Recorded in the known spellings of Malafe, Maliffe, Mealiffe, Miliff, Miliffe, Milliffe, and possibly even Malivs, this is a surname of Irish origins. However spelt it is very rare, but it is said that in much earlier times it was relatively popular in the county of Galway, in the far west of the country. It originates from the ancient pre 10th century Gaelic O' Maoldhuibh which literally translates as "The Black Chief". The vast majority of Irish and Scottish Gaelic surnames do originate from some original descriptive nickname for a long lost first chieftain, and this is certainly no exception.As to who this chief was, and why he was called "Black" is unknown, but it could have been a reference to his hair and complexion, or like the famous "Black Douglas" of Scottish fame, a reference to his less than social behaviour! The surname is recorded in London as early as 1767, when William Milliffe married Esther Mont at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on June 16th of that year, whilst amongst the early Irish emigrants to America during the period of the infamous "Potato Famine" was Patrick Malafe who left Liverpool on the ship "Ashburton" on June 1st 1846,
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