The Kay Family Association UK

The Kay Family Association UK was formed in 1998. The aim of the Association is to promote interest and encourage research in all aspects of Kay family history. Our founder President is Lord Shuttleworth JP, who is himself a Kay.

The name Kay occurs at points all over the United Kingdom from early times. There are recorded instances of the name in Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire in the 1190s, and London, Lancashire and Yorkshire in the following 20 years. There is of course the clan MacKay in the north of Scotland, and many Kays and MacKays in the Lowlands. The Isle of Man has its own variants, as does Wales. There are Kays in Ireland too; we have Kays and a clan McKay. Some of them use the same coat of arms as the Kays of Lancashire and the Kayes of Yorkshire.

Although always phonetically the same, spellings of the name vary; we have found 43 different variations in historical records, and even among our membership we have Kay, Kaye, Keay and Key. We have opted to use the Kay variant in the name of our Association for the sake of simplicity and because it is by far the most common variant.

There are several suggestions for the origins of the name, no doubt reflecting that geographical spread. Project 50, our own DNA study, suggests the same; although there is a strong connection with the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, there are other genetic groupings too, and our membership reflects this diversity. Our article What’s in a Name tries to address the issue of the reason for the occurrence of this simple surname all over the country from earliest times and with so many possible origins.

We have a number of projects in progress, and welcome input to these or suggestions for others. A list of them can be found on our Projects page.

The Kay Family Association UK is a member of the Federation of Family History Societies and is also a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies.

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John Kay the inventorJames Phillips Kay, educationalist and social reformerSir John Lister-Kaye, the fourth baronetCaptain Kay, a hero of the Civil War