Show ContentsKaye History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Kaye is derived from the Breton and Old Welsh word "Cai," and the Cornish word "Key," both of which meant "wharf." This name became the Middle English given name Kay. Some instances of this surname are no doubt derived from the Old English "Coeg," which meant "key." [1]

Early Origins of the Kaye family

The surname Kaye was first found in the Pipe Rolls for Northumbria where Britius filius Kay is listed there in 1199. Cecilia de Kay was in the Pipe Rolls for Gloucestershire in that same year. Another early record in the Pipe Rolls is of John del Cay in 1207 in London. John del Cai was Sheriff of London in 1201 and may be the same person as the aforementioned Pipe Roll entry. [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list a Jordan Kay but the Yorkshire Poll Tax records of 1379 has the most entries of the time: Robertus Cay; Alanus Kay; Johanna Caa; and Willelmus Ka. [3]

One reference claims a more romantic origin of the name: "the family of Kaye is of great antiquity in the county of York, being descended from Sir Kaye, an ancient Briton, and one of the Knights of the warlike Table of that noble Prince Arthur, flower of chivalry!!" [4]

"The property [of Thornton in Craven in the West Riding of Yorkshire] belongs to various families, the principal owner being Sir John Lister Kaye, Bart., lord of the several manors." [5]

"Kay or Kaye is the name of an ancient and distinguished family of Woodsome in the West Riding [of Yorkshire], one of whose members received a baronetcy from Charles I. The Kayes are now best represented in the Huddersfield district of the West Riding, whilst the Kays are more numerous in Lancashire. As far back as the 13th century we find this name, both as Kay and Kaye, in Lincolnshire, Hunts, and Cambridgeshire. [6]

Early History of the Kaye family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kaye research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1372, 1219, 1246, 1480, 1480, 1506, 1510, 1573, 1510, 1572 and 1640 are included under the topic Early Kaye History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kaye Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Kay, Kaye and others.

Early Notables of the Kaye family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Caius or Kay sometimes called the Elder (fl. 1480), an English poet and author of an English poem relating the history of the siege of Rhodes unsuccessfully undertaken by Mahommed II in 1480. His book "was printed in London in 1506, but has no printer's name, and although some of the type resembles that used by Caxton." [7] John Caius (1510-1573), "occasionally referred to as John Caius, junior, in order to distinguish him from another John Caius [q. v.] who was poet laureate to Edward IV, was an eminent scholar and physician of...
Another 102 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kaye Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kaye Ranking

In the United States, the name Kaye is the 4,047th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Kaye family to Ireland

Some of the Kaye family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Kaye migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kaye Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Edward Kaye, who received a land grant in Virginia in 1724
Kaye Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Abraham, Joan, John, Thomas and William Kaye, who all, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860

Australia Kaye migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Kaye Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Alexander Loo Kaye, English convict who was convicted in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England for life, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 5th June 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • John Kaye, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Richard Kaye, English convict who was convicted in Leeds, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 13th July 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • Mr. John Kaye1801, English ploughman who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Camden" on 21st March 1831, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. John Kaye, British Convict who was convicted in Leeds, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 12th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Kaye migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Kaye Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. A. L. Kaye, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Simlah" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 10th June 1853 [14]
  • Mr. John Kaye, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Palmyra" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 19th February 1858 [14]
  • Mrs. Kaye, British settler travelling from with 4 children London aboard the ship "Palmyra" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 19th February 1858 [14]
  • Mr. Kaye, Canadian settler travelling from Victoria, Vancouver Island aboard the shp "Glympse" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 29th November 1873 [15]

Contemporary Notables of the name Kaye (post 1700) +

  • David Daniel "Danny" Kaye (1913-1987), American actor, singer, comedian and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Judith Ann Kaye (1938-2016), née Smith, an American lawyer and jurist, Chairman of the Commission on Judicial Nomination (2009-2013)
  • Carol Kaye (b. 1935), American session musician who has played on an estimated 10,000 recording sessions in a 55 year career [16]
  • William Kaye (1813-1890), American politician, Mayor of Louisville, Ky., 1863-65 [17]
  • Vincent E. Kaye, American Republican politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives 7th District, 1964 [17]
  • Philip J. Kaye, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1960 [17]
  • Leonard C. Kaye, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 15th District, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1930; Candidate for New York State Assembly from New York County 3rd District, 1923 [17]
  • Jack Kaye, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Queens County 2nd District, 1954 [17]
  • George Kaye, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Kings County 6th District, 1938 [17]
  • Frederick A. Kaye (1796-1866), American politician, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, 1837-41, 1844-47 [17]
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Hannah Ermine Kathleen Kaye, English 2nd Class passenger from London, England, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and survived the sinking [18]


  1. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  7. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  10. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Agamemnon voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1820 with 179 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agamemnon/1820
  11. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th February 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eliza
  12. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/camden
  13. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th December 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eden
  14. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. Carol Kaye. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Carol Kaye. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Kaye
  17. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  18. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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