Historical Outline of Restoration and 18th-Century British Literature * * * Alok Yadav * *

This chronology is meant to help provide a sense of historical context for students of Restoration and 18th-century British literature. The chronology is intended for browsing, with the assumption that meandering through portions of it is the best way to get a sense of the historical context around the specific moment or era you are interested in. The chronology is focused on the period from 1642 to 1820, that is, from the period of the Civil Wars through the end of the reign of George III. During this time span, coverage is provided on a year-by-year basis. But a few indicative events and publications from before and after this timespan are sketched in as prelude and aftermath to the era of interest.

Under each year, historical events are listed first, followed by publications (alphabetically by author). I have tried to provide some broad generic labels for these publications--"poetry," "drama," "fiction," "anthology," and "periodical"--but this aspect of the "Historical Outline" is, as yet, very uneven. So, too, at present, the chronology reflects a certain Anglophone parochialism, but given the significance of works in other European languages for British literary culture during the Restoration and eighteenth century, I hope to expand this dimension of the chronology in future revisions. Works in languages other than English appear after the English-language texts under each year. The dates used in the chronology mark the beginning of the new year on 1 Jan.

The navigation bar on the left allows one to move more quickly to particular periods within the long duration covered by this chronology. One can, of course, also search for specific authors, works, events, terms, or years using the "Find (on this page)" command on your browser window. The chronology can, thus, serve as a quick reference for a given year ("1782"); for events like the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 or the passage of the Copyright Act of 1709 or the sequence of Poets Laureate from Dryden to Tennyson; and for terms like "Non-jurors" or "Jacobites" or "Whig and Tory." I've included a list of sources used in this project, which can be accessed from the navigation bar to the left. Citations of standard reference sources, such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) or encyclopedias, are given directly in the chronology itself. Please direct any queries, corrections, or suggestions to me via the "contact" link in the navigation bar.

Alok Yadav, George Mason University (homepage)xxxxxx(Last revised: 11 Aug. 2020)


Feb. 17: Giordano Bruno burned at the stake in Rome's Campo dei Fiori: "The [Catholic] Church claimed that Bruno was put to death for his errors in saying that Jesus was not the son of God but a skilful magician, and moreover that God's mercy would ensure that even the devil would be saved at last; but most people knew that he was condemned also for his defence of the Copernican system, and for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds" (Grayling 2006: 113).

Rule of Stuart Dynasty (1603-49, 1660-94, 1702-14)

1603-25: Reign of James I (of England) and IV (of Scotland)


Beginning of a twelve-year truce between the revolted "United Provinces" and the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands, which, in effect, recognized the independence of the United Provinces. (These seven Protestant provinces had formed the "Union of Utrecht" in Jan. 1579 and had declared themselves independent of the Spanish crown with the Oath of Abjuration in 1581. Protracted war had ensued for the subsequent 28 years, until this truce.)


14 May: assassination of the French king, Henri IV, by Ravaillac, a Jesuit. (The Jesuits had been banished from France in 1595, after an earlier assassination attempt on Henri IV by one of their member, but were allowed back in 1603--and handsomely patronized by Henri.)

1612-23: vogue of Rosicrucian ideas

There does not appear to have been any formal or organized Rosicrucian movement, but Rosicrucian ideas exercised a good deal of influence in the decade or so from 1612 and the notion of a secretive Rosicrucian fraternity--with its Protestant, anti-Jesuit, occultism--was seen as a nefarious challenge in Catholic Europe. The subsequent rise of Freemasonry continued some of the outlook of the Rosicrucians. The heated exchange between Roger Fludd (pro) and Marin Mersenne (contra) was one notable public manifestation of the controversy around Rosicrucianism.
xxx"The proximate source of the Rosicrucian excitements . . . is the publication of three books, the Fama Fraternitatis published in 1614 but known in manuscript for some years beforehand, the Confessio Fraternitatis published in 1615, and The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz published in 1616"; these works, published anonymously (though the last has been attributed to Johan Valentin Andrae, a Lutheran pastor from Wurttemberg) had roots in earlier Renaissance interest in hermeticism, Cabala, Paracelsus, alchemy, magic, and the occult in general, as evident in a figure like the English "virtuoso" Dr. John Dee and especially his Monas Hieroglyphica (Grayling 2006: 83-84, 86). The Fama and the Confessio "are invitations to join an allegedly newly revived Fraternity or Order founded by 'Brother Christian Rosencreutz', who (so these books claimed) had travelled to the East [in the 15th century] and brought back from it all manner of arcane wisdom" (Grayling 2006: 85, 88).
xxxFrederick V, Elector Palatine, and his chancellor, Christian of Anhalt, were patrons of Rosicrucian ideas and their defeat in 1620 at the start of the Thirty Years War (see below) helped bring the movement (such as it was) to a close, although there was a flurry of interest in Paris in 1623 when Rosicrucian posters appeared around the city (Grayling 2006: 89-91).


Death of William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Ben Jonson granted an annual pension of 100 marks (£66 13s. 4d.), making him in effect, though not in name, poet laureate till his death in 1637

Ben Jonson (1572-1637), Workes

1618-19: Synod of Dort: Arminian Controversy in the United Provinces

Calvinist orthodoxy held a doctrine of predestination, according to which individuals are saved or damned from the beginning of time, "predestined" to their individual fate. Jacob Arminius (Jakob Hermanzoon, 1560-1609), a liberal Reformed theologian, held that human beings have free will and can determine their own fates--a position that, for hard-line Calvinists, was repugnantly close to the Catholic doctrine of free will. Arminius was called to account in 1605 by another theologian at the University of Leiden, Francis Gomarus, an upholder of Calvinist orthodoxy. Professors, students, and eventually the general population took sides as the conflict between the "Gomarists" and the "Arminians" heated up, leading to Remonstances, Counter-Remonstrances, and outbreaks of violence. Prince Maurice (Prince of Orange and Stadhouder of five of the seven provinces) was a Gomarist, while the leader of the States-General, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was an Arminian and the theological controversy quickly also became a political power struggle. Maurice placed both Oldenbarnevelt and the jurist Hugo Grotius (who had ruled in Rotterdam against the Gomarists) under arrest in July 1618 and called a general synod at Dort. "After debates lasting six months, the synod condemned Arminians as heretics and as 'disturbers of the peace' both in church and state. Instantly, about two hundred Dutch Arminian ministers were dismissed from their posts, nearly half of whom went into exile. Maurice also sacked Oldenbarnevelt's followers in official posts in all the provinces, . . . by this means drawing more power into his own hands. Grotius was sentenced to life imprisonment (he escaped two years later) and Oldenbarnevelt was condemned to death" and executed on 13 May 1619 (Grayling 2006: 44).

1618-48: Thirty Years War

Religious warfare between Catholic and Protestant rulers, precipitated by the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, and their Jesuit advisers, in an effort "to reclaim for Roman Catholicism those parts of Europe lost to Protestantism as a result of the Reformation of the preceding century" (Grayling 2006: 10)
xxxThe Holy Roman Empire, under the Catholic Habsburgs, consisted of various holdings across Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Tyrol, Styria, Bohemia, Hungary--as well as various German principalities, some of which were Protestant (Lutheran and Calvinist) and some Catholic. The "emperor" of the German principalities was selected by seven electors, but the Habsburg hold on the office was sufficiently strong that the election never went outside the family. In 1608, the Empire's Lutheran and Calvinist princes had formed a self-protective league, the "Evangelical Union," with Frederick IV, the Elector Palatine, as their leader--and with the support of Henri IV of France (until his assassination in 1610). In response, the Catholic princes formed the Catholic League, under the sponsorship of the Habsburg ruler of Spain, Philip III. Things were poised for war, needing but a spark to ignite. Britain became more closely connected to this nexus when Frederick IV's son, Frederick V, became Elector Palatine since the younger Frederick married Elizabeth, daughter of James I and IV, in 1613.
xxxThe background to the start of war was the "Defenestration of Prague. Prague had been the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Rudolf II (d. 1612), and he had acknowledged the elective independence of the Diets of Bohemia, with their predominantly Protestant population. Rudolf's successor, Matthias, "angered the Bohemians by appointing Catholics to leading posts on the Council of Regents there. The new regents' first act was to require that all Bohemian religious bodies revert to the terms of their original foundation, thus at a stroke returning all Protestant churches to Catholic control, complete with their endowments and other property. The Bohemian Protestants immediately rebelled. On 22 March 1618 they marched on Prague Castle, took the two leading members of the Council of Regents, by name Martinitz and Slavata, and threw them out the window. . . . By manhandling the Emperor's representatives the Bohemians had impugned his authority. They realized that there was no going back, so they went forward. They set up a board of thirty deputies to administer the kingdom, called on the dependent provinces to join them in a new confederation, and raised an army. They issued a demand to the Emperor that the provinces should henceforth be autonomous and that all offices should go to Protestants. These were not terms a Habsburg emperor was likely to accept" (Grayling 2006: 61-62). But Matthias died in March 1619. As the rest of the German principalities were settling on Ferdinand II as Emperor, the Bohemian Estates offered their crown to a Protestant, Frederick of the Palatine. Despite advice to the contrary from his father-in-law, James I and IV, from the Evangelical Union, and from his own council, Frederick V decided to accept the offer. "The revolt of Bohemia was accordingly complete; and the trigger for the Thirty Years War had been pulled" (Grayling 2006: 63).
xxx"Ferdinand II regarded Frederick V's position and possessions forfeit by the treason of his acceptance. He promised the Upper Palatinate and its associated Electoral office to Maximilian of Bavaria. He promised the Lower Palatinate . . . to Spain. He offered Lusatia to its neighbouring prince, Elector John George of Saxony. In this way several armies--of Spain, of Maximilian, and of Saxony--became available to him." Meanwhile, Frederick V's German Calvinist entourage alienated the Bohemian Lutherans; "Sweden, Venice, Denmark and the United Provinces of the Netherlands had all recognised Frederick's accession to the throne of Bohemia as a way of thumbing a nose at Frederick II, but they had no intention of sending troops to help him. His father-in-law James of England and Scotland abandoned him." Frederick's army fell very quickly to that of Ferdinand at the Battle of the White Mountain outside Prague. "Frederick is known as 'the Winter King' because he enjoyed his new dominions for a very brief time, from the winter of 1619 to the autumn of 1620. . . . Frederick fled into exile, and a savage repression of the Bohemian Protestants followed, together with a complete subjection of Bohemia and Moravia to the Imperial crown. . . . Many Bohemian leaders were executed, and Protestant clergy were outlawed and their chapels destroyed. The Jesuits flooded in, taking control of schools and universities. The whole country was returned to Catholicism at the edge of the sword" as the Imperial troops under the comte de Bucquoy engage in a punitive progress: "There was nothing pretty about these events: rape and massacre were commonplaces of them, as a strategy of terror and subjugation" (Grayling 2006: 63-65).
xxxThis waxing of Habsburg power eventually led to France and Sweden entering into the fray and what had seemed like a simple victory for Ferdinand II and the Catholic cause turned into thirty years of savage war, the devastation of much of central Europe, and the end of any dream of returning the continent to Catholic uniformity (Grayling 2006: 65). In 1619-20, however, the abandonment of Frederick and Elizabeth by James I and IV was seen by militant Protestants in Britain as a shameful betrayal of the Protestant cause.


Giulio Cesare Vanini, an itinerant teacher of philosophy and medicine and author of The Secrets of Nature, is burned at the stake in Toulouse for the crime of "atheism" ("but also, by circuitous implication, homosexuality"): "Vanini asserted that men had no souls but died as other animals did, and that the Virgin Mary was a woman like any other and needed to have sexual relations to get pregnant," but he was not, in fact, an atheist since he "held that there must be a Necessary Being as the ground of existence for contingent beings, and that this being must further be an Absolute Being capable of resolving all contradictions within itself, since the universe is full of contradictions requiring resolution" (Grayling 2006: 121). Nonetheless, Vanini's name "became a byword throughout Europe for atheism and the 'naturalism' that accompanied it--that is, the view that nature is the ultimate reality and source of all things. Until Pierre Bayle defended Vanini later in the seventeenth century, most writers aped the virulent attack launched by a Jesuit apologist called Francois Garasse who stigmatised Vanini as a paradigmatically dangerous threat to religion and therefore the safety of society" (Grayling 2006: 119).


Emergence of corantos, the first news sheets:--
These were "folio half-sheets containing two columns of news, foreign and domestic, on each side of the sheet." The earliest extant coranto dates from 1622, but in 1621 Robert Burton was already writing, "I hear new newes every day . . . New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts . . ." (Varey, ed. 2003: 113).


"execution in Paris of Jean Fontanier, an occultist who taught mystic doctrines he had learned while travelling in the East" (Grayling 2006: 121)


First Folio of Shakespeare's plays published (with memorial poem by Ben Jonson prefixed)

the French poet Théophile de Viau accused of atheism: "He was tortured and condemned to death, but in 1625 his sentence was commuted to banishment, no doubt because he was well-connected and much admired among Paris's cognoscenti. He died a year later, aged only thirty-six" (Grayling 2006: 121)


Parlement of Paris bans public debate about Aristotelianism: "Three of the city's leading 'erudite sceptics', Antoine Villon, Jean Bitauld and Etienne de Claves proposed to debate fourteen atomistic theses and, in the course of doing so, to refute Aristotelianism not merely by argument but by the demonstration of chemical experiments. . . . The meeting, scheduled for August 1624, stirred enormous interest, and an audience of nearly a thousand was expected at the demonstration. But the Paris Parlement banned the meeting, and its three organisers were banished from the city on pain of death. A few weeks later, on 4 September 1624, the Parlement issued a decree, having taken advice from the Sorbonne's Faculty of Theology, outlawing under penalty of death the teaching of any views 'contrary to the ancient approved authors, and from holding any public debates other than those approved by the Doctors of the Faculty of Theology'" (Grayling 2006: 122).

1625-1649: Reign of Charles I


marriage of Charles I and the French princess Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV and sister of Louis XIII of France

English settlement of Barbados begins


Death of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)


Charles I sends English troops under the Duke of Buckingham to aid the Huguenot rebellion at La Rochelle, but they were quickly expelled by the French forces and "the infamous siege of La Rochelle began. By blocking the town's harbour Richelieu starved to death 20,000 of the town's 25,000 population, and then (in a coup de théatre) on 28 October 1628 sent Louis XIII into the town at the army's head to 'capture' the remnant of its dazed and enfeebled defenders" (Grayling 2006: 138).


English settlement of Nevis

Puritan colony established at Salem


Massachusetts Bay Company chartered

Charles I suspends Parliament sine die


As dissatisfaction with Charles I's policies and style of rule grew, many of his subjects left the kingdom: "More than 30,000 men, women and children migrated to the New World in the course of the 1630s, almost one per cent of the population" and many others considered the option seriously (Morrill 2001: 17)


May 29: birth of Charles, the future Charles II: he was made Prince of Wales at the age of eight in 1638 and took the kingship upon the execution of his father in 1649.


Death of John Donne (1572-1631)

Death of Michael Drayton (1563-1631)


English settlement of Antigua and Montserrat

Death of Thomas Dekker (c. 1572-1632)

Death of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, at the battle of Lutzen

Galileo, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (non-fiction)


William Laud, bishop of London since 1628, becomes archbishop of Canterbury

Book of Sports (the King's Declaration of Lawful Sports, orig. issued by James I in 1618) re-issued by royal command (in opposition to Puritan sabbatarianism)

Galileo is put on trial by the Catholic Church for his Copernican ideas, forced to recant and placed under house arrest, and copies of his Dialogue are seized and burned in Rome: Galileo had already been censured by Cardinal Bellarmine and the Inquisition in 1616 for supporting the Copernican notion that the earth orbits around the sun and his stated belief that the Bible should be interpreted in accordance with the findings of science rather than the other way around; now he was castigated a second time for the reiteration of Copernican views in his Dialogue.


