Materials on the history of Jamaica in the Edward Long papers

from the British Library
Morgan, Kenneth
Date published: 
January 2006

The first edition of 'The history of Jamaica, or, General survey of the antient and modern state of that island: with reflections on its situations, settlements, inhabitants, climate, products, commerce, laws and government,' was published in 1774 by T. Lowndes, London. This publication brings together all the extant drafts and additional material collected by Edward Long (1734-1813) for his planned but never completed second edition, deposited at the British Library, London. Along with Long's plentiful manuscript revisions and notes, including an annotated copy of the first edition with copious marginalia in his own hand, this archive contains many unique copies and transcriptions of earlier British histories of Jamaica and of the proceedings of its House of Assembly, of which Long was a prominent member. All this is supplemented by a wealth of information on topics as diverse as the meteorology, zoology and defences of the island. Of particular significance today, at the bicentenary of the 1807 act on the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, are the many proslavery writings by Long and others. Nor was the Negro-cause the only issue on which the views of the West Indian plantation-owning class ran counter to the growing consensus in late 18th century Britain, as shown in Long's staunch polemic against any British embargo of trade with the newly independent United States of America.