Tom Holland is joined in the Making History studio by Dr Elaine Chalus, who is Director of the Centre for History and Culture at Bath Spa University and currently involved in researching The Admirals Wife: An Intimate History of Family, Navy and Empire. It draws upon the largely unknown diaries of Elizabeth Wynne Fremantle (1778-1857).
Alongside her is one of Britain's leading historians of the eighteenth century, Professor Jeremy Black from the University of Exeter.
Tom heads to the British Library in London to take a privileged look at a remarkable volume of naval dispatches. Unearthed by naval historian Sam Willis, this beautifully bound book contains first - hand accounts of some of the key sea battles between 1794 and 1805. So why don't we know more about it?
In Warwickshire, archivist Rob Eyre brings us evidence for a unique way of paying for Nelson's navy: a hair-powder tax.
And Helen Castor takes a trip to Watford to meet a Making History listener who can shed new light on the role of toads in pregnancy testing before the DIY kits of today.
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Produced by Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.
Joining Tom Holland in the Making History studio is Dr Elaine Chalus, the Director of the Centre for History and Culture at Bath Spa University where she is currently researching The Admirals Wife: An Intimate History of Family, Navy and Empire, which draws upon the largely unknown diaries of Elizabeth Wynne Fremantle (1778-1857).
Alongside Elaine is Professor Jeremy Black the author of over 100 books, especially on eighteenth century British politics and international relations who is based at the University of Exeter.
Naval Dispatches in the Age of Nelson
Whilst working in the British Library the naval historian Sam Willis came across a huge, ornate volume which brought together the dispatches from seven major fleet battles from 1794 to 1806. Tom Holland joined him and the British Library's Curator of Historical Documents, Dr Arnold Hunt, to find out just what these reports tell us about Nelson's navy at war?
Sam Willis has put together these dispatches in his new book “In The Hour Of Victory”.
The Hair Powder Tax
Whilst we waged war on the French our national debt was spiralling up. William Pitt the Younger was in the rare position of being both Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer and before hitting on the idea in 1799 of a (temporary) income tax he put sales' taxes on the usual things such as spirits. However, Rob Eyre the Senior Archivist at Warwickshire Record Office has come across a more bizarre tax from the 1790's – hair powder tax.
Pregnancy Testing - with Toads
Jesse Olszynko-Gryn is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. One of a number of historians there working on the history of reproduction. As part of his work he came across the use of South African Xenopus toads. After extensive research he tracked down a woman who had work in a lab that carried out pregnancy tests using these toads. Her name is Audrey Peattie and she and Jesse talked to Helen Castor about this little-known history.