Navan was first incorporated by Edward IV in 1469. It comprised a portreeve (and sometimes a deputy portreeve), 12 burgesses, a town clerk, two serjeants-at-mace, a recorder and a craner. In 1790 the following history of the borough was recorded:
This ancient Borough, alternately with Trim, possesses the honour of being appointed the Sessions Town of Meath and it was in the times of Popery, chiefly under the influence of the Gormanstown family, but on the Revolution, the Protestant interest entirely prevailed in this, as well as in most other Corporations.
General Arthur Meredyth (1395) a Military character then well known, first availed himself of this crisis in the situation of Navan and obtained a predominant influence, which his family retained for several years. At length, however, the Ludlow family disputed the Borough and succeeded as to a moiety of the representation and being afterwards reinforced by the accession of the Preston family and more closely united by intermarriage with that powerful interest, they totally excluded the Meredyths and have now conjointly represented the Borough for the last fifty years, without any considerable interruption, except only in the year 1753, which however being soon removed, has left those families ever since, absolute in their influence.309
There is a list of freemen and burgesses compiled about 1761 which shows not only the freemen admitted before 1754 but the increase between 1754 and 1758. Nineteen were admitted between 1710 and 1750, and 17 were created between 1754 and 1758 in the interests of the joint patrons, John Preston (1729) and his brother-in-law, Lord Ludlow. In total Ludlow was thought to have the support of 53 freemen and four burgesses, Preston 85 freemen and six burgesses; in addition there were 76 freemen and two burgesses whose position was doubtful. In all there were 214 freemen and 12 burgesses. This shows how a takeover could occur even in a comparatively large borough. By 1783 the borough officially had 12 burgesses and 120 freemen and the town about 2,500 inhabitants, including '60-70 Freemen, 9 whereof only polled on the last election (1783)'.310
Navan was disfranchised by the Act of Union and the £15,000 compensation was equally divided between John Preston, Lord Tara and the Earl of Ludlow, its proprietors and patrons.