Nolan Family History
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Irish History
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                                                 Our Irish History

The Nolan name is of Ancient Celtic stock. Tradition traces our ancestry back to Eochy Finn Fohart, a High King of Ireland in the second century A.D. The name in Gaelic is O’Nuallian. From the earliest times the traditional home of the clan was in County Carlow. Their chiefs were known as, Prince of Foharta, the modern barony of fourth. In pre-Norman days they had the hereditary privilege of inaugurating the Kings of Leinster. Even after the Normans settled in the Pale, the Nolan’s retained much of their power and influence down to the closing years of the seventeenth century. For the past several hundred years, the Irish and the Nolan clans became a nation of tenants in their own lands. Ireland’s estates and farms were continually seized and redistributed by invading armies, avaricious Kings and Nobleman of England. Today the Nolan name is among the most numerous names in Ireland. Nowadays, the name Nolan is seldom found with its original “O” prefix. The modern Irish word “nuallan” means “a shout or cry” but another meaning of “nuall” is “noble or famous”. The coat of arms belongs to the principal Irish clan O’Nolan. It’s blazoned on a ground of silver, a red cross with a lion and four swallows in silver. In each quarter an upright sword.

                                                                             Naming Patterns for Irish Children

                                                                                1st Son named after the Father's Father
                                                                               2nd Son named after the Mother's Father
                                                                                          3rd Son named after Father
                                                                              4th Son named after Fathers oldest Brother

                                                                               1st Daughter named after Mother's Mother
                                                                               2nd Daughter named after Father's Mother
                                                                                    3rd Daughter named after Mother
                                                                         4th Daughter named after Mother's oldest Sister


                                                            "The only encouragement we hold out to strangers are a
                                                             good climate, fertile soil, wholesome air and water, plenty
                                                                    of provisions, good pay for labor, kind neighbors,
                                                                 good laws ,a free government and a hearty welcome."
                                                                                                                                Benjamin Franklin

In 1841 a census in Ireland revealed 8 million people. Two thirds of Irish depended on agriculture and a single crop, the potato for their survival. Ireland’s population was exploding and with hundreds of thousands out of work, entire families managed to survive on a section no bigger than half an acre, growing row after row of potatoes. In 1846 the potato crop failed throughout Ireland. Families began to starve in record numbers. The British Government turned a deaf ear to the problem. Thousands of Irish men, women and children would perish. When the potato crop was wiped out in successive years, Ireland was devastated and the exodus to America began. The potato famine lasted from 1846 to 1851 claiming the lives of over one million Irish to starvation. In that time frame over one million Irish immigrated to America.   Many books and articles have been written on the Potato Famine Irish Immigration to America.

The journey to America was not an easy one for the million Irish immigrants. Many thousands died during the 40 plus day trip from Ireland to America. Most died from the fever – or typhoid. Irish passengers would travel in the lower holds of the ships. Many ships that were once used for slave transportation from Africa to Great Britain and America were now used for the flood of Irish immigration. Many of the ships were packed full of Irish immigrants. Each Irish Immigrant would be provided one hammock on average measuring 6 foot by 20 inches. Passenger would be allowed on deck only a few minutes per day if at all. During rough weather they were confined to the lower holds days on end. Passengers became sea sick. Bathroom facilities were archaic. Food and water were provided by the ship but very rationed throughout the journey. When arriving in America, the Irish Immigrants were met with Prejudice and hardships. Jobs were scarce. Many businesses posted I.N.N.A. “Irish Need Not Apply”. 


                                            Matthew and Patrick Nowlan 

Matthew and Patrick Nowlan are believed to be part of the mass Irish exodus to America.   Researching Ship records from May 16th, 1846 record passengers Patt, Matthew and Francis Nowlan. The ship was the Elizabeth of the Black Ball Line sailing from Liverpool, England to New York City. Liverpool was a popular starting point to America because of the faster and bigger ships sailing from there. Immigrants could sail from ports in Ireland but they would be traveling across the Atlantic in smaller and slower ships. The Nowlan brothers and possible a sister before sailing to America would have first taken a ferry across the rough waters of the Irish Sea to Liverpool.  The ferry to Liverpool would have taken a full day.

Entry from The Famine Immigrants List of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the port of New York 1846-1851 Elizabeth 16 May 1846 from Liverpool

                                                                      The ship Elizabeth entering the New York Harbor.

                                                                                                   Ship listing:
                                                                         Nowlan, Patt age 23 M Laborer 16Ma02GI
                                                                               Francis age 20 F Servant 16Ma02GI
                                                                            Matthew age 23 M Gardner 16Ma02GI
There are no records that we have discovered on Francis Nowlan, possible sister of Matthew and Patrick Nowlan. One theory, Francis Nowlan could be Anna Nolan. Anna Nolan listed on 1854 Baptismal Certificate of Mary Nolan, Matthew Nolan’s first daughter. Also further information on an Anna Nolan, died 1914, buried in the St. Kieran’s Catholic Church in Heckscherville, Pennsylvania. Anna Nolan is buried next to Elizabeth Nolan, died 1949 or 1950.  She was the youngest daughter of Matthew Nolan confirmed by Father Hall of St. Kieran’s.  If Anna Nolan were the sister of Matthew and Patrick, her branch of the family tree would end at her death not being married.  Matthew and Patrick Nowlan headed to Pottsville, Pennsylvania and a new life. The Nowlan brothers, Matthew and Patrick may have emigrated from Ireland to America due to the Potato Famine in 1846 or in another theory, Matthew and Patrick may have been recruited by a local Colliery in Heckscherville, Pennsylvania. According to the Historical sketch of St. Kieran’s Church. Heckscherville, Pa., in 1845 William Paine bought the Chapman Colliery, the first to be operated in the Heckscherville, and tradition tells us that he went to Ireland and induced a number of large, able-bodied men and their families to come from Kilkenny and Queens County to this valley as the men of those parts were supposed to be somewhat familiar with the working of mining. 

                                                                                              1872 Irish Population in America.  
                                 (Note: Southern Minnesota and Eastern Pennsylvania.  Homes of Patrick Nolan & Matthew Nolan)