DNA Results & Analysis

As of Summer 2012, there are sixteen project members - representing the surnames Palen, Paling (x2), Payling, Pelan (x4), Pelland, Pelling, Pilon, Poland (x3) & Pullen.

Where they fall into identifiable clusters of haplotypes, I have bundled them together into "flavours". Each flavour has a separate description but the overall summary is on this page.

  • Pelan - Flavour #1 (Paling)

  • Pelan - Flavour #2 (Hancock)

  • Pelan - Flavour #3 (Exotic J2)

  • Pelan - Flavour #4 (Burns)

Narrative Explanation of the Pelan/Paling connection

There are many explanations which can account for these matches, but I will propose the least speculative given the present data. This is not fact and it could change as more information is revealed.

At some point, the Lisburn / Lambeg area and Nottinghamshire were each settled by a man or men with the flavour #1 haplotype. The "Paling" name was associated with these men in both regions. We do not know the order in which these settlements occured, the time period between them or the previous geographical origins. It could be that they both came from a common point of origin, outside the present UK perhaps, and settled in these two distinct regions. It could be that an established Paling from Nottinghamshire settled in Ulster at some later point. This is the most plausible situation given the history of English settlement in the latter region. Over time in Ulster the "Paling" name turned into "Pelan" although it appears that the pronunciation remained similar for some time, given the Palen, Pelling offshoots.

The second set of matches are biological Hancocks. They can only have been converted into Pelans in the presence of other Pelans. It is reasonable to propose that these were the flavour #1 people - already settled in the environs of Lisburn. Of some significance is the fact that the Hancock name is known in Lisburn - brought by English settlers to the region sometime around the beginning of the 17th century. If this is the origin of the haplotype, then the TMRCA between Pelling and Palen can be no more than about 400 years (unless the Hancocks and Palings were together prior to coming to Ulster).

Other Surnames

At present there are no matches for Pelland (French) , Pullen (Irish) or Paling (Estonian) in this project and so I cannot say anything very significant at this point. I hope to do so in future with more time for cross-comparison and more test subjects.

Future Directions ?

Whatever the remaining puzzles, many more volunteers with a variety of P-L-N surnames need to be tested, including more samples of the surnames we have already and representative samples of the many other names that we don't have. More continental representation would be extremely valuable.

Very specific questions may be resolved with targeted testing:

    • Improve the TMCRA calculations using the latest mutation rate estimates

    • Further confirmation of the Paling - Pelan match with a more recent SNP

    • When did the Paling haplotype arrive in Ulster ?

    • Where does the Paling/Payling lineage ultimately come from?

    • Need to test Norfolk and Lincolnshire "P-L-N"s - like Pawling and Peeling.

    • How closely related are extant Ulster Hancocks to the corresponding Pelan lineage?

I am very grateful to all those that have taken part thus far. Whether you have done this of your own initiative or because I have prompted you into doing it, I am equally thankful.


    • The Ulster surname Pelan appears to be derived from the English surname Paling/Payling.

    • There is no evidence linking it to the Irish surname Phelan.

    • There are four biological 'flavours' for the Pelans - two have an English heritage, the other two are uncertain

    • If the Hancock identification is correct, the lower bound for Ulster "Pelans" is 400 years.

    • The hypothesis regarding the Palens of Bytown (Ontario) has been proven.