Possible Origins of the Kaye Name is something that has interested me for a long time. Besides tracing my roots as far back as I can, I would like to know more about the origin of the Kaye name.
The following is taken from an article written by Dr. George Redmond. In all other cases, I have asked permission to use the information which is displayed on this site. However, I received this excerpt of the article by Dr. Redmond "2nd hand". Although I have tried, I have not been able to find the original nor contact Dr. Redmond.
It was once claimed that the Yorkshire Kaye family was of such antiquity as to have been descended from one of King Arthur's knights. Although this is a piece of romantic fiction, it is nevertheless true that the surname has a longer history than most of the county, for there was a Hugh Ke living in Yorkshire over 800 years ago, and examples of the surnames are numerous throughout the Middle Ages. It may, however be misleading to say a "surname" for there is no certainty that one surname only is involved.
In its earliest forms Kaye is indistinguishable from the words that have become in our own time "key" and "quay" and evidence from other countries suggests that both may have given rise to family names. In other words Kaye and its numerous variants may, over the country as a whole, have several different meanings. Despite this it is a reasonable assumption that most Huddersfield Kayes share a common ancestor, a certain John Kay who was taxed in Farnley Tyas in 1379 Poll Tax . He was obviously a man of some wealth, being described as a franklin and paying 3s 4d, compared with the 4d by everyone else in the village. John Kay had, in fact acquired the manor of Farnley Tyas the year previously, on the death of Sir William Finchenden, and eventually the family settled at Woodsome and remained there until the main line became extinct some 250 years ago. The suggestion that this Kaye family is the one which most local Kayes owe their surname is strengthened by two pieces of circumstantial evidence: firstly because of the Poll Tax there was no other family in tha area with the same name, and secondly because it was in the neighbourhood of Farnley Tyas that the surname ramified. By 1545 Kaye was very common in this part of the West Riding and twenty three families are distributed as follows: Almondbury parish 15, Huddersfield parish 4, Kirkburton 1, Wakefield 3. This concentration of the surname is all the more remarkable if we bear in mind the absence of the name from neighbouring towns such as Leeds, Bradford and Halifax.
The precise meaning of the family name remains in doubt. It has been said that the Kayes originally came from Wakefield and there are certainly numerous occasions on which the name appears in the Wakefield Court Rolls from as early as 1277. Unfortunately none of these confirms the origin, and in view of the regional distribution of the surname the most likely alternatives are a dialect word "kei" meaning left-handed, and in Old Norse word "ka" meaning jackdaw . In either case it seems likely that Kaye was originally a nickname.
Sometime back, I came across the following in a British magazine: Kaye, variations Kay, Keay, Key (e).The main source of this name is from the occupation of someone who either made keys, or held the ceremonial office of a key bearer. (Old English caeg - key), but after that you can take your pick. Kaye is also: