Joseph Calef (1695-1781)

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  • Of: Boston, Massachusetts; Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
  • Born: 20 May 1695, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
  • Died: bef. 29 Oct 1781, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Parents:Joseph Calef and ♀Mary Ayer.
  • Married:Hannah Jordan 9 Nov 1718, Newbury, Massachusetts.
  • Born: 1693, Spurwinck, Cape Elizabeth.
  • Died: 1772, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Parents:Captain Dominicus Jordan and ♀Hannah Tristram.


  • by wife Hannah
  1. Sarah Calef, b. 13 November 1719.
  2. Samuel Calef, b. 22 July 1722, d. infancy.
  3. Samuel Calef, b. 4 November 1724; d. February 1803, Cape Elizabeth, unmarried.
  4. Joseph Calef, b. 4 November 1724.
  5. Hannah Calef, bp. 19 March 1726; d. young
  6. Ebenezer Winter Calef, b. 18 May 1729; d. after 1806, Cape Elizabeth, Unmarried.
  7. Robert Calef, b. 27 December 1731; d. young.
  8. Robert Calef, bp. 13 May 1733; d. young (?)
  9. Hannah Calef, bp. 22 February 1735; d. young
  10. Mary Calef, b. 1 May 1737; d. 3 April 1830.
  11. Elizabeth Calef, bp. 21 September 1740; d. 1796, Cape Elizabeth, unmarried.
  12. Hannah Calef, bp. 12 December 1742;


  • Joseph and Hannah Calef were notable folk in the Boston of their day. Hannah's father, Captain Domenicus Jordan, had been killed by the Indians in 1703 and she with her mother, brothers and sisters had been carried captive to Canada. All save one, Mary Ann, were returned in safety. Mary Ann is heard of later as a “spinster-woman” of Three Rivers, Canada, when Joseph is acting as her attorney in the settlement of her grandfather’s estate.
  • Joseph was present when his Grandfather Robert lay dying at Roxbury and makes his nuncupative will. The grandson, not then twenty-five, was chosen administrator by his aunts and uncles. This is but the first of many estates entrusted to him for settlement.
  • He owned a tannery and sold shoes and sheepskins to the army moving on Crown Point. This tannery, with others, was close by the spring that was one of the inducements to the settlement at Boston, and from this never failing source Joseph supplied water for the casks of outgoing vessels. Over it the Boston Post Office now stands.
  • The Calef house, at the corner of Milk and Congress Streets, escaped the fire of 1760, though the tannery was burned. The house was built on the model of Governor Belcher’s mansion. In it hung portraits by Copley, who has been, it is said, a clerk in the Office of the Market with one of the Calef boys. The only one of the portraits known to be in existence is that of the mistress of the house. This went to her daughter, Hannah, wife of Dr. Gottfried Smith, and to their daughter Hannah, Mrs. Charles Miller of Milton, Mass. Joseph’s house is pictured in Snow’s A History of Boston. The State Bank now stands upon the site.
  • Early Joseph was busied in public affairs. He subscribed a pound in 1716 to the building of the New South Church and later twice that to the workhouse. He was fence viewer, clerk of the market, constable. His name is on petitions for town improvements. He was sent by Governor Dummer with an important letter to Colonel Tying at Dunstable after the tragic fight with the Indians at Pegwacket. With two others he arranged for the building of a fort at Falconnet Falls, Kennebec River. He subscribed to President Willard’s “Whole Body Divinity,” one of the first folios printed in this country.
  • He dealt constantly in land, coming into many scattered acres through his Calef inheritances and Hannah’s Jordan properties. There were tracts in Nottingham and Yarmouth and Falmouth, and round-about Boston. He was an original proprietor of New Boston, Maine. They sold Hannah’s part in “Nonesuch Farm,” Scarborough, that came from Robert Jordan, and bought land by Langmaid’s Pond on Spurwinck Road at Cape Elizabeth. In 1774, two years after his wife’s death, Joseph settled there.
  • The eldest child, Sarah, married Col. Jabez Matthews, a man of mark. He was sent as head of an embassy of four, through the wilderness to Quebec, to learn the temper of the people in relation to the Revolution. His account to the Provincial Congress was not favorable. In 1783 and 1784 he was Colonel of the Fourth Regiment Cumberland County, Maine.
  • Samuel and Elizabeth, the unmarried son and daughter, went to Cape Elizabeth with their father and lived there the rest of their lives.
  • Ebenezer Winter was a tanner and carried on his father’s business in Boston. The records make him the typical bachelor brother and uncle, always settling family estates, laying up a comfortable fortune and leaving it to his kinsfolk.
  • No record has been found of the death of the second son named Robert , but since the many legal papers relating to the property of his Jordan grandparents, of his father Joseph, and of his brothers ans sisters, never mention him, it seems unlikely that he lived to grow up.
  • Mary, the widow of Captain Perkins, lived in Ipswich to great age, dying in 1830. Of the dispute as to the authorship of “More Wonders of the Invisible World,” she always said she knew from her father, that his grandfather, Robert the emigrant, was the author.

External linksEdit


  1. "Robert Calef of Boston and Some of his Decendants" Compiled by Anne Calef Boardman, The New England Historical Genealogical Society, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts 1940
  2. Ron Calef (Keith Ronald Calef Jr.),, 13760 Forest Park Circle, Penn Valley, CA 95946
  3. Doug Kastanotis' Main Page with Family Group Genealogy Links.

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