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Workplan – This chapter is to be written based upon my personal collection of Nolan-related history notes collected over many years (.txt files and paper notes), the information contained in the Millenium year Nolan book (O Nolan – the History of a People), past Nolan Clan newsletters (1997-2018) and research notes (e.g. the collection of 1916 Easter Rebellion Anecdotes ) contained in the website’s so-named knowledge base.

Arrival of the Normans

Dermot McMurrough (in ireland)
and Roger de Nollent (in Normandy)

Worldwide Migration

France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, United States, Canada, Carribbean, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.

1140s – Norman Alliance

With the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century, Nolans began to wander farther afield. Some are believed to have distanced themselves ending up, for example, in County Galway, while others, especially in the context of the Crusades, may have sought closer ties ending up, for example, in France. The “De Nollent” family of Normandy which traces its ancestry back to the times of the Crusades is believed to be an example of the latter case but further research is required to establish a definitive link to the Nolans of Ireland.

Gaelic Rivival

…. knights Templar in Carlow etc.

Reformation and Confiscations


Early 1600s – dispersal, flight and immigration

… influx to Maryland, Newfoundland and trade centres in Europe

In 1601, the Irish chiefs lost a major battle against the English in Kinsale. A few years later, in 1607, the northern Earls, unable and unwilling to live under English domination left for the courts and armies of Europe. Many accompanied them. This particular event, now referred to as the Flight of the Earls, stripped Ireland of effective leadership for many years thereafter. At first slowly, then with more intensity, young men and families, following the example of the northern Earls, left their homeland seeking to improve their lot.

1620s – Virginia and early Newfoundland – lumber, tobacco, fishery

Aside from these few possible early wanderings, the Nolan families and their ancestors lived, from time immemorial, in the province of Leinster, predominantly in County Carlow.  It was only at the beginning of the 17th century that Nolans began to emigrate in large numbers to other parts of Ireland and beyond. This was largely precipitated by continuing troubles between, on the one hand, the native Irish and the Old English (i.e. the descendants of the early Anglo-Normans), and on the other, the English Planters and those who wished to impose Protestant parliamentary rule over Ireland.

In the mid-1600’s came further confiscations, the Cromwellian land confiscations.

1600s – New France

Roger Nolan, carpenter with Champlain; Pierre Nolan, innkeeper and ancestor of a fur trade dynasty; Jacques Nolin dit Des Châtelets 

1680s – Pennsylvania – Many Quakers settled in Rhode Island, due to its policy of religious freedom, as well as the British colony of Pennsylvania which was formed by William Penn in 1681 as a haven for persecuted Quakers.

1700s+ Quakerism and the Nolans

Quaker Nolans in Co. Carlow and Kildare …

The Nowlands of Co. Cork are believed to be  descended from Felix Nowland who was living in the Mallow area of Co. Cork in 1726.

In the early 1500s much of the land in Co. Cork was controlled by the FitzGeralds but after the death of the Great Earl of Desmond in 1583 (marking the end of the Desmond Rebellions), the FitzGeraldlands in Co. Cork along with other lands were confiscated. Most attempts at plantation in Co. Cork failed, settlers finding it difficult to adjust and often being left without protection in isolated areas. Faced with such difficulties many settlers returned to their former homes opening up opportunities for land speculators. There would be more land confiscations in Co. Cork in the 1690s following the deposition of James II (first Jacobite Rebellion (1688-1691) again providing opportunities for land speculators.

That land speculation may have occurred during this timeperiod appears to be reflected in an old Irish deed dated 1718 whereby a Thomas Nowland and a Thomas Marriott, both residents of England, gave that year full ownership of lands they possessed in Counties Meath and Wexford, a total of around 1500 acres, to a Joseph Gardner, his wife and two daughters. NOTE: Thomas Marriott 1691-1747 and Martha Kirkbride b. 1695-1719, parents of Thomas Marriott Jr., Quaker, who went to Bucks county, Pennsylvania.

 The very generous nature of this deed is indicative of the lands being an inheritance implying that the beneficiary was likely related to one of the donors mentioned in the deed. Recalling that “Gardiner” was an alias for Nowland amongst the Nowlands of Yorkshire and Dublin we therefore conclude that the Thomas Nowland mentioned here was related to the Yorkshire Nowlands, consistent with him being described as “of England”.

Cornelius Nowland of Cork (ancestor of John Nowland who immigated to Ottawa area, Canada) may have been a descendant of a Quaker (other than Felix Nowland) who came from Yorkshire or the Ballon area itself, went to Pennsylvnia with early Quakers and, after returning to Cork, converted to Catholicism.

