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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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The surname Phelan was first found in County Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge), anciently the Deise region, on the South coast of Ireland in the Province of Munster.

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.


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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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  • Tony Phelan, American two-time Emmy Award nominated television screenwriter, producer and director, best known for his work on Grey's Anatomy
  • Pat Phelan (b. 1985), American soccer player
  • George R. Phelan, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Puerto Cabello, 1919-32; Maracaibo, 1934; Caracas, 1938-43
  • Ellen Skae Phelan (1905-1985), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1960,Candidate in primary for Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 7th District, 1964
  • Dennis A. Phelan, American politician, U.S. Collector of Customs, 1941
  • Daniel A. Phelan, American Democrat politician, Chair of Elk County Democratic Party, 1937
  • Anna M. Phelan, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Alhambra, California, 1892-96
  • Andrew F. Phelan, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, 1968-69
  • J. Francis Phelan, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1948
  • James Phelan (1821-1873), American politician, Member of Mississippi State Senate, 1860; Senator from Mississippi in the Confederate Congress, 1862-64

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  • Phelan,Malone, Kevill, Stutz & Klaes Families by John T. Phelan.
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  1. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  2. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  3. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  9. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 10 May 2016 at 14:58.

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