History is silent about the Adminitrative status of the district prior to the Muslim invasion, except that it formed part of the ancient Kosla country.
At the begining of the 13th century, what is now Raebareli and the tracts around it were ruled by the Bhars who were displaced by the Rajputs and, in a few cases, by some Muslim colonist. The south western part of the district was occupied by the Bais rajputs. The kanpurias and Amethias, other rajput clans, established themselves respectively in the north east and east. During the rule of the Delhi sultans nearly the whole tract nominally formed a part of their kingdom. During the reign of Akbar the area now covered by the district was divided between the sirkars of avadh and Lucknow in the subah of Allahabad, the sirkar of manikpur which included the larger part of the district as it extended from the present Mohanlal ganj pargana of district Lucknow on the north west to the ganga on the south and to pargana Inhauna on the north east. The pargana of Inhauna corresponded to a mahal of that name in the sirkar of avadh. The parganas of sareni, Khireoon and the western portion of the pargana of Raebareli formed part of the sirkar of Lucknow. In 1762, the sirkars of manikpur was included in the territory of avadh and was placed under a chakladar.
In 1858, it was proposed to form a new district with head quarters at Rae bareli, as a part of the Lucknow Division. The district, as then constituted, was very different in shape and size from the existing one and was divided into four tehsils, Raebareli, Haidergargh, Bihar and Dalmau. This arrangement resulted in a district of very irregular shape, 93 kms.long and 100 kms.broad. In 1966, owing to the change in the course of the Ganga the villages of katia Ahatima, Rawat pur, Ghiya, Mau, Sultanpur Ahetmali, Kishunpur, Deomai and lauhgi were transferred from district Fatehpur to pargana Sareni of tehsil Dalmau in this district.