Phelan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1]

Early Origins of the Phelan family

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.

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 Phelan family

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

Phelan Spelling Variations

Before widespread literacy came to Ireland, a name was often recorded under several different variations during the life of its bearer. Accordingly, numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Phelan family name. Variations found include Phelan, O'Phelan, Whelan, O'Failin, Phalen, Phalon, Phaelan and many more.

Early Notables of the Phelan family (pre 1700)

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


United States Phelan migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Phelan:

Phelan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [3]
  • Patrick Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [3]
  • Thomas Phelan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [3]
  • Edward Phelan, aged 44, who landed in Maryland in 1813 [3]
  • William Phelan, aged 29, who arrived in Louisiana in 1813 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Phelan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

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, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • Ellen Phelan, aged 7, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Phelan migration to Australia +

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

Phelan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Phelan, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Phoebe Dunbar" [4]
  • Mary Phelan, aged 22, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Epaminondas" [5]
  • Anthony Phelan, aged 36, a ploughman, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad" [6]
  • Bridget Phelan, aged 19, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance" [7]
  • Bessy Phelan, aged 25, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Phelan 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:

Phelan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • F. Mary Phelan, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1858
  • Mr. John Phelan, (b. 1833), aged 27, English farm labourer from Waterford travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st August 1860 [8]
  • Mrs. Mary Phelan, (b. 1840), aged 20, English settler from Waterford travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st August 1860 [8]
  • Miss Mary Phelan, (b. 1859), aged 1, English settler from Waterford travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st August 1860 [8]
  • Miss Bridget Phelan, (b. 1835), aged 26, British domestic servant travelling from London aboard the ship "Mystery" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 7th January 1862 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Phelan (post 1700) +

  • 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
  • James Phelan Jr. (1856-1891), American politician, U.S. Senator from Tennessee
  • James Phelan Sr. (1821-1873), American politician, senator in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War
  • Edward J. Phelan (1888-1967), Director-General of the United Nations International Labor Office
  • George R. Phelan, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Puerto Cabello, 1919-32; Maracaibo, 1934; Caracas, 1938-43 [10]
  • 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 [10]
  • Dennis A. Phelan, American politician, U.S. Collector of Customs, 1941 [10]
  • Daniel A. Phelan, American Democrat politician, Chair of Elk County Democratic Party, 1937 [10]
  • Anna M. Phelan, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Alhambra, California, 1892-96 [10]
  • ... (Another 37 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. Luke John  Phelan (1843-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]


Suggested Readings for the name Phelan +

  • 2946 Phelan,Malone, Kevill, Stutz & Klaes Families by John T. Phelan.

  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. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PHOEBE DUNBAR 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/phoebedunbar1852.shtml
  5. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) EPAMINONDAS 1852. Retrieved www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/epaminondas1852.shtml
  6. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 15th March 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Hyderabad 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/hyderabad1854.shtml.
  7. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 13th September 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Confiance 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/confiance1854.shtml.
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, March 16) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance


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