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Making History
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Listen to the latest edition of Making HistoryTuesday 3.00-3.30 p.m
Vanessa Collingridge and the team answer listener’s historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all ‘make’ history.
Programme 8
18 November 2008
Vanessa Collingridge and the team explore themes from Britain’s past thanks to queries raised by listener’s own historical research.

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Hampton Court Conference 1604

Students at Hampton School in south west London contacted Making History to help them with something they have discussed in their A-level history classes: the reasons for, and impact of, the Hampton Court Conference in 1604. Making History tuned to Anna Whitelock at Royal Holloway University of London to help supply some analysis.

In 1604 King James VI of Scotland had just moved south to become King James 1st of England. Despite the Reformation, the Church still appears to be quite Catholic particularly to the Puritans. James had a run in with the Presbyterians in Scotland and was wrongly regarded as having given them a free hand. To make matters worse south of the border, his ‘Basilikon Doron’ which was published in 1599 in Scotland and 1603 in England appears to criticise Puritanism by saying that they treated the most minor of religious issues as though they were the most important ones.

The Hampton Court Conference happens because of the Millenary Petition – so-called because 1,000 clergymen were said to have signed it. Put simply, they are concerned about a lingering influence of Rome. Archbishop Whitgift and eight bishops - including the Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft – are in attendance. They were assisted by eight deans and one archdeacon. All the Puritans who attended were known moderates and were led by John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Though Reynolds wanted change in the Church, he was also a conformist keen to keep away from controversy. The more radical Puritans who were not at the conference, believed that their exclusion was a direct result of an intervention by James.

There were four demands from the Millenary Petition:

1: That the doctrine of the Church was carried out with purity. James had no problem with this as one of the first things he sought on becoming King of England was that the Sabbath was properly obeyed.

2: That all churches should have good ministers. Again this was not a problem for James as he had called for the end of pluralism and more learned clergy.

3: That Church government had to be sincerely ministered according to God’s word. Again there was no reason for the two sides to fall out over this, but Reynolds used the word ‘presbytery’ in his address to the conference and records show that James was angered by this - maybe because of the issues he had faced in Scotland.

4: That "the Book of Common Prayer might be better fitted to more increase of piety". Reynolds also requested that there should be a new translation of the Bible as the old one was deficient. This again was not a problem for James and the King James Bible which is widely used today is a direct result of the conference.

The conference agreed that the terms ‘absolution’ and ‘confirmation’ were to get a revised definition to make them more acceptable to the Puritans; private baptism could only be carried out by the clergy; bishops would receive support of a legal nature in church courts; pluralism was to reduced as much as possible; the quality of the clergy was to improved in terms of education; excommunication would be replaced by a writ ‘out of Chancery’; a new translated Bible would be produced; a uniform catechism was to be issued; observance of the Sabbath was to be more strictly enforced and a close watch was to be kept on Roman Catholics to ensure that the import of ‘popish books’ was kept to the minimum.

It was once argued that some of the disagreements aired at the conference set in motion a chain of events which led to the Civil War in 1642 where a largely Puritan force took on the King. Today, it is felt that other factors – in particular James’ foreign policy (for example, the idea that his son Charles should marry a Catholic, Spanish princess) had more of an impact than the Hampton Court Conference ever did.

Useful links

History Leaning Site

The Twickenham Museum

The Hampton Court Conference by Lawrence Vance

Further Reading

Hampton Court: A Social and Architectural History. S Thurley. Yale University Press (9 Dec 2003) ISBN-10: 0300102232 ISBN-13: 978-0300102239
John Paul Jones

Is the tale of John Paul Jones, the Scottish seaman who was brought up but then attacked the town of Whitehaven on the Cumbrian coast, true?

Making History’s Caz Graham went to find out from local historian David Bradbury.

