Pelan, Paling and more

This is a personal research project conducted on my own time and using my own limited resources. It started out as a one-name study of the Irish surname Pelan - including research into its origins and the family histories of those with this surname. However, as the research progressed, theories were developed and discoveries were made about connections to other surnames such as Palen, Paling and Pelling. As as a result, this project now encompasses many surnames from the British Isles and the respectively named diaspora around the world. It is difficult to group these under a common moniker so I have labelled these peoples as the P-L-N tribe as a reflection of a common but not exclusive phonetic pattern.

As it happens there is a similar Eastern European surname Pelán (sometimes written as Pelan) and a Breton surname Pelan (sometimes written as Pélan). There is no reason to suspect that these families are connected in any way and their orthographic similarity is just a coincidence. They are not my main focus but I do research them occasionally.

This is a complementary two-part study. The first part uses conventional genealogy based on documentary evidence. The second part uses genetic genealogy and by necessity includes all surname varieties to ensure a complete and in-depth picture of potentially connected lineages.

Message of Appreciation

I'd like to thank everyone that has contributed to the project over the years, particularly those who volunteer to get their Y-DNA tested.  Every piece of family history is important to the research as it can unlock previously unknown or unproven connections. They also provide much needed stories to those that know little about their ancestors or distant cousins.

News & Updates

These are now on a separate page.

March 2023 -  Site reorganisation still ongoing

This website was developed organically as a log of the research journey and various investigations so it has been written chronologically as well as partially thematically. Now is the time to reorganise it to provide some coherency to the newer reader. It uses Google's new website CMS and it lacks lots of features that the old site had so bear with me.


I am on the lookout for anyone from a Pelan family living in Washington State, USA.  It would be great to get a male of that lineage to have their Y-DNA tested to see how they fit into the existing family structure. I can trace them as far back as the American Civil War but before that they claim to be from England. We have seen in other circumstances where an historical claim to be from "England" really refers to the broader British Isles, the UK as was, and is in fact obscuring an Irish origin.