Peter Kay Family History


Peter John Kay was born on July 2nd, 1973 to Michael John and Margaret Deirdre Kay in Bolton, Lancashire.  His mother was Irish Catholic and Peter was brought up in her faith.

By his mid-teens he was working in a variety of odd jobs around the town before taking an HND (Higher National Diploma) in media performance at Salford University.

Afterwards he began working part-time as a stand-up comedian.  His first success was in the competition The North West Comedian of the Year.  However, he continued to work as an usher at his local cinema in Bolton.  It was not until the cinema closed and he entered and won Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny? contest in 1997 that he seriously considered a career in comedy.

The breakthrough came in 2001 when Phoenix Knights aired on Channel 4.  This sitcom, which played for two series, revolved around a fictional working men’s club in Bolton.  Peter, who also co-wrote the series, played its cost-cutting wheelchair owner.  The show became a huge cult hit.

Fast forward ten years and his UK tour of 2010-11 broke the Guinness world record for the biggest-selling stand-up tour ever, selling more than 1.2 million tickets.

His persona and mundane yet humorous take on everyday life endeared himself to audiences.  But he did not chase fame.  He is a private person and would disappear for long stretches of time, often – it would appear – to Ireland, either to his mother’s hometown or to a place in Tipperary.

Bolton Roots

Bolton, Peter Kay’s hometown, was a Lancashire mill-town and today is proud of its industrial heritage.

Local inventors Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton were the pioneers of cotton spinning machines and Bolton emerged as a cotton boomtown in the 19th century.  The industry expansion was assisted by the availability of coal as fuel at a number of mines in the area.  And canal and railway links were developed.

In the 1920’s the cotton industry went into decline and there is little left of it today.  However, despite the mill closures, employment in Bolton continued to rely on large-scale manufacture well into the late 20th century.

Peter Kay has working class roots in this Bolton, with coal-mining initially very much to the fore.  His ancestry has been traced back to his two times great grandfather William Kay, a collier there in mid/late Victorian times:

  • William’s son John, who lost his first wife at a young age, was also a collier
  • and two of John’s sons went down the mine as well.

John’s son Stanley, born in 1920, started out as a haulage hand in a coal mine.  His wife Edith at the time of their marriage in the 1940’s was a turner in a local brass factory.

Stanley was a railway shunter when his son Michael, Peter’s father, was born in 1948.

Michael married Deirdre, a lass from Northern Ireland, in 1968.  At that time he was working as a maintenance fitter at a local cotton mill.  Later he was employed as a semi-skilled machinist and as an engineer before his early death in 1999 at the age of fifty-one.  Thus he never lived to see his son’s comic career take off.

Reader Feedback: My father William John Clugston was Michael Kay’s cousin.  So it was nice to read about the father John Kay of my grandmother Florence Clugston nee Kay being a collier. I’d never known that about him. Very interesting as my grandfather and three of his sons also went down the mine.  Kathryn Williamson.

Peter Kay’s Family Tree

  • Stanley Kay (b. 1920) m. Edith Loftus in Bolton
  • – Michael John Kay (1948-1999)
  • Michael John Kay from Bolton m. Margaret Deirdre O’Niell (b. 1948) from Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 1968
  • – Peter Kay (b. 1973)
  • Peter Kay m. Susan Gargan in 2001
  • – Charlie Kay (b. 2004)
  • – plus two other children


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Written by Colin Shelley

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