Longford from Blaeu's Atlas.
Longford from Blaeu's Atlas






St. Paul's Church, 17th century.
17th century St. Paul's Church.






Castle Forbes
Castle Forbes, c19th century.






The Shannon River
The Shannon River, Longford

A History of Moneylagan

The lands of Moneylagan are located in the parish of Clongesh (or Clonguish) within the Barony and County of Longford in Ireland, which was once called Annaly, and is approx. 1 mile south of the town Newtownforbes, and having it's own village called Lowtown.  They traditionally belonged to the noble Irish family of the O'Farrells of Buoy, Lords of Annaly, and the estate of Moneylagan, or Monilagan, came to be acquired by Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar in the reign of King James I, and was passed to the Seton's by purchase, by Sir John Seton, 2nd of Barnes, in 1624.

Clongesh, called Clonguish or Cloongish, is a civil parish partly in the barony and county of Longford and province of Leinster, Ireland, containing with the post-town of Newtown-Forbes, which was formerly called Lisbrack. The parish is situated on the road from Longford town to Carrick-on-Shannon, and on the rivers Camlin and Shannon; it contains 9616 statute acres of which about 900 are woodland, 6800 arable and pasture, and the remainder waste and bog. Limestone quarries are worked for building and burning. A court for the manor of Castle-Forbes is held occasionally: and petty sessions are held at Newtown-Forbes every alternate Tuesday. The principal seats in the parish are Castle-Forbes, the residence of the Earl of Granard; Brianstown, of Thomas Gordon Auchmuty, Esq., representative of that Ilk, in Fife, North Britain; Lismoy of the Rev. J. Mitchell ; Lisbrack cottage, of Verschoyle Crawford, Esq.; Monalagan Cottage, of Dr. Forbes Crawford ; and Hermitage of T. H. Ellis, Esq.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ardagh, united to part of the vicarage of Kiloe, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £461. 10s. 9d. The glebe-house was built in 1810, by aid of a gift of £100, and a loan of £650, from the late Board of First Fruits: the glebe comprises 50 acres, and is contiguous to the church. The church, situated at Newtown-Forbes, is supposed to have been originally built by the British settlers, about 1694 ; it has been rebuilt by aid of a gift of £830 from the late Board of First Fruits in 1829: There is also a church on St. Anne’s Hill in that part of Killoe parish which is united with this parish.

The Roman Catholic parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church: the chapel is at Newtown-Forbes, where there is also a place of worship for Methodists.  At Lisnabo is a free school, founded and endowed by the Rev. J. Mitchell of Lismoy, who has charged his estate with an annuity of £50 for its support; the school house is an excellent slated building, with apartments for the master and mistress, and cost £700. A school is aided by the rector and diocesan fund, and there are four pay schools: in these about 600 children are educated.

There are a few Danish raths, and the ruins of two churches. Part of the parish is called Scot’s Quarter, a Scottish colony having settled here in the beginning of the reign of Jas. I. The Castle Forbes here was besieged by the Irish troops in the parliamentary war of 1641, and its defenders were obliged to capitulate for want of supplies.

The main revenue of the estate of Moneylagan, or Monilagan, was flax, used for fine linen and which was worth 500 pounds Sterling a year, where the chief market was eastwards in Leinster, at Drogheda. For the Scots families setting there in Ireland, they were quick to establish themselves and to generate profitable industry, as noticed in the History of County Longford:

"The plantation of Scottish Protestant farmers in Northern Ireland, also had a great influence on the production of flax. They were more industrious and quicker to see an opportunity. The sons and grandsons of those Scottish planters began to move further south during the seventeenth century and a substantial Protestant community grew up in North Longford which was then called “Scots Quarter”.

Although the Irish climate was found to be very suitable for growing flax, our short harvests were not favourable to ripening the flax seed, therefore no seed or linseed products were produced. The crop was harvested for linen production only while it was in full flower. In dryer climates linseed and linseed products were used for a more widely varied number of products, such as animal meals, oil, paint, varnish, French polish, soap, animal laxatives, oil cloth and linoleum. Pectin was also extracted by boiling.

The growing season in Ireland was about one hundred days. If it was allowed to grow any further, it would produce a poorer quality linen. The time of pulling was very important for good quality fibre. For a very high quality product, timing had to be correct to within three days. Once the flower appeared the hard work began.

