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The earliest recorded instance of this surname belongs to a Benedictus Machalephus and dates to 1277. The surname was common amongst the Jewish community in Malta and Gozo at the time.
Semitic in origin, it refers to both a "judge" or "an appointed or responsible person" in Hebrew and Arabic, with the Siculo-Arabic muhallif being the most likely source.
in heraldry, a field in Or (gold/yellow) means respect, generosity and virtue, while the sable (black) serrated cross of St. Andrew signifies the firstborn of the lineage.
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