Select Long Surname Genealogy

There appears to be two competing theories for the origin of the Long surname:
  • the first is that it is variation on a Norman-French place name de Longues or de Longa
  • the other theory is that it is based on a physical characteristic, similar to surnames such as Short or Strong. 
The Latin longus produced the Old Englsh lang, meaning "long" or "tall," which in turn gave rise to the Long, Lang, and Laing surnames. 

The spelling may have something to do with local pronunciation.  Long as a surname appeared mainly in the south of England, Lang in Devon in the southwest and in the north (early spellings were Berard Long in Suffolk and Adam ye Langge in Yorkshire).  There were Longs in Scotland who became Lang or Laing; while the German Lang or Lange often became Long in America. 

Well-known extensions of the Long name are Longman, the book publisher, and Longfellow, the poet.

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Select Long Ancestry

England.  The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname of Long started as follows:

"The first record of the name Long was found in Wiltshire where they were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.  They were descended from a Norman noble of Preux in Normandy."  

Wiltshire  The first known of these Longs was the 14th century Roger le Long.  His son Robert Long took possession of the South Wraxall and Draycot estates and the Long line extended from him down through thirteen generations.  The Longs led colorful and influential lives in Tudor times.  They were in favor at the time of Henry VIII, friends with the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh, yet involved in deadly feuds with their neighbors the Danvers.  The line died out in the early 19th century.

A subsidiary line, through Samuel Long, was involved in the conquest of Jamaica in the 1650's.  When Samuel returned to England he acquired Hurts Hall in Suffolk.  This house remained with the Long family until the 1950's.  Later came the Viscount Longs, the descendants of the 18th century banker and politician Richard Godolphin Long.  Walter Long of this line was the leader of the Irish Unionist party in the early 1900's.

Norfolk  The Long name also surfaced in Norfolk.  The Longs of Hingham date from the 1550's.  They took possession of Spixworth Hall in the early 1700's.  The Rev. John Long of Spixworth was chaplain to King George III. Another Long family held Dunston Hall and were the rectors of St. Mary's church in Newton Flotman. These Longs built an impressive new manor house of Dunston Hall in 1859.  But Fortescue Long who inherited the estate was to spend little time there.  He suffered from mental problems and lived most of his life in sanitoriums.

The 19th century distribution of the Long name showed two main clusters: one around Wiltshire in Somerset and Gloucestershire and south into Hampshire; and the other from East Anglia south into London and Kent.

  Early documents showed Longus and Long spellings.  But Lang and increasingly Laing dominated as a surname.  Long had mainly disappeared by the time of the 1901 census in Scotland.

  The Longs in Ireland got their names from a number of different origins.  Some are from Norman, English and Scottish descent.  The Norman de Longs arrived in the 12th century with the Anglo-Norman conquest and established themselves in a number of locations.

The Longs of Longfield House in Tipperary began with Robert Long from England in the late 1600's.  They remained there as gentry until the famine of the 1840's.  During an outbreak of agrarian violence in 1820, Richard Long, the unpopular landlord at the time, was shot dead while sitting on the toilet.  A later Richard Long emigrated to America and a Robert Long of this family became a foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

The Long name also came from the Irish septs of O'Longain and O'Longaig.  One sept was located in county Armagh.  But the greater numbers were to be found in central Cork.  In 1631 John Long built a mansion overlooking Oysterhaven creek known as Mount Long.  He was killed in the subsequent upheavals and his lands were then confiscated.  But Long as a name did continue in Cork.

Caribbean.  Samuel Long of the Wiltshire Longs had arrived in Jamaica in 1655 as a lieutenant in the English army and his family established itself as part of the island's governing planter elite.  Edward Long was the author of The History of Jamaica in 1774; while Beeston Long at this time was a highly successful London-based West Indian merchant.

America.  Long in America may be of English, Scottish, Irish or German origin.  Early Long arrivals from England were:
  • Joseph Long from Dorset who came with Winthrop's fleet in 1630 and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts
  • Robert Long from a family of London innkeepers who arrived on the Defense in 1635 and came to Charlestown (a branch of this family were among the early settlers on Nantucket island)
  • and Deacon Robert Long who was in Newbury, Massachusetts by 1645.
A Long family settled in Culpepper county, Virginia sometime in the late 1600's.  Ware Long of this family was thought by his grandson to have been 112 years old when he died in 1803 (he was in fact probably only in his eighties).  J.T. Long wrote Genealogy of the Descendants of Ware Long in 1908. 

Meanwhile, John Long had come to Queen Anne's county, Maryland in the late 1600's.  His descendants later moved onto Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.  And it was from Maryland that the forefathers of Huey Long, the Louisiana populist, originated.  James Long had moved south to Mississippi in 1841 and it was Huey's grandfather who then settled in Louisiana. 
Irish Longs  Irish arrivals included:
  • Pierse Long from Limerick in Ireland who came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1730.  His son became a prosperous merchant, trading to the Caribbean, and fought on the American side in the Revolutionary War.
  • Francis Long, Scots Irish from Ulster, who had come to Chester county, Pennsylvania in the late 1720's.
  • and another Pennsylvania arrival, around 1750, William Long, who had come with his father from Derry.  It was said that he had seventeen sons, all of whom fought in the Revolutionary War.  William, the only one of these sons who has been traced, subsequently married and moved south to Alabama.
German Longs  Pennsylvania was and still is a state with a large Long population.  This reflects as well German Langs/Langes who became Longs.  Included in this number were:
  • John Martin Lang who came from Germany around 1720 and settled in Pennsylvania
  • William Long who was born in Pennsylvania in 1769 and moved onto Kentucky and Indiana
  • Ludvig Long who was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania in 1773 and later moved to Ohio
  • George Long who was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania in the early 1800's and also moved to Ohio
  • and Henry Long who was born in Pennsylvania in 1831 and later moved to Indiana;
while Christian Lange had immigrated to upstate New York in the early 1700's.  It was his grandson Adam, born in 1764, who changed the name to Long.

Canada.  An early Long in Canada was the Loyalist Zachariah Long who crossed the border in 1796 into Prescott county, Ontario.  Another Loyalist was Philip Long who settled in New Brunswick.  His story was narrated in John Lang's 1984 book From Hero to Zero: The Story of Philip Long.

Robert Long arrived from county Cork in Irelans in 1835 and settled in Russell, Ontario.  He and his wife Sarah raised seven children there.
Select Long Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Long Names

Sir Walter Long of the Wiltshire Longs was a leading Elizabethan courtier and close friend to Sir Walter Raleigh.
Viscount Walter Long was the leader of the Irish Unionist party in the early 1900's.
R.A. Long was an early 20th century lumber baron from Kansas after whom the town of Longview in Washington was named.
Huey P. Long was Governor and Senator of Louisiana in the 1930's (until his assassination in 1935).  Nicknamed "the Kingfish," he was a man noted for his radical populist views. 

Select Longs Today
  • 36,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 84,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 29,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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