Northampton Historical Association programme 2022-23

Earlier this year, the Northampton Branch of the Historical Association relaunched with support from the University of Northampton. This academic year we are offering a programme of talks, which will take place online, on campus or in local schools.

20 October, 7pm online: Prof Matthew McCormack (UON) ‘Black histories of the American Revolution’

This talk for Black History Month explores the experiences of black people in the American Revolution and War. The American Revolution was famously concerned with individual liberty, but this did not extend to the enslaved. Indeed, many black people sided with the British, who made promises to them in return to their support. These promises were not necessarily kept, however, and the talk follows the fate of former plantation slaves who ended up in London, Canada and Sierra Leone.

Book here.

24 November, 4pm at Manor School, Raunds: Prof Paul Jackson (UON), ‘The Holocaust, Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Cultures of Denial’

This talk will begin with an overview of Holocaust denial culture, highlighting some of the central ways Holocaust deniers have attempt to ‘deny’ the Holocaust occurred. It will then examine some of the ways the contemporary extreme right has reinvented Holocaust denial themes for the internet age. It will highlight how online cultures of denial continue longer trends of extreme antisemitism and pose wider problems related to the spreading of disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Book here.

19 January, 7pm online: Prof Elizabeth Tingle (DMU), ‘Pilgrimage to Compostela since 1000CE’

After Jerusalem and Rome, the pilgrimage shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, was the most important destination for medieval Christian pilgrims for it houses a ‘first class’ relic, the body of the apostle St James. In this talk, the origins and development of the shrine will be examined, and the experience of pilgrims from the British Isles and Ireland will be explored. The journey to Santiago remains vital and every year, tens of thousands of holy travellers and walkers make their way along the Way of St James.

We will also hold our branch AGM at this talk.

Book here.

*POSTPONED*: Kerry Love (UON), ‘Banners in British Left-Wing Politics since 1800’ 

Banners and signs are a regular sight present at contemporary protests, and they often form the focal point of debates about the right to protest in the news. This talk will look at how and why they emerged in the eighteenth century, how they were used in developing popular politics and how, in spite of changing political circumstances, the left continues to draw on banner tradition and visuals in a number of ways in Britain. 

16 March, time TBC: Dr Jim Beach (UON), ‘Major Cartwright and the 1919 Revolution in Northampton

The immediate aftermath of the First World War was a turbulent period in Britain.  As the political and economic dislocations of war gave way to peace, the government feared industrial unrest and also trouble within the demobilising army.  Using a local prism, Jim Beach’s talk explains how the army sought to understand what was happening on what had been, until a few months earlier, their ‘Home Front’.

Book here.

17 May, 12pm online and at the University of Northampton, Senate SN204: Prof Anne-Marie Kilday (UON), ‘The Case of Oscar Slater: Miscarriage of Justice or Murder Most Foul?

This presentation will examine the brutal but unexplained murder of Marion Gilchrist in her apartment in Glasgow in 1908. The chief suspect in the case, Oscar Slater, left for America not long after the crime had occurred and for the Glasgow Police at least, he became the equivalent of Public Enemy Number One. Consequently, the police sought to do everything in their power to ensure they got their man. This was duly achieved, but year later in 1928, and after serving some two decades of his sentence at Peterhead Prison, Slater was the first prisoner in Scotland to be released (and have his conviction quashed) on appeal. But what was the truth behind the murder of Marion Gilchrist? What role did Oscar Slater have to play in her murder? And to what extent did the Glasgow Police force cause the biggest miscarriage of Justice in Scottish legal history?

This event is held jointly between the HA branch and the Centre for Historical Studies. If you want to attend the event in person please email To attend online, book below.

Book here.

15 June, 7pm online: Kathrina Perry (UON), ‘Women, Religious Philanthropy and the Northampton Boot and Shoe Industry’

Religious observance offered a broad variety of opportunities for women to participate in philanthropic activity. This talk will consider the links between the non-conformism of Northampton’s religious beliefs and the boot and shoe industry. It will explore the involvement of the wives and daughters of the boot and shoe manufacturers, and will question the motivations behind the many donations to religious organisations within the town that are still visible today.  

Book here.

Northampton Guildhall (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

For further information, please contact the Branch Chair Dr David Waller on or the Acting Secretary Prof Matthew McCormack on

In particular, if you teach at a local school and would like to arrange a session tailored to your History curriculum, please get in touch.

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