Death of George Chapman (1559/60-1634)


Académie française established by Cardinal Richelieu


Star Chamber decree concerning printing

Death of Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

Pequot War:--
in which the English Puritan colonists in what is now Mystic, Connecticut killed between 300 and 700 Pequots, including women and children, as they burned whole villages and then enslaved the few remaining survivors

[René Descartes], Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité dans les sciences. Plus La Dioptrique. Les Meteores. et La Geometrie. Qui sont des essais de cete [sic] Methode. Leiden: Jan Maire, 1637. (non-fiction) [Latin trans. by Etienne de Courcelles pub. in 1644.]


Scottish National Covenant drawn up (to resist imposition of rule of bishops in Scotland)

William Davenant (1606-68; knighted 1643) receives a patent from Charles I, granting him "in consideration of service heretofore done and to be done," a pension of £100 a year, thus succeeding Ben Jonson in the role of unofficial laureate

William Davenant, Britannia triumphans (court masque)

William Davenant, Madagascar, With Other Poems (poetry)


March-June: First Bishops' War:--
between the Scottish Covenanter army and the forces of Charles I; it was halted by the temporary truce of the Pacification of Berwick in June: this truce "included clauses that required the King to accept the abandonment of every crown-sponsored church reform since the turn of the century. It was an ignominy Charles could not abide" (Morrill 2001: 19)


Aug.-Oct.: Second Bishops' War:--
a continuation of the First war; it ended inconclusively, but with Scottish advances, with the Treaty of Ripon: the Scots were left "in control of Northumberland as far south as Newcastle (and thereby in control of London's coal supply) and they made it clear they would not return home until they had their war costs met and their Presbyterian religious reformation guaranteed by an English Parliament, and a new federal constitution in place that ensured an effective self-government for Scotland" (Morrill 2001: 19)


Sitting of the Long Parliament:--
In the context of the Scottish occupation of Northumberland, "from [3] November 1640 to September 1641, the English 'Long Parliament,' as it afterwards came to be styled, was under intense pressure from an occupying power to introduce changes to the government of church and state in England" (Morrill 2001: 19), and, since this Parliament could not be dissolved until the Scots were satisfied, the MPs also had a unique opportunity to seek to redress their own grievances against the king: they drove out of office counsellors whom they considered "wicked" (impeaching Strafford [Nov. 1640] and Laud [Dec. 1640]); they abolished the Court of Star Chamber (July 1641); "they passed a law ensuring that henceforth there were Parliamentary sessions at least every third year; they passed a law transferring to themselves the right to determine the length of their own sitting; they moved to restore to the Houses the [14th-century] authority to vet and to veto senior royal appointments . . .; they dismantled the Laudian regime. . . . The King's ill will in giving his constrained assent to all this, his feckless attempts to use the remnants of his own army to stage coups against them, his manifest determination to reverse as much as possible as soon as possible, radicalized many members" (Morrill 2001: 19).

Nov. 1640-May 1641: impeachment and ultimate execution of Strafford by the Long Parliament, through the lead of the Commons and under popular hostility to Strafford: after an inconclusive impeachment trial (from 22 March, though the impeachment originated in Nov. 1640), followed by a bill of attainder passed by Parliament (21 April by the Commons and 7 May by the Lords) and signed by Charles I (10 May), Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford was executed on 12 May 1641


Irish rising, by Catholics against English and Scottish colonists:--
with the removal of Strafford, who had reined in the New English colonists, and the Long Parliament solidly behind the Protestant colonists, Catholic groups in Ireland "faced the bleak prospect of renewed religious persecution and expropriation at the hands of those very families and their English comrades who had already taken so much from them in earlier plantations"; they decided to act themselves in autumn 1641. The old English Catholics launched a failed coup in Dublin. "Alongside that, however, there was a second uprising [in Oct. 1641] by the dispossessed Catholics of Ulster against those [English and Scottish colonists] who had expropriated them a generation before. . . . [News of the events reached London by Nov. 1641.] Over time, as the repossessions got out of control, many hundreds, perhaps as many as 3,000, Protestants were killed and perhaps as many again fled to England. . . . The stories, dreadful enough, were grotesquely exaggerated (and gruesomely illustrated in woodcuts) by the English press. . . . an Anglo-Scottish army was despatched . . . To pay for this army, Parliament passed an act guaranteeing one fifth of the land mass of Ireland to those who lent £2 million--just over 1,000 so-called 'Adventurers' quickly raised the full sum. That army . . . became just one party in a bitter series of ethnic and religious wars that would see the population of Ireland drop by one third, and see nearly half the productive land of Ireland change hands" (Morrill 2001: 20-21).

Dec. 1: Grand Remonstrance presented

Death of Thomas Heywood (c. 1573-1641)

1642-49: Civil Wars

There was a civil war across the three kingdoms as well as semi-autonomous civil wars within England, Scotland, and Ireland. The Irish conflict broke out in Nov. 1641 and continued spasmodically till the Cromwellian invasion of 1649-52, "followed by outbreaks of banditry or guerrilla war down to 1660 and beyond." The English Civil War extended from mid-1642 to May 1646, "followed by a series of regional rebellions in the spring and summer of 1648 (and by Scots 'invasions' in August 1648 and August/September 1651)." The Scottish Civil War had two phases, the first from 1644 to late 1645, the second from 1649 to 1651, "when it was superseded by an English conquest and occupation that lasted down to 1660." "There were civil wars in each of the kingdoms, but there was for much of the time in addition a single war being fought out across all three kingdoms" (Morrill 2001: 23).
xxxA large proportion of the adult male population was involved in the fighting, "certainly a higher proportion . . . than in the wars of the twentieth century. . . . At some point in the 1640s, perhaps 1 in 4 of all adult males probably bore arms. At least 1 in 20 males died as a direct consequence of the clash of arms, and as many again of the diseases characteristic of military encampment and confinement in barracks" (Morrill 2001: 23). But the degree and nature of the violence was different in the three kingdoms. Despite the storming of towns such as Bolton in 1644 and Leicester in 1645, "there were very few examples in England and Wales of disarmed soldiers or prisoners, let alone civilians, being massacred in cold blood. . . . It was very different in Ireland. There prisoners were routinely massacred, garrisons and civilians killed even when a town was surrendered on a promise of quarter; and much of the killing was in cold blood. Cromwell's notorious killing of perhaps 3,000 soldiers and an unknown number of civilians during the sack of Drogheda in September 1649 and of slightly fewer at Wexford a month later were the largest but not the most vicious episodes in which many hundreds were killed in cold blood, often clubbed to death to save bullets. The story of the wars in Scotland lies somewhere between the English and Irish stories, although both the maverick Royalist commander James Graham, Earl of Montrose, with his largely Irish Catholic army, and his Presbyterian opponents left few alive who bore arms against them and who fell into their grasp" (Morrill 2001: 24). Religious animosities played a large part in most of the atrocities committed in any of the three kingdoms during the wars.
xxxThe impact of the wars on property was very significant, especially in Ireland and Scotland: in the former kingdom, this involved "the confiscation and redistribution of 40 per cent of the land of Ireland from (Irish) Catholic to (English) Protestant proprietors"; in the latter, "the greater part of the estates of the Scottish aristocracy." But even in England the impact was significant: with the eventual Parliamentary victory, "those 4,000 Royalists who had been 'sequestered' were divided into two groups: nearly 80 per cent were deemed to be 'delinquents' or lesser offenders, and were allowed to resume their estates on payment of fines that averaged two years' income and after taking oaths of loyalty to the Parliament; and the remaining 750 were deemed to be 'malignants' (such as the King's closest adherents and all 'Papists in arms') and their estates were to be confiscated and sold outright" (Morrill 2001: 25).


Jan. 2: Charles I attempts to arrest five members of the House of Commons

March 19: Charles I withdraws from London to York

Aug. 22: Civil War breaks out in England as Charles raises his standard at Nottingham, leading into the inconclusive Battle of Edgehill on 23 Oct.:--
The English conflict pitted Charles I and his Royalist supporters against the Parliamentarian opposition. This political division echoed various religious and ideological divisions: e.g. between Arminians (such as Laud) and Calvinists (like the Puritans); between absolutists (who defended the personal rule of Charles I) and constitutionalists (who emphasized the crucial role of Parliament); between monarchists and republicans. As the conflicts unfolded, however, these divisions could shift around unpredictably: thus, for example, Parliamentarian "absolutists" could defend extra-legal actions by Parliament and argue that it was above the laws in much the same way that royalist absolutists had earlier, and supporters of Parliament like Milton and John Goodwin could "abandon Calvinist orthodoxy in favour of Arminian doctrines" (Dzelzainis 2001: 35).

Theaters closed:--
The theaters were not officially re-opened until after the Restoration in 1660, but clandestine and illegal productions were occasionally staged at various times throughout the Interregnum

Increase in news and other publications:--
The breakdown of royal authority (and hence the relaxation of censorship and post-publication prosecution) and the public interest in the momentous events of the day created a huge expansion in the print public sphere and in the supply of newsbooks, pamphlets, and broadside ballads. Whereas 300 titles were published in 1600, and 750 titles a year through the 1630s, there were 3,000 titles published in 1642 after the collapse of censorship regulations in 1641 (Keeble, ed. 2001: 1, 13). The Irish Rebellion of 1641 threw open the floodgates for tracts on contemporary events that had already been jarred apart by the controversies surrounding Charles I's attempt to impose a religious order on Scotland in 1638-39: issues of religious freedom and of church government were the chief topic of controversy in these battles in print.
xxxOf the 1,500 pamphlets published from Nov. 1641 to Aug. 1642, "1 in 6 [i.e., about 250] focused on the Irish Rebellion, many describing atrocities. . . . These were the bedrock upon which rested a polemic that portrayed Charles I and his bishops as, at best, the dupes, and, at worst, the passive agents of a Papist plan to recover Britain and Ireland. In the course of 1641 more than 200 pamphlets were published calling for the abolition of bishops, or at the very least their 'reduction' to the status of chairmen of diocesan boards of governors. About two-thirds of that number [roughly 133] were published in defence of the Elizabethan and Jacobean order (shorn of Laudian 'innovations'). Rather less was published for and against the Book of Common Prayer; but the debate generated was still significantly larger than the debate on any single secular political issue. . . . There was no great pamphlet debate about the Annual Parliaments Bill (which became the Triennial Act); about the Grand Remonstrance; about the Attempt on the Five Members; about the Militia Bill; even about the Nineteen Propositions" (Morrill 2001: 21-22). The focus of so much of the controversial literature on religious issues indicates the large representation of the clergy and lay churchmen among the literate classes and the way in which religious issues tended to affect everyone in society, whereas more narrowly political issues (e.g. "issues of popular sovereignty, the supremacy of Parliament, the right of resistance") were mooted within the political nation, in the first instance--though, of course, the scope of the political nation was being redefined in this very period.
xxxWhatever the sources of public controversy, once the arena of public opinion was established, it could become a forum for scrutiny and debate of most any topic. But this opening up of publication had already come under pressure by the time of Milton's Areopagitica (1644 Nov.), which critiques the order of June 14, 1643 requiring (in imitation of a Star Chamber decree of 1637) that all works be licensed by a Parliamentary Committee prior to publication. Nonetheless, the bookseller George Thomason still collected 22,000 titles published between 1640 and 1661. After the Restoration in 1660, restrictions on publication were consolidated further with the Press Licensing Act of 1662.

Death of Cardinal Richelieu, the leading French politician of his age

[Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82)], Religio Medici

[Sir John Denham (1614/15-69)], Cooper's Hill (poetry) (rev. 1643, 1650, 1653, 1655, 1668; Latin trans. 1676)

[Sir John Denham], The Sophy (drama)

John Milton (1608-74), The Reason of Church-government Urg'd Against Prelaty


Jan.: Long Parliament abolishes prelacy (consequently, bishops eliminated from House of Lords)

June 14: Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing

Sept.: Parliament accepts a Solemn League and Covenant with the Scots undertaking to establish the Presbyterian system in England in exchange for Scottish support of the parliamentary armies

Sir William Davenant (1606-68), The Unfortunate Lovers A tragedie (drama)

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-65), Observations on the 22 stanza in the 9th canto of the 2d book of Spencers Faery Queen (non-fiction)

John Milton (1608-74), The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce Restor'd to the good of both sexes (non-fiction) (2nd edn, heavily revised, 1644; 3rd and 4th edns, 1645)


July 2: Battle of Marston Moor: Parliamentarian victory

René Descartes (1596-1650), Principia Philosophiae (non-fiction)

John Milton (1608-74), Areopagitica (Nov.) (non-fiction)

[John Milton], Of Education (non-fiction)


Jan. 4: Ordinance prohibiting the Book of Common Prayer and prescribing the Directory for Public Worship: clergy who failed to conform to the order could be sequestered (deprived of the income of a benefice) or ejected. Slightly more than a quarter of the parish clergy (about 2,425 out of a national total of about 8,600), plus 650 clergy of the cathedral and collegiate churches, and 829 fellows and heads of houses at Oxford and Cambridge lost their livings in consequence of this and other regulations affecting the Church of England in the period of the Civil Wars and Interregnum (Rivers 2001: 200)

Jan. 10: execution of Laud for treason

April 3: Self-Denying Ordinance: "by prohibiting MPs (with the exception of Cromwell) from holding military office, creates the New Model Army determined to prosecute the war to a conclusion" (Keeble, ed. 2001: xiii)

June 14: Charles's forces defeated at the battle of Naseby by the Parliamentary army under Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell. Charles I's highly damaging correspondence captured at Naseby subsequently published in The King's Cabinet Opened (non-fiction)

[John Milton (1608-74)], Tetrachordon (non-fiction)

Francis Quarles (1592-1644), Solomons Recantation, entituled Ecclesiastes, Paraphrased (poetry)

Edmund Waller (b. 1606), Poems (poetry)


First Civil War comes to an end in the spring of 1646:--
On 27 April 1646, Charles I leaves Oxford disguised as a gentleman's servant and surrenders himself to the Scots army at Newark (5 May) and Oxford surrenders (20 June), bringing the First Civil War to an end. (Both John Cleveland and Henry Vaughan wrote poems on what Cleveland calls the "blasphemy" of the king's forced disguise.)

Thomas Edwards, Gangraena: Or a Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies and Pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this Time (a Presbyterian denunciation of sectarian practices and opinions, much like Ephraim Pagitt's Heresiography [1645])

[Richard Overton (fl. 1631-64), William Walwyn, and Henry Marten], Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens and Other Freeborn People of England to their own House of Commons (a Leveller pamphlet)

Sir Thomas Browne (b. 1605), Pseudodoxia Epidemica (extensively revised through six editions, to 1672)

Richard Crashaw (b. 1612/13), Steps to the Temple: Sacred Poems (poetry)

John Milton (b. 1608), Poems of Mr John Milton, both English and Latin (poetry) (dated '1645'; pub. 2 Jan. 1646; 2nd rev. edn, 1673)

James Shirley (b. 1596), Poems (poetry)

Sir John Suckling (1609-1642), Fragmenta Aurea: A collection of all the incomparable pieeces, written by Sir John Suckling (works, containing letters, poems, and four plays) (2nd edn, 1648; 3rd edn, 1658)

Henry Vaughan (b. 1622), Poems (poetry)


Jan. 30: the Scots, failing to come to terms with Charles I, turn him over to the English for £200,000. Charles I was held at first by Parliament but then by the Army, who removed him (4 June) from Holmby House (Northants) to Hampton Court (24 Aug.). Charles I escaped from Hampton Court to the Isle of Wight and then was confined by the Army in Carisbrooke Castle (11-14 Nov.)

