My Great Grandfather was Henri Joseph CALLUS (1854-1930). Although he was born and raised in Turkey, both his parents were born in Malta. In fact our Callus ancestry in Malta goes back a long long way. My aim on this site, is to bring together all the genealogical and historical material gathered by myself and other family members over the years, to tell the story of our Callus origins and migrations to the four corners of the globe. Along the way are many deviations and not a few gaps and unanswered questions. I hope that this site will therefore encourage others to get in touch to help flesh out the gaps. Please use the contact form at the bottom of this page to send me your comments, queries or contributions.
The name Callus is believed to originate from Byzantine Greek. In Malta, it is pronounced Cal-oos, whereas in the UK, it is sounded Cal-us. The spelling of the name has remained remarkably consistent since the 1400s. This suggests that the families bearing this name were literate from a very early period as surnames generally tended to be spelled with many variations, i.e. phonetically, until mass literacy was achieved with the introduction of universal education in the nineteenth century.
The oldest records for the Callus name in Malta come from a militia roll of 1419 and an ‘Angara roster‘ from the 1480s, held in the archives of Mdina cathedral (Source: Wettinger, G.(1968). The Angara roster is thought to be a roster for work on the bastions of Mdina or some other unpaid public work. Participation in the militia and angara rosters was compulsory for all able-bodied men on the island regardless of class excepting the clergy. The rolls therefore give a good indication of the distribution of surnames across the whole island at that time.
In 1419, the militia roll showed that there were 2 men (or families) named Callus from the parish of Zurrieq (Zurico) and 1 in Civitas. (I think Civitas must refer to the Citadel of Mdina, which was the capital at that time. The surrounding town was called Rabat).
In the Angara Roster from the 1480s, there were 6 Callus men from Zurrieq and 1 from Sigeui (Siggiewi).
In fact, the vast majority of vital and census records for CALLUS across the following centuries, show that this surname remained concentrated in the southern part of Malta, with most coming from Zurrieq and the surrounding villages of Safi, Siggiewi, Qorma and later Zebbug. In future posts, I will discuss what can be gleaned about our Callus ancestors from the civic and church records in Malta and describe in more detail, the area where they came from.