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Late 18th



Late 18th century

East Lodge, Belper was built about 1795. This page highlights some of the happenings around the world at the end of the 18th century.

cartoon cannon

1790 soldiers

1790 cannon being fired

50 years before, Bonnie Prince Charlie marched from Scotland to take the English throne from George II in the Jacobite rebellion. They were stopped by deception at Swarkestone Bridge, Derby, 15 miles south of where East Lodge would later be built.
In 1760 Britain, George III came to the throne and a capitalist economy developed, dedicated to the ever increasing production of goods and services. In Scotland, following the clan's defeat at Cullodon after the Jacobite rebellion, the clan leaders didn't want people on their land anymore even though they had lived there for thousands of years. It was now more profitable to run sheep to feed the mills of the industrial revolution which had started. The clearing of tens of thousands of settlers started and continued through the 1800s.
The British Empire was still growing.
1762 Wesley preaches in Belper.
1764 London houses were numbered for the first time.
1766 Henry Cavendish separated the gas hydrogen and found it was lighter than air.
1769 James Watt patented a practical steam engine.
By the last quarter of the 18th century Britain was at war with both America and France.
The first purpose built "prisoner of war camp" was built at Norman Cross in the 1790s for the increasing number of prisoners from the Napoleonic War. The pictures above show re-enactment troops from Elizabeth Castle, Jersey. Their forbears repelled a French attempt to take the island in 1781.
Following a failed attempt in 1796/7, it was not until the early 1800s that the threat of Napoleon invading England became a reality and the south coastline was strongly fortified with Martello towers. The earlier attempt shocked the complacent English military since it only failed because of bad weather and indiscipline in the invading troops.
The King's Observatory, Richmond was built in 1769, later known as "Kew Observatory".
In 1780 the public executions at Tyburn were moved to the relative "privacy" of the area outside Newgate Prison, where they were an attraction every Monday morning. Later, in 1868, the executions were performed privately within the prison.
The move towards abolishing slavery was helped by an incident in 1781. The captain of the slave ship "Zong", believing that the ship was running short of water, ordered 132 sick slaves thrown overboard to their deaths. When he later attempted to collect on the insurance policy, the public were outraged.
Jonas Hanway reported in 1785, that there were estimated to be 550 climbing boys and girls in the sweep's business in London. These children did not live far into their teens when general life expectancy was only about 30. An act was passed in 1788 "for better regulation of chimney sweepers and their apprentices".
The whipping of females as punishment was banned in 1792.
1793 Captain Bligh returns with a ship load of plants for Kew in HMS Providence after delivering breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies to feed slaves working the sugar plantations. This was a repeat of the fateful voyage of the HMS Bounty in 1789.
In 1795 the Admiralty started to provide citrus juice to the navy to prevent scurvy. Also the original residence for the Speaker of the House of Commons was built on the Palace of Westminster site. The palace was then a group of buildings which were largely burned down in 1834 and later incorporated into the present palace or Houses of Parliament as it is more commonly known.
The first smallpox vaccination was made in 1796.
The Bank of England issued the first "pound note" in 1797.
In 1799 income tax was introduced by William Pitt as a temporary way of funding the Napolionic Wars.
Beethoven was born in 1770, Jane Austin in 1775, Lord Byron in 1788 and Mary Shelly in 1797.
Mozart died in 1791 and "Robbie" Burns died in 1796.

Portugal 1755, a great earthquake devastated Lisbon. 100,000 people died. The reconstruction lead to a period called 'The Enlightenment' during which science gained influence in Europe, reducing religious influences.

America was fighting for its independence. Although France recognised the official 1776 declaration in 1778, it was 1783 before Britain agreed to recognise it, and even then war broke out again in 1812. The causes then were British interference with American shipping during the Napoleonic wars and control of the Indians and fur trade around the Great Lakes. These formed the boundary between America and Canada where British control was dominant.
William Fogel, a Nobel prizewinner, has found that the life expectancy in 1775 America was 53.5 as against 36.5 for Britain.
In 1776 the first attack by a submarine took place by the "Turtle" in New York harbour as an attempt was made to breach the British blockade.
Captain Cooke discovered Hawii in 1778.
George Washington died in 1799.
Also in 1799 the American system of manufacture started. Individual components were precision manufactured by new machines and then assembled together in a separate operation.
There were 700,000 Negro slaves in 1790 America, mainly in the South, since this was some 70 years before the American Civil war of 1861. Britain had played a significant part in the transportation of these slaves.

