After several centuries of immigration and secondary migration, individuals and families carrying the Nolan family name or variants thereof (i.e. Nowlan, Nowlin, Nolin, Nolen, etc.) are now found throughout the world, albeit predominantly in English-speaking countries.
‘Nolan‘ is, by far, the most common variant spelling accounting for about 85-90% of all descendant Nolan households. However, this does not mean that there are not regions of the world where other variants are more common. Two examples of this are the Province of New Brunswick (Canada) where ‘Nowlan‘ is more prevalent and the Province of Quebec (Canada) where ‘Nolin‘ is more prevalent.
According to survey results published in 1997 by Halbert’s Family Heritage in their “New World Book of Nolans” there were over 43,000 Nolan households worldwide with a projected total population of over 97,000. Following is a pie chart representation of the worldwide distribution of Nolan households based upon the survey results given in the 1997 book.
As can be seen, most Nolan descendants in 1997 were found in the United States, accounting for a staggering 56% of all Nolans worldwide. The figure of 8% for Nolans living in Ireland (north and south combined) is not surprising in that it is consistent with the known percentage (roughly 10%) of the global Irish diaspora still remaining in Ireland after generation-upon-generation of out-migration, especially in the early-to-mid 1800s.
The 2% of Nolan households identified in lands other than the major English-speaking ones (see above pie chart) included:
- 257 households in New Zealand
- 232 households in South Africa
- 55 households in France
- 42 households in Germany
- 21 households in Italy
- 8 households in Switzerland
- 7 households in the Netherlands.
The 1997 Halbert’s Family Heritage survey also found that in all major English-speaking lands (as identified in the above pie chart) Nolan presence was pervasive. In fact, in the United States, where more than a quarter of the population claims Irish ancestry, there were Nolan households in every state. This level of pervasiveness was also true for Australia (all states), Canada (all provinces) and Ireland (all counties – both in the north and the south).
With regards to Ireland, it is important to note that Nolan presence in all the counties goes further back in time than the 1800s. This is confirmed by Griffith’s [Land] Valuations of the early 1850s wherein we find mention of Nolan landowners in each of Ireland’s thirty-two counties. At the time the two principal concentrations of Nolan landowners were in County Carlow (Leinster province) with 330 Nolan landowners being identified and in County Mayo (Connaught province) with 67 Nolan landowners being identified.
Article contributed by David Brian Nolan