History 2

The group has been going for over six years with 11 members and we meet monthly in members’ homes. Everyone takes responsibility for researching and giving a presentation about a topic. In 2018 we moved from the 17th to the 18th century – worldwide history; whilst we do not stick strictly to this period we find at the end of 2019 that we still have plenty to go at. Some of us plan our topics well in advance and some are happy to keep us in suspense. We also occasionally organise trips and talks by specialists. This year we visited John Smedley’s Mill in Lea and listened to Dr David Beeston on: “Momentous Years: The Rise and Fall of the Derby Hebrew Congregation, 1899-1986”.

Our programme for 2019 / 2020 is:

2019 2020 
January18th Century London reflected in William Hogarth’s work.*January 16thCompagnie de la Baie l'Hudson: Part II.
Which 18 th Century work does not include drawings by Hogarth? So we looked in depth at the man and his times.
FebruaryEarly North American Conflicts: Setting the Stage for 'Manifest Destiny'.February 20th
Between 1689 and 1763, there were no less than four pan-European wars fought in North America. These conflicts gave the English Colonists and subsequently the new Republic of the United States, the military tools, the will and the desire to dominate the entire North American continent.
MarchBusiness and the economy*March 19thEarly Policing and Punishment.
How the economy changed and thrived.To include cover of 18 th and early 19 th Century attempts at policing/crime control with particular focus on Bow Street Runners, prison hulks and the use of transportation for punishment – by someone with experience of work with Young Offenders.
AprilThe life and career of Robert Walpole.April 16thThe Lunar Society
This radical young Whig developed to become our first de facto Prime Minister, who steered the country through the financial trauma of the South Sea Bubble. In later life he was considered both ruthless and corrupt but his career and power set the scene for Parliamentary dominance.
MayThe development of the Knitting Industry with an emphasis on stocking production.May 21st
Weaving has been around for millennia.  Knitting hasn't.  I wanted to find out where it came from and how it developed.
JuneSt Bartholomew’s Fair.*June 18thCapability Brown
From its beginnings in 1120 and the founding of St Barts Hospital until its banning in 1854 for unacceptable criminal connections.
July“A Dead Bird”July 16th
Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting from 1768 entitled “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.” which departed from convention of the time by depicting a scientific subject in the reverential manner formerly reserved for scenes of historical or religious significance.
AugustA short history of Romanticism.*August 20thAn outline of Portugal in the 18th Century.
A discussion of ‘modern’ romanticism from late 18th century to present day,  covering literature, theatre, music, painting, architecture, marriage, philosophy.
September Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.September 17th
Marriage a la mode, or the history of the Duchess, her husband the 5 th Duke and Lady Elizabeth Foster. This presentation attempted to put the lives and relationships of these prominent members of aristocratic society within the context of the Georgian period.
OctoberThe East India Company and the beginning of the subjugation of India.October 15th
To debunk the myths around the motives and methods deployed to exploit the vast wealth of the Indian sub-continent.
NovemberPeople on the move or the Great Georgian dislocation.*November 19thThe Double Life of Benjamin Franklin.
Vast numbers of people began to move away from their homes, willingly and unwillingly to towns and cities in the UK and to America, Australia and the West Indies.Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was a polymath, inventor, politician, diplomat and international statesman. The importance of the 18 years he spent as a 'gentleman resident' of England - has only recently been properly highlighted. He hurriedly had to leave England in 1775, as his enemies were about to have him jailed for treason. He would return to England as an American, but only after the Colonies had fully gained their full independence in 1783. This is a colourful portrayal of a much loved and respected historical figure, no matter which side of the pond you occupy
December 19thCompagnie de la Baie l'Hudson: A Corporate Country Called Rupert's Land'.December 17th
The 1670 Charter establishing the Hudson’s Bay Company lasted until the federated Dominion of Canada was formed in 1869/70. Referred to as Rupert’s Land, the HBC was granted exclusive control of almost one-third of upper North America. Its history is not only colourful but gives us a brilliant example of how one creates a nation without using military might and strict colonisation.

Topics marked with an asterisk * are available in a format that can be sent to anyone who is interested in reading it.


  1. A painter and his Pug. Self portrait of William Hogarth. Tate Britain.
  2. Restored Framework Knitters’ Workshop in Bonsall. Courtesy of Jeanette Moss.
  3. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. National Gallery.

To contact the History Group 2 coordinator, Helen Boocock, please e-mail, or telephone 01629 734290.