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Calleja is a surname found in Spain (as well as countries people of Hispanic descent) and Malta. It is unclear whether the Maltese and Spanish surnames are related or a coincidence, perhaps caused by romanization—a Surname DNA project exists with the one of its stated goals to determine if there is a relationship.[1]


Variations in spelling include:

  • Calleia: Anglicized variation of Maltese surname
  • Calleya: Variation found in Malta on documents dating from 13th century to 15th century, may be an Italianized variation.
  • Callea: Also found in Italy, this variation also shows up on documents from Malta dating from the 15th century
  • Kalleya
  • Callejas


In Spanish, Calleja can be translated to "narrow street" or "alley", but the Latin translation of Calleya is "skillfully". The surname is Castilian, originating in or around Ampuero in Cantabria, Spain.


Based on historical evidence, the Maltese version of the surname is likely not related to the Spanish version. The first written appearance of the Calleja surname in Malta predates both Aragonese rule (1283–1412) and Aragonese/Castilian rule (1412–1530) of the Maltese island—appearing in 1271 AD with the spelling Calleya and Caleya.

On May 22, 1271, Bertrando de Real, the magister of Malta, was instructed to keep a note of the names and surnames of those who transported the falcons to the royal court from Malta; Martinus Calleya was a witness and Leo Caleya is among those included in the list.[2] Of note, the persons on the 1271 document belonged to the wealthy class and did not include any serfs or peasants, nor any surnames of Arabic derivation.[2] One theory is that the surname Callea or Calleya in Malta is of late Greek or Byzantine formation—Commendatore Francesco Abela, the father of Maltese history, believed the surname to be of Greek origin.[2]

In the fifteenth century there was a village in Malta called Calleja, situated near Mosta—it seems linguistically and geographically connected with il-Qlejgħa, in the same geographic area.[3] Wied il-Qlejgħa (more popularly known as Chadwick Lakes) means the Valley of the Small Castle.

Another place name in Malta is Il-Qlejgħa, on the Northwest coast. The nearest town to Il-Qlejgħa is Birkirkara, 11.4 km east, which has the highest concentration of people with the surname Calleja.

Distribution of Calleja surname in Malta based on militia rolls:

  • 1419 militia roll: total 25 – Naxaru 2, Calleja /Musta 4, Atardu 1, Bircalcara 2, Capurat 3, Pasqualinu 1, Johanni /Buzubudi 2, Zurico 2, Rabat 6, Civitas 2
  • 1480s militia roll: calleye (27), callea (1), total 28 – Naxar 2, Musta 4, Bercarcara 2, Curmi 7, Luca /Gudia 1, Zurric 2, Sigeui 4, Zebug 3, Rabat 2, Civitas 1

Calleja/Calleia/Calleya/Callea DNA Surname Project[edit]

There are three objectives for this Surname DNA project

  1. Identify others who are related
  2. Prove or disprove connection between Calleja Y-lines from Malta and those from Spain and other Hispanic countries.
  3. Determine connection between Maltese and Italians with Calleia, Calleya, Callea, and Calleja surnames

Calleja may refer to[edit]




  1. ^ "Family Tree DNA - Calleja/Calleia/Calleya/Callea DNA Surname Project". 
  2. ^ a b c Melita Historica New Series. 12(1999)4(333-344), p.333, The Origin of the ‘Maltese’ Surnames, Prof. Godfrey Wettinger
  3. ^ Journal of Maltese Studies. 5(1968)(25-48) [p.25] The Distribution of Surnames in Malta in 1419 and the 1480s G. Wettinger

External links[edit]