History 2

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.Every text book about the 18th century features Hogarth’s famous works. What about the man himself and his life and the full range of his work?JanuaryCompagnie de la Baie l’Hudson: Part II.
FebruaryEarly North American Conflicts: Setting the Stage for ‘Manifest Destiny’.Manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the 19th-century United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America.February Captain James Cook –Part I Charting his early life. This remarkable son of a humble farm labourer was allowed to go to school. He went to sea from Whitby then joined the Royal Navy and became a Captain. His first voyage in Endeavour navigating and surveying the globe took 2 years from1768 to 1771.
March 19thBusiness and the economy* How the economy changed and thrived in the 18th Century in Britain.MarchCrime and Punishment and early policingTo 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.
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.AprilThe Lunar societyThe Lunar Society of Birmingham was a British dinner club and informal learned society of prominent figures in the Midlands Enlightenment, including industrialists, natural philosophers and intellectuals, who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham.
MayThe development of the Knitting Industry with an emphasis on stocking production. (Jane Middleton-Smith, Smedley archivist to attend)May Ragged Schools Ragged schools were charitable organisations dedicated to the free education of destitute children in nineteenth-century Britain. The schools were developed in working-class districts. Ragged schools were intended for society’s most destitute children.
JuneVisit to John Smedley’s Mill, Lea.
10 a.m.
JuneCapability BrownLancelot Brown was a landscape gardener and architect, famous for “improving” the parks of grand estates, many of which exist today. His naturalistic designs were controversial, replacing both natural features and formal compositions.
July“A dead Bird”“An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” is a 1768 oil-on-canvas painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, one of a number of candlelit scenes that Wright painted during the 1760s.July Voltaire Fran?ois-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
AugustA short history of romanticismA discussion of ‘modern’ romanticism from late 18th century to present day, covering literature, theatre, music, painting, architecture, marriage, philosophy.August An outline of Portugal in the 18th Century.
SeptemberGeorgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was an English socialite, political organizer, style icon, author, and activist. Of noble birth from the Spencer family, married into the Cavendish family, she was the first wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire.September Captain James Cook – Part II
OctoberThe East India Company and the beginning of the subjugation of India.Although the forces of the East India Company were at first only concerned with protecting the direct interests of the Company, this was to change with the Battle of Plassey in 1757 when all of its administrative and taxing powers, along with its possessions and armed forces, were taken over by the Crown. This was the start of the British Raj, a period of direct British colonial rule over India which continued until independence in 1947.October tba
NovemberPeople on the move. The Great Georgian Dislocation.Changes in agriculture and industry changed British society beyond recognition in the 18th century; as a consequence millions of people moved within the country and oversees, both voluntarily and forced. November tba
DecemberCompagnie de la Baie l’Hudson: A Corporate Country Called Rupert’s Land’. Part IThe area once known as Rupert’s Land is now mainly a part of Canada, but a small portion is now in the United States. It was named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of Charles I and the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.DecemberThe double life of Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin was a lover of knowledge; he was the quintessential Renaissance man. He gave us the lightening rod, the Franklin stove, bifocals, and Poor Richard’s Almanack. He was also an indispensable politician and civic activist who not only helped lay the groundwork for the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution but was also the country’s first ambassador to France. But there was another side to him……


  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.