The Kay Family Association UK


2022 AGM and Gathering

Our 2022 Gathering and AGM was held on Saturday 24th September at the Holiday Inn Express in Burnley. We decided to attempt this is a hybrid Zoom session and had ten members physically present and four connected via Zoom.

We started with another of Kay Hurst’s excellent presentations, this time based on a book published in 1671 by Jane Sharp, a midwife. Little is known about Jane, except that she lived in London and had been practicing midwifery for thirty years. This was a time of growing interest in science (the Royal Society had been founded in 1660), and Jane’s book was clearly an attempt to record her experience and pass her knowledge on to other midwives.

Kate’s presentation investigated the identity of Jane Sharp, her views on science, society, medicine and the roles of men and women during the reign of Charles II. The second half used Jane’s guidance to build up a picture of what a typical 1670s mother might have experienced during childbirth and the subsequent lying-in period, before trying to decide whether Jane Sharp’s methods would seem completely alien in the modern world or whether they still have some merit. It provided us with a good insight into what actually happened behind those dry BMD records that we research and provoked some lively discussion.

The AGM followed. Minutes can be found at this link (members only).

2021 AGM and Gathering

Our AGM this year was held on Saturday 25th September, courtesy of Zoom. We started with a talk by Kate Hurst entitled “Read All About It: Making Use Of Old Newspapers”. She demonstrated some of the many ways that a family historian can make use of historic newspaper archives. The changing tone of birth, marriage and death announcements, accounts of annual shows and fairs, crime and punishment, and nineteenth-century advertisements showed what interesting little sideroads researching our family history can take us down.

The AGM followed. Minutes can be found at this link (members only).

2020 AGM and Gathering

Because of the Coronavirus situation, our AGM and Gathering was postponed.

The 2019 Kay/Kaye Gathering

Back to Burnley. We started with a talk by Steve Yates on how he has used Ancestry’s DNA tool in his research and the new cousins he has been put in touch with (including his own wife!). He also talked about the new DNA project that has been started where members of the Association and Facebook group have been pooling their DNA. Doug Kay then told us briefly about his own family and the Robert Kay Association in the USA. Finally, Jonathan Kay gave a talk out a piece of research he’d done that had spread over a period of twenty years about some 17th century financial manoeuvrings at Woodhill in Bury. The evening finished with a convivial dinner (Lancashire Hotpot and Rice Pudding!).

2019 Annual General Meeting

Our 2019 Annual General Meeting was held in Burnley on Saturday 27th April. We started with an interesting and entertaining talk by Dr Mike Winstanley on Crime and Policing in the Nineteenth Century. As well as a journey into the seamier side of life at the time, we learned that in those days a policeman’s lot was definitely not a happy one. Minutes of the meeting that followed can be found at this link (members only).

The 2018 Kay/Kaye Gathering

We were in Huddersfield this year, and our talks focused on the textile industry. Our first speaker was Georgina Hutchison who talked about her new novel Under the Canopy of Heaven which centres on the case of George Mellor, a 23 year old cropper who was hanged in 1812 for the murder of a mill owner. George was a Luddite and was one of seventeen from Huddersfield who were hanged at the time. We learned a lot about the Luddites (for example the Luddite Oath) and about what seems to have been a miscarriage of justice ‘to make an example’.

Our second speaker was Ian Baxter, a committee member of the Huddersfield Textile Society, who gave a brief overview of the textile industry in the Huddersfield/Yorkshire area and showed two short films, one of the process of blanket weaving from start to finish, the other of life in the area in the 1940s.

2018 Annual General Meeting

Our AGM was held in Burnley on Saturday 14th April. We started with a talk on copperplate handwriting given by Anna Watson, who used to be the Archivist at the Lancashire Archives in Preston. It was an entertaining and instructive talk for those of us who have struggled with copperplate, with plenty of useful information and hints. It was also reassuring for us lesser mortals that even someone with 34 years’ experience in palaeography can be beaten sometimes. Minutes of the meeting that followed can be found at this link (members only).

