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Kay Family History

Kay Name Meaning

English: nickname from Middle English ca ‘jackdaw’, from an unattested Old Norse ká. See also Daw. English: nickname from Middle English cai, kay, kei ‘left-handed’, ‘clumsy’. English: metonymic occupational name for a locksmith, from Middle English keye, kaye ‘key’. Compare Care, Kear. English: topographic name for someone living on or near a quay, Middle English kay(e), Old French cay. English: from a Middle English personal name which figures in Arthurian legend. It is found in Old Welsh as Cai, Middle Welsh Kei, and is ultimately from the Latin personal name Gaius. Scottish and Irish: reduced form of McKay. French: variant of Quay, cognate with 2. Much shortened form of any of various names, mostly Eastern European, beginning with the letter K-. Variant of Danish and Frisian Kai.

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


Similar surnames: Hay, May, Day, Ray, Bay, Fay, Gay, Pay, Say, Kan

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Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Kay family from?

You can see how Kay families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Kay family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Kay families were found in the UK in 1891. In 1840 there were 28 Kay families living in South Carolina. This was about 18% of all the recorded Kay's in the USA. South Carolina had the highest population of Kay families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Kay surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Kay ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Farmer and Clerk were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Kay. 14% of Kay men worked as a Farmer and 7% of Kay women worked as a Clerk. Some less common occupations for Americans named Kay were Clerk and Stenographer.

View Census data for Kay | 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

  • Farmer
    14%
  • Laborer
    11%
  • Salesman
    7%
  • Clerk
    4%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Clerk
    7%
  • Housewife
    6%
  • Teacher
    6%
  • Stenographer
    6%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Kay family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 432,000 census records available for the last name Kay. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Kay census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Kay

Passenger Lists

There are 103,000 immigration records available for the last name Kay. 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 Kay immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 45,000 military records available for the last name Kay. For the veterans among your Kay ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

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

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What is the average Kay lifespan?

Between 1941 and 2004, in the United States, Kay life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2002. The average life expectancy for Kay in 1941 was 29, and 76 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Kay

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