Whelan Surname History

Many variations of the name Whelan 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. [1]

Early Origins of the Whelan family

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

Saint Fillan, Foilan or Felan (d. 777?), was an Irish missionary in Scotland in the middle of the eighth century. "His commemoration day in the Scottish calendar is 9 Jan. He was the son of Feredach, a prince in Munster, and Kentigerna, daughter of Kellach Cualann, king of Leinster, and sister to St. Congan. Being thrown into a river on his birth on account of deformity, he was rescued by St. Ibar. He became a monk at first in one of the monasteries of St. Munnu Fintan, and subsequently went from Ireland to the part of Argyll afterwards called Ross, where two churches, Kilkoan and Killellan, derive their names respectively from his uncle Congan and himself. A cave and a church were also named from him in Fife." [2]

Early History of the Whelan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whelan research. Another 92 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1658 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Whelan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whelan Spelling Variations

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 Whelan include Phelan, O'Phelan, Whelan, O'Failin, Phalen, Phalon, Phaelan and many more.

Early Notables of the Whelan family (pre 1700)

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Whelan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Whelan migration to the United States +

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 Whelan:

Whelan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Whelan, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1747 [3]
Whelan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Whelan, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1812 [3]
  • James Whelan, aged 29, who landed in Maryland in 1813 [3]
  • Nicholas Whelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [3]
  • Michael Whelan, who landed in New York in 1824 [3]
  • John Whelan, aged 40, who arrived in St Louis, Missouri in 1840 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Whelan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Whelan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Robert Whelan, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Charles Whelan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
Whelan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Sarah Whelan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1823
  • Margaret Whelan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1829
  • Catherine Whelan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Andrew Whelan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1833
  • Lawrence Whelan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Whelan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Whelan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Whelan, Irish convict who was convicted in Wexford, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. Thomas Whelan, (Wheeler), (b. 1770), aged 31, Irish convict who was convicted in Queen's County, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1820 [4]
  • Mr. Thomas Whelan, Irish convict who was convicted in Limerick, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. Robert Whelan, (Whalin, Whalen), (b. 1813), aged 18, Irish weaver who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Captain Cook" on 5th November 1831, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • John Whelan, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Catherine" in 1851 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Whelan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Whelan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Philip Whelan, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maori" in 1864
  • Mary Whelan, aged 26, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maori" in 1864
  • Margaret Whelan, aged 2 mths., who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maori" in 1864
  • Christopher Whelan, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Michael Whelan, aged 22, a servant, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Whelan (post 1700) +

  • William Joseph Whelan FRS (1924-2021), British-born American biochemist and chairman of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine of the University of Miami
  • Jim Whelan (1948-2017), American politician, Mayor of Atlantic City (1990–2002), member of the New Jersey General Assembly (2006–2008) and Senate (2008-2017)
  • William Whelan, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Jackson County 1st District, 1910 [7]
  • Timothy Whelan, American Democratic Party politician, Postmaster at Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania, 1893-97 [7]
  • Vincent Whelan, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1956 [7]
  • Thomas J. Whelan (1922-2002), American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, 1963-71; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1964 [7]
  • Thomas Edward Whelan (1895-1977), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from North Dakota, 1936 (member, Credentials Committee); U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, 1951-61 [7]
  • Thomas A. Whelan, American Republican politician, Candidate for Presidential Elector for West Virginia, 1940 [7]
  • Robert P. Whelan, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 15th District, 1978 [7]
  • Robert E. Whelan, American Democratic Party politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Queens County 3rd District, 1963-65 [7]
  • ... (Another 35 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Hillsborough disaster
  • Ian David Whelan (1970-1989), English junior clerk who was attending the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, Yorkshire when the stand allocated area became overcrowded and 96 people were crushed in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster and he died from his injuries [8]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. John James Whelan, English Fireman from Fazakerley, Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [9]
Rosedale Sawmill
  • Mr. John A Whelan (1894-1913), Newfoundlander from Eastport who was working on the 2nd July 1913 at the Rosedale Sawmill when there was an explosion, he died
  • Mr. William Whelan (1892-1913), Newfoundlander from Eastport who was working on the 2nd July 1913 at the Rosedale Sawmill when there was an explosion, he died
  • Mr. James Whelan (1890-1913), Newfoundlander from Eastport who was working on the 2nd July 1913 at the Rosedale Sawmill when there was an explosion, he died
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. John Whelan (1884-1914), Newfoundlander from St. John's who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found


Suggested Readings for the name Whelan +

  • 2865 "Wheeland/Wieland/Wheland/Weyland and Allied Families (also Whelan Family)" by Alvin L. Anderson, "Heirs of Eleanor Abell & Thomas Greenwell & Charles Joseph Whelan, Elias Richard Ray & Martha Ellen Buckman" by Tillie Whelan Onischak.

  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/captain-cook
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CATHERINE 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Catherine.htm
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, April 22) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ Hillsborough Victims (retreived 21st March 2021). Retreived from https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/15/remembering-96-victims-hillsborough-disaster-30-years-9206566/
  9. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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