Long Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Long Meaning
There appears to be two competing theories for the origin of the Long

  • 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

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

Resources on

Long Ancestry

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

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

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.
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
    Charlestown (a branch of this family were among the early settlers on
    Nantucket island)
  • and Deacon Robert Long who was in Newbury,
    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

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
  • 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 Ireland in 1835 and settled in
Russell, Ontario. He and his wife Sarah raised seven children


Long Miscellany

The Long Lineage in Wiltshire.  The Longs have been a continuing force in Wiltshire life from the 14th
century.  There have been two main lines, the thirteen generations
of Longs who held the South Wraxall and Draycot estates until the early
19th century and the related Long descendants of the banker and
politician Richard Godolphin Long.

The Earlier Longs

1. Roger le Long of Wiltshire
2. Robert Long c.1391-1447 first to own the South Wraxall
and Draycot estates
3. Henry Long c.1417-1490 son of Robert
4. Sir Thomas Long c.1451-1509 nephew of Henry
5. Sir Henry Long c.1489-c.1556 eldest son of Sir Thomas
Sir Richard Long c.1495-1546 third son of Sir Thomas
6. Sir Robert Long c.1517-c.1581 eldest son of Sir Henry
7. Sir Walter Long c.1565-1610 eldest son of Sir Robert
Henry Long c.1570-1594 younger son murdered in feud
8. Sir Walter Long c.1594-1637 eldest son of Sir Walter
Sir Robert Long c.1600-1673 younger son of Sir Walter, 1st
9. Sir James Long c.1617-1682 son of Sir Walter, 2nd baronet
10. James Long
11. Sir James Long 1681-1729 son of James, 5th baronet
12. Sir Robert Long 1705-1767 son of Sir James, 6th baronet
13. Sir James Tylney-Long 1736-1794 son of Sir Robert, 7th baronet
14. James Tylney-Long 1794-1805 son of Sir James

The Later Longs

1. Richard G. Long 1761-1835 banker and politician
2. Walter Long 1793-1867 son of Richard
3. Richard P.
1825-1875 son of Walter
4. Walter H. Long 1854-1924 eldest son of Richard, 1st
Richard Long 1856-1938 younger son of Richard, Baron
5. Walter Long 1879-1917 brigadier general in WW One
6. Walter Long 1911-1944 son of Walter, 2nd viscount
Richard Long 1892-1967 uncle of Walter, 3rd viscount

The Long and Danvers Feud.  The Longs and Danvers were neighbors in Wiltshire – and neighbors as
well.  Some thought that their feud had dated as far back as the
Wars of the Roses.  Others saw it as a challenge by the Longs to
the Danvers’ more established position.  Sir Charles Danvers had
developed a close friendship with Robert Devereux, the Earl of
Essex.  On the other hand, Sir Walter Long was close to Sir Walter
Raleigh who was deeply hostile to Essex.

The mutual animosity came to a head in 1594 when Sir John Danvers from
the magistrate’s bench committed one of Sir Walter Long’s servants for
robbery.  Sir Walter rescued the servant so Sir John had Sir
Walter locked up in the Fleet prison.  He then committed another
of Sir Walter’s servants for murder.  On leaving prison, Sir
Walter and his younger brother Henry provoked various brawls between
their own followers and Sir John’s, resulting in one servant being
killed and another being grievously wounded.

Henry then wrote insulting letters to Sir Charles Danvers,
calling him
a liar, a fool,  a puppy dog, a mere boy, and promised that he
would whip his bare backside with a rod.  This made Sir Charles
very angry. Accompanied by his brother and some of his men, he went to
an inn at Corsham where Sir Walter and Henry Long were dining with a
group of magistrates.  Sir Henry Danvers drew his pistol and
shortly afterwards Henry Long was dead.

The Longs of St. Mary’s Church in Newton Flotman.  For a hundred and fifty years, from 1797 to 1948, the
rectors of the Norfolk village church of St. Mary’s in Newton Flotman
were all of one
family.  In 1721 Matthew Long of Dunston Hall had acquired the
patronage of the living and this remained with the Long family until
1948.  Sarah Long, the patron in 1790, was the unmarried heir of
the estate and she appointed the Rev. Robert Churchman Kellett on
that he assumed the Long name.  It took him seven years to do so!

