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Gay Family History

Gay Name Meaning

English and French: nickname for a lighthearted or cheerful person, from Middle English, Old French gai. In Middle English the term could also mean ‘wanton’, ‘lascivious’ and this sense may lie behind the surname in some instances. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from places in Normandy called Gaye, from an early proprietor bearing a Germanic personal name cognate with Wade. probably from the Catalan personal name Gai (Latin Gaius), or in some cases a nickname from Catalan gay ‘cheerful’. Variant of German Gau. North German: from a Frisian personal name Gay.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Similar surnames: May, Hay, Kay, Ray, Say, Pay, Bay, Fay, Gal, Goy

Search for a relative to learn more about your family history.

Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Gay family from?

You can see how Gay families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Gay family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Gay families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 100 Gay families living in Massachusetts. This was about 16% of all the recorded Gay's in the USA. Massachusetts had the highest population of Gay families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Gay surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Gay ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Teacher were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Gay. 17% of Gay men worked as a Laborer and 6% of Gay women worked as a Teacher. Some less common occupations for Americans named Gay were Truck Driver and Housekeeper.

View Census data for Gay | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Laborer
    17%
  • Farmer
    17%
  • Salesman
    4%
  • Truck Driver
    4%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Teacher
    6%
  • Housewife
    6%
  • Maid
    6%
  • Housekeeper
    6%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Gay family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 246,000 census records available for the last name Gay. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Gay census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Gay

Passenger Lists

There are 25,000 immigration records available for the last name Gay. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Gay immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 39,000 military records available for the last name Gay. For the veterans among your Gay ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Gay military records

You've only scratched the surface of Gay family history.

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What is the average Gay lifespan?

Between 1943 and 2004, in the United States, Gay life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1950, and highest in 2003. The average life expectancy for Gay in 1943 was 36, and 73 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Gay

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