In 1757 France, the man who attempted the murder of king Louis XV was finally publicly executed by being pulled apart by horses, after dreadful torture. Louis was overthrown in 1789 by the revolution and executed in 1793.The revolution turned against the very rich Catholic church and many priests and monks were slaughtered. The new power base declared war on Austria. Robespierre was executed in 1794 and Napoleon Bonaparte took power in 1799. After his many successful wars he was forced to abdicate a second time in 1815 following his defeat at Waterloo by Wellington. Earlier Nelson had crushed the French and Spanish fleets in 1805 at Trafalgar.
In 1794 a defensive tower on Mortella Point, Corsica, fought off an attack by two British warships, HMS Fortitude and HMS Juno. This tower design later formed the basis of the Martello towers built in southern Britain.
The SI system of measurement, based on the Meter, was adopted in 1799.

In 1798 Ireland, The Society of United Irishmen and French allies, led by General Humbert, fought British troops at the Battle of Ballinamuck after one of the rebellion leaders, Henry Joy McCracken, was executed in Belfast. The Irish defeat signalled the end of the Society of United Irishmen's French backed bid to be free of British rule.

In 1796 Russia, Catherine the Great died after taking the throne from her husband, Peter III, who was murdered in 1763 by her lover's brother. Catherine was believed to have married Potempkin, her greatest lover, in a private ceremony so she could keep the throne. Potempkin took the Crimea for her in order to expand Russia's southern border to the Black Sea

Egypt 1798, Napoleon defeated the Mamelukes at the Battle of the Pyramids but lost his entire fleet to Nelson's British men-of-war which had been hunting the French ships in the Mediterranean sea. This cut off Napolean's supplies and ended France's occupation in 1801 when the British drove them out and captured antiquities including the Rosetta Stone.

In Germany, the Prussian influence declined and Napoleon occupied the country.
1789 Martin Klaproth recognised uranium as a chemical element and used it to colour glass yellow/green.

Australia was "discovered" by the Dutch in 1606 and later the British charted the east coast in 1770, but it was not until 1788 that the Europeans established a colony there.

First Fleet 1787 First Fleet 1788

The "First Fleet" set sail from Plymouth, England in May of 1787 as a new experiment in peneology. 582 male and 193 female felons were sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay. A new destination was needed to send the criminal population following the loss of the American colonies. The imbalance in the felon's sexes led to a quick request for more women deportees and in 1789 the "Lady Juliana" sailed full of women of child bearing age or younger, from Newgate prison and other prisons around the country. The stories of these women, some not even in their teens, is quite harrowing by today's standards. One, aged eleven , was condemned to death for robbing another young girl of her clothes. Her sentence was commuted to deportation in a gesture from the crown because King George's health had improved, and she was included in the cargo because another girl died while waiting for the ship to set sail. They arrived in very good condition a few weeks before the "Second Fleet" and many formed the basis of the future community having used their experience and talents to their advantage during the journey and afterwards.

New Zealand was re-discovered by James Cook in 1769, ten years before he was killed by Hawaiian natives.

Japan was in it's period of near isolation until the Americans forced the ports to open in the mid 19th century. The isolation had followed the Portuguese Jesuits spreading Christianity throughout Japan in the late 16th century and was an attempt to return to the old ways.

China had been the dominant sea power but other countries, particularly Britain, were successfully using modern ships to take the trade to provide China with it's national addiction for opium. China was also influencing Europe with its porcelain which Europe learned to make earlier in 1708. The famous English "willow pattern" designs date from 1790.

India 1757, Robert Clive's victory drove out the French and started a period of British dominion.

Africa 1795, Britain occupied the Cape, taking over from the Dutch. Sadly Africa was seen by the Arabs and Europeans as a source of trade in slaves and ivory, even though Freetown had been established by British abolitionists in 1787 as a settlement for slaves liberated from their "owners".

South America 1763, Rio de Janeiro became Brazil's capital and a centre for gold and diamond trading. The southern countries were dominated by Spain for another few decades.

Iceland 1783, a devastating rift volcano ( Laki ) erupted for a year killing a quarter of the population over several years. Because of the unusual NE wind the sulpherous gas cloud caused the worst european disaster on record. Huge loss of life was recorded in Germany and France. In Britain 23000 died during August and September from lung damage and thousands more died through the terrible winter that followed.

1795 was the year the hero of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and was released 19 years later.