Aug.: the Army's Heads of the Proposals published, drafted by Commisary-General Henry Ireton (1611-51) "after lengthy debates in the General Council of the Army at Reading" (Dzelzainis 2001: 39)

Oct. 28-Nov. 1: Putney debates between Levellers and officers of the New Model Army

Dec. 26: Charles I secretly signs Engagement with the Scots agreeing to recognize Presbyterianism in England in return for his restoration to power, echoing the Solemn League and Covenant entered into by Parliament with the Scots in 1643

Abraham Cowley (b. 1618), The Mistresse (poetry)

[Bathsua Makin (fl. 1616-73)], An Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen (non-fiction)

Francis Quarles (1592-1644), Hosanna; or, Divine Poems on the Passion of Christ (poetry)


April-August: Second Civil War breaks out:--
The Scots army enters England in support of the king (who had entered into an "Engagement" with them to accept Presbyterianism as the form of church government), but the New Model Army, under Cromwell, is victorious at the Battle of Preston (17 Aug.) and the Second Civil War ends with the surrender of Colchester to Fairfax (27 Aug.)

Beginning with the period of the Civil Wars and during the Interregnum, many royalists were in exile in France and elsewhere on the Continent (incl. such authors as Richard Crashaw [left for the Continent in 1643 and died there in 1649], Thomas Hobbes [till 1652], Abraham Cowley [left for the Continent in 1645, he was back in England by 1654], John Denham [1646, Aug. 1648-March 1653]); subsequently, significant impact of French cultural influences when the exiled ruling class returned to England after 1660

Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years War on the European continent

[Sir Robert Filmer (b. 1588?)], The Necessity of the Absolute Power of Kings (non-fiction)

Robert Herrick (b. 1591), Hesperides (poetry)

1648-1653: Rump Parliament and (from 1645) New Model Army

Dec. 6-7: Pride's Purge, creating the Rump Parliament: "By preventing Presbyterian MPs who favoured a negotiated settlement with the King from entering the Commons, Colonel John Pride's Purge of the Long Parliament secures a majority for proceeding against the King by creating what was popularly (and derisively) known as the Rump Parliament" (Keeble, ed. 2001: xiv). The Rump Parliament and the New Model Army (created in 1645) were now the main powers in the land.

1648-1653: The Fronde (in France)

A series of civil wars, from August 1648 to July 1653, after which the political power of the aristocracy was broken and the supremacy of the monarchy was consolidated. The initial revolt broke out in protest of "the policies of the Queen Regent, Anne of Austria, and her minister Mazarin. Named for the slingshot with which boys hurled rocks at stray cats, the Fronde hurled missiles against the tax policies of Mazarin, a man who impoverished France and enriched himself beyond measure. Active opposition to Mazarin arose on August 27 [1648], the famous 'day of the barricades,' when Mathieu Molé, first president of the Paris Parlement, was arrested. . . . Other frondes broke out in other cities, notably in Normandy, in Provence, and in Guyenne where the duc d'Épernon remained loyal to Mazarin" (Scott 2000: 69). In 1650, the Fronde of the Princes began, "an anti-Mazarin crusade led by some of the highest nobles of France, and especially by the prince de Condé, his brother the prince de Conti, their sister Mme de Longueville, her husband, and the prince de Marcillac, all of whom saw in the Fronde an opportunity to battle the growing power of the centralized monarchy. In January of 1650 they were arrested and imprisoned" (Scott 2000: 71). The Fronde was not finally settled until the signing of the peace of Bordeaux in July 1653.

Interregnum (1649-60)

1649: Jan. 19-30: trial and execution of Charles I

Charles I tried for "treason"--among the principal charges was his "Engagement" with the Scots. The trial opened on January 19th and concluded with his execution on January 30th. Immediately after the king's death, a work appeared purportedly written by him (actually ghost written by John Gauden, Dean of Bocking) and titled Eikon Basilike ("The King's Image") (Feb.); the work supported the royalist portrayal of Charles as a "martyr" and went through 35 editions in England and a further 25 in Ireland and abroad in 1649. John Milton responded to the propaganda being done by this work with his own Eikonoklastes ("The Image-Smasher") (Oct. 1649).


Feb. 4: news of the execution reaches the Hague and Charles II assumes kingship

Feb. 5: upon learning the news of Charles I's execution, the Scottish Parliament declares his son "Charles II, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland"

Feb. 6-7: monarchy and the House of Lords are abolished

March: Milton appointed Secretary of Foreign Tongues to the Commonwealth

April 1: Diggers community, led by Gerrard Winstanley, established on St. George's Hill, near Cobham, Surrey, but forced to move by August to Cobham Heath, and then broken up by April 1650 (Corns 2001: 79)

May: Leveller mutiny forcibly suppressed by Fairfax and Cromwell at Burford, Oxfordshire

May: Commonwealth established (until 1653)

Gerrard Winstanley's The New Law of Righteousness and the Digger manifesto, The True Levellers Standard Advanced

Sir William Davenant (b. 1606), Love and Honour (drama)

Richard Lovelace (b. 1618), Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets (poetry)

[John Milton (b. 1608)], The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (non-fiction)

John Ogilby (b. 1600), trans, The Works of Publius Virgilius Maro (poetry)

1649-52: Puritan reconquest of Ireland (against Catholic and royalist forces)

Begun by Cromwell in August 1649; completed by his lieutenants, Ireton and Ludlow, by May 1652

1650-52: Puritan conquest of Scotland (the Scots having endorsed Charles II)

Cromwell, newly made commander-in-chief of the Parliamentary forces, invaded Scotland on 22 July and defeated the Scots decisively at Dunbar (3 Sept.) and General Monck completed the subjugation of Scotland in May 1652.


Death of René Descartes (1596-1650): Descartes died and was buried in Sweden; in 1667 his body was exhumed and transported to France and buried in a tomb in the side chapel of Saint-Benoit in St. Germain des Près (Grayling 2006: 274)

Jacob Bauthumley, The Light and Dark Sides of God (non-fiction) (the work was ordered to be burnt and Bauthumley had his tongue bored with a hot iron and was cashiered from the army, in which he had been a serving soldier) (Corns 2001: 81)

Richard Baxter (b. 1615), The Saints Everlasting Rest (non-fiction)

[Anne Bradstreet (b. 1612)], The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (poetry) (rev. ed. pub. posthumously in 1678; Bradstreet died in 1672)

Abiezer Coppe (b. 1619), A Fiery Flying Roll: A Word from the Lord to all the Great Ones of the Earth (non-fiction) (pub. Jan. 1650, dated '1649' the work was ordered to be seized and burned by the hangman. Coppe himself was imprisoned and interrogated; "his release would seem to have depended on a printed recantation, Copp's Return to the Wayes of Truth [1651]) (Corns 2001: 82)

Andrew Marvell (b. 1621), "Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" (written) (poetry)

Jeremy Taylor (b. 1613), The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (non-fiction)

Henry Vaughan (b. 1622), Silex Scintillans (poetry) (2nd edn, in two books, 1655)

Gerrard Winstanley, A Vindication of those, whose endaevours is only to make the earth a common treasury, called Diggers or, Some Reasons given by them against the immoderate use of creatures, or the excessive community of women, called Ranting; or rather Renting (non-fiction)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 5.2 million in 1651; about 10 per cent urban (in towns of over 10,000 population) (Hay & Rogers 1997: 7), including about 400,000 in London. The population then declines to about 4.9 million in the 1680s before climbing back up to about 5.06 in 1701 (including about 500,000 in London) and reaching 5.2 million by 1711. On this estimate, the population thus remains "flat" overall for the 60 years between 1651 and 1711 (though London expands by some 25 percent), before increasing slowly till mid-century (5.8 million) and then more rapidly for the next long while, reaching 6.45 million by 1771, 9 million by 1801 (now 24 per cent urban, in towns of over 10,000 population, including 948,000 in London), and 11.5-12 million by 1821. (Other estimates put the population of England and Wales somewhat higher--by about 700,000--through much of the period from 1701.)
xxxIf one defines a "town" as a population center of at least 2,500 people (rather than at least 10,000 as above), then "in 1700 one in six of the population lived in towns so defined, while by 1800 the proportion had risen to one in three"; in 1700, only seven towns had a population of at least 10,000, by 1800, there were fifty such towns, "including cities like Birmingham and Manchester with over 50,000 inhabitants" (Speck 1998: 10). The countryside was split between the ruling landowning class and the laboring classes of tenant farmers and landless agricultural laborers, with only a small and dependent appendage of middle classes. But the towns housed a significant range of people in the "middling classes"--craftsmen, professionals, merchants--and enabled an urban cultural life featuring assembly rooms, theaters, coffee houses, bookshops, markets, disparate religious communities. Town life and country life were, thus, two different things--especially, of course, in the case of London--and these divergent contexts give rise to some of the conflicting interpretations of Restoration and eighteenth-century British culture and society.

Jan. 1: Charles II crowned at Scone in Scotland

Aug.-Oct.: on 6 Aug. Charles II and the Scots army entered England, but they were defeated by Cromwell at Worcester (3 Sept.) and Charles II fled, eventually landing in France (16 Oct.)

Navigation Act passed

Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery (b. 1621), Parthenissa That Most Fam'd Romance (parts I and II, 1651; parts III and IV, 1655; part V, 1656; part VI, 1669; complete work repr. 1676) (fiction)

William Cartwright (1611-43), Comedies, Tragi-Comedies, with Other Poems (works)

Sir William Davenant (1606-68), Gondibert An heroick poem:--
This included only the first two books of Davenant's planned five-part heroic poem, with a long preface by the author and a reply to it by Thomas Hobbes (both dating from 1650); the third book (the last completed) was published posthumously in 1685.

Thomas Hobbes (b. 1588), Leviathan (non-fiction)

John Milton (b. 1608), Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio (non-fiction)

Jeremy Taylor (b. 1613), The Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying (non-fiction)

Henry Vaughan (b. 1622), Olor Iscanus (poetry and prose translations)

1652-54: First Anglo-Dutch War

The war lasted from June 1652 until April 1654.


Richard Brome (b. 1590?), The Jovial Crew; or, The Merry Beggars (drama)

Nathanael Culverwell (1618/19-1651?), An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature (non-fiction)

'Eliza' (fl. 1644-52), Eliza's Babes; or, The Virgins-Offering Being divine poems and meditations (poetry and non-fiction)

[Madeleine de Scudéry (b. 1607)], Ibrahim; or, The Illustrious Bassa An excellent new romance. Trans. Henry Cogan (fl. 1652). [orig. pub. in French as Ibrahim, ou l'Illustre Bassa (1641-44)] (fiction)

John Selden (b. 1584), Of the Dominion, or Ownership of the Sea (non-fiction) [English trans. of Selden's Mare clausum (1635), a reply to Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), Mare Liberum (1609)]

Gerrard Winstanley (b. 1609), The Law of Freedom (non-fiction)

1653-1658: Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell

A period of republican statehood in the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, a new political order with the abolition of the monarchy and House of Lords, had been in place since 1649. The establishment of a Protectorate under the rule of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) as Lord Protector marked a shift toward something like monarchial rule once more, especially once the succession was made hereditary upon the death of Cromwell.

Iconoclasm; proliferation of various religious sects (including the Quakers); abolition of traditional holidays--including Christmas--as smacking too much of "pagan" festivities


Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament (20 April) and installs the Nominated (Barebone's) Parliament (4 July); later this year, in December, the Nominated Parliament resigns as the Protectorate is established and Cromwell is named Lord Protector

First Quaker tracts published

Richard Baxter (b. 1615), The Right Method for a Settled Peace of Conscience (non-fiction)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Philosophicall Fancies (misc.)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Poems and Fancies (poetry and non-fiction)

Anne Collins (fl. 1653), Divine Songs and Meditacions Composed by An [sic] Collins (poetry)

François Rabelais (ca. 1494-ca. 1553), [Gargantua and Pantagruel]. Trans. [Sir Thomas Urquhart (b. 1611)] (prose fiction)

Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (non-fiction)


Dec.: Cromwell's "Western Design" against Spanish colonial possessions, launched

Pagani Piscatoris [Payne Fisher (1615/16-93)], Panegyrici Cromwello and Inauguratio Olivariana:--
Fisher served as a de facto poet laureate for Cromwell's Protectorate, writing not only these poems commemorating the establishment of the Protectorate, but also anniversary poems to celebrate it in subsequent years (Oratio anniversaria, 1655, Oratio secunda anniversaria, 1657, and Paean triumphalis in secundam inaugurationem, 1657), as well as commemorative poems on Cromwell's death in 1658. He received payments from the council of state in 1652 (£50 and £100) and 1654 (£100) to support his literary activities.

John Milton (b. 1608), Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio Secunda (non-fiction)

Anna Trapnel, The Cry of a Stone: or a Relation of Something spoken in Whitehall (poetry and prose)

Richard Whitlock (b. ca. 1616), [Zootomia (in Greek characters)]; or, Observations of the Present Manners of the English (non-fiction)


May: English seize Jamaica from the Spanish

Aug.: rule of the Major-Generals established

Sept.: Orders in Council issued banning persons from "keeping any of the ejected [Anglican] clergy in their homes as chaplains or schoolmasters"; reiterated in a Declaration by Cromwell in Nov. 1655 (Rivers 2001: 200)

Luis de Camoëns (1524?-1580), The Lusiad; or, Portugals Historicall Poem. Trans. Sir Richard Fanshawe (b. 1608) (poetry)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), The Worlds Olio (non-fiction)

John Cotgrave (fl. 1655), ed., The English Treasury of Wit and Language Collected out of the most, and best of our English dramatick poems; methodically digested into common places for general use (anthology)

[John Cotgrave (fl. 1655)], Wits Interpreter The English Parnassus (non-fiction)

[Andrew Marvell (b. 1621)], The First Anniversary of the Government Under His Highness the Lord Protector (poetry)

Charles Sorel (b. ca. 1599), The Comical History of Francion (fiction) [English trans. of Sorel's La Vraie histoire comique de Francion (7 vols., 1623; expanded to 11 vols., 1626; the edition of 1633 included a 12th volume under the name of Nicolas de Moulinet, sieur du Parc)]

Edmund Waller (b. 1606), A Panegyrick to my Lord Protector (poetry)

George Wither (b. 1588), The Protector (poetry)

1656-59: Anglo-Spanish war


James Naylor, a Quaker from Bristol, tried and convicted of blasphemy:--
the High Court of Parliament ruled that Naylor "be repeatedly set in the pillory and scourged; that he be branded on the forehead with the letter 'B'; that he have his tongue bored with a red hot iron and be confined afterwards in prison and set to hard labor" (Webster 1990: 22)

Abraham Cowley (b. 1618), Poems (poetry)

[Sir William Davenant (b. 1606)], The Siege of Rhodes (drama)

William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649), Poems (poetry)

Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620), A Relation of Ten Years Travells in Europe, Asia, Affrique, and America (non-fiction) (publication date conjectural)

[James Harrington (b. 1611)], The Common-wealth of Oceana (non-fiction)


Cromwell declines offer of a crown

Dutch mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens invents the pendulum clock, allowing for more accurate measurement of time

Joshua Poole (b. ca. 1615), The English Parnassus; or, A Helpe to English Poesie Containing a collection of all rhyming monosyllables, the choicest epithets, and phrases (dictionary)


Death of Oliver Cromwell (on 3 Sept. 1658); succeeded as Lord Protector by his son, Richard Cromwell

Edward Hyde appointed Lord Chancellor (in exile)

death of Richard Lovelace (1618-58)

[Richard Allestree (b. 1619)], The Practice of Christian Graces; or, The Whole Duty of Man (non-fiction) (repr. 1659, 1660, 1661, 1663, 1664, 1668, 1669, 1670, 1673, 1674, 1675, etc.)

