two years later with his father’s death. In 1803 the firm became “Maker to Her Majesty” and by 1809 the “c” was removed from the name, becoming Kirkman. The company had great success throughout the 19th century, becoming one of the top piano manufacturers in England. Joseph Kirkman and his son Joseph Kirkman the Younger (1790-1877) exhibited four pianos at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The firm continued with great success under a third Joseph Kirkman (1822-1896) until it was sold after his death to Collard & Collard.

Literature References:

Clinkscale, M., 2006. Makers of the piano, 1700-1820. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.165.

Palmieri, R. and Palmieri, M., 2003. Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, p.211-212.