Having described flax-growing and linen production at national and international level, I will now try to narrow down the story to County Longford and its hinterland. County Longford is the fourth smallest county in Ireland in land area (421 square miles), yet it was considered to have been the best flax-producing county not alone in Ireland, but across the world. A very strong statement from Robert Stephenson’s report on County Longford in 1760 bears this out. It reads as follows:

From the great quantities of the most useful sort of yarn made in this county and the industrious turn of its inhabitants, it may be speedily made to vie with any district containing the same number of inhabitants on Earth, in the most profitable and extensive branches of the linen manufacture, but to do this, the numbers of weavers must be made, by some scheme and added to their present stock."

Sir John Seton of Barnes received a charter in 1628, noted in the Calendar of the patent and close rolls of chancery in Ireland: of the reign of King Charles I (1628), for the Seton Estate of MoneyLagan, or Balleleghan (Babington), Longford, Ireland:

"Grant to Sir John Seton, his heirs and assigns, for ever, as an undertaker, of 2,000 acres arable and pasture, and 1,104 acres bog and wood, in the barony and county of Longford ; a portion of 'which is to be held of the King in capite by knight's service, and the residue of the Castle of Dublin, in free and common soccage. The lands are erected into a manor, to be called the manor of Monelagan, otherwise Balleleghan, with power to create tenures, and hold a court leet, court baron, a weekly market on every Thursday at the town of Killeene, and two fairs at Monelagan, alias Balleleghan, one on the 2oth April, and the other on the 20th October, with such covenants, conditions, and provisoes as are contained in the patents of undertakers of the territory of Ely O'Carroll.—Dublin. August 8,4°."

Sir John Seton, 2nd of Barnes and also of Hailes, was raised at Seton Palace, Winton and Pinkie House under the tutelage of his uncles the Earl of Winton and the Earl of Dunfermline and well travelled in France and Europe.  He was bred to military service and to serve the Royal Household and succeeded his father when he came of age, 3rd October 1615.  Using the benefits of his estate and his father's pension's from his wise uncles' management and assistance (Robert, Earl of Winton), was able to greatly expand his fortunes.  He is noted as a young man in the Funeral of Chancellor Seton in 1622, where he took his place in the retinue of the Seton household.  Under the tutelage of his uncles, he rose to become a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and officer of the Court of King Charles I, and was a noted companion of the Marquis of Montrose in 1646.  With his increasing wealth, he acquired the land in Ireland from Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, and added the estate and castle of Monylagan (Mionylangain, Monilagan, Monalagan or Moneylagan), Clongesh Parish (Clonguish), in Co. Longford, in 1628 (worth 500 pounds Sterling a year) and is occasionally referred to as Sir John Seaton of Mionylangain, Longford.

His eldest son, Alexander, while travelling to the family estate in Ireland, met and married a daughter of the noble Irish family of O'Ferrall (also spelt Ophuall), of the family of Buoy, Lords of Annaly (where Longford was once called Annaly), Ireland, and settled in Ireland.  Alexander was later accused of assisting the "Ferrells" in Ireland in their struggles against the Crown and was imprisoned in Dublin, later transferred and imprisoned in the Edinburgh Tolbooth in Scotland.  Much to his father's dismay, and despite efforts of the family to have him released,  he predeceased his father without heirs as a result of his imprisonment in 1642.  Likewise, Sir John Seton's second son from his third marriage died as a young man, and he was succeeded by his only surviving son, Sir George Seton.








Census of Co. Longford, Ireland, 1659.



Sir John Seton (Seaton) 4th of Barnes, and of 3rd of Hailes (d. 03.1659), succeeded to the estate of his father, but died a relatively young man shortly afterwards in Edinburgh, and was buried at his request, "with decency, but without pomp or great show", and interred in the place of his father's burial at Seton Collegiate Church.  He was however twice married: his son George from his first marriage succeeding him; and from his second marriage to Lady Margaret Hay (daughter of 9th Earl of Erroll and sister to Lady Ann Hay who married George Seton, 3rd Earl of Winton), he had son's: John Seton who settled in Ireland and from whom descend the Seaton/Seeton's of Nova Scotia; and Hannibal Seton who also had settled for a time on the family estate in Ireland, before returning to Scotland and becoming a Burgess of Haddington; as well as other issue noted in the historical records of County Longford and surrounding areas in Ireland.

He and his wife, "Lady Seaton", are noted in the papers of Sir Arthur Forbes, during the siege of Castle Forbes in Longford, Ireland in 1641-42.


