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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 Keefe originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Caoimh," which is derived from the word "caomh," which means "gentle."

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The surname Keefe 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.

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname Keefe. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include O'Keeffe, O'Keefe, Keefe, Keeffe, Keefer, Keiffe and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keefe research. Another 250 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1640, 1655, 1670, 1691, 1703, 1740, 1747, 1778, 1791, and 1833 are included under the topic Early Keefe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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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 Keefe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name Keefe, or one of its variants:

Keefe Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Elizabeth Keefe, who arrived in Maryland in 1678

Keefe Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Keefe, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1765
  • Daniel Keefe, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766

Keefe Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Henry Keefe, who landed in New York in 1816
  • Michael Keefe, aged 28, landed in Missouri in 1840
  • John Keefe, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842
  • Dennis Keefe, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842
  • Mathew Keefe, aged 28, landed in Mobile County, Ala in 1844
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Keefe Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Ellen Keefe, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • Richard Keefe, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1829
  • Mary Keefe, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Joanna Keefe, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1832
  • Timothy Keefe, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1832
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Keefe Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Michael Keefe, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Mary Keefe, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Michael Keefe, Canadian convict from Fredericton, New Brunswick, who was transported aboard the "Anson" on September 23, 1843, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Nicholas Keefe arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Abberton" in 1846
  • Michael Keefe, aged 27, a shepherd, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Oregon"
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Keefe Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John Keefe arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Ellen Keefe arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Patrick Keefe arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Julia Keefe arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Michael Keefe arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
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  • Dylan Keefe (b. 1970), American bassist and one of the founding members of the alternative rock band Marcy Playground
  • Emmett Keefe (1893-1965), American NFL football guard
  • Kristin Klein Keefe (b. 1970), American volleyball player, member of the USA National Women's Team at the 1996 Summer Olympics
  • Peter Eugene Keefe (1952-2010), American television producer best known for creating the popular series Voltron
  • Daniel Joseph Keefe (1852-1929), American founder and the first president of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA)
  • Jim Keefe (b. 1965), American comic artist who contributes original art and stories to the Flash Gordon comic strip
  • P. J. Keefe, American head football coach for the Middlebury College Panthers football team from 1910 through 1912
  • Frank Bateman Keefe (1887-1952), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin (1939-1951)
  • Brian Keefe, American assistant coach for the New York Knicks
  • Robert Francis "Bobby" Keefe, American Major League Baseball player who played from 1907 to 1912
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Keefe Historic Events



RMS Titanic

  • Mr. Arthur Keefe (d. 1912), aged 39, American Third Class passenger from Rahway, New Jersey who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by RMS Oceanic
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Citations



    Other References

    1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    2. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
    3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    5. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
    6. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
    7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
    9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    11. ...

    The Keefe Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keefe Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 10 July 2016 at 12:36.

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