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Ancient Origins


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. 

Ancient Origins

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.


17 thoughts on “CALLUS

  1. I can’t believe you have pulled all this history together on your own. It looks great. I have an article on the Olga which I will dig out and post on the site. Love, Fx


  2. Pingback: From the Blue Sea I Took my Name | From Lancs to the Levant

  3. Hi,

    I just read your article on the Maltese Levantines with great interest. Your blog is not only interesting for the Callus genealogy, it provides a lot of wonderful historical material.

    By any chance, did you happen to see any mention of a Calcedonio Callus in your researches ? He was my great great grandfather, born in the 1850-60 and leaving in Galata. His daugther Adriana, my great grandmother immigrated to France with her husband after WWI and, according to the few documents that I have, they were all members of the Maltese community at the S.S. Apostles Petri et Pauli church (although I also have a couple of records from the St. Esprit Cathedral).

    If no, I’d like to have a look by myself. How did you manage to get access to the parish registers of the Latin RC churches in Istanbul ?


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Florian,
    Thank you very much for your kind comments. I am really pleased my articles are of interest to a wider audience and it seems an excellent way to link up with other families searching similar lines.

    Yes I have come across a Calcedonio Callus as it happens and I think I might be able to help you get further information. The parish records for all the old Latin RC churches in Istanbul including S.S. Peter and Paul are held on microfiche by the Mormons in Utah. You can order these to view via their FamilySearch website for a very small fee. They will deliver the films to the nearest research centre at one of their Churches of Latter Day Saints. You will be notified when the film has arrived and then have to make an appointment for a viewing slot. They have all the kit at the research centres and will guide you through using it and you are allowed to take photocopies. The snag is that it can be quite difficult to get enough time to read the films which is why I have got a record of your Callus but not the detail. I looked up the most pressing records for myself and then jotted down as many Callus names as I could from the index pages.

    So what I have is a note for a marriage of Callus and Camilleri in 1887 at S.S. Peter and Paul, marriage register page 274. Then there is a baptism record same church for Adriana in 1888, p.74.

    A quicker method is to contact a lady called Marie-Ann Marandet, who is a member of the Levantine Heritage Foundation. She has undertaken a huge amount of mapping all the Levantine families in the parish registers of Istanbul and has published these at – (try this url, but you might need to register for the site

    Or visit Geneanet’s main page and search for Callus – you should come across the page where she has recorded info to date. I’ve taken a quick look and she does also have some basic info for Calcedonio Callus. This shows that he married Teresa Camilleri but no dates or children are shown. It does show that both were god parents to Ignazio Cocchino in 1892 in Istanbul and the mother of Ignazio was a Camilleri so probably Teresa’s sister! With the register page numbers above, I think Marie Ann would probably be able to look up the records for you and fill in the blanks. You can either contact her yourself through the Geneanet website or her page at the Levantine Heritage website ( or come back to me and I will email her directly for you.

    Good luck!



  5. Your blog is my new favourite blog! I love the way you write and your thinking process with regards to the information you have found. I am currently trying to piece all my findings and writings together, and hopefully produce a family history book that I hope to publish 🙂

    I am sure you have come across most these links, but have a look at my page of links I use for my family research in relation to Malta:

    Keep up the good work!
    Charmaine x


    • Thank you Charmaine, praise indeed. I have just visited your blog and it seems we have a lot in common. I shall be interested to take a longer read of your pages as your approach I think is also quite similar to mine. There are some links I have not found yet so very useful too. I am now a follower!

