The Nowlin family can be traced back to County Carlow in Ireland, shown here in red.  

Irish roots

David Nowlin, Gladys Hall’s gggg-grandfather, was born into a long line of Nowlin/Nowlands/Nolens that trace their ancestry back to the Barony of Forth in County Carlow, Ireland, and beyond (Who the heck is Gladys Hall? See the Smith-Hall nexus). The oldest known ancestor in this line is Donogh or Hugh Nowland, born in 1540, in this barony, but the Nowlands were nobles, probably Picts, who are recorded in the oldest annals of Ireland. For more information on them and the barony, see the information on “The Barony of Forth” below. Nowlin and its variants are the most common surnames in Ireland.
As for David, he was born about 1793 in Buckingham County, Virginia, and died before 1840 in Floyd County, Georgia. His father is Abraham Nowlin, who was born 3 May 1763 in Saint James Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia. He died 1814 in Buckingham County.
David's mother was Mildred Watkins, born 16 June 1766 in the same place. Mildred Watkins died 5 November 1851 in Henrico County, Virginia. An obituary in the Lynchburg Virginian dated 17 November 1851 states “At Marland Henrico, at the residence of her son, Dr. J. H. Mettert, on the morning of the 5th, inst., Mrs. Mildred Nowlan, in the 70th year of her age.”
They were married 16 February 1788 in Goochland County, and had 10 children, all born in Buckingham County:

Abraham Perkins Nowlin, born 1789.

William Nowlin, born 1790.

David Nowlin.

Samuel Nowlin, born 1792.

Thomas Watkins Nowlin, born 9 January 1795.

Sallie Nowlin, born 1797.

Pollie Nowlin, born 1800.

Pattie Nowlin, born 1802.

Captain W. Bryant Nowlin, born 1803.

Bryant P Nowlin., born 21 November 1801 and died 4 March 1860 in Appomattox County, Virginia.

Note: One website says there is only one Bryant, a W. Bryant, and it is he who died in Appomattox County. David and Bryant are not listed on all records of the children. However, there is a Briant W. Nowlin living in Jackson County along with David in 1830, and in Walker County in the 1850 census. He is 47. He has a son named David as well.   

While I am generally averse to long lists of names and dates, I include them here, in part because of Philemon Perkins and Obedience Cox below.

Abraham Nowlin’s mother and father were David Nowlin, born 1730, and Mary Ferguson, born 1733, both in Goochland County. They married there in 1750, and he died there January 1777 .His siblings included David, 1752-?, James A., 1754-1809, Joseph, 1758-?, and Milley, 1760-?   

Mary Ferguson’s father and mother were James Ferguson, 1712-1758, and Agnes Adams, 1716-24 July1765, both of Goochland County. She was an only child.

James Ferguson’s father was James also, 1690-July 1741. His mother’s name was Martha Cox, 1694-1727. The elder James Ferguson’s father was Robert, and his mother was Martha, of which nothing else is known.

Agnes Adams’ father was Robert Adams, 1680-1740, and her mother was Mourning Lewis, 1690-1765. Robert was the son of William Adams, but the name of his mother and any other information is unknown. Mourning Lewis’s parents are unknown as well.
David Nowlin’s father was Stephen “Knowling,” born 1708 in Virginia, died Nov 1791 in Goochland County He was married to Mary Perkins. born 1712 in Henrico County, Va.

Mary Perkins’ parents were Philemon Perkins and Obedience Cox. Philemon was born in 1685 in Henrico County, and Obedience in 1692. He died in March 1789 in Goochland County and she died 6 September 1770 in Goochland, County. They had another son, John, born 1728 in Henrico County. It is through the Cox branch of this line that the family reaches what I call the “Line of the Kings,” which includes the royal families of Britain and the Continent. For more information on this line, which connects the Hall family to English and European royalty, see Philemon Perkins and Obedience Cox, and  "Uncommon people in the family tree."

