British History

Robert Liston, Surgical Pioneer

Liston is most known for a tale about how multiple deaths resulted from one of his surgeries. But that means that his entire biography as a surgeon is dominated by the apocryphal events of one day. So today we’ll unpack his career and ethics.



The Great English Convent Case of 1869

This case fed an already growing anti-Catholic movement in England in the 1860s. Additionally, it played on the shock of women being incredibly cruel to one another – something that was even used by the plaintiff’s legal team when speaking to the jury.

John Wilkins and His 1640s Lunar Exploration Plans

In the 1600s, John Wilkins was planning out what he thought it would take for humans to travel to the moon. Wilkins managed to ride out a rocky time in England’s historycomfortably, and was well known; he appears in the diaries of Samuel Pepys.

Benjamin Lay, the Quaker Comet

Benjamin Lay was a Quaker and a radical abolitionist who lived in the period between when the Religious Society of Friends began and when it started formally banning slave ownership among its members.

The Rise of the Traffic Light

There are multiple contenders when it comes to the question of who invented the traffic light. This episode looks at a few of the moments in traffic light history that got us to where we are today, as well as what made them a necessity in the first place. 

The Peterloo Massacre

The Peterloo Massacre took place during a peaceful protest for parliamentary reform in Manchester, England. And there was a lot feeding into why people in Britain, and specifically in the region around Manchester, thought that reform was needed.

Thomas Harriot: Mathematician, Astronomer, Relative Unknown

Harriot's story is tied to SO MANY other notable historic things, including a lot of business with Sir Walter Raleigh. He’s really not a household name like many of his contemporaries, even though he was neck-and-neck with them in terms of discoveries. 

Thomas Cook, John Cook, and the Rise of the Tourism Industry

Thomas Cook and his son John Mason Cook were pioneers of the idea of a travel agency to manage tourist holidays. But Thomas Cook was initially motivated by his support of the temperance movement and his deeply held religious beliefs. 






Christmas Triple-Feature: Stille Nacht, St. Nick & Scrooge

We're taking a look at three creative works that have become staples of the Christmas season. All three of them have played a huge part in how people observe and celebrate Christmas in parts of the world, and they all have milestone birthdays this year.

The Trial of Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart is one of history’s most memorable figures, with myriad compelling chapters in her life. The Babington Plot was a convoluted bit of intrigue that she’s tied to, and it ultimately led to her execution.