The Georgian Period in Britain. Explore the growth of Empire and the Industrial Revolution.

The Georgian Period 1714 - 1837

Find out more about the Georgian Period in Britain by using a combination of the timeline and synopsis below as well as our posts. Find new intriguing connections using our themed history pages. Explore the world of science, the arts, church, government or law. Discover more about the enlightened period of Georgian Britain, explore the birth of the Industrial Revolution and of scientific enlightenment and revel in the politics of social change.

1714King George I of Hanover, Germany succeeds Queen Anne to the Throne.This difficult king who had limited English, a wife he had locked away in a castle for 30 years and a son he hated.
1715Jacobite rebellion.The Earl of Mar led the rebellion proclaiming James III and VIII king. They crossed the border but were stopped at Preston.
1715Numerous newspapers and pamphlets hit the streets in the coming years. More people are becoming literate.The expansion of the printed word meant more people in society were engaged with their politics.
1715Whigs in power and they pass the Septennial Act which said that general elections needed to be called only every 7 years.This made the Whigs less dependent upon swings in popular opinion.
1717Triple AllianceThe triple alliance between England, France and Holland kept England at peace with France for 25 years.
1719An abortive Jacobite uprising is quashed at the Battle of Glen Shiel in the Highlands
1719Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is publishedLiterature People
1719Schism ActLimited nonconformist education.
1720South Sea BubbleShares in the South Sea Company reach their peak price, the company was established in 1711 it received the monopoly of the trade with Spanish America but it was never very profitable. It took over the national debt £51 million Walpole and others opposed this deal but the country got behind it and the share price soared. Panic then set in and the south sea bubble burst leaving thousands of people ruined.
1721Robert Walpole becomes Britain's first Prime MinisterThe South Sea bubble created an opportunity for Walpole who had opposed the scheme. He would give the country 20 years of quiet government.
1721Painter William Hogarth begins to create a series of engravings of satirical work.He drew scenes from popular theatre shows, demonstrating the earliest signs of the satirical work to come. Works such as The South Sea Scheme and The Lottery, both produced in 1721, show Hogarth's wit and both pieces were helped establish Hogarth's reputation as an artist in London.
1726Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels publishedLiterature
1727Accension of King George IIWhen Walpole told the Prince of Wales that his father had died on the way to Hanover he jumped for joy. His queen Caroline would prove vital to keeping Walpole in power.
1729The rise of satire is obvious in the work of Jonathan Swift who published 'A modest proposal'Literature
1733John Kay invents the flying shuttleFlying shuttle – What is it?The beginning of new machines that would start the progress of the Industrial Revolution.
1733Joseph Priestley was born. He was a polymath. Discoverer of Oxygen.Joseph Priestley was a polymath and one of the leading thinkers of the enlightenment.
1735John Harrison invents the first chronometerInventions
1736Increased tax on gin causes rioting on streets of LondonThe problem of cheap gin which could be purchased by the poor was creating a huge social problem. The painter Hogarth captures the problem in his paintings.
1736Josiah Wedgewood founded his stoneware factory in StaffordshireJoseph Wedgewood would become one of the leaders of thought and reform during the Industrial Revolution.
1739John Wesley begins his open air methodist missionReligion People
1739War of Jenkins Ear between Britain and SpainBritain had been infringing a treaty between themselves and Spain by sending unlicensed trading ships into the West Indian ports. The captain of one such ship, Captain Jenkins was caught, his ear chopped off and he returned to present it in a jar to parliament. Walpole tried to settle the matter peacefully but the people wanted it otherwise. It would be the first of a series of 'wars' with Spain and France. It was a bad war for England meeting with little success as Walpole had predicted.
1740The song 'Rule Britannia' is publishedMusic
1740George Anson sets out on his 4 yr circumnavigation of the globeAnson imitated Drake by sailing around the world attacking Spanish ports on his way.
1741Launcelot 'Capability' Brown works on the gardens at StoweHorticulture
1742Walpole resignsWalpole is defeated in the Commons and resigns
1745Prince Charles Stuart, 'the young pretender' lands in ScotlandWith an army of 5000 men Charles invaded England taking Carlisle and Manchester. He continued south but few English men joined him and although it looked like he could threaten London his army turned back.
1746Battle of Culloden effectively ends Jacobite hopes for Bonnie Prince CharlieThe Battle of Culloden ended with Charles fleeing and going into hiding.
1746Disarming ActThis was enacted to curtail Jacobitism among the Scottish clans in the Scottish Highlands after the Jacobite rising of 1715. The new law, which came into effect on 1 November 1716, aimed at "securing the peace of the highlands in Scotland". It outlawed anyone in defined parts of Scotland from having "in his or their custody, use, or bear, broad sword, poignard, whinger, or durk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon" unless authorised
1751The Gin ActGin Act 1751Drinking cheap gin was threatening society especially amongst the working classes.
1752Britain switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calenderThere was 11 days difference between the 2 calenders.
1756Seven years war begins, Britain allied with Prussia, Portugal and others against FranceMilitary
1756Mozart composer is born in SalzburgMusic
1759The capture of QuebecThe capture of Quebec would decide the fate of Canada and Britain.
