The Kay Family Association UK

Kays Everywhere

When we decided to do this page, we didn’t know what we were biting off! We’re finding new areas to explore, and continuing to look at the links between the different versions of the name. It’s nowhere complete so please bear with us and don’t go away.

A local historian who has extensively researched Lancashire family history once said ‘whatever you do, don’t touch the Kays’. Anyone who has tried to research their family history in the south of Lancashire or the West Riding of Yorkshire will heartily agree – there were so many of them. The earliest references that we have found to the name Kay in various parts of the country are Norfolk (1197), Northants (1199), Gloucestershire (1199), London (1207), Yorkshire (1219), Lancashire (1246), Worcestershire (1275), Sussex (1296), Suffolk (1327), Staffordshire (1331), Cumberland (1484), Cambridgeshire (1492), Somerset (1500) and Lincolnshire (1506). We’ve quite clearly got Kays all over the country from early days, not all stemming from the same stock. So where did they live?


The data for this article comes from a number of sources, some external and some of which we have gathered ourselves. If you want to do your own research, try Ancestry’s analysis of the 1891 Census ( which analyses surnames by county. Also worth looking at are , where you can drill down at look at the distribution of a surname at a more local level, and which includes a facility to search overseas. However you do have to get the surname right, and synonyms are not handled.

What’s Included

This analysis covers England (including the Isle of Man, but not the Channel Islands), Scotland and Wales. Kay and Kaye are obviously included, but we’ve gone wider than that. Our article What’s in a Name suggests a number of possible sources, and we cannot rely on spelling or locality.

How It’s Presented

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics[MT]. We have a mass of data which we could twist to justify anything we wanted. Our aim here is to present it as best we can, point out a few obvious facts and let you, the reader, draw your own conclusions.

But it’s proved to be much too big to go onto one page, so it’s been broken out into several pages. The list below shows what’s here; at the top of any of these pages, you’ll see a list of the other pages to allow easy navigation.

The Different Spellings: A general look at the different spellings of the name and their use in England, Scotland and Wales

Kays in England and Wales: a map of England and Wales showing where the Kays lived.

Kays in Scotland: a map of Scotland showing where the Kays lived.

Lancashire before 1800: a map of Lancashire showing where the Kays lived before 1800.

Lancashire in 1841: an analysis of the 1841 census for Lancashire.

Yorkshire in 1841: an analysis of the 1841 census for Yorkshire.

Often attributed to Mark Twain, who himself attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, who apparently didn’t say it either! Not for us to say.