This interesting name has an unusual number of verifiable origins, any one of which could be the source of the modern surname. It is an occupational name for a maker of keys or for someone holding the ceremonial office of key-bearer, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "caeg", key. It can also be a topographical name for one living or working on a wharf, from the Middle English "kay(e)", quay. The Celtic personal name "Cai" or "Key", thought to be from the Roman name "Gaius" or "Caius" is another source, and two nicknames, one from the northern dialect (Middle English) "kay", meaning "jackdaw" and one from the Danish dialect word "kei", left, for a left-handed man, are further possible sources. The final origin is Norman, from the place called "Guise" in Picardy. There are six variations of the surname today:- Key(e)s, Kasy(e)s, Ke(a)ys and Keeys. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Keys, which was dated 1275, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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