Under this state of things the following landed gentlemen of the County of Longford and their families were dispossessed of their estates, which were either sold to Cromwellian troopers or other adventurers  the hereditary owners having to transplant themselves and their families beyond the Shannon immediately :

County of Longford, 1657
In 1657, Cromwell assumed the title of Protector and a sovereignty over the three kingdoms, which so disgusted his co-regicides that they withdrew from his army, and left him to enjoy his glory alone ; and the same year he ordered one Christopher Grough to make out a list of the " forfeiting" Papist proprietors in each county in Ireland. This list embraces the names of all those whose estates had been confiscated, but from which they had not been driven, but were allowed to remain in a state of dependency ; and in many cases, as if by the intervention of a kind Providence, the officers of the Commonwealth, as well as those who were to receive the lands, either failed to claim them or were persuaded by some momentary consideration not to disturb the old proprietors, and merely held the deeds which subsequently made them landlords ; otherwise there had been no native Irish left in Longford County.

County of Longford, 1657
Barony of Shrule
Twenty confiscations ; no addresses given :

Nicholas Barne well, James Dillon, Edmond Ffarrell, Ffergus Ffarrell, Francis Ffarrell, Grarrett Ffarrell, Thomas Fitzgerald, James Ffarrell, John Ffarrell, Lisagh Ffarrell, Richard Ffarrell, Teig Ffarrell, Thomas  Fitzgerald, Charles Fox, John Murtagh, John Murlogh, James Quinn, and Sir John Seaton.

By order of the Governors of Ireland, a census of this country was taken in the year 1659, when the population of the County Longford was found to be laid out as follows :
In the barony of Longford there were 396 Irish and 67 English. The gentlemen residing in the barony were : Sir Arthur Eorbes, Castle-Forbes ; Alexander Aghmooty, Ballybrian ; William Pillsworth Minard ;  Lieutenant Thomas Babington, Longford ; and Hannibal Seaton, of Moneylagan.

The principal Irish families were : MacDonnell, 10 people; Farrells, 17; O'Hagans, 6; MacElvay, 5; Knowlan, 5; Quinn,
4 ; and MacKay, 4. The total population of Longford barony in those days was 463 people, all told ; of these, 52 formed the population of Longford borough.

Sir George Seton, 5th and Last Baron of Barnes and 4th of Hailes and last Seton of Moneylagan, spent a significant portion of his life travelling in Europe, and in France in particular, using the benefits of his estate.  He leased the lands of Easter and Wester Barnes in Scotland via sasine in 1681, to George Cockburn of Piltoune of the Ormiston family, and he and the Seton's of Garleton had various continuing legal disputes over their adjoining lands, and were long noted in court records in Edinburgh, before the estates were finally sold. 

Also noted in legal proceedings records in Edinburgh, he pursued the Irish Estate of Moneylagan still held by his father, against Sir Arthur Forbes 1st Viscount Granard, in 1683 after Forbes seized the Seton Estate in Ireland and claimed it as his own.  He however evenually lost the lawsuit and the estate at tremendous financial cost, noted as: 

"Sir Arthur Forbes, Viscount Granard, Lady Margaret Hay, and the Lady Bearford, gave in a bill against George Seton of Barns, complaining he had vitiated a principal agreement, or decreet-arbitral, passed betwixt his father and him in 1658, by making eighteen hundred sixteen hundred, and his estate this estate, and adding the word rents, which corrupted the sense... Barns, in this process, to blunt Lady Margaret Hay his stepmother's process, by the popish priests, agreed with her. Yet the enemies he left behind prevailed thus far, as we have seen ; which they sought to counterbalance and enervate Barns's suit he had commenced in Ireland, for some lands there belonging to his father, where they made use of the foresaid decreet-arbitral as a renunciation of all he had to crave, save the lands of Barns."

The old castle at Moneylagan is now long gone, as are others remaining from the other castles on the estate lands, and the only remaining is that of the Forbes' demense at Newtownforbes.

Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom (from 1603)
Next section

Image of David I

The Portrait Gallery
more >

The Memorabilia Gallery
more >
Historic Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland
National Museums of Scotland
Text Only News Media Centre How Do I...? Freedom of Information Children Recruitment Francais Gàidhlig
Contact us Search Site map Links Subscribe Copyright About this site
   Moneylagan History
   Monilagan Patent
   Moneylagan Gallery
   The Seton's of Barnes
   History of Barnes
   Barnes Castle
   Hailes Castle