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Making History 12/10/10

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See this link to Radio 4 programme Includes articles on Henry Wilson (of Sheffield Smelting) & the opium trade and one on Randini .

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v7y3b#synopsis

Making History

It caused two wars and untold misery to those that became addicted to it but it also helped underpin the finances of Britain's activities in India. That's the surprising view of Dr Jim Mills of the University of Strathclyde who joined Vanessa and Dr David Vessey from the University of Sheffield to talk about the 1895 Royal Commission on the Opium Trade. It was Making History listener Anthony Wilson who encouraged Making History to explore this topic as his grandfather was the radical Liberal politician Henry Wilson who published his own minority report after the Commission failed to stamp out what he, and many others, felt was a morally unacceptable trade. But, was opium as badly misused as those like Wilson thought and what did India think of the trade?

A listener's family research takes us to Dorset just after the Napoleonic Wars where it appears that a large number of Catholics fled overseas from the area around Lulworth which was, and still is, home to one of our long-established Catholic families - the Welds. But, why did they leave, were they persecuted or was there another reason for this mass flight?

Could it be true that a Sheffield teenager gave Harry Houdini his most famous trick and why have so few people heard of Randini?

You can send us questions or an outline of your own research.

Email: making.history@bbc.co.uk

Write to Making History. BBC Radio 4. PO Box 3096. Brighton BN1 1PL

Join the conversation on our Facebook page or find out more from the Radio 4 website at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/makinghistory

Presenter: Vanessa Collingridge

Producer: Nick Patrick

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Britain and the Opium Trade

Making History listener Anthony Wilson contacted the programme to try and find out more about the circumstances surrounding the 1895 Royal Commission on the Opium Trade which his grandfather, Henry Wilson, contributed to. Henry was a radical Liberal politician from Sheffield and was MP for Holmfirth.

British involvement with opium is often discussed in relation to the two Anglo Chinese, or opium, wars (1839-42 and 1856-1860). Both wars were basically fought over Britain's (and other foreign powers) demands for access of trade to China.

Opium and tea were at the root of the problem. Britain wanted tea and Chinese had an appetite for silver so, because Britain was on the gold standard, it had to buy silver from Europe and Mexico to trade with China.

To counter this drain on resources it encouraged the pedalling of opium from India instead of silver from elsewhere. Indeed Dr Jim Mills at the University of Strathclyde argues that about a one third of British income from India was from the opium trade.

Opponents of the opium trade were most concerned about its impact in China, but the 1895 Royal Commission on Opium turned out to be one of the great Victorian inquiries into our relationship with India. It came at the end of several decades in which there had been growing disquiet about the opium trade. In 1874 a Quaker Led Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade had been formed in London and in 1891 they scored a real victory when the House of Commons backed an anti-opium measure.

The terms of the 1895 Commission were laid out in 1982:

1. Whether poppy growing and sale of opium should be prohibited, except for medical purposes in British India and the Indian states?

2. Whether existing agreements with the Indian States could be changed?

3. What would be the cost to the finances of India of prohibition?

4. Whether any measure short of total prohibition would be possible?

5. What was the effect of opium use on "the moral and physical condition of the people"?

6. And, finally, what was the opinion of the people of India about possible prohibition and would they be willing to accept the costs involved?

The findings of the Royal Commission on Opium actually reflected the economic importance of opium to India and didn't support opponents who were worried about the health implications of the trade. However, Henry Wilson was so angered by its findings that he wrote a minority report.

Dr Jim Mills

Useful Link: Henry Wilson's papers

Henry Wilson's papers can be seen at the University of Sheffield Library

Henry Wilson's papers

Useful Link: Opium and the British Indian Empire

Lecture by John Richards."Opium and the British Indian Empire: The Royal Commission of 1895." Cambridge, England. May 23, 2001.

