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Edward Long

Birthdate: (78)
Birthplace: St Blazey, Cornwall, England
Death: March 13, 1813 (78)
Arundel Park, Sussex, Engalnd
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Long and Mary Tate
Husband of Mary Ballard Long
Father of Lieutenant-General Robert Ballard Long; Charles Beckford Long; Elizabeth Howard-Molyneux-Howard; Catherine Dawkins; Charlotte Pocock and 1 other
Brother of Catherine Maria Long and Susanna Charlotte Long

Managed by: Private User
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About Edward Long

Edward Long (23 August 1734 – 13 March 1813) was a British colonial administrator and historian, and author of an influential work, The History of Jamaica (1774).


Long's family had been long associated with Jamaica - descended from the Long family of Wiltshire, his great-great-grandfather, Samuel Long, had arrived on the island in 1655 as a lieutenant in the English army of conquest - and the family established itself as part of the island's governing planter elite. His sister, Catherine Maria Long, had married Sir Henry Moore, 1st Baronet (Governor of Jamaica), and it is believed that Edward went to Jamaica to become private secretary to Sir Henry.

Long was born 23 August 1734 at St. Blazey, in Cornwall. He became a law student in 1752 at Gray's Inn, and from 1757 until 1769 he was resident in Jamaica, during which period he explored inside the Riverhead Cave, the Runaway Bay Caves and the Green Grotto. He became Lieutenant-governor, and later a judge in the local vice admiralty court. He was an influential and wealthy member of British society, as well as an established Jamaican planter and slaver. In 1758, he married Mary, the daughter of Thomas Beckford, widow of John Palmer of ‘Springvale’ in Jamaica. After the birth of their fourth child in 1769, the family returned to England due to Long's poor health. Twin sons (the elder of whom was Robert Ballard Long) were born in 1771 at Chichester. Edward Long died in 1813 at Arundel Park, Sussex, the seat of his son-in-law, Henry Molyneux-Howard, Esq., M.P.

Long was a polygenist who claimed that the White race was a different species to the Black race.

History of Jamaica

Long's History of Jamaica, first published in 1774 in three volumes but again in the 1970s, was his greatest work. This book gives a political, social, and economic history with a survey of the island, parish by parish from 1665 to 1774. It is a classic in its field and, even today it contains what is still one of the best and most complete accounts of colonial government in existence. The work is also important, because it presents a clear picture of conditions in the island on the eve of the American revolution which was destined to bring ruin to so many planters and slavers.

The book also contains a racist yet influential description of American Negro slaves during the Age of Enlightenment. Long's description of race discussed it as a more natural state compared to the Romantic period. Long argues that American Negroes are characterised by the same "bestial manners, stupidity and vices which debase their brethren" in Africa. This race of people is distinguishable from the rest of mankind in that they embody "every species of inherent turpitude" and imperfection that can be found dispersed among all other races of men. Unlike the most "abandoned villain" to be found in civilisation, these peoples have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He echoes Hume and Kant and finds it astonishing that despite being subject to colonisation and integration into European society for hundreds of years, the Negroes have failed to demonstrate any appreciation for the arts or any inventive ability. He observes that throughout the entirety of Africa, there are few natives who "comprehend anything of mechanic arts or manufacture", and those who do, perform their work in the manner of some under-evolved ape. This is due to them being "void of genius". The book also contains descriptions of interracial marriage. In the book he included a poem by Francis Williams.

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Edward Long's Timeline

August 23, 1734
Cornwall, England
April 4, 1771
Age 36
Chichester, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
April 4, 1771
Age 36
Chichester, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
March 13, 1813
Age 78
Sussex, Engalnd