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Kay Family History

Kay Surname Meaning

English: nickname from northern Middle English ka kae kay ‘jackdaw’ from Old Norse or Old English . See also Daw . English: nickname from Middle English cai kay kei ‘left-handed clumsy’. English: occasionally perhaps an occupational name from Middle English kai(e) kei(e) ‘key’ applied to a maker of keys (compare Kear ) or alluding to the office of keeper or bearer of keys but clear evidence for this is wanting. English: topographic name for someone living or working on or near a quay Middle English kay(e) key(e) keay Old French kay cay. English: from a Middle English personal name which figures in Arthurian legend. It is found in Old Welsh as Cai Middle Welsh Kei and is ultimately from the Latin personal name Gaius. Scottish Irish and Manx: shortened Anglicized form of Gaelic McKay .9: Shortened form of any of various names beginning with the letter K-.7: German Danish and Dutch: from the personal name Kay which is of uncertain origin most likely as a variant of Key a pet form of personal names like Gerard Gerhardt and Gerrit (see Gerrits ). This surname is also found in France (Alsace and Lorraine). Compare Kai .8: Dutch and North German: topographic name for someone living by a quayside from Dutch kaai ‘quay’ German Kai (which was borrowed from the Dutch).10: Chinese: variant Romanization of the surnames 紀 (see Ji ) and 祁 (see Qi ).1 Chinese: possibly from Cantonese form of some Chinese names 奇 (meaning ‘special’) 琦 (meaning ‘outstanding’) or 基 (meaning ‘base’) which were monosyllabic personal names or part of disyllabic personal names of some early Chinese immigrants in the US.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022

Similar surnames: Hay, May, Day, Ray, Bay, Fay, Gay, Pay, Say, Kan

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Where is the Kay family from?

You can see how Kay families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Kay family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Kay families were found in United Kingdom in 1891. In 1891 there were 7,018 Kay families living in Lancashire. This was about 55% of all the recorded Kay's in United Kingdom. Lancashire had the highest population of Kay families in 1891.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Kay surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Kay ancestors do for a living?

In 1939, General Labourer and Unpaid Domestic Duties were the top reported jobs for men and women in the United Kingdom named Kay. 8% of Kay men worked as a General Labourer and 65% of Kay women worked as an Unpaid Domestic Duties. Some less common occupations for Americans named Kay were Incapacitated and Housewife. .

View Census Data for Kay | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations In 1939

  • General Labourer
  • Builders Labourer
  • Cotton Weaver
  • Incapacitated

Top Female Occupations In 1939

  • Unpaid Domestic Duties
  • Cotton Weaver
  • Unpaid Domestic
  • Housewife
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Kay family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 432,000 census records available for the last name Kay. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Kay census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search UK census records for Kay

Passenger Lists

There are 103,000 immigration records available for the last name Kay. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the UK, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Kay immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 45,000 military records available for the last name Kay. For the veterans among your Kay ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

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What is the average Kay lifespan?

Between 1941 and 2004, in the United States, Kay life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2002. The average life expectancy for Kay in 1941 was 29, and 76 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Kay

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