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

Early Origins of the Keffer family

The surname Keffer 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.

"In ancient times the O'Keeffes were Marshals and chief military leaders of Desmond. They possessed several castles, and were styled Princes of Fermoy. The principal county for the Keeffes and O'Keefes at present is Cork." [1]

Early History of the Keffer family

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

Keffer Spelling Variations

One must realize that attempting to record a Gaelic name in English was a daunting task. Even today the translation is a difficult one. Names, therefore, often had many spelling variations. The variations of the name Keffer include: O'Keeffe, O'Keefe, Keefe, Keeffe, Keefer, Keiffe and others.

Early Notables of the Keffer 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 Keffer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keffer Ranking

In the United States, the name Keffer is the 9,952nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Keffer migration to the United States +

Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name Keffer:

Keffer Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Peter Keffer, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607 [3]
Keffer Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Martin Keffer, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1751 [3]
  • Georg Adam Keffer, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1767 [3]
Keffer Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Michael Keffer, who landed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania in 1812 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Keffer (post 1700) +

  • Martin E. Keffer, American politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Atlantic County, 1908-09 [4]
  • John C. Keffer, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Alabama, 1868 [4]
  • James L. Keffer, American Republican politician, Member of Texas State House of Representatives 60th District [4]
  • Harry B. Keffer, American Republican politician, Candidate for Mayor of Clairton, Pennsylvania, 1941 [4]
  • Bill Keffer, American Republican politician, Member of Texas State House of Representatives [4]
  • A. T. C. Keffer, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Berks County, 1870-72 [4]

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Carl E. Keffer, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [5]

  1. Matheson, Robert E., Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numeric Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution. Dublin: Alexander Thom & Co., 1894. 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. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from
  5. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook