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

Early Origins of the O'Kiffe family

The surname O'Kiffe 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 O'Kiffe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Kiffe 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 O'Kiffe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Kiffe Spelling Variations

Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname O'Kiffe are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include O'Keeffe, O'Keefe, Keefe, Keeffe, Keefer, Keiffe and others.

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

Migration of the O'Kiffe family

Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the O'Kiffe family name: Anthony, Daniel, Hugh, John, Lawrence, Owen, Patrick, Thomas and William Keefe, all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860; Daniel, Denis, James, John, Joseph, Michael, and Patrick Keeffe, all arrived in Philadelphia during the same period.



  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


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