Richard Baxter (b. 1615), A Call to the Unconverted (non-fiction)

Sir Thomas Browne (b. 1605), Hydriotaphia, Urne-Buriall (non-fiction)

[Sir William Davenant (b. 1606)], The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru (drama)

Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620), Enigmaticall Characters All taken to the life (non-fiction)

[Edward Phillips (b. 1630)], The New World of English Words (dictionary)

James Ussher (1581-1656), The Annals of the World. Deduced from the Origin of Time . . . Containing the Historie of the Old and New Testament (non-fiction): this is an English version of Ussher's Latin Annales veteris testamenti (1650) and its continuation, Annalium pars posterior (1654), which had announced his calculation of the date of the creation of the world as Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC. Ussher's dating of the age of the world, although the most famous in the English-speaking world, was broadly consistent with that of many others, dating back to Bede's calculations "almost a thousand years earlier": "There was nothing novel in a period of about four thousand years from Creation to Christ" (Barr 1999: 383). But while to us, for whom all such calculations of biblical chronology are an ignis fatuus, "about four thousand years" (give or take several hundred) may seem all of a piece, for Ussher's contemporaries, precise calculations based on the Bible were deemed possible--and the variations that resulted among such calculations were the source of much controversy. The Jewish calendar took the year of creation to be 3760 BCE, while Renaissance scholars who preferred the authority of the Septuagint over that of the Hebrew scriptures, "placed the year of creation well beyond 5200 B.C." (Partrides 1963: 316). Despite these wide differences in calculations, Ussher's chronology prevailed in the English-speaking world because it, rather than others, came to be predominantly incorporated into marginal glosses in English-language Bibles, beginning with the Bible edited by Bishop William Lloyd in 1701 ((Partrides 1963: 319), and continuing in hundreds of other editions of the Bible throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. One can conveniently take the publication of Charles Lyell's Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (1863) as marking the end of the hegemony of Ussher's biblical account of the age of man, though scientists had already been interrogating the age of the earth, beyond the dictates of biblical chronology, from the time of John Woodward's Essay toward a Natural History of the Earth (1695).

1658-1659: rule of Richard Cromwell

Richard Cromwell (1626-1712) is unable to contain the power struggle between the army and the Parliament, which leads to the collapse of the Protectorate and the reestablishment of the Commonwealth in 1659.

1659-60: period of political instability

The Army had dissolved the Protectorate Parliament (22 April) and restored the Rump (6 May), when Richard Cromwell resigned (24 May), leaving a power vacuum. George Booth's Royalist uprising was suppressed in Aug. 1659. The restored Rump Parliament was prevented from sitting by the Army (13 Oct.). This led General George Monck, in Scotland, to declare for Parliament against the Army (20 Oct.). The Rump was eventually readmitted by the Army (26 Dec.) and Monck entered England (2 Jan. 1660) and began marching south, reaching London on 2 Feb.


Richard Baxter (b. 1615), A Holy Commonwealth, or Political Aphorisims (non-fiction)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Edmund Waller (b. 1606), and Thomas Sprat (b. 1635), Three Poems Upon the Death of His Late Highnesse Oliver Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland (poetry)

[John Evelyn (b. 1620)], A Character of England (non-fiction)

Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620), The Idea of His Highness Oliver, Late Lord Protector (non-fiction)

James Harrington (b. 1621), Aphorisms Political (non-fiction)

Richard Lovelace (1618-1658), Lucasta: Posthume Poems (poetry)

1660: Long Parliament recalled and Convention meets

Feb. 21: Long Parliament restored by re-admitting the Presbyterian MPs excluded by Pride's Purge

March 16: Long Parliament dissolves itself

April 4: Charles II's Declaration of Breda, offering liberty to tender consciences

April-Dec.: Convention Parliament convenes (25 April): Convention votes to recall Charles II (1 May), declaring "that the late King's death was tyrannical and illegal; . . . and that Charles II was the undoubted heir to the crown, and should be brought in with honour and safety"; Richard Cromwell goes into exile abroad for twenty years (1660-80), but eventually returns to England and lives there under an assumed name. Charles II lands at Dover (25 May) and enters London on 29 May (his birthday). Act of Oblivion receives royal assent (29 Aug.) and the Convention dissolves itself (31 Dec.)

[John Milton (b. 1608)], The Readie & Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (non-fiction) (published at the end of February 1660; 2nd edn, April 1660)

[Robert Wild (b. 1609)], Iter Boreale Attempting something upon the successful and matchless march of the Lord General George Monck from Scotland to London, the last winter (poetry)

William Winstanley (b. 1628?), England's Worthies Select lives of the most eminent persons from Constantine the Great to the death of Oliver Cromwell late Protector (non-fiction)

1660-1685: Restoration of Stuart Dynasty & Reign of Charles II

Restoration of the Monarchy and the House of Lords, and the re-establishment of the Anglican Church as the official state church

Libertine reaction against the puritanical ethos of the Interregnum ushered in by the royal court and the aristocracy

Revival of traditional holidays and festivities, such as Christmas celebrations

Charles II had promised "liberty to tender consciences" at Breda, but after the failure of the Savoy Conference (1660), the Cavalier Parliament moved in a punitive direction through passage of the restrictive "Act of Uniformity" (1662) & other legislation such as the Corporation Act (1661), the Conventicle Act (1664), and the Five Mile Act (1665) (known collectively as the "Clarendon Code," after Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, Lord Chancellor of England and Charles's chief minister [till his dismissal in 1667]) designed to punish the Puritans by excluding them from civil office and other institutions of church and state, but affecting both Presbyterians and Independents, as well as anyone outside the Protestant pale. Over the course of Charles II's reign perhaps 8,000 Dissenters were imprisoned under provisions of the code (e.g., John Bunyan, Margaret Fox) and about 2,000 ministers were ejected from the Church of England: "approximately 1,760 ministers were ousted between 1660 and 1663, in addition to 120 clergy in Wales and some 200 university dons, lecturers and schoolmasters. Most ejected ministers were Presbyterians who probably would have conformed if a comprehensive settlement had been implemented [by the Savoy Conference]. . . . few Baptists had possessed livings in the Church of England during the 1650s, and the Quakers had never been part of the national church and had no ordained clergy" (Greaves 2001: 270)

Navigation Act passed (based on Act passed by Parliament in 1651)

English colonial possessions in 1660:-- (cf. in 1763 and in 1815)
* In North America: Newfoundland [English control not formally recognized internationally till 1713], Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
* In the Caribbean and northern coast of South America: Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St Christopher [St Kitts] and Nevis), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Surinam.


Re-opening of the theaters (which has been closed in 1642):--
There were two companies, under Thomas Killigrew and Sir William Davenant respectively, until 1683, when the companies were united.

[Richard Allestree (b. 1619)], The Gentlemans Calling (non-fiction)

Alexander Brome (b. 1620), A Congratulatory Poem, on the Miraculous, and Glorious Return of that Unparallel'd King Charls [sic] the II (poetry)

William Chamberlayne (b. 1619), Englands Jubile [sic]; or, A Poem of the Happy Return of His Sacred Majesty, Charles the II (poetry)

Charles Cotton (b. 1630), A Panegyrick to the King's Most Excellent Majesty (poetry)

Abraham Cowley (b. 1618), Ode, Upon the Blessed Restoration and Returne of His Sacred Majestie, Charls [sic] the Second (poetry)

Sir William Davenant (b. 1606), Poem, Upon His Sacred Majesties Most Happy Return to His Dominions (poetry)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Astraea Redux A poem on the happy restoration & return of His Sacred Majesty Charles the Second (poetry)

Thomas Flatman (b. 1637), A Panegyrick to His Renowed [sic] Majestie, Charles the Second (poetry)

Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620), Heroick Portraits . . . Made, and dedicate to His Majesty (misc.)

Nathaniel Ingelo (b. 1621?), Bentivolio and Urania (religious allegorical romance)

[Edmund Waller (b. 1606)], To the King, upon His Majesties Happy Return (poetry)


Samuel Pepys, Diary (written; first pub., abridged and bowdlerized, in 1825)


Jan. 1-4: Venner's Rising of Fifth Monarchy Men

Jan.: John Bunyan imprisoned for refusing to cease preaching

April 23: coronation of Charles II

May 8: "Cavalier" Parliament meets

Edward Hyde created Earl of Clarendon

Savoy Conference fails to reach agreement on revision of Prayer Book

Dec.: Corporation Act passed (repealed in 1828)

Robert Boyle (b. 1627), The Sceptical Chymist; or, Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes (non-fiction)

John Dryden (b. 1631), To His Sacred Majesty, a Panegyrick on his Coronation (poetry)

John Evelyn (b. 1620), Fumifugium; or, The Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated (non-fiction)

[Joseph Glanvill (b. 1636)], The Vanity of Dogmatizing (non-fiction)

Edmund Waller (b. 1606), A Poem on St James's Park, As lately improved by His Majesty (poetry)


Charles II's marriage in 1662 to the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza:--
The new queen brought Bombay and Tangiers to the English crown as part of her huge dowry & helped popularize tea-drinking in England

Royal Society of London established (through a reorganization of the Philosophical Society, est. 1645); the French Académie Royale des Sciences was subsequently founded in 1666

Robert Boyle, Irish-born chemist and physicist, establishes that the volume of a gas varies inversely to pressure (Boyle's Law)

Act of Uniformity passed:--
This Act, which came into effect on 24 Aug., led to the ejection of Anglican clergymen who failed to comply with its terms--thus Puritan-leaning men such as Samuel Annesley were forced out of the Church of England, schools, and universities, and joined the ranks of the Dissenters. Approximately 2,000 ministers were ejected. The Act solidified the lines of difference between the Anglican Church and the ranks of Dissenting groups (Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Unitarians). A measure of détente was achieved after the Revolution of 1688 and in the eighteenth century, though sectarian battles between "church and chapel" lasted through the age of Anne.

Act of Settlement passed

Press Licensing Act passed. (It lapsed temporarily in 1679-85 and then was allowed to lapse for good in 1695.)

Sir Richard Baker (1568?-1645), Theatrum Redivivum; or, The Theatre Vindicated (non-fiction)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Orations of Divers Sorts (misc.)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Playes (drama)

Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), The History of the Worthies of England (non-fiction)

[Joseph Glanvill (b. 1636)], Lux Orientalis Or an enquiry into the opinion of the Eastern sages, concerning the praeexistence of souls (non-fiction)

[Simon Patrick (b. 1626)], A Brief Account of the New Sect of Latitude Men (non-fiction)


Yorkshire rising

Royal Africa Company founded

The Theatre Royal at Drury Lane built

Third Folio of Shakespeare's plays published

Samuel Bochart (1599-1667), Hierozoicon, sive bipertitum opus de animalius sacrae scripturae (a natural history of all the animals referred to in the Bible, drawing on Greek, Roman, Arabic and Hebrew sources)

[Samuel Butler (b. 1612)], Hudibras. The First Part (poetry) (Second Part, 1664; Third Part, 1678)

Mary Carleton (fl. 1663-73), The Case of Mary Carleton, Lately Stiled The German Princess, Truely Stated (non-fiction)

Abraham Cowley (b. 1618), Verses, Lately Written Upon Several Occasions (poetry)

Thomas Jordan (b. 1612?), A Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie (poetry)

1664-67: Second Anglo-Dutch War

The English seize New York from the Dutch; in 1665, England paid the bishop of Münster to invade Holland, which he did only to make peace unilaterally shortly thereafter.


Triennial Act passed

Conventicle Act passed, banning religious gatherings that are not in conformity with the Prayer Book

Death of Katherine Philips (1632-64), the "matchless Orinda"

[Samuel Butler (b. 1612)], Hudibras. The Second Part (poetry)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Philosophicall Letters (non-fiction)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), CCXI Sociable Letters (fiction)

John Dryden (b. 1631), The Rival Ladies A tragi-comedy (drama)

[John Dryden (b. 1631)] and Sir Robert Howard (b. 1626), The Indian Queen (acted) (drama) (first published in Sir Robert Howard, Four New Plays [1665])

Lucy Hutchinson (b. 1620), Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson (written; not published till 1806) (non-fiction)

Thomas Mun (1571-1641), England's Treasure by Forraign Trade (non-fiction)


Five Mile Act, enforcing the rustication of nonconformist ministers and teachers by requiring those who refused to swear the required oaths to remain five miles away from any city or town; likewise, ejected ministers had to remain five miles away from their former parishes

The Great Plague in London and environs

Philosophical Transactions (by Henry Oldenburg, with various contributors) (periodical)

John Bunyan (b. 1628), The Holy City

John Dryden (b. 1631), The Indian Emperor (acted) (drama) (first published 1667)

[Richard Head (b. 1637?)], The English Rogue Described In the life of Meriton Latroon (fiction)

Sir Robert Howard (b. 1626), Four New Plays (drama)

Sir William Killigrew (b. 1606), Three Playes [Selindra, Ormasdes, Pandora] (drama)

[Andrew Marvell (b. 1621)], The Character of Holland (poetry)

Thomas Sprat (b. 1635), Observations on Monsieur de Sorbier's Voyage into England (non-fiction)


The Great Fire of London:--
The fire began on 2 Sept. 1666 and consumed 90 percent of the housing in the old City (some 13,200 houses). The fire was denounced by some, at the time, as a Catholic plot and by others as divine punishment for the decadence of the Restoration court and society. The anti-Catholic interpretation was perpetuated in plaque and pillar: a plaque at no.25 Pudding Lane, site of the house where the Great Fire was believed to have started in the kitchen of Thomas Farynor the king's baker, declares: "Here, by the Permission of Heaven, Hell broke loose upon this Protestant City, from the malicious Hearts of barbarous Papists, by the Hand of their Agent Hubert, who confessed, and on the Ruins of this Place declared the Fact, for which he was hanged, viz. That here began that dreadful Fire, which is described and perpetuated on and by the Neighbouring Pillar" (quoted in Mack 1988: 41). This plaque was placed during the Popish Plot scare in 1681, removed during the reign of James II, replaced when William came in, and taken down about the middle of the 18th century--because "the stoppage of passengers to read it" interfered with traffic (Mack 1988: 41). Similarly, Christopher Wren's London Monument, erected in memory of the Great Fire of 1666, bore the following anti-Catholic inscription: "This Pillar was set up in Perpetual Remembrance of that most dreadful burning of this Protestant City, begun and carried on by the Treachery and Malice of the Popish Faction, in the beginning of September, in the Year of our Lord 1666, in order to the carrying on of their horrid Plot for extirpating the Protestant Religion and Old English Liberties, and the introducing Popery and Slavery" (quoted in Mack 1988: 41). This inscription was "incised in 1681, razed under James, re-incised more deeply under William, and not removed till 21 January 1831, following the Catholic Emancipation Act" (Mack 1988: 41).

