Empire and Globalism

16,306 Convicts
21 September 2017

Between 1788 and 1868, the British government transported more than 160,000 convicts to Australia. A popular punishment since the early seventeenth century, transportation was second in severity only to execution. Following the War of Independence, however, the defeated Crown could no longer banish undesirable elements of society to their American colonies. Conditions in overcrowded gaols and prison hulks began to deteriorate following the outbreak of war, and continued to slide until some bright spark suggested the establishment of a penal colony far, far removed from English shores.

Attacking Japanese Morale, 1940-1945
20 September 2017

Among the gems in the Foreign Office Files for Japan are two files that consider the role of the enemy’s “civilian morale” in war and diplomacy. In both, British officials presupposed that targeting civilians might be an effective means of deterring or defeating the Japanese war machine.

“Sedgwick Boys”: An Experiment in Colonial Labour
14 August 2017

On 25 January 1911 a party of 50 British boys arrived in Wellington, New Zealand as part of an unusual colonial experiment. Varying in age from 16 to 20 and coming predominantly from lower class occupations such as domestic service, the lads were part of a trial scheme to ascertain the feasibility of sending city boys with no previous agricultural experience to rural farms within the British Dominions. This three-year apprenticeship scheme was the brain child of Thomas E. Sedgwick and other like-minded philanthropists, who felt increasing alarm at the enforced idleness of youth.

Rumour, Religion and Revolt: Fears of Indian and Catholic conspiracy during Maryland’s Glorious Revolution (1689-1690)
12 June 2017

Maryland’s Glorious Revolution (1689-1690) removed the Catholic Lords Baltimore from government in perpetuity. The family would only return in 1715 as Anglican converts. Maryland’s revolution coincided with the Glorious Revolution in England (1688), which replaced the Catholic King James II with the Protestant William III, and the Nine Years War (1689-1697) with France, known in the American colonial context as King William’s War. In 1684 rumour of a Catholic-American Indian conspiracy circulated amongst colonists. The rumours implicated Colonels Henry Darnall and William Pye, and Major William Boreman Sr., a former mariner and Indian trader, each of whom was a wealthy and distinguished planter in Maryland.

Trade, Governance and Empire 1600-1947: From the East India Company to the Indian Independence Act.
31 March 2017

Just 3 months into 2017 Adam Matthew have already published a wealth of exciting new collections, one of which I particularly had my eye on: East India Company Module 1: Trade, Governance and Empire, 1600-1947.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh! (Happy St Patrick’s Day!)
15 March 2017

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh! Or for those not fluent in Gaelic (myself included), Happy St Patrick’s Day! Today is the day to honour Ireland’s patron saint; celebrated for converting the pagan Irish to Christianity in the 5th century. Traditionally, festivities include parades, special church services, wearing green clothing or a shamrock and celebrations of Irish music and culture. But, for some, the Irish national holiday has become too commercialised, associated more with drinking Guinness and generally having a good time.

The Tragedy of the 'Ocean Monarch'
03 March 2017

On Thursday 24 August 1848, the Ocean Monarch entered the open seas, leaving Liverpool for Boston, Massachusetts with almost 400 souls aboard. Six miles from the Welsh coast, perhaps 25 miles out of Liverpool, the wooden steam-powered barque caught fire. Attempts to control the conflagration quickly failed, and passengers panicked - some throwing themselves overboard clutching their children.

‘The captain-general of iniquity’: The impeachment of Warren Hastings
20 January 2017

One of the many good things about living in a place like Britain, where lots of documented stuff has been going on in a small space for a long time, is that wherever you go there’ll be some historical notable who’s been there before you. Last summer I was wandering around the Cotswolds and passed through Daylesford, for many years owned, I discovered using the power of the guidebook, by Warren Hastings, perhaps the most notorious figure in the East India Company at the height of its power and the penultimate man to be impeached before the British Parliament.

Christmas on the Front Line
16 December 2016

It’s difficult to imagine what Christmas day was like in 1914 for soldiers on the front lines in France, Belgium and Germany. We know that the horrors of war didn’t stop, that fighting continued in many parts and that the unofficial truces were opportunities to bury the dead. But we’ve also heard stories of carols sung across the trenches and football games, and we know that during that Christmas – and Christmases for years afterward – soldiers received a small but very special gift.

Early Women Travellers and The East India Company: A Special Guest Blog by Amrita Sen
27 September 2016

In 1617 three unlikely travelers, Mariam Begum, Frances Steele (nee Webbe), and Mrs. Hudson, arrived at the busy port of Surat onboard an East India Company ship called the Anne. What made their journey so exceptional was that during the early years of its operation the Company expressly forbade women from traveling out to the East Indies, despite numerous pleas from its factors and sailors who did not wish to leave their wives behind.

Send his scalp to the British Museum
08 September 2016

In his classic 1893 the frontier thesis – first delivered at the St Louis Worlds’ Fair – the historian Frederick Jackson Turner gave an analysis of how the experience of this contested space creates a particular culture and forges aptitudes, democracy, mentality, self-reliance, and so forth.

New lands on a plate: British vs French in eighteenth-century North America
08 July 2016

In the popular imagination, colonial-era America is equated with the thirteen colonies of Britain, and indeed our Colonial America resource, module 2 of which has just been released, is made up exclusively of British and British-American archive material. But the reality is that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America was contested between rival European powers, each vying for land, resources, trade, military superiority and advantageous relations with indigenous groups.

Jesus Christ, this will be fun! Alexander Hamilton on stage
08 June 2016

How could you not love a musical which borrows equally from The Pirates of Penzance and Notorious B.I.G? Hamilton, if you haven’t heard yet, is a musical blending rap, jazz, blues and classic Broadway melodies to tell the story of an obscure Founding Father (‘Yo, who the eff is this?!’) and his attempts to get a radical debt plan passed by America’s fledgling government. Yeah, that old chestnut. I jest; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s occasionally swear-y, Pulitzer Prize-winning show has torn up the rulebook, and this weekend, stands to make history at the Tony Awards where it has earned a record-breaking haul of sixteen nominations.

Sowing the Seeds of a Settlement on the American Frontier
13 May 2016

I’m going to be honest: there are no bear attacks or Leonardo DiCaprios in this frontier- related blog post. There is, however, the story of a modest Quaker husband and wife, Thomas and Hannah Symons, who, following their marriage in 1811, decided to migrate from their homes in North Carolina to settle in Indiana which at the time was still a largely unsettled territory. Initially, this doesn’t sound like a particularly exceptional story in keeping with the notion of American exceptionalism, but all ideologies aside, Hannah Symons’ recollections provide a fascinating and personal insight into the hardship, bravery and perseverance involved in sowing the seeds of a settlement on the American frontier.

Pomp, circumstance and a crystal palace: The Great Exhibition of 1851
25 April 2016

165 years ago this weekend, the doors of the Crystal Palace were opened to the public for the first time. This architectural wonder of glass and steel housed an array of exotic artefacts from across the globe and would welcome over six million visitors during the Great Exhibition of 1851; Queen Victoria, an unlikely fan of heavy machinery, would visit three times and had her own private boudoir installed inside. For many, the exhibition represents the pomp and circumstance of the Victorian Age.

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