Pelan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Pelan is a name whose history is connected to the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Pelan family once lived in the region of Pelham. Pelan is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

Early Origins of the Pelan family

The surname Pelan was first found in Hertfordshire at either Brent Pelham, Furneux Pelham or Stocking Pelham. Today they form the civil parish of Brent Pelham and Meesden. They date back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where they were listed as Peleham. [1]

The place name literally means "homestead of a man called Peola." [2] Barndepelham was listed in 1230; Stokenepelham in 1235 and Pelham Furnelle in 1240. The prefixes literally mean "burnt, destroyed by fire" for the Old English word "baerned" and "made of logs" for the Old English word "stoccen." [2]

The latter was from the de Fornellis family who lived there in the 13th century. Pelham's Lands or Pelhams Land is in the union of Boston, wapentake of Kirton, near the town of Boston, Lincolnshire. [3]

The Pipe Rolls of 1170 in Hertfordshire listed Ralph de Pelham and Peter de Pelham was later found in the Assize Rolls for Cheshire in 1260. Gloucestershire records show William Pelham there in 1350. [4]

More early records of the family were found in the parish of Laughton in Sussex. "This parish, which is situated on the road from Lewes to Hastings, has been for ages the property of the Pelham family, earls of Chichester, whose ancient manorial mansion of Laughton Place, erected in 1534, is still remaining." [3]

Of particular note was Thomas Pelham, 1st Baron Pelham of Laughton Bt (1653-1712.) He was the father of two British prime ministers Henry Pelham and Thomas Pelham-Holles, commonly known as the Duke of Newcastle.

Early History of the Pelan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pelan research. Another 96 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1065, 1556, 1429, 1540, 1624, 1597, 1654, 1650, 1653, 1712, 1694, 1754, 1743, 1693, 1768, 1695, 1751, 1721, 1805, 1748, 1806, 1695, 1751, 1756, 1587, 1606, 1486, 1538, 1602 and 1603 are included under the topic Early Pelan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pelan Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Pelan family name include Pelham, Pellam and others.

Early Notables of the Pelan family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include John de Pelham (died 1429), Treasurer of England, son of Sir John Pelham, a Sussex knight who fought in the wars of Edward III in France; Sir Thomas Pelham, 1st Baronet (c.1540-1624), Member of Parliament for Lewes, Surrey, and Sussex; Sir Thomas Pelham, 2nd Baronet (1597-c.1654), Member of Parliament for East Grinstead and Sussex; Sir Peregrine Pelham (died 1650), an English Member of Parliament and one of the regicides of King Charles I, 20th of the 59 signatories on the death warrant of the King; Thomas Pelham, 1st Baron Pelham (1653-1712) and his...
Another 103 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pelan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Pelan family to Ireland

Some of the Pelan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 147 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Pelan migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Pelan surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Pelan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Antonio Pelan, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1898 [5]

New Zealand Pelan 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:

Pelan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Albert Pelan, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Isle of Bute" in 1879

Contemporary Notables of the name Pelan (post 1700) +

  • Conor Pelan, American actor, known for Splash Area (2012)and The Red Haven
  • Roselean Pelan, American actress, known for Taggart (1983)and God's Frontiersmen (1989)
  • Charles H. Pelan, early American settler to Minnesota in 1900, eponym of Pelan Township, a township in Kittson County
  • John C. Pelan (1957-2021), American author, editor and publisher in the small press science-fiction, founder of Axolotl Press in 1986
  • John Pelan, English professor of physics at University College London
  • Eddie Pelan, English Professor at University of Birmingham


The Pelan Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vincit amore patria
Motto Translation: My beloved country will conquer.


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ 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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