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Irish Gravestone Inscriptions, Tracing your Irish Ancestors: The Pelan monument
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Lambeg Churchyard

The Pelan monument


The most arresting monument in the churchyard is the broken column raised to the memory of Essy Pelan who, according to the inscription, ‘died on the anniversary of her birthday, 1st March 1833, aged 21’. There is a sad romantic tale which explains the shape of the monument over her grave. Essy’s lover emigrated to America intending to earn a large sum of money and then return to Lambeg to share his life with her. While he was in America Essy was told that her lover had transferred his affections to someone else. Although this proved subsequently to be untrue, Essy believed the story and on his return her lover discovered that she had died. According to local tradition she was buried in her bridal dress and her bridal wreath was laid on her grave.


The inscription on the Pelan burial plot beside the monument records the names and years of death of those who were most probably her parents, George and Jane, and siblings although there is no kinship information to support that suggestion. There are three other Pelan burial plots in the churchyard, two of which are situated together in the older part of the churchyard with inscriptions recording nineteenth century families. The inscriptions provide years of, and ages, at death and relationships of the families of Francis of Lambeg (Lisnatrunk townland according to his will) and Francis of Belfast. The remaining plot is situated in the 1921 extension of the churchyard but there is no evidence, on the inscription, other than the name to link those buried there to the other families. The name Stoupe, said to be of Huguenot or Dutch extraction, is recorded on the most recent Pelan inscription.


The surname Pelan is most uncommon. One early 20th century source suggests it was Anglo Saxon in origin and possibly a variant spelling of the name Palin. It might possibly have been an alternative spelling of the Irish name Phelan but there were eleven tenants named Pelan in the 1860 Tenement Valuation of Belfast and six in the valuation of Blaris parish. Pelan was also the name of a soap and candle making firm in Lisburn listed the Co. Antrim Directory of 1888.

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