Keyes last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Keyes is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Keyes.

Meaning of Keyes

Derived from a nickname for a person who had custody of the keys to a castle or building.

Keyes, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Keyes surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Keyes in America

Keyes is the 1979th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Keyes surname appeared 18,252 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 6 people would have the surname Keyes.

We can also compare 2010 data for Keyes to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 1979 2079 -4.93%
Count 18,252 16,020 13.03%
Proportion per 100k 6.19 5.94 4.12%

The history of the last name Keyes

The surname Keyes originated in England and dates back to the 12th century. It is derived from the Old French word "cles" meaning keys, reflecting an occupational name for a keeper of keys or a gatekeeper. The name Keyes is also closely related to the French surname Clé.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the name can be found in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire from 1166, which mention a William Kaies. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 also reference a John le Kays in Oxfordshire. These early spellings, including Kays, Keys, and Keyes, reflect the name's evolution over time.

The Keyes surname is believed to have originated in various parts of England, including Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, and Norfolk. Some of the earliest records indicate that the name was particularly prevalent in Norfolk, where it may have been associated with specific locations or estates.

In the 14th century, the Keyes surname appeared in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk, indicating its spread across different regions of England. The Subsidy Rolls also mention a John Keyes in 1327 and a William Keyes in 1381.

Notable individuals bearing the Keyes surname throughout history include:

  1. Sir John Keyes (1566-1647), an English merchant and naval administrator who served as the Lieutenant of the Tower of London.
  2. Gwendolen Keyes Ayers (1865-1949), an American writer and novelist known for her works on New England life.
  3. Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes (1872-1945), a British admiral who played a significant role in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I.
  4. Sir Geoffrey Keyes (1888-1967), a British diplomat and writer who served as the Ambassador to Argentina and Portugal.
  5. Evelyn Keyes (1916-2008), an American actress known for her roles in films such as "The Jolson Story" and "Here Comes Mr. Jordan."

While the Keyes surname has origins in England, it has since spread to other parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, and Australia, due to migration and immigration patterns over the centuries.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Keyes

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Keyes.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Keyes was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 60.50% 11,042
Non-Hispanic Black Only 22.06% 4,026
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.90% 164
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.78% 142
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.21% 403
Hispanic Origin 13.54% 2,471

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Keyes has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 60.50% 67.05% -10.27%
Black 22.06% 23.75% -7.38%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.90% 0.89% 1.12%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.78% 0.69% 12.24%
Two or More Races 2.21% 1.72% 24.94%
Hispanic 13.54% 5.91% 78.46%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Keyes was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Keyes, please contact us.

Reference this page

We spend a lot of resources downloading, cleaning, merging, and formatting the data that is shown on the site.

If you found the data or information on this page useful in your research, please use the tool below to properly cite or reference Name Census as the source. We appreciate your support!

"Keyes last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 13, 2024.

"Keyes last name popularity, history, and meaning"., Accessed 13 July, 2024

Keyes last name popularity, history, and meaning. Retrieved from

Search for a name

Search for a first or last name to learn more about its origin, meaning, and more.

Simple as that.