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Making History
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Making History banner
Begins Tuesday 18 October 2005 , 3.00-3.30 p.m
Sue Cook and the team answer listeners' historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all 'make' history.
Series 12
Programme 2
25 October 2005

Listen to this programme in full

John Edmonstone

A list of 100 most influential black Britons prompted listener John Edmonstone to contact the programme. In that list was a freed slave who taught Charles Darwin how to stuff birds. His name was also John Edmonstone.

Professor Janet Browne told Making History that Edmonstone was brought from British Guyana to Glasgow by his master Charles Edmonstone, who owned the Cardross Park estate to the north of the city. A friend, Charles Waterton, who also owned land in Guyana, was an early naturalist who brought specimens back with him. It was he who taught the young slave, John, how to stuff animals. When he was freed, John Edmonstone used his new taxidermy skills first in Glasgow and then in Edinburgh where he worked occasionally at the university - where Darwin was studying. It is thought that Edmonstone lived for a while in Lothian Street, Edinburgh, though there is no plaque to commemorate this.

Further reading
Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: Voyaging (Pimlico, 2003)
Julia Blackburn, Charles Waterton, 1782-1865: Conservationist and Traveller (Vintage, 1997)

Further information

The Charles Waterton collection of preserved birds and animals is on show at Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire.
Wakefield Museum, Wood Street, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 2EW
Tel: 01924 305351
Wakefield Museum
Charles Waterton

Making History was helped in this item by the following:

Martin Dunne of the British Historical Taxidermy Society
Tel: 07749 189201

Jimmy Hogg of the Edinburgh Room, Edinburgh Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG
Tel: 0131 242 8030
Fax: 0131 242 8035
Researching Black Family History

The list of the most influential black Britons was compiled by an internet-based organisation called Every Generation. It was set up by Patrick Vernon, after he had researched his own black family history, to "empower and influence the black community through history, family genealogy and heritage".

Every Generation Media
Unit 104, Copper Gate House, 16 Brune Street, London E1 7NJ
Every Generation website

October is Black History Month. There is more information at the Black History Month website.

Other useful websites include:
Moving Here
Black Cultural Archives and Museum
The National Archives

Every Generation Media and The National Archives are organising the second Black Family History Conference at Kew in November 2005. Details from:
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: 020 8876 3444

Martineau VC

Making History listener Christina Cromer found a bible with an inscription to "Captain Martineau VC". It was signed by "A.R. Falconer". She wanted to know who these people were.

Born in Paddington, London, Martineau fought at Mafeking in 1899 where his bravery cost him an arm but was rewarded with a VC. He moved to New Zealand and despite his physical handicap joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force which fought at Gallipoli in 1915. He was taken ill in Turkey and returned to New Zealand where he died.

Christina Cromer's stepsister is related to the daughter of Martineau from his second marriage (which is how the bible came to be in her possession). A.R. Falconer was a military doctor who took it upon himself to give out bibles to people embarking on difficult journeys (he also gave one to Scott of the Antarctic).

Making History consulted the following:

Dr Matthew Thomas, Curator of Archives and Photographs at the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HT
Tel: 020 7730 0717
National Army Museum

Brian Connor of the Otago Regiment Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand

Maypole Dairy

A Making History listener has discovered that one of his ancestors was involved in the development of a chain of grocery stores known as the Maypole Dairy. However, he can find precious little information about this company - even though at one time it had over one thousand stores.
Making History consulted Gareth Shaw, Professor of Retail and Tourism Management at the University of Exeter. He suggested the following to help researchers interested in retail history.

British Library Newspapers 
Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HE
Tel: 020 7412 7353
Fax: 020 7412 7379

The Mitchell Library
North Street
Glasgow G3 7DN
Tel: 0141 287 2999 or 2876
Fax: 0141 287 2815

Peter Mathias, Retailing Revolution (Longman, 1967)

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Making History

Vanessa Collingridge
Vanessa CollingridgeVanessa has presented science and current affairs programmes for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery and has presented for BBC Radio 4 & Five Live and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, Scotsman and Sunday Herald. 

Contact Making History

Send your comments and questions for future programmes to:
Making History
BBC Radio 4
PO Box 3096 Brighton

Or email the programme

Or telephone the Audience Line 08700 100 400

Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and is produced by Nick Patrick.

See Also

Elsewhere on

BBC History

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Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.

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