Pelan in Wexford

The documentary evidence of Pelans living in Wexford is quite intriguing. They are quite removed from Lisburn in the north. Are these Pelans derived from Phelans that were to be found in the same county or nearby ? This is an excerpt of my research notes.

The earliest record of a Pelan in the region that I have found thus far is from 1836 in the newspaper the "Wexford Conservative", dated 5th November where a James Pelan is a signatory to a letter. In 1844, there is a James Pelan resident in Montague Cottage (see below), a Laurence Pelan in Gorey and an Anthony Pelan in Ballymoney. Where have they come from ?

The Irish BMD indices have seven entries for Pelans in the Gorey registration district - four deaths and three births:

Without looking at the certificates themselves we can get some clues. While the first names are certainly consistent with those of the Ulster lineages, it does not constitute proof. The number of them rules out one-off spelling errors or mutations, i.e. Pelan was their actual name.

The big clincher of a link between Wexford and the Ulster Pelans is the following notice in the Belfast Newsletter (27 Nov 1838):

"On the 22nd inst. in St. Peter's Church, Dublin, Mr. Samuel Pelan, of Lisburn, county Antrim, to Elizabeth, sixth daughter of the late James Green, of Greenville, county Wexford, Esq."

But did Samuel actually live in Wexford after the marriage? Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland 1846 lists for Gorey: "Pelan Samuel, spirit dealer", so the answer would appear to be in the affirmative.

The Griffiths valuation (c.1855) has;

    • Pelan, Eliza : Town of Gorey, Main Street : Kilmakilloge

    • Pelan, James : Coolnahinch : Kilmakilloge (This is Montagu Cottage - see below).

The latter James is surely the first one in the table above - it cannot be the James (1844 - 1905) as he would be too young.

We know that a James Pelan married an Eliza Smith in Newcastle, Co. Wicklow in 1850. The record says he was 50 and his father was a James Pelan. She was 36 (born 1814) and her father was a Charles Smith. The Irish Times (25 Mar 1903) reports:

"At 30 Brighton Square, Eliza, widow of the late James Pelan of Coolnahinch, Gorey, in her 94th year. Interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery March 25 1903."

Her marriage record conflicts with her age slightly so she may have reduced it for her wedding.

So we can conclude that a Samuel Pelan came from Lisburn and was clearly associated with Gorey. He was definitely deceased by 1864 (see below) if not 1855 or so. When and where did he die ?


The North Wexford Historical Society has transcribed some Gorey headstones (Market Square Cemetery) which help complete the puzzle:

    • Samuel Pelan - 1843 aged 47 yrs.

    • Eliza Pelan relict of Samuel Pelan - July 13th 1882 aged 70

So now we can see that Samuel died in 1843 only five years after his marriage to Elizabeth Green. He was born around 1796 - about the same period as James Pelan on the BMD table above.

James Pelan (b 1796)

There is another Pelan grave there:

    • Frances the beloved wife of James Pelan of Montagu cottage who departed this life on the 3rd day of June 1851 aged 77 (??).

    • The above named James Pelan of Montagu cottage who died 31st December 1871 aged 77 years.

Montague Cottage is a farmhouse which currently survives to this day.

From this grave we have information about James' wife (20 years his senior?) but it isn't Eliza as cited above. Is there another James in the mix ? If it is the same James, then his wife Frances died in 1851 but he already married "again" as a precaution in 1850 ! Perhaps the transcription is wrong? If it is a new James, of a similar age, where did he come from? When and where did he die ?

We have:

    • James Pelan (b. ~1796, d. 1871), spouse Frances Pelan (m. ?, d. 1851) - Montague Cottage

    • James Pelan (b. ~1800, d. ??), spouse Eliza Smith (m. 1850) - father was James Pelan

    • James Pelan (b. ~1844, d. 1905), spouse Sarah Johnston Fullerton (m. 1883)

James had a daughter, Frances Pelan. She married Charles Clarke and had a daughter Beatrice Charlotte Clarke. The Clarke family are associated with Montague Cottage.

James (d. 1871) was a Chelsea pensioner, mentioned in the records as living in Carlow, perhaps where the regiment was stationed when he retired. There is also a James Pelan on the register of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons - dated 20th January 1830. This is the earliest date for a Pelan in Gorey thus far.

The evidence suggests that James (d.1871) and Samuel (d.1843) were brothers or cousins given their proximate ages

Samuel's Children

Marriage records show that a number of individuals claimed a 'Samuel Pelan' as a father - Frances Mary, Jane, James & Elizabeth. Are each of these children of the same Samuel ? Did he have all four children in his brief married life ?

    • Frances Mary W Pelan - m. William Ross (Gentleman), St George's Dublin, 13 April 1864

In 1901 and 1911 she is living in Dartmouth Square, Rathgar, Dublin with her husband and family. She died in 1917.

Another marriage in that year can be seen from this announcement in the Belfast Newsletter (12 Oct 1864):

"Scott and Pelan - October 6 at St. Peter's Church, Dublin, ... Samuel Scott, Esq. of Nenagh Mills, Co.Tipperary, to Jane, second daughter of the late Samuel Pelan, Esq. Gorey, Co. Wexford."

There appears to have been a double wedding of children of a Samuel Pelan in Dublin on the 11th Sept 1883:

    • James Pelan - m. Sarah Johnston Fullerton

    • Elizabeth Pelan - m. Robert Hopkins

There is a big gap between 1864 and 1883. Do all these individuals share the same father ?

James Pelan (b 1844)

A James Pelan of Gorey appears in 1896 Hansard transcripts of a House of Commons question regarding some alleged irregularities in a trial [1]. James was charged with being drunk on his own licensed premises. James is also cited as a witness alleging intimidation against "plantation families" in an 1890 case.

This report appears in the Irish Times (9 Dec 1905):

"Dec 8 at her residence, Gorey. Sarah J. widow of the late James Pelan. Gorey New Cemetery."

It is curious that James and Sarah died only a few weeks apart.

The name Pelan does not appear on the 1901 or 1911 Census in Wexford (although transcription or enumerator errors could be hiding them). Why not ?

End of the Pelan Line in Gorey

We know that Samuel James Pelan emigrated to Canada after 1911, joined the forces for WW1, got married in England to an Elizabeth Taylor and died in Dublin in October 1942. He was survived by his wife and I don't know if they had any children. The eldest sister Elizabeth Grace Pelan got married to William Samuel Scott (a cousin/guardian?) shortly after the death of her parents.

Mary Stewart Pelan appears in the 1911 Census of England & Wales - she was visiting a family called Lambourne in the village of Curdridge, Hampshire. In 1917, she was living with her sister Elizabeth (now Mrs Scott) in Nenagh. She went on to marry Capt. Noel Harding Bible - of the Royal Irish Fusiliers - in Cairo in 1919. She had been serving in Egypt with the British Red Cross during the war. Sadly she died soon after.


Headstone - James Pelan - Gorey