L'Académie des Sciences established in France by Colbert

Death of James Shirley

John Bunyan (b. 1628), Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (non-fiction)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), The Description of a New World, called the Blazing World (fiction)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Observations upon Experimental Philosophy (non-fiction)

Margaret Fell (later Fox) (b. 1614), Women's Speaking Justified (non-fiction)

[Elkanah Settle (b. 1648)], Mare Clausum; or, A Ransack for the Dutch, May 23. 1666 (poetry)

John Tillotson (b. 1630), The Rule of Faith (non-fiction)

Edmund Waller (b. 1606), Instructions to a Painter For the drawing of the posture & progress of His Majesties forces at sea . . . Together with the battel & victory obtained over the Dutch, June 3, 1665 (poetry)


Dutch burn English fleet in the Medway

July: Treaty of Breda concludes the Second Anglo-Dutch War

Clarendon dismissed and, under threat of impeachment, driven into exile; replaced by rule of "The Cabal" (till 1673)

Death of Abraham Cowley (1618-67)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), [Life of William Cavendish] (non-fiction)

Sir John Denham (b. 1615), On Mr Abraham Cowley His Death and Burial Amongst the Ancient Poets (poetry)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Annus Mirabilis: The Year of Wonders, 1666 (poetry)

John Dryden (b. 1631), The Indian Emperour; or, The Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards Being the sequel to The Indian Queen (drama)

John Dryden (b. 1631) and Sir William Davenant (b. 1606), The Tempest; or, The Enchanted Island (drama) (acted; pub. 1670)

Andrew Marvell (b. 1621), "Last Instructions to a Painter" (ms. poetry)

John Milton (b. 1608), Paradise Lost (in ten books; rev. in twelve books, 1674) (poetry)
This work, one of the indisputable classics of English literature, had an immense influence--in various ways--on the idioms and outlooks of subsequent generations of English poets. Milton's verse in Paradise Lost became both "the most important model of grandeur and sublimity in English writing" and, "because it provided an example of truly heroic English poetry on a grand scale, Paradise Lost made mock-heroic poetry in English much more possible" (DeMaria, ed. 1996: 29). Milton's freeing of English verse from the "bondage" of rhyme--through his use of blank verse--became a model for subsequent poets, and his creation of a truly Christian epic served to illustrate the merging of Zion and Parnassus sought by many English-language writers in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Katherine Philips (1631-64), Poems by the most deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (poetry)

Sir Paul Rycaut (b. 1628), The Present State of the Ottoman Empire (non-fiction) (3rd edn, 1670; 6th edn, 1686)

Thomas Sprat (b. 1635), The History of the Royal-Society of London (non-fiction)


Revived debate about liberty of conscience and toleration (or "indulgence") of religious nonconformity:--
Arguments in favor of toleration were made by John Owen (A Peace-Offering in an Apology and Humble Plea for Indulgence and Liberty of Conscience (1667); Indulgence and Toleration Considered in a Letter unto a Person of Honour (1667); Truth and Innocence Vindicated (1669)), Sir Charles Wolseley (Liberty of Conscience, the Magistrates Interest (1668); Liberty of Conscience upon Its True Proper Grounds Asserted & Vindicated (1668)), William Penn (The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience (1671)), and John Locke (whose first "Essay on Toleration" was written in 1667, though not published till later). Arguments against toleration were made by Thomas Tomkins (The Inconvenience of Toleration (1667)), Richard Perrinchief (Indulgence Not Justified (1668); A Discourse of Toleration (1668)), Samuel Parker (A Discourse of Ecclesiastical Politie (1669)), and Simon Patrick (A Friendly Debate (1669)) (Greaves 2001: 277).


Triple Alliance formed (against France)

Bombay transferred by the Crown to the East India Company

Death of Sir William Davenant (1606-68)

Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery (b. 1621), The Tragedy of Mustapha, Son of Solyman the Magnificent (drama)

Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle (b. 1624?), Plays, Never Before Printed (drama)

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667), The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley (works) (edited by Thomas Sprat and including Sprat's "Life of Cowley")

Sir John Denham (b. 1615), Poems and Translations With The Sophy (poetry)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Of Dramatick Poesie (criticism) (written in 1666, while plague closed the theaters)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Secret-Love; or, The Maiden-Queen (drama)

John Dryden (b. 1631) and [William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle], Sir Martin Mar-all; or, The Feign'd Innocence (drama)

Sir George Etherege, She Wou'd If She Cou'd (drama)

[Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620)], Sir William D'Avenant's Voyage to the Other World: with his Adventures in the Poets Elizium (poetry)

Joseph Glanvill (b. 1636), Plus Ultra; or, The Progress and Advancement of Knowledge Since the Days of Aristotle (non-fiction)

Thomas Shadwell (b. 1642), The Sullen Lovers (drama)

John Wilkins (b. 1614), An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language (non-fiction)


The conversion of James, Duke of York, to Catholicism now public

Death of Sir John Denham (1614/15-69)

Edward Chamberlayne (b. 1616), Angliae Notitiae; or, The Present State of England (non-fiction)

John Dryden (b. 1631), Tyrannick Love; or, The Royal Martyr (drama) (acted; pub. 1670)

John Dryden (b. 1631), The Wild Gallant (drama)

Richard Flecknoe (b. ca. 1620), Epigrams of All Sorts (poetry)

Edward Howard (b. 1624), The Brittish Princess An heroick poem (poetry)


Charles II signs Treaty of Dover with France, with secret provisions

Hudson's Bay Company established

John Dryden (d. 1700) made Poet Laureate (till 1689)

John Dryden, Conquest of Granada, part 1 (acted) (drama)

Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554-1628), The Remains of Sir Fulk Grevill Lord Brooke (poetry)

John Milton (b. 1608), The History of Britain (non-fiction)

[John Ray (b. 1627)], A Collection of English Proverbs (non-fiction)

Henry Stubbe (b. 1632), The Plus Ultra reduced to a Non Plus (non-fiction)

Izaak Walton (b. 1593), The Lives of Dr John Donne, Sir Henry Wooton, Mr Richard Hooker, Mr George Herbert (non-fiction)


Westminster-Drollery (poetry anthology; part 2 pub. 1672)

Aphra Behn (b. 1640?), The Forc'd Marriage; or, The Jealous Bridegroom (drama)

Aphra Behn (b. 1640?), The Amorous Prince; or, The Curious Husband (drama)

John Dryden (b. 1631), An Evening's Love; or, The Mock-Astrologer (drama)

John Milton (b. 1608), Paradise Regained (poetry) and Samson Agonistes (drama)

Elkanah Settle (b. 1648), Cambyses King of Persia (drama)

Thomas Shadwell, The Humourists (drama)

[George Villiers, 2nd duke of Buckingham (b. 1628), et al.], The Rehearsal (acted; pub. 1672) (drama)

1672-74: Third Anglo-Dutch War

Fought in alliance with (Catholic) France against the (Protestant) Dutch, this war saw a rapid shift in popular prejudices, from anti-Dutch to anti-French, despite the previous Anglo-Dutch wars; fueled by intensifying concerns about the religious policy of Charles I (who is increasingly suspected of being a crypto-Catholic; his brother, James, the heir to the throne, having openly converted to Catholicism in 1669).


Stop of the Exchequer

Second Declaration of Indulgence

the new Royal African Company established to supply slaves to the New World colonies. The original Royal African Company had been chartered in 1660, with a monopoly on English trade with West Africa, but the company fell into debt and inactivity after 1667. In 1672, the Company was granted a new charter, allowing it to set up forts and factories in West Africa, and to recruit troops, and by the 1680s it had become an active participant in the slave trade. The Company eventually lost its monopoly on the slave trade after the Revolution of 1688-89, and in 1698 this trade was officially opened up to other English traders, though the Royal African Company continued in this line until 1731. The Company supplied the English mint with gold from 1668 to 1722: the coins minted with this gold were known as "guineas" and bore the Company's emblem, an elephant with a castle atop it, under the bust of the monarch.

John Dryden (b. 1631), The Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards In two parts (drama) (also contains Dryden's essays "Of Heroique Plays" and "Defence of the Epilogue; or, An Essay on the Dramatique Poetry of the Last Age")

[Andrew Marvell], The Rehearsal Transpos'd

Thomas Shadwell, The Miser (drama; based on Molière's L'Avare)


The Test Act passed:--
This legislation sought to exclude both Catholics and Dissenters from civil offices (and monopolize power by Anglicans), by requiring "any holder of civil office to repudiate the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and once a year to receive the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England; it was repealed only in 1828. Protestant Dissenters, if they wished to hold office under the crown, were forced to conform occasionally, that is, to take communion once a year at a parish church" (Sosin 1982: 82). One prominent result of this Act was that James, Duke of York, resigned as Lord Admiral since he could not serve in that office as a Catholic.

James, duke of York, marries Mary of Modena:--
Around this time, there was a re-introduction of Pope-burning processions on Guy Fawkes Day (5 November, marking the Gunpowder Plot of 1605), and often on 17 November (accession day of Elizabeth I) by various Protestant groups "to express an anti-papal solidarity against the 'Romanizing' drift of Charles II's court" (Mack 1988: 5, 7).

Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby (Lord Treasurer) as first minister (till 1679)

Christopher Wren begins rebuilding St Paul's Cathedral (ruined in the Great Fire of 1666)

Death of Molière

[Andrew Marvell], The Rehearsal Transpos'd, second part

John Milton, Poems (poetry)

Elkanah Settle, The Empress of Morocco (drama)


Death of John Milton (1608-74)

Death of Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Death of Thomas Traherne (1637-74)

The first microscopes created

John Dryden, The State of Innocence (written) (opera, based on Paradise Lost)

William Wycherley, The Plain Dealer (acted) (drama)


Case of Shirley v. Fagg upholds House of Lords' jurisdiction

Parliament prorogued by Charles II until 1677

Death of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1624-75)

Nathaniel Lee, Sophonisba, or Hannibal's Overthrow (drama)

Edward Phillips, Theatrum Poetarum, Or a Compleat Collection of the Poets (criticism)

Thomas Shadwell, Psyche (opera)

William Wycherley, The Country Wife (drama)


Bishop Compton conducts religious census

Further treaty between Charles II and Louis XIV of France

Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale declares Christianity to be part of the law of England: ruling on the case of a man who declared that Jesus was a bastard and a whore-master and that religion was a cheat, the justice held "That such kind of wicked and blasphemous words were not only an offence against God and religion but a crime against the laws, States and Government . . . and Christianity being parcel of the laws of England, therefore to reproach Christian religion is to speak in subversion of the law" (quoted in Webster 1990: 23)

Death of John Ogilby

John Dryden, Aureng-Zebe (drama)

Sir George Etherege, The Man of Mode (drama)

Thomas Shadwell (b. 1642), The Virtuoso (drama)


William of Orange marries Mary, daughter of James, duke of York

Earl of Shaftesbury imprisoned

Aphra Behn (b. ca.1640), The Rover (drama)

[Andrew Marvell], Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England

1678-83: Plots and Counterplots (with rising religious strife)


The "Popish Plot":--
Anti-Catholic sentiments raised to a fever pitch by allegations by Titus Oates about a "Popish Plot" (August 1678) to assassinate Charles II (and install his Catholic brother on the throne). The furor led to the beheading of one Catholic peer, and the conviction, carting, hanging, castration, disembowling, and exposure in public quarters of the bodies of 23 other Catholics (mostly secular priests and Jesuits); "Many others were thrown into prison and left to rot there without trial": "It is difficult to exaggerate either the degree of the panic or the fury of the rhetoric which fanned it" (Mack 1988: 4-5). Historians consider this alleged plot to have been a fabrication used to stir up anti-Catholic sentiment among the populace. Aside from the sheer intimidation and brutalization of the Catholic minority, the hysteria aroused by the alleged "Plot" did succeed, politically, in forcing the king to push his brother, James, Duke of York, and some of his supporters onto the sidelines for a while (till ca. 1684) and it led to passage of the Papists' Disabling Act and galvanized support for the "exclusion" of James from succession to the throne.

Death of Andrew Marvell (1621-78)

John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, part I (fiction)

John Dryden, All for Love (drama)

1679-80: the "Meal-Tub Plot"

Midwife and Catholic convert Elizabeth Cellier (and others) tried for alleged involvement in a supposed Catholic plot to assassinate Charles II

1679-81: the Exclusion Crisis

Sectarian and partisan infighting over an attempt, led by the Earl of Shaftesbury, to bar ("exclude") the king's brother, James, Duke of York, from succeeding to the throne of England, though he was next in the legal succession. Charles, however, defended the royal line against Parliament's attempt to determine the succession (and, hence, to make and unmake kings). The return of tensions between King and Parliament led to the emergence of political factions or "parties" in Parliament ("Whigs" and "Tories"), with "Tories" supporting the royal prerogative and "Whigs" challenging the king's priorities and agenda. In order to stave off the initial push for exclusion, coming as it did in the heated climate aroused by the "Popish Plot," Charles II prorogued parliament on 26 or 27 May 1679, "only eleven days after the first bill had been introduced to prevent James . . . from succeeding to the throne upon Charles's death" (Greene 2005: 75).


Danby falls

Habeas Corpus Act passed

Press Licensing Act lapses (until it was reinstated in 1685) with the proroguing of parliament in late May 1679

Death of Thomas Hobbes

John Dryden, Troilus and Cressida

Thomas Shadwell, A True Widow


House of Lords rejects Exclusion Bill

Death of Samuel Butler

Death of John Wilmot, 2nd earl of Rochester (1647-80)

John Bunyan, The Life and Death of Mr Badman

Robert Filmer, Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings Asserted (wr. ante-1653; now first published)

Lord Rochester, Poems on Several Occasions (1680) (contains not a few poems misattributed to Rochester)


Thomas Burnet, Telluris Sacra Theoria (English trans., 1684-89)


March: Oxford Parliament dissolved

Shaftesbury acquitted of treason

Whig JPs (justices of the peace) purged

August: English silkweavers attack French weavers (Huguenot refugees) in London, breaking their equipment and vandalizing their houses:--
These Huguenot refugees had fled the increasing persecution of religious minorities in France, marked especially by the institution of dragonnades in Poitou in 1681, that is, the forced billetting of dragoons in the homes of Huguenot families in the province, whereby the home was pillaged, the family financially ruined, and the members of the household harrassed and assaulted--until they converted to Catholicism (as some 38,000 did). Many others fled the country, principally to England and Holland. The use of dragonnades was temporarily halted, only to be resumed in 1684.

John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (poetry)

Andrew Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems (poetry)

John Oldham, Satires upon the Jesuits (poetry) and Some New Pieces


Borough charters called in

Shaftesbury flees to Holland

Peter I (the Great) assumes the throne in Russia (reigned 1682-1725)

Death of Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82)

John Bunyan, The Holy War

John Dryden, The Medal and Religio Laici (poetry)

John Dryden and Nahum Tate, Absalom and Achitophel, Part II (poetry)

Thomas Otway, Venice Preserved (drama)

John Dryden, Mac Flecknoe (now first published; wr. ca. 1676) (poetry)


The "Rye House Plot":--
An alleged Whig conspiracy to eliminate Charles II (for his pro-Catholic leanings): one plan was to assassinate the king as he passed along a narrow road near the Rye House at Hoddeston, Hertfordshire; the plot unravelled and an informer's evidence led to the arrest of Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex (who subsequently died in the Tower of London, probably by suicide); Lord William Russell, Algernon Sidney, and Sir Thomas Armstrong were all tried, convicted of treason, and beheaded. James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, (the king's illegitimate son) was suspected of involvement in the plotting, but escaped punishment. John Locke, who favored designating Monmouth as the successor to Charles II, may also have had some involvement with these conspirators, though he and his patron, Anthony Ashley Cooper (1st earl of Shaftesbury), were in exile on the Continent after the Exclusion Crisis came to a head in 1682.

Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland (Secretary of State) emerges as first minister (till end of James II's reign in 1688)

Turks besiege Vienna, but are halted there in their sweep into Europe

Ashmolean Museum established at the University of Oxford:--
The Museum was among the first public institutions of its kind: the collection Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) presented to the university built on the older collection of John Tradescant (d. 1638) which was known as "Tradescant's Ark" and had been displayed to the public for a fee. The first curator of the Museum was Dr. Robert Plot. [museum website]

The two theater companies in London united into a single establishment

Death of John Oldham (1653-83)

Thomas De Laune, A Plea for the Nonconformists:--
This work was considered by Daniel Defoe to be "the best statement of the Dissenters' case ever given. De Laune was tried for libel and fined for his pamphlet and, being unable to pay his fine, died in Newgate" (Furbank & Owens, ed. 1997: viii) De Laune's fate is a good example of how, given the laws for debt at the time, crimes that carried the relatively "light" penalty of a fine could nonetheless translate into life sentences for those who were not sufficiently affluent.

John Oldham, Poems, and Translations (poetry)


Aphra Behn, Poems upon Several Occasions (poetry)

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress, part II (fiction)

John Oldham, Remains

Henri Basnage de Beauval, Tolérance des religions (Rotterdam)


Pierre Bayle, Nouvelles de la république des lettres (this important periodical was continued, under the editorship of others, from 1687-89, and then edited by Jacques Bernard, from 1699-1711 and 1715-18)

1685-1688: Reign of James II


Death of Charles I; accession of his brother as James II (of England) and James VII (of Scotland) on Feb. 6

May: Parliament summoned, and then prorogued

June 11: outbreak of "Monmouth Rebellion":--
A failed Protestant uprising against the new king, led by the Duke of Monmouth (illegitimate son of Charles II, who had been involved in the Rye House plotting in 1683): the rebellion was defeated at Sedgemoor on July 6, and Monmouth himself was executed on July 15, followed by about 320 of his supporters who were executed in the trials that followed (known as the "Bloody Assizes," conducted by Chief Justice, George Jeffreys, and four other judges in Sept.); "more than 800 [of the rebels were] transported to Barbados; hundreds more were fined, flogged, or imprisoned" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Daniel Defoe was one of the participants in this failed rebellion.

October 18: Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France:--
Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, which had provided a measure of protection to France's Protestant minority since 1598; leading up to the Revocation and especially after it, some 400,000 Huguenots fled France for England, Germany (Brandenburg-Prussia), Holland, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Ireland, the Americas, and South Africa. "Settling all over Europe and in the overseas colonies, French Protestants established not only trade but also intellectual networks. Their correspondents included some Catholics and Jews as well as their co-religionists. Through these networks, ideas of the Enlightenment and practical knowledge about such matters as weaving techniques were disseminated" (Lachenicht 2007: 310). Like the Jewish minority communities in many of these same countries of settlement, the Huguenot refugee communities became a leavening agent for cosmopolitan and cosmopolitan nationalist ideas, and their networks of communication and exchange (part of a "Calvinist international") constitute important nodes in the material infrastructure of the Enlightenment "republic of letters."

November: second parliamentary session prorogued

Death of Thomas Otway (1652-85)

John Dryden, ed. Sylvae (poetry)


James II dispenses with the Test Act:--
His action in dispensing with the Test Act is upheld by the Court of King's Bench in Godden v. Hales; James appoints Catholics to civil and military offices, leading to confrontations with Parliament, the Oxford colleges, and Anglican leaders

Ecclesiastical Commission established

June 14: Scottish Parliament prorogued after refusing to grant indulgence to Catholics


James issues two Declarations of Indulgence for Catholics and Quakers in Scotland:--
These Declarations, issued on Feb. 12 and June 28, respectively, paralleled James's granting of extensive indulgences in England to Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholic recusants, and his decision to make Father Petre (a Catholic priest) a privy councillor

Expulsion of fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford

Nov. 14: official confirmation of the Queen's pregnancy (raising the prospect of a Catholic heir)

John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther (poetry)

Lord Halifax, Letter to a Dissenter

Sir Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica (2d edn., with "General Scholium," 1713)


May 3-4: James's Declaration of Indulgence is republished and, the next day, he orders the Anglican clergy to read it from the pulpit on two successive Sundays

May 18: William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and seven other bishops petition the king to be excused from reading the Declaration, rousing the king's anger

June 8: the "Seven Bishops" are arrested on charge of seditious libel and committed to the Tower of London

June 10: James's queen, Mary of Modena, gives birth to a son (James Edward), consolidating the prospect of a Catholic heir to the throne. Protestants allege that the infant was smuggled into the palace in a warming pan; "By October the fanatically held belief became so powerful that James felt obliged to hold a special council at which some forty-odd witnesses testified to the genuineness of the birth. Many people, however, continued to prefer the lie" (Mack 1988: 10n.)

June 29-30: trial of the "Seven Bishops" and their acquittal by a London jury

June 30: growing resistance to James's religious policy, coupled now with anxiety about a Catholic heir, leads seven church and political leaders of the Protestant party, both Whigs and Tories (i.e., Danby, Shrewsbury, Devonshire, Compton, Sidney, Lumley, and Russell), to "invite" William of Orange (husband of James's Protestant daughter, Mary) to lead a force to England in defence of "Liberties" (i.e., to force the king into making concessions)

Sept. 30: William of Orange accepts the invitation to invade England

Oct. 19: William's forces begin to cross the Channel from Holland

Nov. 5, 1688: William lands at Torbay with 15,000 Dutch troops, initiating the revolutionary crisis of 1688-89

Revolution of 1688-89

The Revolution of 1688, traditionally referred to as the "Glorious Revolution," is generally seen is marking the emergence of Parliament as the supreme power in the land, displacing the monarch from that role, and putting an end to "divine right" kingship in England. The king, no longer the agent or deputy of God on earth, now derives his power from "the people," or from the "representatives" of the people embodied in the Parliament. By keeping control of the purse strings, Parliament ensured to itself the ultimate say in any future power struggles with the king--having learned the hard way from Charles II's attempt to skirt this control through a secret subsidy from the French king and James II's neutralization of this control by managing to get Parliament to grant him certain incomes for life from near the very start of his reign. In any case, a new ideology of the absolute sovereignty of Parliament came to displace that of the absolute rule of kings.

The Revolutionary Settlement itself allowed the changes taking place--and those to come--to remain hidden since, formally, it left the place of the monarch atop the political structure untouched; but underneath this superficial continuity with the past, over time more and more of the actual substance of power and the government of the country shifted hands from the monarch to the parliamentary leaders--who nonetheless throughout the eighteenth century served at the pleasure of the monarch and could be dismissed by him if he saw fit. MPs may have been "the people's" representatives (or, in any case, those of the "political nation") but the government still consisted of "the king's" ministers. This equivocal situation--superficial continuity and subterranean transformation--allowed Edmund Burke at the time of the French Revolution to insist that the Revolution of 1688 had been a return to the immemorial "ancient constitution" rather than a starting point for any novel departure in English political history. Ultimately, however, the monarch became more of a figurehead and the new players--ruling party and prime minister--came to be the true arbiters of power.

The British Parliament has never entirely given up its claim to absolute sovereignty--but modern liberal democratic traditions are marked by their insistence on the limited (i.e., circumscribed) power of government (whether that of kings or of parliaments). Furthermore, the notion of the sovereignty of Parliament is, as hinted above, a far cry from a notion of the sovereignty of the people: the two notions are only brought into relation if and when Parliament is made both representative of and responsible to the people as a whole. The democratization of parliamentary institutions was a long, agonizing process that was resisted at every step by the political establishment and that remains even today an incomplete transformation of an older elitist political culture.

As with the exile of royalists during the period of the civil wars and interregnum, the "Glorious Revolution" forced not only the court of James II but also many of his supporters into exile on the Continent (some 40,000 persons, including some writers such as Jane Barker) or into "retirement" in the countryside (such as Heneage Finch and Anne Finch). Many other authors of the period have been associated with, or suspected of harboring, a "Jacobite" outlook, from Dryden and Behn to Pope to Samuel Johnson. ("Jacobite" derives from Jacobus [the Latin form of 'James'] = supporter of James II and his heirs; cf. the term "Jacobean" for the era of James I's reign [1603-25].) Since critics are often claiming a "crypto-Jacobite" stance on the part of these authors, there is often a good deal of dispute and controversy about such claims--except in cases, such as those of Dryden and Behn, where the author made explicit his or her support of the Stuart line. There is sometimes a tendency on the part of modern scholars to equate opposition to William (or, later, to the Hanoverians) with sympathy with and support for the Stuarts, but this is a false inference (in the absence of additional evidence). See also the discussion of "Non-jurors," below.

1688 (cont'd.)

Nov. 19, 1688: James joins his army at Salisbury. A few days later (Nov. 22), James decides to retreat with his forces to London, but now begins the decay of his strength as "Churchill and Grafton leave James, followed by increasing elements of the royal army" (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 5)

Dec. 11, 1688: James loses his nerve and attempts to flee the country, is caught and temporarily held but manages to escape for France on Dec. 23--opening the way for overthrowing his rule altogether

Death of John Bunyan (1628-88)

Jane Barker, Poetical Recreations (poetry)

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave (fiction)


Jan. 22, 1689: meeting of Convention Parliament:--
The Commons declares (Jan. 28) that James II has abdicated his throne and, with its offer (Feb. 13) of the crown to William and Mary, issues a Declaration of Rights which asserts the independence of Parliament from the monarch and the binding authority of its legislation on king as well as on country. It also enshrines the "right" to bear arms and requires that Parliament should be held frequently.

"William and Mary were declared King and Queen for life, the chief administration resting with William; the crown was next settled on William's children by Mary; in default of such issue, on the Princess Anne of Denmark and her children; and in default of these, on the children of William by any other wife" (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 6). Mary and Anne were both (Protestant) daughters of James II, so the revolutionary settlement of the succession kept it in the Stuart line, thus seeking to mollify Jacobite sentiment and to address the issue of the "legitimacy" of the new monarchy. But this strategy would be complicated if the first two options failed and the succession went through the children of William and a wife other than Mary. As it turned out, the first and third of these options drew blanks, and Anne's last surviving child died in 1700. This led to the passage of the Act of Settlement in 1701 (see below) to devise a new line of succession after Anne--one which carried the throne away from the Stuarts and thus set the stage for tensions between Jacobites and supporters of the Hanoverians through at least the first half of the 18th century.

March 1, 1689: "Non-juror" schism appears when various officials--eight bishops (including Archbishop William Sancroft), over 400 clergymen, and some laymen in England, as well as virtually all the Scottish Episcopalian clergy and one Irish bishop--refuse to take oaths of allegiance and supremacy to William and Mary, unable or unwilling to square it with their earlier oaths of loyalty to James II as their rightful king. Clergymen who refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to William and Mary by August 1 were suspended from their benefices and then deprived outright if they still failed to take the oaths by February 1 of the following year [Catholic Encyclopedia].

The term "Non-juror" is used especially of members (clergymen) of the Anglican Church who refused to endorse the legality of the new monarchs. As such, the Non-jurors were a complex, intermediate group, between the outright Jacobite partisans (who were often Catholics), on the one hand, and the Williamite loyalists, on the other hand. Figures like Archbishop Sancroft (and four other Non-juring bishops) had been prosecuted by James II for their failure to read his Declaration of Indulgence from the pulpit of their churches, but they nonetheless were unwilling to break their oath of loyalty to the legitimate king. (They were willing, however, to accept William and Mary as Regents, though not as King and Queen. But this prudential compromise was not available in the political circumstances of the times.) Non-jurors were not necessarily supporters of James and his policies--so not "Jacobites" in any meaningful sense--though some Non-jurors, such as George Hickes and Heneage Finch (husband of the poet Anne Finch), have indeed been described as Jacobites. When James II died in 1701, many Non-jurors ended their opposition to William, (as Daniel Defoe urged them to do), but others held out on the grounds that their allegiance had been sworn to "James and his rightful heirs."

April 11, 1689: coronation of William and Mary

May 11, 1689: William and Mary accept Claim of Right of Scottish Convention Parliament, asserting the constitutional liberties of the Kingdom

In Scotland, the Revolution of 1688-89 corresponded with a religious revolution, namely, the ouster (disestablishment) of the Episcopalian Church and establishment of the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland. As noted above, the whole body of Scottish bishops became "Non-jurors" and were deprived of their benefices, but rather than being replaced by conformist Episcopalian churchmen, their whole denomination was dethroned from its position as the established church in Scotland. This was only the latest phase in the religious strife that marked early modern Scottish history, where earlier the Covenanters (Presbyterians) held sway (see discussion under Civil Wars), only to be replaced by the Episcopalian Church of Scotland at the Restoration in 1660. Now, with another political revolution in 1688-89, the Episcopalians were thrown out and the Presbyterians re-established.

1689-1694: Reign of William III and Mary II

1689-97: Nine Years War in Ireland and on the Continent

James II lands at Kinsale in Ireland on March 12, opening this front of war. The so-called "Bloodless Revolution" (another common epithet for the Revolution of 1688-89) would be anything but that, in Ireland, and both the bloody march up to William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), the subsequent defeat of the Irish Jacobites at Aughrim (1691), and the punitive confiscations that followed in the wake of the Treaty of Limerick (1691), which ended the war, have remained a central part of the conflict between Irish Catholics and Protestant "Orangists" in the north of Ireland.

On the Continent, England joined the war being waged against France by the League of Augsburg--Spain, Savoy, Brandenburg, Saxony, Hanover, and Bavaria. With the addition of England, this was now known as "the Grand Alliance". From William of Orange's point of view, the Revolution of 1688-89 was attractive as a way of marshalling the resources of the British crown against the ambitions of France (which would not have been likely under the Catholic James II). This long war was followed quickly by English involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13)--and this quarter century of almost continuous warfare was only the start of a long series of wars throughout the rest of the eighteenth century (until 1815). Consequently, the era has sometimes been labelled that of a "Second Hundred Years' War" (in allusion to the medieval "Hundred Years War" between France and England in 1337-1453). The financial strains of this long era of war led to numerous important developments--including the permanent land tax, the establishment of the Bank of England, and the national debt--that helped shape the political economy of the English state and society across the eighteenth century.

1689 (cont'd.)

May 24, 1689: Toleration Act passed:--
This act exempts Dissenters, who have taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, from penalties for non-attendance at Anglican church service (eliminating the restrictions of the Test Act vis-à-vis them).

After the Revolution, the focus of religious distrust was directed primarily at Catholics (seen as natural allies of James II) as the new regime sought to effect a rapprochement between Anglicans and Dissenters. Indeed, the civil disabilities of Catholics were marked: they could not openly practice their religion; they could not hold public office; and they could not take degrees at public schools or universities. There were "repeated proclamations during the early years of the new reign requiring Romanists to keep at a distance of ten miles from Hyde Park Corner" (Mack 1988: 37); Catholics also could not own firearms or a horse above the value of £5, and their homes were subject to daytime forcible searches on the warrant of a justice of the peace on suspicion of concealing firearms (Mack 1988: 40): "Later on during William's reign [1694-1702, after the death of Mary], the economic straitjacket tightened. Legislation excluded Roman Catholic barristers from access to the courts. Lords lieutenant in the shires were empowered to draft horse and foot soldiers from papist estates and charge the cost upon the estate owner. Toward the close of the reign, a particularly notorious act disqualified Roman Catholics from inheriting landed property or buildings, a provision that made it advisable for [Alexander] Pope's father in acquiring the Binfield property to convey it to two of his wife's Protestant nephews to be held in trust for his son. Worse, any Catholic child was allowed, and therefore in substance invited, to repudiate his family's faith and by this means constitute himself its sole heir, requiring from his father such annual maintenance as the lord chancellor might think fit until his coming of age. Another stipulation of the act allotted a reward of £100 for any substantiated report of a Catholic child being sent abroad to be educated. . . . To make doubly sure that a Catholic education would be difficult to obtain, a further provision prohibited Catholic priests from saying mass, and Catholic schoolmasters from teaching school, on pain of perpetual imprisonment, with again £100 to any person informing on them" (Mack 1988: 40).

