Show ContentsCallan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Callan comes from the Irish Gaelic O Cathalain. The Gaelic versions of today's Irish names demonstrate a link to a proud, ancient past. The name is possibly derived from Cathalan, king of Farney slain in 1028, whose name means Little Charles, and from whom the family is thought to have descended. Cathalan was in turn descended from Coleman Mor, the king of Meath and (the 133rd Monarch of Ireland).

Early Origins of the Callan family

The surname Callan was first found in County Roscommon (Irish: Ros Comáin) located in central Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

Caillin (fl. 560), was an Irish saint, "son of Niata, descended from Rudraighe, whose grandson, Fergus Mac Roigh, flourished at the beginning of the Christian era. His mother was Deighe, granddaughter of Dubhthach, chief poet of King Laogaire in the time of St. Patrick. The authority for the history of St. Caillin is the ancient ‘Book of Fenagh,’ a series of poetical rhapsodies, written about 1400, a copy of which with a connecting narrative in prose was made in 1516. we may gather the following facts of St. Caillin's history from this curious repertory of ancient traditions: ‘The descendants of Medbh and Fergus, viz. the children of Conmac, Ciar, and Corc, grew and multiplied throughout Ireland. The children of Conmac especially were in Connaught.’ Those were the Conmaicne of Dunmor, kinsmen of Caillin's. Resolved to remedy the congestion of the population by killing each other, the Conmaicne would no doubt have carried out their plan but for the interference of St. Caillin. By the advice of an angel they sent messengers to him at Rome, whither he had gone for his education." [1]

Early History of the Callan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Callan research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1027 and 1280 are included under the topic Early Callan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Callan Spelling Variations

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Callan dating from that time include Callan, Callanan, Caillan, Calan, Calanan, Callen, Callin, Callon, Callinan, Callinon and many more.

Early Notables of the Callan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Callan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Callan Ranking

In the United States, the name Callan is the 7,853rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]


United States Callan migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Callan:

Callan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Peter Callan who settled in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in 1683
Callan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hugh Callan, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [3]
  • Margaret Callan, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [3]
  • Charles Callan, who settled in Delaware in 1772
  • Alexander Callan, who settled in Wilmington, N.C. in 1774
  • Alexander Callan, aged 22, who landed in Wilmington North Carolina in 1774 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Callan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Callan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1809 [3]
  • Santiago Callan, who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1816 [3]
  • Thomas Callan, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836 [3]
  • Patrick Callan, who arrived in America in 1837 [3]
  • James Callan, aged 20, who arrived in New York in 1854 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Callan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Callan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

Australia Callan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Callan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Ellen Callan, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" on 20th June 1836, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Mr. Barnard Callan, English convict who was convicted in Liverpool, Merseyside, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Emerald Isle" on 25th June 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Peter Callan, aged 36, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Constance" [7]
  • Pater Callan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1849 [7]
  • Owen Callan, aged 18, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Trafalgar" [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Callan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Callan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Philip Callan, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Stately" in 1851
  • Mr. Philip Callan, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 1st June 1851 [9]
  • Mr. William Callan, (b. 1841), aged 21, Scottish ploughman from Lanarkshire travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd May 1862 [9]
  • Mr. Patrick Callan, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [9]
  • B. Callan, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British Queen" in 1883 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Callan (post 1700) +

  • Clair Armstrong Callan (1920-2005), American Nebraska Democratic politician
  • Michael Callan (1935-2022), born Martin Harris Calinieff, an American actor best known for originating the role of Riff in West Side Story on Broadway
  • Thomas Joseph Callan (1853-1908), United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor
  • K Callan (b. 1942), American actress
  • Curtis Callan (b. 1942), American theoretical physicist and a professor at Princeton University
  • Father Nicholas Joseph Callan (1799-1864), Irish priest and scientist
  • Colm Patrick Callan (1923-2010), Irish rugby player
  • Dave Callan (b. 1975), Irish comedian based in Perth, Australia
  • Tim Callan (b. 1984), Australian rules footballer
  • John Bartholomew Callan (1844-1928), Irish-born, New Zealand lawyer and member of the New Zealand Legislative Council (1907-1914), father of John Bartholomew Callan
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Patrick Callan, American 2nd Class passenger from Chicago, Illinois, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and died in the sinking [11]


Suggested Readings for the name Callan +

  • The Tansill, Bender, Callan, Holmead, and other Early American Families by Xavier Bender Tansill.

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elizabeth
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 27th March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/emily
  7. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CONSTANCE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Constance.htm
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) TRAFALGAR 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Trafalgar-March.htm
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 12th November 2011). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


Houseofnames.com on Facebook