View category for people with the Calef surname
Origin: England; Old English language version of the French surname "Veal"
Meaning: Calf
Variant(s): Calf
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Calfe Family StoryEdit

Originally submitted by noblehorse_0423 to The Noblehorse & Payne Forest on 10 Nov 2007

The Calf(e) family came to East Anglia in 1066 from Normandy - with good old William the Conqueror.

The original family name was Calfe, (earlier, Calf) the anglicized version of the French surname, which was Veal. Roger le Veal came with William and founded the English Branch, from which we are descended.

In Normandy they spoke French and wrote in Latin. Latin for Veal (calf) is Calvus. Ricardo Calvus (Richard Calf) was buried in Bury St. Edmonds in 1070, only 4 years after the Norman Invasion. Veal was a Norman Baronial name. The coat of arms for the Calf and Veal families shows three calves.

English as we know it was not spoken for 200 years after the Battle of Hastings (1066) so there are no early references to Calf(e) until later on in English history. Variants of the early name were: Veille, Val, Vel, Viel,Vail, Calvus, Calver, Calfo, Le Chauve.

In the historical rolls we find some interesting folks:

St. James Church, parish church to the early Calfe family still stands in Stanstead, Suffolk, East Anglia, Britain.

William Calfe was born circa 1545 and was a yeoman (farmer) of Stanstead. He was buried May 2, 1600.

His son Jerome Calfe was the third of five children and was baptized in 1572, died in January of 1638.

His son was Joseph Calfe, sixth of eight children, baptized in 1609, died around 1650.

Joseph's son Robert Calfe was born in 1648 and baptized in Stanstead, England in 1648 (not 1674), emigrated to New England, and died in Roxbury (Boston), Massachusetts on April 13 1719. Robert is buried in the Eustis Street Burying Ground in Boston. I am told the tombstone is in good repair.

It would appear that he changed the spelling of our name to Calef from Calfe. In the book, his name is printed Calef, but his signature reads Calfe.

Robert was a very brave man as he took on Colonial Governor John Winthrop, as well as Cotton Mather - and fought against the bigotry that 90% of the early Colonists held as the truth. Robert defended a number of the poor souls accused of witchcraft, including John Alden Jr., son of the John Alden that Longfellow made famous in the poem, "The Courtship Of Myles Standish". The Rev. Increase Mather, President of Harvard College, ordered Robert's book burned in Harvard Yard in 1700. Very few copies survived. Robert had to have the book printed in London as no New England printer would touch it. The book, as you probably know, is titled More Wonders of the Invisible World.

In addition to Robert, who opposed Cotton Mather during the Salem_witch_trials, we are also related to Gen. Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His grandmother was Mary Calef, daughter of Robert.

The Lt. John Calef encountered the very first elements of the Confederate Army at the Railroad Cut, west of Gettysburg. John was an Artillery Officer, and he opened fire with his horse drawn cannons, firing the very first shots in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1864.


  1. Ron Calef (Keith Ronald Calef Jr.), Penn Valley,CA
  2. Doug Kastanotis' Main Page with Family Group Genealogy Links.

External linksEdit

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