Show ContentsCallen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Callen 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 Callen family

The surname Callen 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 Callen family

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

Callen Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Callen revealed spelling variations, including Callan, Callanan, Caillan, Calan, Calanan, Callen, Callin, Callon, Callinan, Callinon and many more.

Early Notables of the Callen family (pre 1700)

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

Callen Ranking

In the United States, the name Callen is the 6,408th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [2]

United States Callen migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Callen family came to North America quite early:

Callen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Callen, aged 22, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1851 [3]
  • Stephen W Callen, who landed in Mississippi in 1854 [3]
  • William Callen, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1857 [3]
  • David Callen, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1864 [3]
  • John Callen, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Callen migration to Australia +

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

Callen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Margaret Callen, (b. 1809), aged 28, Irish maid who was convicted in County Down, Ireland for 7 years for vagrancy, transported aboard the "Diamond" on 29th November 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Catherine Callen, aged 20, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Trafalgar" [5]
  • Robert Callen, aged 33, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Macedon" [6]

New Zealand Callen 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:

Callen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Callen, aged 24, a plasterer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878
  • Ellen Callen, aged 23, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name Callen (post 1700) +

  • Michael Callen (b. 1955), American musician and AIDS activist
  • Jessa Callen (b. 1982), American sister-duo singer-songwriter, better known as The Callen Sisters
  • Beth Callen (b. 1984), American sister-duo singer-songwriter, better known as The Callen Sisters
  • Herbert Callen (1919-1993), American physicist and author of Thermodynamics and an Introduction to Thermostatistics
  • Bryan Christopher Callen (b. 1967), American actor, best known as one of the original cast of comedians on the sketch comedy series MADtv
  • Ian Wayne Callen (b. 1955), former Australian cricketer

  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.?".,
  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. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 1st July 2021). Retrieved from
  5. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) TRAFALGAR 1850. Retrieved
  6. South Australian Register Tuesday 11 January 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MACEDON 1853. Retrieved on Facebook