The Nowlin line “crossed the pond” sometime between 1684 and 1708. Stephen Nowlin’s father was James Nowlin or Nowland, born 1685 in County Carlow, Ireland, and his mother was Catherine Ward, born 1690-93 in Ireland (one site says England and one says Goochland County, Virginia, but her first two children are listed as born in Ireland). Their is some confusion on their birth years; both are listed as having been born after their oldest child. In any case, their 10 children are:

1. John Nowlin, born 1682 in County Carlow, Ireland.
2. William
Nowlin, born 1684 in County Carlow.
3. Daniel
Nowlin, born 1708 in St. James Parish, Goochland County,Virginia, died in Virginia
4. David
Nowlin, born 1710 in St. James Parish, Goochland County.
5. Martha
Nowlin, born: 1711 in St. James Parish, Goochland County.
6. Judith
Nowlin, born 1713 in St. James Parish, Goochland County.
7. James
Nowlin Jr., born 13 Nov 1715 in Beaver Dam Creek, Goochland County.
8. Mary
Nowlin, born 1717 in St. James Parish, Goochland County.
9. John
Nowlin, born 1720 in St. James Parish, Goochland County.
10. Stephen
Nowlin, born 1718 in Virginia, Goochland County.

A Nowland, probably James, is listed in Extracts from Carlow, The Manor & Town 1674-1721 by Thomas King (1997) as renting for 4 pounds 118 feet of frontage on Castle Street, southside.

James Nowlin was the son of John Nowlin, born 1640 in County Carlow, Ireland. He was married to a woman named Susan, born 1640 in County Carlow

John was married to an unknown woman who was born in 1655 in County Carlow. They were married in 1680 and had three children: John, born 1682, William, born 1684, and James, born 1685.

John’s father’s name was Patrick, born 1625, and his mother, whose name is unknown, was born there in 1630.

Patrick’s father was Daniel Nowlan, born 1600 in County Carlow. Daniel married Anastase O’Brien, born 1605 in County Carlow, in 1625, the year Patrick was born. This marriage  connects our tree to that of Brian O’Boru, the first king of Ireland, since O’Brien is a variant of O’Boru and all the O’Boru/O’Briens are said to be related.

Daniel’s father was John, born 1570 in Shangarry, County Carlow. And it is here we reach the known end of the Nowlan/Nowlin/Nolan line, although, as said, the surname goes much deeper into County Carlow history. The last known kin is John’s father, Donogh or Hugh Nowlin, born 1540 in the Barony of Forth, County Carlow. Hugh was married to a woman, name unknown, who was born in 1545 there. They were married in 1565, although the dates would seem to be wrong since she would have been only 10.

Carlow Town, in County Carlow, Ireland, in modern times. Castle Carlow is in the background.

The Barony of Forth

The Nowlin branch of the family tree, which begins  with Gladys Hall’s gg-grandmother Harriet Susannah Caroline Nowlin, is an ancient Celtic one with roots deep in Irish history. The name comes from the Irish Ui Nuallain / nuall, meaning “to shout” or “to cry out." According to the Nolan DNA Project (, the O'Nolan Clan is apparently in the line of descent from Nualan or Nuallain of Eocha Fionn Fohart, the brother of Ui Neil
Conn Céad, or Conn of the Hundred Battles, one of the High Kings of Ireland (123-157 or 177 A. D.).

As said, when our ancestor Daniel Nowland married Anastase O’Brien, born 1605 in Carlow County, in 1625, two major Irish families were joined. The O’Brien clan are all descendants of Brian Ború, ("Brian of the Tributes"), who became the first High King of Ireland in 1002. The name Brian is probably from Brion, which is thought to mean lofty or eminent (Brian the Great, so to speak).
As noted above, our oldest ancestor in the Nowlin line is Donogh or Hugh Nowlin, was born 1540 in the Barony of Forth, Carlow County. The ancient name of the Barony of Forth is Mag Fea, or the place of Fea. In Irish legend, Fea was a warrior of Partholon, the son of Sera son of Sru, “who took Ireland after the Flood, on a Tuesday, on the fourteenth of the moon” according to the Book of Invasions or the Lebor Gabála Erenn. The book goes on to say that “Seven years had Partholon in Ireland when the first man of his people died, to wit Fea, from whom is Mag Fea [named]; for there was he buried, in Mag Fea.”Another legend has it that the Fea were enemies of the Picts, and used magic against them.
There is this mention of Fea, apparently famed as a lumberjack, in The Metrical Dindshenchas, an ancient Irish text, author unknown. This is from poem 36:

