Long Look Estate

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Long Look Estate is an estate in East End, Tortola, Virgin Islands which claims to be the oldest free black estate in the Western world.[1]

In 1776 one Samuel Nottingham, a Quaker, manumitted 25 slaves and gave to them 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land in Long Look in Tortola, and directed them to cultivate it for the common good.

A report made in 1823 by one John Dougan states "So quiet and retired had these Persons lived there, that although I have been for many years residing in the Island, yet I derived no knowledge of the Situation and Circumstances regarding these People..." At the time of Dougan's report, the population of the estate had swollen to 43. He further reported that "Not one of them is in debt, and their Property is free from all Incumbrance. That 12 of the grown up Persons are admitted Members of the Westleyan Methodist Society, and with their Children attend regularly the Methodist Chapel at the East End of the Island ... since their Emancipation to the present Day none of them have been sued in Court, or brought before a Magistrate to answer a complaint against them. One of them once obtained a Warrant against a Person who had assaulted him, who begging his Pardon, He forgave Him."

In 2002 the Virgin Islands legislature passed laws which required residents of the estate to sell their land to other residents of the estate if they were prepared to pay the same price, to preserve the cultural heritage of the area.[2] The measure was not universally popular, as it made it more difficult for land-owning families in the area to sell their property, but it is nonetheless thought to be an important step in securing the historical legacy of the Territory.

The freed slaves (as was common at the time) took the surname of their last owners, and went by the family name of Nottingham. Although many other former slave owner's descendants are still well represented within the Territory, by the twentyfirst century no Nottinghams appeared on the voter's roll or the telephone directory.