Jacobite Wars

First Jacobite war – 1689 …
In 1691 the loss of a major battle by the Irish in Limerick. At this point in time, many officers and soldiers, now referred to as the “wild geese”, fled to the Continent in the hope of returning some day.

Second Jacobite War – 1715 …
1700s – Newfoundland and Maryland – Placentia Bay (1713) and Bohemia Manor (Herman ????): Nowlin, Nowland and Noliegne

Third Jacobite War – 1745 …
In the aftermath many became involved in commercial ventures and trade with America, essentially changing their strategy for obtaining greater freedoms and liberties. For example:

  • Thomas Nowlan, sugar importer and boiler in Dublin
  • William Nowlan, cork merchant in Waterford …
  • Michael Nowlan, wine merchant who died in Cheltenham

American Revolution – 1776-1783

1777 – Catholics began to be admitted into the British armey e.g. a regiment of Catholic Volunteers was raised in the area Atlantic Canada 
1783 – After the peace treaty of Versailles, decommissioned British soldiers and dispossessed American Loyalists received land grants in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Upper Canada and Lower Canada

Fight for Irish Independence – 1790s-1920s

Fuelled by the ideas of freedom as expressed by … and realized by the Americans (1776) and French (1789) a similar freedom movement grew in Ireland, starting in the early 1790s, culminating in the early 1920s when the Republic of Ireland came into being. In between time there were several failed revolutionary attempts most notably the Rebellion of 1798 which resulted in many Irish men and women being incarcerated, transported or forced to flee into hiding e.g. in the Newfoundland fishery, after the the troubles of 1798. 

The failed Rebellion of 1798 also resulted in more “transportations” for those who were lucky enough to be spared from a hanging. In the 1800’s, economic pressures in Ireland had reached the point where many more young men and families, seeing only a bleak prospect of making a living for themselves, opted to emigrate and to re-establish themselves elsewhere. The colonies in British North America and the newly independent United States looked particularly attractive.

1790s-18xxs: Australia, the Penal Colony

1790s – The last decade of the 1700’s and the early 1800s saw the “transportation” of a large number of individuals to other parts of the world, most notably Australia. With the number of poor and destitute increasing and the jails filling up, the British government seized upon the idea that they could free-up space in overcrowded prisons and to reduce the amount of monies paid out in welfare if the poor and destitute were transported elswhere, such as to the vast continent of Australia.

1803-1815: Napoleonic Wars

An embargo on the lumber trade with the Baltic States forced England to seek an alternate source for lumber; as a result an active lumber trade between the British Isles and America developed involving principally Upper Canada (Quebec) and New Brunswick. 

Aftermath of War of 1812

In the aftermath of the War of 1812, England also began promoting immigration to British North America (BNA) favouring ex-soldiers who could be called into service should the need arise. This sort of immigration  was actively pursued well into the 1830s and new setllers would obtain land of their own under very favourable conditions.

This is when most “Nowlans” immigrated to what is now known as Canada.

  • 1783 – ex-soldiers, James Nowland to Escuminac and John Nowland to Sheet Harbour, NS
  • 1790s – Michael Nowlan, Loyalist carpenter, from NS to Smith’s Creek, NB
  • 1820s – Michael Nowlan, a native of Kilkenny, to New Ireland
  • 1820s – Peter and Edward Nowland to Buctouche area, NB

1840s – Potato Famine and America

In the mid to late 1840’s, failed potato crops several years in a row precipitated a massive outward flow of Irish people bound for America, however many of them never made it, dying on overcrowded, ill-equipped ships or while waiting in quarantine stations on the other side of the Atlantic.

1840s-Present – The Search for a Better Life

Beginning with the Potato Famine in Ireland large numbers of Irish men and women immigrated to more well-to-do countries, most notably to the United States which was fast becoming an economic powerhouse on the world stage. Jobs were plentiful (e.g. major construction projects such as the Erie Canal) and its climate was relatively mild.

Parallel with the direct immigration from Ireland to the United States was also a secondary migration to the United States from other countries or colonies to which earlier generations of Nolans had immigrated. Most prominent amongst these were the remaining British North American (BNA) colonies of Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Upper Canada (Quebec) and Lower Canada (Ontario).

Concurrent with the mass immigration to the United States was also immigration to the United Kingdom and other countries in the British Commonwealth.

Roger Nowlan, webmaster and editor (Email Me )
222 avenue De La Colline, Gatineau, QC, J9J 1T8 CANADA

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