The year 1776 saw much activity in the World, unrelated directly to the conflict raging in the British colonies in North America.

British manpower was plentiful, in spite of the great numbers required in the rebelling colonies; the nation had other irons in the fire, other parts of the continent to settle. Thomas Frobisher was sent to build a fort on Canada's Churchill River. Mariot Arbuthnot was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, and arrived to take up his post in May. And in July, James Cook left Plymouth, England, in the ship Discovery, to seek the Northwest Passage.

Meanwhile, back in the mother country, life moved along. London was humming. Editor Augustus Toplady (you've got to love that name) published a poem which later became a hymnal lyric ­p; Rock of Ages. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations also came out, creating toady's "dismal science" called economics. Three brothers in the banking business, named Baring, who might have been too busy to read Adams, dissolved their partnership at year's end. John moved into Parliament; Francis begin investing in the East India Company.

Speaking of brothers, twin brothers Robert and Daniel Perreau, in a rare and macabre double-header, become the first Englishmen hanged for forgery. One of the highlights of the year, at the end of July, was an almost total eclipse of the moon.

The urge to emigrate to the colonies was strong, despite the hostilities. 259 ships carrying 8,072 immigrants, made the journey this year. Among those 8,000 plus voyagers was painter Charles Willson Peale, who left London and returned to America, where he would fight in the Revolution, serve in the Pennsylvania assembly, and create a museum of natural history, a number of portraits of George Washington, and painter sons Raphael, Rembrandt, Titian and Rubens.

© 1996 David Minor / Eagles Byte