KIRKE, THOMAS, adventurer, younger brother of Sir David Kirke; b. c. 1603 in Dieppe; d. post-1641.
Thomas Kirke accompanied his brothers David, Lewis, John, and James in the expeditions to capture Quebec in 1628 and 1629. Upon the surrender of Champlain at Quebec in 1629 Thomas took him as a prisoner to the English headquarters at Tadoussac. En route he encountered a French relief ship under Émery de Caën, which had slipped past David Kirke, and captured it after a pitched battle. Following this, Thomas was left in charge of the fur-trading post at Quebec where he acted as governor for the English and Scottish merchants who had financed the expedition. He had to contend with English and French interlopers in the St. Lawrence. In 1631, having returned to England, he brought out the English supply ship and apparently wintered at Quebec, then returned to England in 1632 with his brother Lewis when the colony was restored to the French.
He entered the navy, probably in that same year, with the rank of captain and “Vice Admiral of the English Fleet.” In March 1635 he was appointed captain of the Sampson but was transferred to the Swallow in the following year after being accused by his lieutenant of exceeding his powers. He may have been the Thomas Kirke connected with the collection of ship money in Cambridgeshire in 1637. During the Civil War in England he served in the royalist forces as a lieutenant-colonel, and it was probably Thomas, rather than Lewis, also a lieutenant-colonel, who was wounded while capturing Knock Castle near Trim, Ireland, in 1642.
He does not seem to have left any family as he is not mentioned in a petition of 1683 requesting compensation to heirs of the Kirke brothers for losses incurred in the conquest of Quebec. Thomas Kirke may have died during the Civil War, or he may be the person of that name engaged in 1661 to hunt down supporters of the Cromwellian régime in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He is not to be confused with a namesake and probable relative who was appointed English consul at Genoa in 1689.