Origin of the Name Phelan
family history was found in the allfamilycrests.com archives.
Over the centuries Surnames developed a wide number of variants. Different spellings of the same name can be traced back to an original root. Additionally when a bearer of a name emigrated it was not uncommon that their original name would be incorrectly transcribed in the record books at their new location. Surnames were also often altered over the years based on how they sounded phonetically and depending on the prevailing political conditions it may have been advantageous to change a name from one language to another.
Variants of the name Phelan
include Whelan, O'Phelan and Whelahan. Meaning 'little wolf', these names are anglicized forms of the Gaelic surname 'O'Faolain'. This Irish Sept had their territory in the south-west part of County Kilkenny.
A sept or clan is a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. Irish septs and clans that are related often belong to even larger groups, sometimes called tribes.
Their Chiefs were Princes of the Decies before the Norman invasion, and they soon spread to County Waterford and adjacent areas. In the United States James Phelan, 1824-1892, was a pioneer and his son James Duval Phelan, 1861-1920, was a Senator and Mayor of San Francisco. The majority of present day Phelans and Whelans are still to be found in Dublin , Kilkenny and Waterford.
The Phelan coat of arms came into existence centuries ago. The process of creating coats of arms (also often called family crests) began in the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this. The new art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own coat of arms, including all Phelan descendants.