The territory which now forms the county of Longford was part of the ancient kingdom of
Meath; it was granted, in common with the other parts of that kingdom, to Hugh de Lacy by Henry II.; it passed to Walter de Lacy, a son of Hugh, and then to one of Walter's two daughters; and, in consequence of the negligence of the lady's descendants who lived in England, it practically renounced subjection to England, and resumed its aboriginal independence and character. In the eleventh year of Queen Elizabeth, it was erected into a county; but it then retained very faint traces of ever having been under the English government; and the
O'Farrels, who were almost its sole occupants, surrendered their lands to the Crown, and received them back upon English tenures. In 1615, the lands of the county were declared, by special inquisition, to belong to the Crown by virtue of the act of absentees; and were disposed of to patentees, - with a preference of natives; and 17,904 acres were allotted to new-comers, upwards of 13,000 acres to members of the O'Farrel family, and all the remainder in parcels among the old inhabitants, - the Crown reserving to itself a rent of 3d per acre on the new grants. In 1641, the whole county, with the exception of the castles of Longford and Castle Forbes, was seized by the
O'Farrels; and after the close of the rebellion, it was nearly confiscated, and distributed among new proprietors.