- This famous Irish surname is recorded in the varied spellings of O'Nolan, O'Noulane, O'Noland, O' Nowlan, and the short forms of Nolan, Nowlan, and Nowland. However spelt today it is an anglicized form of the original pre 12th century Gaelic O'Nullain, which translates loosely as 'The descendant of the crier', probably a reference to the first chief of the clan who held the hereditary office of herald to the Kings of Leinster. The chief was known as the Prince of Foherta, and he held the barony of Foherta, the modern barony of Forth. A branch of the family migrated to Connacht in the 16th Century and gained possession of extensive land tracts in Counties Galway and Mayo. A smaller branch settled in Corca Laoidh (South-West Cork) and here the name appeared as O'Huallachain meaning "proud" or "noble". The nameholders seem to have lost most of their holdings after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when they supported James 11nd, (1689 - 1690), the last king of Ireland. The name later gained prominence in the British Army. Captain Lewis Nolan (1818 - 1854), was the foremost exponent of Light Cavalry tactics, and it was he who carried the famous order for the charge of the Light Brigade. Owing to a misunderstanding between Nolan and Lord Lucan, the charge resulted in the total destruction of the Brigade, and the death of Nolan himself. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O' Nuallain, which was dated 1672, in Lynch's register known as "De Praesulibus". This was during the reign of King Charles 11nd of England, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.1685.
Surnames reference. 2013.