The 2017 Kay/Kaye Gathering

Rachel Kay-ShuttleworthOur gathering this year focused on Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth who died 50 years ago. She was a remarkable lady, and we have notes on her life and work on our Kay Homes page under Gawthorpe Hall. The main talk of the afternoon was given by Rachel Midgley, curator of the textile collection at Gawthorpe, and her assistant Jane Hellebrand. We heard about Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth’s life and work, and her collection of over 30,000 pieces of embroidery and lace. We also listened to recordings of interviews given by the lady herself shortly before she died.

Steve Yates then gave us a short talk based around his continuing work with the WW1 Roll of Honour. This being the 100th anniversary of the year the United States entered the war, he talked about three American Kays who died in the conflict.

On Sunday, we had our own guided tour of Gawthorpe Hall and the collection. A memorable weekend!

The 2016 Kay/Kaye Gathering

This year we tried something different and went further afield, holding our gathering at the Holiday Inn in Nottingham on Saturday 10th September. We had three talks in the afternoon, starting with Jonathan Kay who gave a brief preview of the Parish Register Database where we presenting all the birth, death and marriage records we have accumulated.

Geoff Fitzpatrick then gave a brief talk on Kays with literary connections, from James Phillips Kay whose two novels were received at the time with what can only be called tepid praise, through a 15th century John Kay who was the self-appointed ‘humble poet laureate’ to Edward IV, to M.M.Kaye, author of The Far Pavilions – we know her family had been in India for some generations and hope to see what more we can find.

Finally, Steve Yates demonstrated some of the sources he is using to compile the WW1 Roll of Honour which can be found on this site.

The 2015 Kay/Kaye Gathering

The gathering this year was held on Saturday 26th September at the Holiday Inn in Brighouse, close to Huddersfield. This is a area where there has always been a high concentration of Kayes. Those of us with a Lancastrian origin braved the experience and did not regret it.

The afternoon began with a talk entitled “Turning Over Stones” by Jonathan Kay. Jonathan talked about his hunt for his seventeenth century ancestors and what he found there. The search went on for many years; he didn’t in the end find many ancestors, but he did find a lot about their less than honourable dealings. He described how his ancestors, who had been blacksmiths for several generations, suddenly became very rich at the end of the seventeenth century. They had by then an above-average number of properties in their possession, most of which had previously in the possession of men who had fought for the King in the Civil War. They also appear to have been money lenders of some ability. In his words, he is descended from a line of carpetbaggers and usurers.

The rest of the session was devoted to an open forum about this web site, and how it can be improved. There were many useful and innovative suggestions, which have now been implemented.

The 2014 Kay/Kaye Gathering

We returned to the Bolholt Country Park Hotel in Bury on Saturday 1st November for our annual gathering. The first talk was by Philip Mather of the Lancashire Fusilier Museum, who told us of the history of the regiment, from the battle of Minden in 1759, the only recorded occasion when infantry on foot charged mounted cavalry and won, through to the landings at Cape Helles in Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, when the ‘Bury Lads’ won six VCs before breakfast – though as one survivor of the landings had told him “there was no breakfast that day”.

This was followed by a talk from Steve Yates describing his search for a great-uncle who had emigrated to Australia before World War 1, and had subsequently died fighting in France. His researches showed us the power of the Internet as a research tool for genealogists, even to using Google Maps to find the house in Australia where the family had lived!

The 2013 Kay/Kaye Gathering

This was held on Saturday 5th October at the De Vere Urban Village Hotel & Leisure Club, Bury. During the afternoon we had a talk by our guest speaker, Peter Park entitled “Wanted – widows with large families“. The subject of the talk was the Poor Law Migration scheme of the 1830s, a scheme which set out to bring paupers from rural areas in the south of England to the work in the factories of northern England. Focusing on this little known episode, the talk gave a fascinating insight into the social and economic factors in play at the height of the Industrial Revolution, many of which will strike a chord with modern day problems. But why “widows with large families“? The reason was the lack of skilled workers in the mills at the time – mills were being built faster than they could man them. It was the children that were wanted, to be trained in the necessary crafts.

The migration scheme has special relevance for KFA members as one of the people closely involved with it was James Phillips Kay (later Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth) and Peter described the role played by James Phillips Kay in encouraging paupers to move from East Anglia.

Peter Park is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists and Vice-President of Cumbria Family History Society. He is much in demand as a speaker on family history matters and has written a number of books on the subject and contributed articles to many leading genealogical magazines.