Kays Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


Don’t know which Coat of Arms is yours?

We can do a genealogical research. Find out the exact history of your family!

Learn More

Kays Origin:

England, Wales, France

Origins of Kays:

This interesting surname has maybe five origins. The first origin of the name may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a professional name for a manufacturer of keys, or for a person who held the work of key-bearer, from the Olde English pre 7th Century word “caeg” which means key. The second may be of French origin, a geographical name for a person who resided by a boat storage or was jobbed on one, acquiring from the Middle English word “kay(e),” an introduction to the Old French “kay(e)” which means wharf. The third may be of Celtic origin, from the Old Welsh name “Cai,” which means Cornish “Key,” produced by the pompous brother of King Arthur. The fourth may be of Old Norse origin, a love name from the jackdaw, appeared to explain a person having a supposed likeness to the bird, and acquiring from the Northern Middle English “kay,” an advancement of the Old Norse “ka.” The final and the fifth origin may be a love name for a lefty man, from the Danish term “kei” which means left, which appropriated in the 13th Century into the languages of Lancashire and Cheshire, and remained in this area till the 19th Century. London parish documentations record the wedding of Robertus Kay to Lucia Barber in the February 1557. A Royal symbol gave to a Kay family is silver, two black bendlets. At the peak is a goldfinch proper.


More common variations are: Kayes, Keays, Kayas, Kaysi, Kayus, Kayse, Kyays, Kaysa, Kayss, Kayhs.


One of the first registers in Scotland was the Kae family of Croslats who were an “old family” of West Lothian. The Keay spelling was most famous in Perthshire. Philip Qua recorded in Aberdeen in 1317 and Donald Ka recorded there too in 1399. Thomas Kaa was on an investigation found at Berwick-on-Tweed in 1370. Patrick Ka was a citizen of Linkithgow until his death in 1445. The “Mac” prefix seems complicated to explain. Some Mackay (Macaoid) families may have reduced their name.


The surname Kays first appeared in Yorkshire, but the surname also appeared in Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire sometimes as far back as the 13th century.

The very first recording spelling of the family was shown to be that of Geoffery Cai, dated about 1197, in the “Pipe Rolls of Norfolk.” It was during the time of King Edward I, who was known to be the “The Lionheart,” dated 1189-1199. The origin of surnames during this period became a necessity with the introduction of personal taxation. It came to be known as Poll Tax in England.


Many of the people with surname Kays had moved to Ireland during the 17th century.


The following century saw many more Kays surnames arrive. Some of the individuals with the name Kays who settled in Canada in the 19th century included William Kays, at the age of 21, who was a worker, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship “Ward” from Limerick, Ireland.


Some of the people with the surname Kays who settled in Australia in the 19th century included Richard Kays at the age of 29, who was a worker, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship “Velocity.”

Here is the population distribution of the last name Kays: Iraq 3,418; United States 3,325; Uganda 2,427; Bangladesh 2,406; Zambia 2,259; Turkey 943; Namibia 326; Lebanon 314; South Africa 310; Tunisia 297.

Notable People:

Alan Curtis Kay was born in May in the year 1940. He is an American expert in computer science.

Kim Kay is a Belgian pop musician.

Jay Kay was born as Jason Luís Cheetham in December 1969. He is an English singer, famous as the lead musician of the acid jazz band Jamiroquai.

Guy Gavriel Kay CM was born in November 1954. He is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction.

Popular products with your Coat of Arms

View All
Shop Now
Shop Now
Shop Now
Shop Now

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

Per chev. gu. and sa. three keys or, wards to the sinister.

Share your history