Opium and the British Indian Empire: The Royal Commission of 1895

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See this link to Radio 4 programme Includes articles on Henry Wilson (of Sheffield Smelting) & the opium trade and one on Randini .

http://www.bbc.co.uk...0v7y3b#synopsis

Making History

It caused two wars and untold misery to those that became addicted to it but it also helped underpin the finances of Britain's activities in India. That's the surprising view of Dr Jim Mills of the University of Strathclyde who joined Vanessa and Dr David Vessey from the University of Sheffield to talk about the 1895 Royal Commission on the Opium Trade. It was Making History listener Anthony Wilson who encouraged Making History to explore this topic as his grandfather was the radical Liberal politician Henry Wilson who published his own minority report after the Commission failed to stamp out what he, and many others, felt was a morally unacceptable trade. But, was opium as badly misused as those like Wilson thought and what did India think of the trade?

A listener's family research takes us to Dorset just after the Napoleonic Wars where it appears that a large number of Catholics fled overseas from the area around Lulworth which was, and still is, home to one of our long-established Catholic families - the Welds. But, why did they leave, were they persecuted or was there another reason for this mass flight?

Could it be true that a Sheffield teenager gave Harry Houdini his most famous trick and why have so few people heard of Randini?

You can send us questions or an outline of your own research.

Email: making.history@bbc.co.uk

Write to Making History. BBC Radio 4. PO Box 3096. Brighton BN1 1PL

Join the conversation on our Facebook page or find out more from the Radio 4 website at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/makinghistory

Presenter: Vanessa Collingridge

Producer: Nick Patrick

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

Britain and the Opium Trade

Making History listener Anthony Wilson contacted the programme to try and find out more about the circumstances surrounding the 1895 Royal Commission on the Opium Trade which his grandfather, Henry Wilson, contributed to. Henry was a radical Liberal politician from Sheffield and was MP for Holmfirth.

British involvement with opium is often discussed in relation to the two Anglo Chinese, or opium, wars (1839-42 and 1856-1860). Both wars were basically fought over Britain's (and other foreign powers) demands for access of trade to China.

Opium and tea were at the root of the problem. Britain wanted tea and Chinese had an appetite for silver so, because Britain was on the gold standard, it had to buy silver from Europe and Mexico to trade with China.

To counter this drain on resources it encouraged the pedalling of opium from India instead of silver from elsewhere. Indeed Dr Jim Mills at the University of Strathclyde argues that about a one third of British income from India was from the opium trade.

Opponents of the opium trade were most concerned about its impact in China, but the 1895 Royal Commission on Opium turned out to be one of the great Victorian inquiries into our relationship with India. It came at the end of several decades in which there had been growing disquiet about the opium trade. In 1874 a Quaker Led Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade had been formed in London and in 1891 they scored a real victory when the House of Commons backed an anti-opium measure.

The terms of the 1895 Commission were laid out in 1982:

1. Whether poppy growing and sale of opium should be prohibited, except for medical purposes in British India and the Indian states?

2. Whether existing agreements with the Indian States could be changed?

3. What would be the cost to the finances of India of prohibition?

4. Whether any measure short of total prohibition would be possible?

5. What was the effect of opium use on "the moral and physical condition of the people"?

6. And, finally, what was the opinion of the people of India about possible prohibition and would they be willing to accept the costs involved?

The findings of the Royal Commission on Opium actually reflected the economic importance of opium to India and didn't support opponents who were worried about the health implications of the trade. However, Henry Wilson was so angered by its findings that he wrote a minority report.

Dr Jim Mills

Useful Link: Henry Wilson's papers

Henry Wilson's papers can be seen at the University of Sheffield Library

Henry Wilson's papers

Useful Link: Opium and the British Indian Empire

Lecture by John Richards."Opium and the British Indian Empire: The Royal Commission of 1895." Cambridge, England. May 23, 2001.

Opium and the British Indian Empire: The Royal Commission of 1895

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HI Dunsbyowl l have been reading this article and found it most interesting.Prior to starting in business on my own l was maintenance joiner at the smelting co 1949/53 and did some work in Mr Wilsons office, and had quite a chat with him, viewing the dates l should say that Anthony Wilson would be the son of the Mr Wilson quoted, but cannot recall his Christian name [or if l new it]. Anyway thanks for bringing back old memories,[ 53 yrs ago where have they all gone?] Cheers skeets

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