Keef History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

All Irish surnames have underlying meanings that can be traced back to their fullest points when the names first appeared in a Gaelic form. The name Keef originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Caoimh," which is derived from the word "caomh," which means "gentle."

Early Origins of the Keef family

The surname Keef was first found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Important Dates for the Keef family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keef research. Another 116 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1640, 1655, 1670, 1691, 1703, 1740, 1747, 1778, 1791, and 1833 are included under the topic Early Keef History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keef Spelling Variations

Official documents, crafted by early scribes and church officials, primarily contained names that were spelled according to their pronunciation. This lead to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations, creating an illusion that a single person was many people. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Keef that are preserved in the archival documents of the time are O'Keeffe, O'Keefe, Keefe, Keeffe, Keefer, Keiffe and others.

Early Notables of the Keef family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Constantine O'Keeffe (born c. 1670) who was admitted to the French aristocracy in 1740 on the basis of...
Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keef Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keef migration to the United States

The 18th and 19th centuries saw many Irish families immigrate to North America in search of land and opportunities. The largest influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and British North America came during the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine laid waste to their homeland. Hundreds of thousands left the island in an attempt to escape the starvation and disease it brought. Although the arrival of such a large number of destitute Irish was not welcomed by the established population in the United States and what would become known as Canada at the time, these Irish were an essential element to the rapid development of these growing industrial nations. They filled the demand for the cheap labor needed for the work in factories and in the construction of bridges, roads, canals, and railways. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many immigrants bearing the name of Keef or one of its variants:

Keef Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Ellen Keef, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [1]
  • Charles P Keef, who arrived in Mobile County, Ala in 1844 [1]
  • Michael Keef, who landed in New York in 1861 [1]

Keef migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Keef Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Keef James U.E. who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]
  • Mr. Keef Daniel U.E., "Keefe" who settled in Parr Town [Saint John], New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]

Keef migration to Australia

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

Keef Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Catherine Keef, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"

Contemporary Notables of the name Keef (post 1700)

  • Alan Keef, English founder of Alan Keef Ltd, a British narrow gauge railway engineering company in 1975


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
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