Key History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

The name Key is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of when the family lived near a dock, and may have been employed there having derived from the Old French word kay, which became kaye, keye, and keay in Old English. These were all words for docks, or quays. The original bearers of the name undoubtedly lived near some docks, and could easily have been workers there. There is also the possibility that the name is derived from the Latin personal name Caius, a name that dates from the Roman occupation of Britain. There is a record of a Britius filius Kay in 1199, in Northants; filius means "son of." There is a third possibility; in the north of England ka was a word for jackdaw (derived from the Old Scandinavian), and was often applied as a nickname; some nicknames became surnames and this could be one of them. However, the majority of examples of this name found in England are of the local type. This makes this name a polygenetic name, which means that it arose spontaneously at different times and places and meant different things.

Early Origins of the Key family

The surname Key was first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Important Dates for the Key family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Key research. Another 59 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Key History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Key Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Key has been spelled many different ways, including Keyes, Key, Keys, Keye, Keyse and others.

Early Notables of the Key family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Key Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Key family to Ireland

Some of the Key family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 67 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Key migration to the United States

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Keys to arrive in North America:

Key Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Martha Key, who arrived in Virginia in 1628 [1]
  • John Key, who settled in Barbados in 1634
  • Richard Key, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [1]
  • Adam Key, who settled in Virginia in 1639
  • Adam Key, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Key Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Moses Key, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1700 [1]
  • Eliza Key, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [1]
  • Roger Key, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [1]
  • Thomas Key, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [1]
  • Philip Key, who arrived in Maryland in 1720 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Key Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Elley Key, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • James Key, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • Robert Key, aged 22, who arrived in Georgia in 1812 [1]
  • Johannes Ahlgrin Key, who arrived in Mobile County, Ala in 1840 [1]
  • Leonard Ash Key, who landed in New York, NY in 1841 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Key migration to Australia

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

Key Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary Key, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John" in 1840 [2]
  • William Key, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Anson" on September 23, 1843, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [3]
  • James Key, English convict from Norfolk, who was transported aboard the "Adelaide" on August 08, 1849, settling in Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip, Australia [4]
  • Joseph Key, aged 25, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Royal Albert"

Key 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:

Key Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Key, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th February 1854 [5]
  • Mrs. Key, British settler with family travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th February 1854 [5]
  • Thomas Key, aged 40, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Jane Key, aged 41, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Elizabeth Key, aged 19, a domestic servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Key (post 1700)

  • Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"
  • Major-General William Shaffer Key (1889-1959), American Commanding General US Forces Iceland (1943-1944) [6]
  • James L. Key (1866-1939), American politician who served four terms as mayor of Atlanta
  • David McKendree Key (1824-1900), American Senator and U.S. Postmaster General
  • Alexander Hill Key (1904-1979), American science fiction writer
  • Charles Key, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Oklahoma, 2008 [7]
  • Carrolena Key, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from District of Columbia, 1996 [7]
  • Carolyn H. Key, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1920 [7]
  • Bernard W. Key, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 14th District, 1932 [7]
  • Baxter Key, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1944 [7]
  • ... (Another 18 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

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Citations

  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JOHN from London 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840John.htm
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Anson voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1843 with 499 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/anson/1843
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 17) Adelaide voyage to Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip, Australia in 1849 with 303 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/adelaide/1849
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 30) William Key. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Key/William_Shaffer/USA.html
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
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