1760Death of King George IIHis son George would become King George III and be a much more popular king that his father and grandfather. He was an 'Englishman' through and through.
1761Bridgewater Canal openedIndustrial Revolution
1762Hogarth published an anti-war satire 'The Times' which caused outrage from one prominent MP in particular, John Wilkes. He published a scathing article dismissing Hogarth's work in his newspaper The North Briton. In response Hogarth created an engraving, John Wilkes Esq. showing the MP wearing a symbolic cap of liberty in such a way that it appears to be a halo along with a wig shaped like horns.
Literature Art People
1764Hargreaves Spinning JennyIndustrial Revolution
1764Parliament passes 'Sugar Act', the first of a series of measures designed to raise revenues by levying taxes on American colonies.Political
1764Mozart wrote his first symphony he was just eight years oldMusic
1765William Blackstone publishes his first volume of 'Commentaries on the Laws of England'. Ordinary people could for the first time consult a clear and authoratative guide to the law.Law
1768Captain Cook's first voyage to PacificExploration
1769James Watt improves the Newcomen steam engineIndustrial Revolution
1770British soldiers kill 5 protestors against 'taxation without representation' at Boston massacrePolitical
1771Architect Robert Adams begins work on the Duke of Wellington's London residence, Apsley House. Robert Adam is was of Georgian London's greatest architectsArchitecture
1772Cooks second voyage in search of southern continentExploration
1773First Boston Tea PartyPolitical
1774First continental congress of American colonies begins in PhiladelphiaPolitical
1775Novelist Jane Austen was born in Steventon HampshireLiterature People
1775Richard Arkwright's Spinning Frame improves on the Spinning JennyIndustrial Revolution
1775Fighting breaks out between colonists and the British at the battles of Lexington and Concord. The British are besieged in Boston.Military
1775British soldiers win the Battle of Bunker HillMilitary Battle
1775American colonists are badly defeated at QuebecMilitary Battle
1776Adam Smith's 'An Inquiry into Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations' is publishedEconomics
1776Declaration of IndependencePolitical
1776Cook's third voyage to the Pacific.Exploration
1780Gordon riots, an anti Catholic riot in London. Lord George Gordon called for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 and a return to the repression of Catholics. The 1778 Act had repealed harsh anti-Catholic legislation from the 17th century and excused Roman Catholics from swearing the oath of allegiance (with its implicit recognition of the Church of England) on joining the army. Many Protestants were outraged and riots ensued.Political
1783William Pitt the younger is Britain's youngest ever prime ministerPolitical Prime Ministers People
1785William Herschel begins to build what will become the world's largest telescopeScience People
1787Society for the abolition of the slave trade is foundedReform Political
1790Final year of Mozart's life. He composed a great deal, including some of his most admired works, the opera The Magic Flute, the final piano concerto, the Clarinet Concerto, the last in his great series of string quintets, the motet Ave verum corpus and the unfinished Requiem.Music
1791The Oberver newspaper is publishedPrinting Business
1791William Wilberforce introduces his first anti slavery bill in ParliamentPolitical Prime Ministers People
1791The Society of United Irishmen is founded and sectarian violence followsPolitical
1793France declares war on BritainMilitary
1793Charter granted to the board of agriculture to promote best modern farming practiceAgriculture
1795Famine in the mid 1790's causes unrest amongst the populationSocial Political
1796Smallpox vaccine is introducedMedicine
1797Mutiny by sailors at SpitheadMilitary
1798Vinegar Hill. Irish rebels are defeatedMilitary Battle
1798Nelson defeats French at the Battle of the NileMilitary Battle
1798Income Tax introduced by William Pitt Prime Minister to help pay for the Napoleonic War. Pitt introduced a tax on incomes. Under this new tax all annual incomes over £200 were taxed at 10 per cent, while those between £60 and £200 were taxed at a graduated rate from just under one per cent to 10 per cent. No one was taxed on incomes below £60.Political
1805Nelson wins the Battle of TrafalgarMilitary Battle
1807Slavery abolished throughout the British EmpireReform Political
1811Wellington defeats the French at GrioMilitary Battle
1811King George III is declared insane and the Prince of Wales becomes Regent.
1811Luddite riots in Yorkshire and The LudditesNottinghamshire.
1812Americans send an invasion force to Canada but they are routed by the British and Canadian militias. Further battles took place.Military Battle
1813Architect John Nash transformed London by conceiving, designing and developing Regent's Street and Regent's Park from 1813-32Architecture
1814With the war in Europe mostly over, Britain used it's ships and forces to place a naval blockade on America. The economy suffered and the British marched on Washington burning down the public buildings.Military
1815Wellington defeats the French once and for all at the Battle of WaterlooMilitary Battle
1815Cornlaws are introduced. They fix a minimum price below which grain may not be imported. These laws have a major impact upon society and are the root cause of much suffering.Political
1816Jane Austen's book 'Emma' is publishedLiterature
1817Novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester in Hampshire.Literature People
1818Final defeat of the Maratha Empire leaves the British East India Co in power across most of IndiaMilitary Business
1819Peterloo Massacre Manchester. The Massacre occurred during a period of immense political tension and mass protests. Fewer than 2% of the population had the vote, and hunger was rife with the disastrous corn laws making bread unaffordable. People met peacefully to protest for Universal Suffrage, Reform and an abolition of the Corn Laws. Troops were sent in and over 700 people were badly wounded and 17 died.