      As you have some Algerian connections, you should check out my post on Maltese migration as I found some interesting info on the Maltese who went to North Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ohh I will have to stalk your blog a bit more to find this post – I am still delving into Maltese migration to North Africa, so anything you have, I will be very interested in reading 😀 Will have a looksie 🙂

    I came across a free online course which is starting up in the next couple of weeks, it might be of interest to you:

    I’ve joined the course to hopefully gain some new perspectives and more so I am keen on the DNA testing in relation to genealogy. I’ve come across a handful of people who are of Maltese decent that have signed up for the course 🙂

    Anyway, keep in touch, let me know if I can help in any way and I look forward to reading more about your family history findings 😀 x.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Angela

    I was amazed and very happy to find so many members of my family listed on your blog. I’m very impressed by the amount of work you have done on this. My grandma was Lydia Spittle (nee Calleja) and her mother was Elise (although your list calls her Elizabeth) Callus. I have many photos of them all, and various family stories and details which could possibly fill a few holes. I also have an oil painting dated 1882 of a member of the family who I think was an architect. I understand the family were involved in shipping marble from Italy and Malta to build in Istanbul but I’m not sure when that was. It would require some sorting through what I have but wonder if any of it would be useful.


    • Hi Esme,

      How fantastic that you have found me! I knew Lydia’s family must be living in the UK and really hoped one day you might get in touch. I’m thrilled to hear from you. I will email you privately so we can continue our conversation and I would love to see your photos.

      I am intrigued to learn about the marble shipping connection too, because I have very recently been researching my Polish ancestry and come across an associate with a similar line. Certainly also one of the Griscti was an architect in Istanbul. There is even a building called the Griscti Apartments!

      Let’s get in touch!


  8. Dear Angela
    I have enjoyed reading your well researched blog. I am colating information. With regards to my ancestry. I am hindered by document: The Borg Family Tree” starting with
    Malta about 1836
    Mother of
    1 st 12.4.1868
    Ferdinanda née Demaria
    Obviously my great grandmother Giuseppina and her son emigrated to Constantinople. They were blessed with 9 children. My father being the fourth child. My grandfather had a dairy farm in Constantinople and as far as I know he used to travel and bring in livestock from other countries. Interested to find out the name and date of my great grandfather (Giuseppina’s husband) and the date the emigrated. I was born in Constantinople and evacuated to Egypt, India, Eritrea, Cyprus, UK, Australia
    Any information would be much appreciated, I have exhausted places of information.
    A well researched material. Enjoyed reading.
    Kind regards
    Anna Penney née Borg


    • Dear Anna,
      Thank you for your comments on my site. I was interested to hear of your family connections with Istanbul. There are a number of good sources for finding out about the Maltese in Istanbul via the Levantine Heritage website (, which has lots of contacts, family testimonials and links for various records, so that would be a good place to start.

      Another place to look is the Geneanet website via their ‘Search’ facility (you can do basic searches without paid membership). Marie-Ann Marandet has a huge database of Levantine family names on I did a quick search and found a CONSTANTINO BORG born March 1866 in Constantinople who had a daughter Giuseppina who married Eduardo Buttigieg. However I’m not sure this is your ancestor as her father Constantino was married to Grazia Buttigieg not Ferdinanda. If you have other names in your family tree though, it might be worth checking them against these records.

      Hope that helps.
      Good luck.


  9. Hi Angela’
    Thank you so much for your reply and your web sites you suggested. I will try them.
    much appreciated and grateful
    Kind regards


  10. Hi Angela,

    I’m of Callus dissent as well and wanted to get in touch to see if I could add to your research or even find out about my Callus heritage.

    I ony know as far back as my grandparents. My dad’s family (Callus) is originally from Gozo.

    I live in the U.K. I’m contactable on

    Thank Kev


  11. Hi Angela,
    Thank you for all your hard work.

    I am trying to find my grandfathers details Salvatore Joseph Andrea Callus born on the 12 January 1880 in Valletta.

    I have just come back from Malta and spoken to someone from the public registery office, unfortunately they could not find any birth details as at that time it was not necessary to register the births, and I do not know the names of my great grandparents.

    My grandfather moved to Turkey, but again I haven’t any dates.

    Thank you if you can give me any help.

    I live in Scotland and my email address is:

    Kind regards


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