Nelan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Nelan was derived from the Gaelic "O Niallain," which means "descendant of Niall."

Early Origins of the Nelan family

The surname Nelan was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster.

Early History of the Nelan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nelan research. Another 82 words (6 lines of text) covering the year 1570 is included under the topic Early Nelan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nelan Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Nelan revealed spelling variations, including O'Neilan, O'Neylan, Neilan, Neylan, O'Nelan and others.

Early Notables of the Nelan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Nelan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Nelan migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Nelan family came to North America quite early:

Nelan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Humphry Nelan, who arrived in America between the years 1735 and 1743
Nelan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • J A Nelan, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [1]

Canada Nelan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Nelan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Nelan, who arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843
  • James Nelan, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843
  • Michael Nelan, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843

Contemporary Notables of the name Nelan (post 1700) +

  • Jenica Erin Nelan, American astrophysicist and lead epic analysts at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Lebanon, New Hampshire
  • Charles F. Nelan (1859-1904), American artist and political cartoonist, known for his cartoons on the Spanish–American War appearing in the New York Herald
  • James Nelan, Canadian musician, co-founder of the Canadian rock band, The Reason in 2003


  1. ^ 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)


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