Social Political
1820George IV accedes to the throneRoyalty
1820The Cato St conspiracy to assasinate Lord Liverpool fails. The newly industrialised world produced inflation, food shortages and difficult factory conditions, there stemmed from this a climate of discontent and radicalism. A series of riots and industrial unrest occurred. The government responded with a series of repressive measures, including the Combination Acts of 1799, which forbade the gathering of working men with a common purpose. A conspiracy was plotted to murder the British cabinet but it was foiled.Political
1821A great famine begins in Ireland as the potato harvest fails again. The failure of the potato crop is a recurring event.Social
1824First Anglo Burmese War beginsMilitary
1829The Catholic Relief Act allows Catholics to sit in ParliamentPolitical
1830William IV accedes to the throneRoyalty
1830Liverpool to Manchester railway openedIndustrial Revolution
1831Darwin sets out on HMS BeagleExploration
1832The Great Reform Act becomes lawPolitical Law
1834The Toll Puddle labourers are tried for trying to set up a trade union. They become the Toll Puddle Martyrs.Political
1837Victoria accedes to the throneRoyalty
1763Treaty of ParisThe treaty ended the 7 year war and re-shuffled the colonial position of the great powers.
1756Black Hole of CalcuttaThe new nawab Siraj-ud-Duala decided to attack the British settlement of Calcutta. Between 60 -150 British were taken prisoner and placed in a guard room 18 ft by 14ft they suffocated to death.

This was a critical period, in which Britain left its Medieval past behind and emerged as a country in which commercial trade and wealth grew exponentially. It saw a shift away from monarchical power towards Parliamentary power and the start of what will become a wretched and expensive war with France. It was a period of revolution in Europe, immense poverty and terrible working conditions in Britain, which itself teetered on the brink of revolt.

Great politicians emerged, the first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole and William Pitt the Younger. The Industrial and Agricultural Revolution changed Britain forever. The rural economy declined rapidly and the urban industrial expanded at an unprecedented rate. From all of this spewed forth the greatest  advances in science, design and engineering the world has ever seen, against a background of social inequity imaginable.

'Poverty of course in no disgrace but it is damned annoying'
William Pitt


Georgian Period

King George I


The Georgian Period, a new start.

The Georgian Period  covers the period from 1714 to 1830 and takes its name from the four Hanoverian King Georges. Their line was assured by  The Act of Settlement in 1701 which set out in law how this line would succeed despite the stronger hereditary claim of the last in the line of the Stuarts.

Act of Settlement 1701 instigates the Hanoverian Succession

When King William and then Queen Ann died without surviving heirs, the Act of Settlement provided that the Elector of Hanover would ascend to the throne which meant that George Ludwig of Hanover became King in 1714. With effect from 1715, all British Monarchs would then also be the Elector of Hanover, up until the accession of Queen Victoria. The period is sometimes referred to as 'The House of Hanover'. The age of the Catholic monarch was gone and the period saw the emergence of the evangelical movement.

The emergence of the Whigs and Tories

The Hanoverian succession did not sit well with either the Whigs or the Tories. The Jacobite plotters wanted to place the 'Old Pretender' on the throne and rallied support from English Catholics but it was a rebellion doomed to end in failure. The Tories having lent their support to the rebellion were tarred traitors along with the Jacobite leaders. A sorry state of affairs and one that ensured the Whigs were firmly established in power by 1715. The playing out of politics during the Hanoverian period was a defining one in terms of British politics.

The power of the printed word in 18th century Britain

Both the volume of the printed word and the power it could render, grew at an extraordinary rate during the 18th century. In London, daily and weekly newspapers flourished and provincial towns nearly all had a weekly paper. Public opinion was informed and swayed by the writings of these journalists. The literacy of the public lagged behind the written word but the reading public was growing in increasing numbers and great writers began to emerge such as Daniel Defoe, whose fiction book 'Robinson Crusoe' written in 1719 is one of the world's most widely read books. Novels appeared, with tales of polite society. Samuel Johnson thrived at the centre of a London literary circle.

Georgian arts and fashion

Conspicuous consumption amongst the richest people in Georgian Britain, heralded a wave of architects and designers, whose names we know today, Sir Christopher Wren, Capability Brown, Wedgewood, Chippendale, the list is endless. We take for granted that we in Britain are lucky enough to be surrounded by the work of these great masters. From the music of Handel to the pottery of Wedgewood, magnificent estate gardens, the resurgence of Shakespeare in the Garrick theatre, paintings by Holbein, silk fashions and jewelry design. All familiar to us today, great design across all areas, products of the Georgian age.