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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Phelan family come from? When did the Phelan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Phelan family history?

Many variations of the name Phelan have evolved since the time of its initial creation. In Gaelic it appeared as O Faoilain, which is derived from the word faol, which means wolf.

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A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Phelan include Phelan, O'Phelan, Whelan, O'Failin, Phalen, Phalon, Phaelan and many more.

First found in County Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge), anciently the Deise region, on the South coast of Ireland in the Province of Munster.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Phelan research. Another 204 words(15 lines of text) covering the year 1172 is included under the topic Early Phelan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Phelan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Phelan:

Phelan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Margaret Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Patrick Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Thomas Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Edward Phelan, aged 44, landed in Maryland in 1813
  • William Phelan, aged 29, arrived in Louisiana in 1813


Phelan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • John Phelan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1805
  • Robert Phelan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1818
  • Bridget Phelan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1820
  • Denis Phelan, aged 14, landed in Canada in 1823
  • Ellen Phelan, aged 7, arrived in Canada in 1823


Phelan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James Phelan, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar"
  • Mary Phelan, aged 22, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Epaminondas"
  • Anthony Phelan, aged 36, a ploughman, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad"
  • Bridget Phelan, aged 19, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance"
  • Bessy Phelan, aged 25, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"


Phelan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • F. Mary Phelan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1858
  • James P. Phelan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1864
  • Julia Phelan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1864
  • Mary Phelan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1864
  • Catherine Phelan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1864


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  • Edward J. Phelan (1888-1967), Director-General of the United Nations International Labor Office
  • James Phelan Sr. (1821-1873), American politician, senator in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War
  • James Phelan Jr. (1856-1891), American politician, U.S. Senator from Tennessee
  • Pat Phelan (b. 1985), American soccer player
  • Tony Phelan, American two-time Emmy Award nominated television screenwriter, producer and director, best known for his work on Grey's Anatomy
  • Kieran Phelan (1950-2010), Irish senator
  • Kevin Phelan (b. 1990), Irish professional PGA golfer
  • Nancy Phelan (1913-2008), Australian writer
  • Anita Phelan (b. 1982), British folk singer
  • Anne Phelan OAM (b. 1944), Australian actress

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  • Phelan,Malone, Kevill, Stutz & Klaes Families by John T. Phelan.
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  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  3. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  4. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  6. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  7. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 11 December 2014 at 12:00.

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