John Paul Jones, a Scot, is famous in the United States as the 'Father of the American Navy'. In Britain he’s perhaps more as a pirate. Disraeli apparently claimed that "the nurses of Scotland hushed their crying charges by the whisper of his name".

John Paul went to Kirkbean school but spent much time at the small port of Carsethorn on the Solway Firth. At the age of 13 he boarded a vessel to go to Whitehaven across the Solway where he signed up for a seven year seaman's apprenticeship.

Eventually he would become involved in the slave trade which he left after a terrible voyage in 1766 and then at the tender age of 21 took over command of a vessel after the Captain and mate died of fever.

There are episodes of violence in his early life. A charge of murder, which was dropped, and he killed the ringleader of a mutiny. He then settles in America and takes the colonialists side in the War of Independence.

When Congress formed a ‘Continental Navy’ Paul Jones offered his services and was commissioned as a first lieutenant on 7th December 1775.

In November 1777 Paul Jones sailed in the 'Ranger' for France where he struck up a rapport with the American Commissioner in Paris, Benjamin Franklin.

On 10 April 1778, Jones sailed from Brest on a cruise to the Irish Sea capturing and destroying small vessels. Despite a near mutinous crew he carried out a hit and run raid on Whitehaven. The idea was to land on the coast and make way to the town. Unfortunately they landed in the harbour. The intent was similar to that of Drake’s at Cadiz.

Later the raiders reached Kirkcudbright Bay, more familiar territory to him and the plan was to capture the Earl of Selkirk who lived on St Mary's Isle to exchange him for captured American sailors. When they landed they met the head gardener and told him that they were a British press gang. Word of this spread and caused the locals to flee! They learned, however, that the Earl was absent. Jones wished to leave immediately but his crew insisted on looting the mansion as they had returned empty handed from Whitehaven.

After leaving Kirkcudbright he spotted HMS Drake, a 20 gun sloop, near Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland. Both vessels were well matched and the battle lasted just over an hour. Captain Burden of the Drake was killed and his second in command Lieutenant Dobbs was mortally wounded. The Drake surrendered.

Paul Jones had beaten the Royal Navy in battle.

Returning to Brest he was given command of the Duc de Duras, a French East Indiaman which he had converted as a warship. He renamed her Bonhomme Richard in honour of Benjamin Franklin, whose book Poor Richards Almanac had been translated into French with the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.

On 14th August 1779 he set sail on another ‘cruise’ of Britain as commodore of a squadron of seven ships. The plan was to destroy British commerce in the North Sea.

There was considerable trade between the Baltic and the east coast ports (the so-called Hanseatic trade) and the British were running an eighteenth century convoy system.

Eight days later, on the night of 23rd September 1779, he fought his most famous battle when he engaged H.M.S. Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough off Flamborough Head. Despite inflicting serious damage on the British the Bonhomme Richard sank and remains the subject of US Naval archaeology to this day.

Useful Links

John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum Trust 

John Paul Jones, Naval Hero

Bid to bring up the Bonhomme Richard- Dumfries and Galloway Standard  

Brid's place in history - Scarborough Evening News 

Experts seek to find famous wreck - BBC Scotland
Sarah Kaye – survivor of the first daylight air raid

Sarah Kaye lives in north west London and is approaching 95 years of age. In June 1917 she was buried alive with the rest of her family in their house in Bethnal Green, London which had been hit by a bomb dropped by a German Gotha bomber.

This was the first daylight air raid on London and the first by an aeroplane.

Over 150 people are thought to have died in the attack, but remarkably Sarah and her mother and brother survived. Sarah lost her sight for 6 weeks but hasn’t been troubled by it since then.

Useful links

The Aerodrome forumhas more information on the Gotha bomber 

The War in the Air - Bombers: Germany, Gotha and Giant - First World War.Com 

Gotha bomber - US Centennial of Flight Commission 

Mouning card - Museum of London 

Spotlights on History: Air Raids - National Archives
    Contact  Making History
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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

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

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