Death of Aphra Behn (ca. 1640-89)

Thomas Shadwell (d. 1692) replaces John Dryden as Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal:--
Dryden is removed from these posts, being a Catholic (he converted during James II's reign) and having been appointed by the ousted king James II.

Godfrey Kneller, Principal Painter to the Crown

Aphra Behn, The History of the Nun (fiction) [text]

John Dryden, Don Sebastian (drama)

John Locke, Two Treatises on Government (dated 1690)


John Locke, Letters concerning Toleration (three letters were published in 1689, 1690, and 1692; a fourth letter was published posthumously in 1706)


Kensington Palace remodeled by Christopher Wren


General elections

Act of Grace

Regency Act

Archbishop Sancroft deprived of his office, due to his being a Non-juror

Battle of the Boyne, in which William III defeats the Jacobite army in Ireland, forcing James II to flee Ireland

John Dryden, Amphitryon (drama)

John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding

William Petty (d. 1687), Political Arithmetic

Sir William Temple, Essay upon Ancient and Modern Learning


John Dunton, Athenian Gazette, continued as Athenian Mercury (periodical)


House of Commons establishes Commission of Public Accounts

John Tillotson succeeds Sancroft (deprived as a Non-juror) as Archbishop of Canterbury

Treaty of Limerick ends war in Ireland

First Society for the Reformation of Manners:--
Many more such societies were established in various locales around England from 1695 on.

Death of Richard Baxter (1615-91)

Death of Robert Boyle (1627-91); Boyle lectures founded (see 1692, below)

Death of Sir George Etherege (1635-91)

Death of George Fox, the Quaker leader

Richard Baxter (1615-91), The Certainty of the World of Spirits

Dudley North, Discourses upon Trade

Henry Purcell, King Arthur

John Ray, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation (originally written as college exercises some fifty years earlier)


Failed bill requiring office holders to abjure James II

Marlborough dismissed by William III

Glencoe massacre

French successfully besiege Namur

Anglo-Dutch naval victory off La Hogue

battle of Steenkirk, allied defeat

Chelsea Hospital opened

Death of Thomas Shadwell (1642-92)

Nahum Tate (d. 1715) appointed Poet Laureate; Thomas Rymer appointed Historiograher Royal

First Boyle Lecture delivered:--
These lectures, endowed by the will of Roger Boyle (d. 1691), were intended to prove the truth of the Christian religion against infidels and unbelievers. They were dominated by disciples of Newton such as Bentley, Clarke, and Whiston: the first Boyle Lecture (1692) was delivered by Richard Bentley; the lectures of 1704 and 1705 by Samuel Clarke; the lectures of 1707 by William Whiston (published as The Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies in 1708); the lectures of 1711 and 1712 by William Derham (published as Physico-Theology in 1713). These writers, and others like them, helped sharpen changing conceptions of God and his actions, from the theatrical display of miracles (the dramaturgy of "shock and awe") to the rational elegance of his ordering of the universe according to universal laws. The natural philosophers' defense of Christianity thus issued, ironically, in a kind of distaste for and alienation from "primitive Christianity"--and a split into different modes of Protestant "religiosity" that still marks the varieties of Christian religious experience and identity found in the Anglo-American world.

John Dryden, Cleomenes (drama)

Roger L'Estrange, Fables of Aesop and other Mythologists

Henry Purcell, The Fairy Queen

Thomas Shadwell, The Volunteers

Thomas Southerne, The Wives' Excuse (drama)

Sir William Temple, Essays


Witch trials at Salem, Massachusetts


William III vetoes Triennial Parliament Bill

Land tax made permanent

Long-term national debt begun

William Congreve, The Double Dealer (drama)

John Dennis, The Impartial Critic

John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education

1694-1702: Reign of William III (after Mary's death)


Death of Mary II

William vetoes Place Bill

Triennial Act passed

Thomas Tenison made Archbishop of Canterbury

Bank of England established:--
A group of merchants, including Sir Gilbert Heathcote, "subscribed a £1,200,000 loan to the government and received in return a perpetual fund of interest and a charter of incorporation as the Bank of England" (Meroney 1968: 233)

Mary Astell, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest

William Congreve, The Double-Dealer (drama)

John Dryden, Love Triumphant (drama)

Thomas D'Urfey, The Comical History of Don Quixote

Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark

William Wotton, Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning


General election

Royal Bounty for relief of Huguenot refugees

Speaker of House of Commons, Sir John Trevor, dismissed for corruption

Allied forces successfully besiege Namur

Press Licensing Act lapses

Gregory King's "social table" analyzing social classes of England

Death of marquis of Halifax, politician and pamphleteer

Death of Henry Purcell, composer

Death of Henry Vaughan

Sir Richard Blackmore, Prince Arthur (poetry)

William Congreve, Love for Love (drama)

John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity

Henry Purcell, composer, adapts Dryden's The Indian Queen

John Woodward, Essay toward a Natural History of the Earth


Jacobite assassination plot

The "Whig Junto" rule (till 1700)

Last Determinations Act

Recoinage, supervised by Isaac Newton, as the new Warden of the Mint (cf. 1773)

Board of Trade and Plantations established

Inspector General of Customs established

Register of Shipping established

Failed attempt to establish the Land bank

Whiggish Kit Kat club founded

Elizabeth Singer (later Rowe), Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

John Toland, Christianity Not Mysterious:--
Although the imprecations in Toland's work are directed against Roman Catholicism, his anti-clericalism and the vehemence of his condemnation of the various "Absurdities . . . vented among Christians" made others anxious as well. The book "was condemned by the Irish House of Commons and burned by the common hangman in 1697" (Sambrook 1993: 40).

William Whiston, A New Theory of the Earth


James Tyrrell, The General History of England


Recipients of poor relief forced to wear badges

Stockjobbers Act

Sept.: Treaty of Ryswick ends Nine Years War (opening up space for domestic disputes in England, especially the Standing Army Controversy, 1697-99):--
By the Treaty of Ryswick, Louis XIV recognized William III as king of England. Upon his return to England, William received a triumphant welcome, but he was no longer so popular as he had been when he first arrived and ousted James II. Resentment against his Dutch entourage and the patronage they received contributed to this diminished popularity. One of the issues around which opposition crystalized was his determination to maintain a large standing army. This debate--almost entirely an intramural debate among Whigs--pitted those who favored a domestic militia against a professional standing army (with, inevitably, a significant proportion of foreign mercenaries). Parliament passed a motion "requiring all land forces raised since September 1680 to be disbanded--leaving a force of something under 10,000 men"; in 1698, the Commons "resolved on an even more drastic reduction of the army, also insisting that it must be composed of English-born troops--which meant that William must dismiss his faithful Dutch guards. He was bitterly wounded and contemplated abdication. Even worse, from his point of view, was to follow. In the summer of 1699, a Parliamentary committee was set up to investigate the lavish grants he had made, to friends and supporters, of forfeited estates in Ireland, and on receiving its report, the House ruled that these grants must be rescinded. There followed a prolonged and bitter clash between the two Houses of Parliament and a further attack on William's personal entourage. An address was made to the King to appoint no foreinger to his Privy Council, and eventually he had to give way. He then prorogued Parliament, being too angry to make his usual speech from the throne, and set off once more for Holland" (Furbank & Owens, ed. 1997: xi-xii).

Death of John Aubrey

Francis Atterbury, Letter to a Convocation Man

John Castaign's Course of the Exchange begins

William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the World

Daniel Defoe, An Essay upon Projects

Daniel Defoe, An Enquiry into the Occasional Conformity of Dissenters, in Cases of Preferment, with a Preface to the Lord Mayor (non-fiction)

John Dryden, Alexander's Feast (poetry)

John Dryden et al., trans., Works of Virgil (poetry)

John Trenchard and Walter Moyle, An Argument Shewing that a Standing Army is Inconsistent with a Free Government

John Vanbrugh, The Relapse (drama) and The Provok'd Wife (drama)


General election

Blasphemy Act passed

Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) founded:--
The SPCK, like the SPG (founded in 1701), brought together both Anglicans and Dissenters in the common work of promoting Protestantism in the "dark regions" of the British Isles and the wider world. The group was a leading force in the charity school movement that changed the face of popular education in England and Wales in the early 18th century.

Civil List Act

Royal Africa Company monopoly ended

New East India Company chartered:-- This meant that there were two rival English East India companies for a time (until the two companies united in 1709): Sir Gilbert Heathcote and several other merchants had subscribed a loan of £2,000,000 to the government and had received this charter in return. Heathcote would later serve on the commission to unite the Old and New East India Companies.

Tsar Peter the Great visits England

Thomas Savery develops the first "fire" (steam) engine

William III secretly negotiates and signs the First Partition Treaty:--
This was an agreement with France and the Dutch about how the huge Spanish dominions would be carved up upon the death of the ailing Carlos II of Spain (d. 1700). The terms of the Treaty became public in England in Oct. 1698, and caused an outcry. In any case, the Treaty became moot when the electoral Prince of Bavaria, who was the main beneficiary of the scheme, died.

Aphra Behn (d. 1689), Histories and Novels

Jeremy Collier, Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage

Dec.: Daniel Defoe, An Argument, Shewing, that a Standing Army, with Consent of Parliament, is not Inconsistent with a Free Government

William Molyneux, Case of Ireland's being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England

Algernon Sidney (d. 1683), Discourses concerning Government


Edward Ward, The London Spy (repr. 1703)


Parliament challenges William's grants of forfeited Irish estates

Shoplifting made a capital offence

Irish Woollen Act

Castle Howard, designed by John Vanbrugh, begun

Death of Sir William Temple

Abel Boyer (1667-1729), Royal Dictionary . . . French and English [and] English and French:--
Prepared for the use of the Duke of Gloucester, the work was reprinted (in various forms and abridgments) throughout the eighteenth century (and into the nineteenth): e.g., 1700, 1708, 1715, 1720, 1728, 1729, 1738, 1747, 1748, 1751, 1752, 1755, 1756, 1759, 1761, 1764, 1767, 1771, 1773, 1777, 1783, 1786, 1791, 1794, 1796, 1797, 1802, 1809, 1814, 1819. It was also much reprinted on the Continent and in London under its French title as Le Dictionnaire royal: e.g. The Hague, 1702; Amsterdam, 1719; Amsterdam, 1727; The Hague, 1751; Amsterdam, 1752; Basle, 1768-69; Lyon, 1780; Lyon, 1783

Sir Samuel Garth, The Dispensary (poetry)


Duke of Gloucester dies (see Act of Settlement, 1701)

Collapse of the Scottish Darien scheme

Feb.: Second Partition Treaty, to divide the Spanish empire among claimants:--
By the terms of this new treaty, France was to receive all the Spanish possessions in the Mediterranean and Archduke Charles of Austria was to receive the rest of the Spanish Empire.

May: Death of John Dryden (1631-1700)

Oct.: Death of Carlos II of Spain:--
In his will, Carlos left all his dominions to Louis XIV's grandson, the young Duke of Anjou--with the proviso that the crowns of Spain and France must remain separate. But the prospect now arose that, if Louis XIV chose to recognize the will (against his prior commitments in the Second Partition Treaty), he would effectively take control of the Spanish dominions as well as the French. He did, in fact, decide to do so: he recognized his 16-year-old grandson as Philip V, king of the Spanish dominions, and then accepted an invitation from the Spanish Regency Council to govern the dominions during Philip's minority. The upshot of this situation--along with Louis XIV's recognition of James II's son as rightful king of England, upon the death of James II in 1701 (see below)--was the War of the Spanish Succession, in which England was involved from 1702-13.

Aphra Behn (d. 1689), The Dumb Virgin (fiction)

William Congreve, The Way of the World (drama)

John Dryden, Fables Ancient and Modern (poetry)

James Harrington (d. 1677), Works

John Pomfret, The Choice (poetry)

Matthew Prior, Carmen Seculare (poetry)

John Tutchin, The Foreigners (poetry)


Pierre Motteux's trans. of Cervantes's Don Quixote


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 5.8 million; Scotland 1.0 million; Ireland [n/a] (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at around 5.1 million.

General election

Convocation meets

Portland, Somers, Orford, and Halifax unsuccessfully impeached

Kentish petition

Commons blocks Bill to reunite American colonies under the Crown

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) founded

Act of Settlement:-- This act established the terms of the Hanoverian succession to the English throne. By the terms of the Revolutionary settlement of 1689 (see above), after the reign of William and Mary (who remained childless), the Protestant Succession was to continue through Anne of Denmark (the daughter of James II) and her heirs. The death of the duke of Gloucester, Anne's last surviving child, in 1700, created a crisis in this projected succession--especially since Louis XIV of France, upon the death of James II in Sept. 1701, proclaimed James's son, James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766), as "James III" of England and "James VIII" of Scotland. The existence of this Stuart claimant to the throne, referred to in England as "the Pretender" (or, later as "the Old Pretender"--in distinction from his son, Charles Edward Stuart [1720-1788], "Bonnie Prince Charlie," aka "the Young Pretender") made urgent a need to "settle" the question of the succession after the forthcoming reign of Anne, so as to diminish the likelihood of a Stuart return at the end of her reign. The new Act placed the succession after Anne in Electress Sophia of Hanover and her heirs (namely, George, who would become George I of England). In doing so, the Act had to bypass more than 50 other, more immediate, claimants in line for the throne because they were Catholics, and, as noted previously, it carried the succession out of the Stuart line and enthroned a "foreign" dynasty. This set the stage for tensions between Jacobites and supporters of the Hanoverians throughout the first half of the 18th century, a tension that is evident in the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 and the Jacobite revolts of 1715, 1718, and 1745.

Sept.: death of James II (see comment above on Act of Settlement)

French troops move into Spanish Netherlands (in the maneuvering after the death of Carlos II of Spain)

Marlborough restored to royal favor

Treaty of the "Grand Alliance" between England, Holland, and Austria

The pirate Captain Kidd executed

Yale College founded in Connecticut

Lady Mary Chudleigh, The Ladies' Defence (poetry):--
Written in response to John Sprint's sermon, The Bride-Woman's Counsellor (1699), which emphasized the supposed moral weakness of women

Jan.: Daniel Defoe, The True-Born Englishman (poetry)

John Dennis, Advancement and Reformation of Poetry

Charles Gildon, ed. A New Collection of Poems on Several Occasions (anthology, incl. Anne Finch's "The Spleen")

Norwich Post, the first provincial newspaper, established

John Philips, The Splendid Shilling (poetry)

Richard Steele, The Christian Hero and The Funeral (drama)

Jonathan Swift, Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions in Athens and Rome

1702-13: English involvement in War of the Spanish Succession

Hostilities actually began in 1701, but England joined the War in 1702. The long series of English/British campaigns in the Iberian peninsula and elsewhere on the Continent continued till Britain exited the war and signed the Peace of Utrecht in 1713--though other parties continued to wage war till the Peace of Rastadt in 1714. The war--which involved such famous battles as those of Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709)--made a hero out of Marlborough, though latterly he came under increasing attack from Tories who believed that he and the Whigs were interested in extending the war for personal advantage. The hostilities also reached North America, where the war was known as "Queen Anne's War."


