Last name: Kay
Recorded as Kay and Kaye, this interesting surname is "British". It has at least five possible origins. Firstly, it may be occupational for either a key maker or a key-bearer, one who held such a civic or similar post in a royal or noble household. This is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "caeg" meaning key. Secondly, it may be of French origin, and a topographical name for someone who lived by a wharf or was employed on one. The derivation being from Old French word "kaye" meaning quay. Thirdly, it may be of Celtic origin, from the Welsh given name "Cai", or the Cornish "Key", a name borne by the boastful brother of the famous King Arthur. Fourthly, it may be of Old Norse origin from the word "ka" meaning a jackdaw, and hence used to describe someone who bore a fancied resemblance to the bird! Finally, it may be a nickname for a left-handed man, from the Danish term "kei" meaning left, which was borrowed in the 13th century into the dialects of Lancashire and Cheshire, and survived in this area until the 19th century. The surname recordings include Geoffrey Cai or Kai in the pipe rolls of Norfolk in the year 1197, whilst church records include the marriage of Robertus Kay to Lucia Barber on the February 4th 1557. A coat of arms granted to the Kay family has the balazon of a silver shield charged with two black bendlets. The crest is a goldfinch proper. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2016
Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree
. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA
Were the Kays a Perthshire clan involved in the battle of the north inch around the 14th century.....????
My family is Scottish. Kay family was part of the Davidson Clan
We are the Kay's of Cheshire, but my Grand Father was from Macclesfiled/Manchester. Would love to know where my family originates from.
I'm from the London area but have moved to Manchester 12 years ago! My grandfather originates from the Lancashire area maybe this is why I feel so at home up here! My grandfathers name is Anthony kay and was from Preston I think or manchester!
Im black, but my surname is kay, can someone explain?
My family tree is very hazy as older relatives don't seem too open about discussing it! From what i understand, i have descended from Kays based in Lancashire but are now living in the west midlands! I'm very interested in finding out more.
The Kay's of Cumbria
Looking for the date of the first Kay in America