An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Origins Available: English, Scottish
The surname Kays 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."
The surname Kays 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. 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.  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!!"  "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." 
Spelling variations of this family name include: Kay, Kaye and others.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kays research. Another 345 words (25 lines of text) covering the years 1500, 1372, 1219, 1246 and 1640 are included under the topic Early Kays History in all our PDF Extended History products.
More information is included under the topic Early Kays Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the Kays family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 63 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
Kays Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
Kays Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
The Kays Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kays Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.
This page was last modified on 26 January 2016 at 11:37.