Digital Panopticon teamed up with the London Historians for a transportation themed ‘History in the Pub’ event, on 16 May at The Sir Christopher Hatton, London. We were joined by around 60-70 people for a lovely evening of talks, music and a quiz.
Dr Lucy Williams kicked off the evening with her talk on Mina Jury, a fascinating nineteenth-century convict whose colourful career took her across the globe and back again. Lucy pointed out that if we only look at the records in isolation, Mina might seem a typical convict, like any other. But by joining up the records – as the Digital Panopticon website will be making possible – we uncover a rich, intriguing story.
Matt Brown led a great quiz on London’s lesser-known police forces. I learned that the City of London police force were Tug-of-War Olympic gold champions!
Singer-songwriter Henry Skewes played some original transportation ballads. The powerful lyrics were hard-hitting on the human cost of transportation: ‘I’d rather have drowned in misery than gone to New South Wales’, goes the song ‘Jim Jones at Botany Bay’. (Have a listen at https://soundcloud.com/henryskewes.)
Professor Tim Hitchcock rounded off the evening with a talk on a small group of women who, in 1789, made the extraordinary decision to refuse the royal pardon. That means they demanded to be executed rather than face transportation. Tim placed their courageous stand in the context of the militarization of London after the 1780 Gordon riots, and argued that we should understand the more famous political radicalism of the 1790s in light of the previous decade.
Here are some of the things people liked best about the evening:
‘All of it – an excellent evening.’
‘Both speakers were absolutely riveting and held my attention the whole evening.’
‘This has changed the way I will vote in the upcoming election.’
‘Really interesting hearing transportation ballads – difficult to convey oral histories, but song/music is a novel way to introduce it!’
‘Very good atmosphere.’
‘Both talks were very interesting and thought-provoking.’
‘It was very interesting to hear the original lyrics of the transportation ballads.’
‘Great to learn new things, meet fellow members, and enjoy a good night out!’