Mag Femin, Mag Fera, Mag Fea

 1. Femen and fair-haired Fera,
  eager soldiers of the great strongholds,
  and Fea, famed for timber-havoc in Inis Fail,
  sons of Inogach son of Dachar,
 2. 5] With warlike bold Clann Miled
  they pushed on to verdurous Banba;
  the tools of their hereditary calling
  were bill-hook and axe and heavy spade.
 3. The axe a-lopping in stout style
  10] and the bill-hook

  were their tools, noble yet not proud, —
  and the spade hard a-digging.
 4. They cleared three plains, after many a spell;
  through their piety they gained their titles:
  15] Mag Fea, no
  for a girl,
  Mag Fera and Mag Femin.
 5. Each in turn would make,
  without delay, without regret,
  without idle desire that lured him away,
  20] exchange of tools and weapons.
 6. Fea, wife of Neit son of Indui,
  did not desert Mag Fea, though she was silent,
  the fair-haired woman, — she was a love beloved-
  the right-generous daughter of Elcmaire.
 7. 25] I have heard of the two oxen of Dil,
  radiant of beauty, conspicuous;
  Fe and Men are they called,
  whence Mag Femin gets its name.

In any case, the barony is named for the Fortharta Fea, part of a mercenary tribe called the Fothairt or Fotharta that included the Forthar Tíre who settled to the southwest of County Carlow in County Wexford, which also has a Barony of Forth as a result. The Fotharta Fea are not considered part of the Tribes of Laigen, but served under them as nobles holding high offices.

The Liagen were major invaders of Ireland who came across the English Channel from northwest Gaul, now called Normandy, in 300 B. C. Instead, the Fortharta were probably Picts, one of the ancient tribes of Scotland, who settled Ireland much earlier. The Fotharta Fea included the O’Nolan clan of the Loigis Tribe. As said, the surnames Nowlin and Nowland are among the most common in Ireland and trace their origins to County Carlow.

The Loigis were commonly referred to as the "Seven Septs of Leix." There were several families of this tribe in historical times, including the O'Mores, O'Nolans, O'Dorans, O'Lawlors and O'Dowlings. The O'Mores (O Mordha) were chief among these families of Leix. The O'Nolans or Knowlans (O Nuallain) are a branch of the O'Mores, and are said to be “a famous and respected family in Leinster Province,” in which County Carlow is located.

Another website says the O'Cavanaghs, O'Moores, O'Nolans, and O'Ryans were the families of noble lords in service of the barons, named Butlers and Carews.

County Carlow

County Carlow, located in the southeast section of the country, is the smallest county in Ireland, having an area of 221,424 acres, or about 346 square miles. In 2002, county population was 46,014, of which 17,880 lived in Carlow Town. The county is completely agricultural, with no manufacturing plants, and half the land is in pasture. The county is said to produce an excellent butter, but is also known for its corn, flour, and meal.

Carlow, under the name of Catherlogh, is among the counties generally considered to have been created in the reign of King John. (1199-1216), Leinster was confirmed as a “liberty” or land grant to William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, by King John. Carlow became a palatinate (home of royalty or a royal palance) when it was inherited by a female descendant of the earl. The county contains a number of ancient sites, and the remains of several castles, including the large Castle Carlow.

This castle is built on a granite hill near the river. In ancient times, the hill was surrounded by marsh and water, and so was originally called Ceatharlough, or stone-on-the-lake. Carlow is a modernization of that name. An original castle was built by Hugh de Lacy, date uncertain, mostly of timber and earth, for John de Clahull, who ruled the area. But by 1200-1210, William Marshal had taken his place as lord of Leinster, and construction began on the present masonry castle completed in 1220.

The castle is partly in ruins as the result of a strange episode in 1813, when the Hamilton family, which owned the building, leased it to a physician, Dr. Philip Parry Price Middleton. He spent two thousand pounds in an effort to make it habitable, with the intention of using the building as a “lunatic asylum.” He attempted to create an underground passageway by using dynamite, but on 13 February 1814, one of his explosions brought down the eastern wall, its towers, and their adjoining walls. Contemporary observers said that had Dr. Middleton been successful in establishing a lunatic asylum, the first patient admitted would be himself.

The writer Dean Swift wrote this poem about Carlow town:

    High church,
    Low steeple.
    Poor town,
    Proud people.


Map of the Baronies of Leinster

Photo of Conway Town

For much more on the Nowlin/Nolins, see

Note that some sources for infomation on this page have been lost, but I will find the citations in the future.

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