The church’s pulpit had been given by Miss Alma Long in
memory of her brother Octavius Nevill Long who had died in 1890 at the
age of twenty nine.  The font cover was given by the Rev. W.N.
Long who was the rector from 1917 to 1948, the wood used coming from
oaks grown on the Dunston estate.

Mount Long and the Cork Catholic Rebellion of 1641.  John Long of Mount Long was made high sheriff of county Cork in 1641.  But later that year an uprising broke out against the
Protestants in the area.  John Long and his sons John and James,
who were considered the rebellious arm of the family, formed a military
camp with their fellow Catholic rebels on a hill a few miles away at
Belgooly.  They were, however, defeated the following year by Lord

John Long’s daughter followed her father’s final orders and set fire to
Mount Long to deny Cromwell the house.  The burnt ruin of Mount
Long and the surrounding lands were confiscated and given to one of
Cromwell’s soldiers named Giles Busteed.  In 1652 John Long was
convicted of treason and sentenced to death.  He was hung on
January 1653 on Cromwell’s orders with thirty four other rebels.

According to local tradition the ancient burial ground at Teampuileen
by Mount Long was to be avoided after dark.  A local farmer tried
to remove a wall surrounding the graves but failed in his aim.  He
saw “something” and fled the area, never to return.

Richard Long’s Affairs.  Richard Long, known in the family as Richard the rebel, was born in
Tipperary in 1824.  He ran off and married Susanna Reid, the
governess of his younger siblings, in his early twenties.  This
did not go over well with the family.  He and Susanna moved to New
York in 1850, living there for five years until moving on to Covington,
Kentucky.  Richard fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side.

During or sometime after the war Susanna returned to Ireland with their
youngest child Susan.  Richard then moved onto Fort Erie,
Canada.  Supposedly Richard’s sons then told him that their mother
and sister had been lost at sea as they were voyaging to Canada from

Meanwhile, Richard had fallen in love with Ann Smith Fox, a
widow.  When Richard proposed that she join him in Fort Erie she
headed north and they soon married.

It would seem that sometime during 1878 Richard’s first wife Susanna
and their daughter Susan came over from Ireland looking for him!
One story was that that never found Richard.  The other story was
that they did find out that he was living and went to see him.
When they got there he was out of town and Ann, discovering that
Richard’s first wife was still alive, threatened to charge him with
bigamy and forced him to leave and turn his property over to her.
No one knows which of the two stories was true.

Richard moved to the Kingsville-Leamington area and had one more child,
the result of an affair at the age of sixty.  Richard left this
child and his mother five years later. 

Longs and Langs and Laings in Scotland.  The following were the number of Longs, Langs, and Laings recorded in
the 1901 Scottish census:

Surname Numbers Percent
Long     321    4
Lang   3,203   36
Laing   5,229   60

Longs in America by Place of Origin

Country Numbers Percent
Ireland   1,354    50
England and Scotland   1,044    38
German-speaking     319    12

Edward Long’s The History of Jamaica.  Edward Long was born in England, a
member of a family that had long been settled in Jamaica and owned
plantations there.  Long himself spent only twelve years in Jamaica,
where he was a judge, a member of the House of Assembly, and for a very
brief period its Speaker.  But he always identified himself with
the interests of the Jamaican plantocracy, that is, the group of white
landowners whose prosperity depended on the ownership of sugar
plantations worked by slaves.

Long’s major work was The History of Jamaica, written in 1774.  This contains an
enormous amount of information on all aspects of the island and is
still an essential source for historians of the Caribbean. However, the
work is strongly marked by his partisan support for the plantocracy,
which leads him not only to emphasize Jamaica’s importance to Britain
but to assert the plantocracy’s right to rule Jamaica in their own

took racist justifications of slavery to new extremes by manipulating
contemporary scientific developments to claim that black people
differed ‘from other men not in kind, but in species.
Any evidence that appeared to contradict his argument that black people
were naturally inferior to whites Long did his best to explain away.

Even in his own time there were those who found him deeply offensive
and his claims were rejected by many writers.  Nevertheless, The
History of Jamaica
was widely read and had considerable influence
on the development of racist ideologies well into the 19th century.


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 Long Numbers 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).




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