Abjuration Act passed

Sidney, Lord Godolphin (Treasurer) emerges as first minister (till 1710, sharing power with the second Whig Junto 1708-10)

Marlborough made Captain General

Spanish treasure fleet destroyed at Vigo Bay

March: death of William III; accession of Anne

1702-1714: Reign of Anne


Godolphin made Lord Treasurer

General election

Nov.: Occasional Conformity bill introduced

Nicholas Rowe, Tamerlane (drama; acted 1701)

The Daily Courant, England's first daily newspaper, established

Daniel Defoe, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters (Dec. 1702)

Henry Sacheverell, The Political Union: A Discourse Showing the Dependence of Government on Religion in General, and of the English Monarchy on the Church of England in Particular

Tom Brown, The Letters from the Dead to the Living

Edmund Halley, Chart of the Whole World Shewing Variations of the Compass

William Dampier, Voyage to New Holland

Anon., The Adventures of Lindamira


Earl of Clarendon (d. 1674), History of the Great Rebellion


The Daily Courant (first daily newspaper)


First Occasional Conformity Bill fails:--
This measure was intended to enforce the system of Anglican monopoly of public offices (initiated by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1661 and strengthened by the Test Act of 1673) by restricting the ability of Nonconformists to own property, attend university, hold public office. Initially put forward on 1 November 1702, the measure was reintroduced several times, in this and the following year, but failed each time. Eventually such an Act was passed in 1711.

English and Scottish Union Commissioners fail

Anne vetoes Scottish Act of Security

Second Occasional Conformity Bill fails

Anglo-Portuguese "Methuen" Treaty

Nov.: the Great Storm:--
Causing much death and the destruction of thousands of houses, churches, and public buildings.

Death of Robert Hooke, scientist

Death of Samuel Pepys, diarist and naval administrator (1633-1703)

Joseph Addison, Letter from Italy (poetry)

Lady Mary Chudleigh, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Daniel Defoe, Hymn to the Pillory

Sarah Fyge Egerton, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Nicholas Rowe, The Fair Penitent (drama)

Russen, Iter-lunare: or a Voyage to the Moon


Queen Anne's Bounty established

Third Occasional Conformity Bill fails

Scottish Act of Security passed

Marlborough's victory at the battle of Blenheim

Anglo-Dutch forces capture Gibraltar

Death of John Locke, political theorist and philosopher

Colley Cibber, The Careless Husband (drama)

John Dennis, The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry

Ladies' Diary established (to 1840) (periodical)

Isaac Newton, Opticks (trans. into Latin by Clarke, 1706) (rev. ed. with expanded queries, 1718)

Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books (pub.; orig. written ca. 1697) and Tale of a Tub


Daniel Defoe, Review (periodical)


Antoine Galland, trans., Les Milles et une nuits; English trans. as The Arabian Nights Entertainment (from 1706)


Thomas Rymer et al., Foedera (historical documents collection)


Climax of "Aylesbury men" case

General election

House of Lords declare Church not in danger

Alien Act

Barcelona taken by allied forces

Blenheim Palace, designed by John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, begun

Haymarket opera house opened by John Vanbrugh

Isaac Newton knighted by Queen Anne, "the first Englishman to be so honoured for scientific achievement" (Sambrook 1993: 12)

Death of John Ray, naturalist

Joseph Addison, The Campaign (poetry)

Edmund Halley, Astronomiae Cometicae Synopsis

Bernard Mandeville, The Grumbling Hive (poetry)

Delarivier Manley, The Secret History of Queen Zarah

Richard Steele, The Tender Husband (drama)


Regency Act

Treaty of Union between England and Scotland

Bankruptcy Act

Marlborough's victory at battle of Ramillies

Antwerp, Dunkirk, Dendermonde, and Ath fall to allies

Allied victory at battle of Turin

Death of John Evelyn, ploymath and diarist (1620-1706)

Daniel Defoe, Jure Divino (poetry)

John Dennis, Operas after the Italian Manner

George Farquhar, The Recruiting Officer (drama)

White Kennett et al., Complete History of England

London Gazette under Richard Steele's editorship (to 1709)

Isaac Watts, Horae Lyricae (poetry)


Daniel Defoe, An Essay at Removing National Prejudices Against a Union with England (first part, 1706, followed by several sequels and responses to criticisms)


Union of England and Scotland to form Great Britain:--
A union of the crowns had existed since 1603, when James IV of Scotland became James I of England and there had even been a period of a unified "Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland" under Cromwell, but the standard rubric in the early modern period was that of the "three kingdoms" of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The Union of 1707 provided a parliamentary union to supplement (and to secure) the union of the crowns. It was prompted by Scottish hints that they might not choose to follow the English in designating the Elector of Hanover (the future George I of England) as successor to Queen Anne. To avoid any such separation of the crowns of England and Scotland (esp. the possibility of a Stuart restoration in Scotland), the English parliament pushed through the parliamentary union, bribing the Scottish parliamentarians to ensure its approval. The Union of 1707 created a single "national" parliament for "Great Britain" at Westminster, but it allowed Scotland to retain its own legal system and religious establishment.
xxxThe Union forwarded transformations both of "national" and of "imperial" relations. The two nationalities of English and Scots were ostensibly overlaid by a new single nationality, that of "Briton." But in practice, while some Scottish writers began to speak of their countrymen as "north Britons," few English people sought to envision themselves as "south Britons." Instead, "England" and "English" continued often to be used where "Britain" and "British" would be more proper, simply subsuming the whole polity under its dominant unit. This gave a new "imperial" air to Englishness, as a "superior" identity positioned above the Welsh, Scots, Irish, and American colonists. The Westminister Parliament, now constituting the legislature for both Scotland and England, also began to see itself in these imperial terms, and passed various "Declaratory Acts" (1720, 1766) proclaiming its jurisdiction over the Irish Parliament and over the assemblies of the American colonies. These national and imperial transformations were part of a long, uneven, and complex process of historical change and definition that extends before and after the eighteenth century--but the Union of 1707 is a significant marker in this longer dynamic.

Allied defeat at battle of Almanza

Failure of Touloun expedition

Somers' "No peace without Spain" motion adopted

Society of Antiquaries founded (re-founded in 1718)

Irish Parliament passes an act, directed against dispossessed Catholic gentry, branding as "vagrants" those who claim to be "Irish gentlemen" based on the loyalty of "fosterers, followers, and others" rather than on the possession of an estate or profession (Harris 2004: 1267)

Death of George Farquhar

Patrick Abercromby, Advantage of the Act of Security compared with those of the intended Union

Anthony Collins, Essay concerning the Use of Reason

George Farquhar, The Beaux Stratagem (drama)

Johannes Kip and Leonard Knyff, Britannia Illustrata

Alain René Le Sage (1668-1747), Le Diable Boiteux (rev. ed. 1726):--
Several translations of this work into English were published in the 18th century: an anonymous translation appeared in 1708 and reached at least four editions by 1718; in 1729, this translation was revised in accordance with Le Sage's 1726 edition; a new translation of Le Sage's revised version as The Devil upon Crutches appeared in 1750 (revised in 1759)--this was probably by Tobias Smollett; a third anonymous translation appeared in 1770 and was re-issued several times (Brack & Chilton, ed. 2005: xix). There were also several English adaptations of Le Sage's satiric work: e.g., The Devil upon Two Sticks: or the Town until'd (1708), The Devil upon Crutches in England, or Night Scenes in London (1755), and William Combe's The Devil upon Two Sticks in England: being a continuation of Le Diable Boiteux of Lesage (1790) (Brack & Chilton, ed. 2005: xxvi, note 20).

Edward Lhwyd, Archaeologia Britannica

Delarivier Manley, The Lady's Paquet of Letters

Francisco Gomez de Quevedo y Villegas, The Comical Works of Quevedo, trans. Capt. John Stevens

Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (poetry)


Laurence Echard, History of England


Hans Sloane, Natural History of Jamaica


Last royal veto of legislation passed by Parliament

Harley and followers resign from ministry, leaving Whig Junto in power (to 1710)

General election

Failed Franco-Jacobite landing in Scotland

Scottish Privy Council abolished

Anne's husband, Prince George, dies

Allied victory at battle of Oudenarde

British forces seize Minorca

Lille falls to allied forces

Death of John Blow, composer

Pierre Motteux et al, trans., Rabelais Works

John Philips, Cyder (poetry)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of Shaftesbury, Letter concerning Enthusiasm

Jonathan Swift, Argument against abolishing Christianity

William Whiston, The Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies


John Oldmixon, British Empire in America


Naturalization Act

Rev. Henry Sacheverell preaches against "false brethren" in St Paul's Cathedral

Failure of peace negotiations in War of the Spanish Succession

Allied victory at battle of Malplaquet, achieved at great cost

Act establishing diplomatic immunity

Anglo-Dutch Barrier Treaty

Old and New East India Companies unite

Abraham Darby smelts iron with coke

"Poor Palatines" arrive

Copyright Act of 1709 passed:--
Previous to the passage of this, the first copyright act, literary (or intellectual) property was treated like other species of property under common law, which meant that once an author sold the "copy" of a work to a bookseller, the work became the absolute property of the said bookseller in perpetuity. Under the older system, "property" was determined not by authorship but by "possession" [of a manuscript] (much like property in other material objects). This new Act created a kind of limited property for publications and a new notion of "public property": new works published after the Act was passed would be protected (under copyright) for 14 years; this could be renewed for a further 14 years if the author were still alive at the end of the first term. (Older works, which had been published previously to the passage of the Act, would be protected for a further 21 years.) After the expiration of copyright, a work became "public property." Under the Act, actions for copyright infringement could be undertaken only if the book had been entered in the Stationers' Register: that is, only published works were thus protected.

Anon., The Life and Adventures of Captain Avery

George Berkeley, New Theory of Vision

Daniel Defoe, History of the Union of Great Britain

Delarivier Manley, The New Atalantis (full title: Secret Memoirs and Manners of Several Persons of Quality of Both Sexes. From the New Atalantis, an Island in the Mediterranean)

Poetical Miscellanies, including Pastorals by Alexander Pope and by Ambrose Philips (poetry)

Nicholas Rowe's edition of Shakespeare

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of Shaftesbury, Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour


Richard Steele (and Joseph Addison), The Tatler (periodical)


Marlborough threatens resignation over influence of Abigail Masham

Split between Queen Anne and the duchess of Marlborough

Impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell stirs up High Church sentiment

Godolphin dismissed (Whig ministry falls); Tory ministry formed under Robert Harley (later, earl of Oxford) (Lord Chancellor, then Lord Treasurer) (till 1714)

General election

Allied defeat at battle of Brihuega, Spain

Nova Scotia captured by the British

Sun Fire Office established

Spalding Gentleman's Society established

Academy of Ancient Music established

First complete performance of Italian opera in England (Almahide)

George Frederick Handel comes to England:--
Handel, who was Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover (the future George I of England), came to England in 1710 and decided to settle there permanently in 1712. He composed the Te Deum and the Jubilate to celebrate the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and was granted a £200 pension by Queen Anne. After George I came to the throne, he increased this pension and Handel wrote the Water Music for him in 1717. "He composed 'Zadok the Priest' for the coronation of George II in 1727, which has been sung at every coronation since"; this same year, Handel became a naturalized English citizen. He was appointed music director of the Royal Academy of Music (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 403). Handel's career probably represents the greatest artistic fruit of the association of Britain and Hanover fostered by the Hanoverian succession.

Death of John Holt, Lord Chief Justice

Pierre Bayle, Historical and Critical Dictionary (first English edn.)

George Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge

Leibnitz, Théodicée

Delarivier Manley, Memoirs of Europe

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of Shaftesbury, Advice to an Author

Jonathan Swift, Description of a City Shower (poetry) [text]


Jonathan Swift et al., The Examiner (periodical)


Jonathan Swift, Journal to Stella (written)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 6.0 million; Scotland [n/a]; Ireland 2.8 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 5.2 million.

Duchess of Marlborough dismissed from offices by Queen Anne

Act for Fifty New Churches in London

Property Qualification Act

Attempt to assassinate Harley

Act against Occasional Conformity

Harley made Earl of Oxford and Lord Treasurer

Allies take the "Ne Plus Ultra" lines

France and Britain sign peace preliminaries

Marlborough dismissed

South Sea Company formed:--
As with the establishment of the Bank of England (1694) and the New East India Company (1698), this Company was chartered in return for a large loan to the government (in this case, £9,000,000) subscribed by a group of merchant-financiers (including Sir Matthew Decker, who served as director of the Company till 1720).

Great Queen Street Academy for artists founded

John Dennis, Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespeare

Georg Handel, Rinaldo (opera)

Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism (poetry)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3d earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times

Jonathan Swift, Conduct of the Allies

Jonathan Swift, Argument against the Abolishing of Christianity


Twelve new peers created to secure government majority in House of Lords (Dec. 1711-Jan. 1712)

Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, The Spectator (revived in 1714) (periodical)

William Whiston, Primitive Christianity Revived


Walpole sent to the Tower of London

Repeal of Naturalization Act

Last assize trial and conviction for witchcraft in England

Ormonde now Commander-in-Chief (replacing Marlborough)

Peace negotiations at Utrecht

Death of two main heirs to French throne

Ormonde receives "restraining orders"

"Mohock" scare in London

Thomas Newcomen improves steam engine

Stamp Act taxes print

Death of Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell

Death of Sidney, earl of Godolphin, politician

Death of Gregory King, political arithmetician

Death of Thomas Danby, duke of Leeds, politician

John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull

Sir Richard Blackmore, Creation (poetry)

Anthony Collins (1676-1729), A Discourse of Free-Thinking

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (2 canto version; 5 canto version, 1714) (poetry)

Alexander Pope, The Messiah (poetry)

Woodes Rogers, A Cruising Voyage Round the World

Jonathan Swift, Proposal for correcting the English Tongue


Theft by servants made capital offence

Anglo-Dutch Barrier Treaty

Treaty of Utrecht ends British involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession:--
Engineered by the Tory ministry after a dozen years of war, the peace was nonetheless resented by many Whig supporters of the "permanent war" ethos and its terms were criticized as not achieving enough for Britain, despite the gain of Gibraltar, Minorca, and, for the next thirty years, the Asiento (the contract to supply slaves to the Spanish colonies in America). After the accession of George I and a change in ministries, leading members of the current Tory ministry would be impeached (in 1715).

With the Asiento, Britain became the major agent of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in which, on average, 50,000 African slaves were shipped each year to the Americas in the first half of the 18th century (Hay & Rogers 1997: 14). Queen Anne singled out this provision in her speech to Parliament on 6 June 1712: "the Part which We have born in the Prosecution of this War, entitling Us to have some Distinction in the Terms of Peace, I have insisted and obtained, That the Asiento or Contract for furnishing the Spanish West-Indies with Negroes, shall be made with Us for the Term of Thirty Years, in the same manner as it hath been enjoyed by the French for Ten Years past" (quoted in Erskine-Hill 1998: 34).

Parliament offers a cash prize of £20,000 for a method of determining longitude accurately to within half-a-degree by a method practicable for use at sea:--
This was a quest that lay behind the earlier founding of the post of Astronomer-Royal. The cash prize was not won till 1764 when John Harrison (a maker of scientific instruments) developed a chronometer that allowed one to calculate distances and from that longitude (Sambrook 1993: 14-15).

Crisis over the Union

Anglo-French commerce bill fails

General election

Queen Anne seriously ill

Scriblerus club formed by Pope, Swift, Gay, Arbuthnot, and others

Three Choirs Festival established

Jonathan Swift appointed Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

Death of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd earl of Shaftesbury, philosopher

Death of Henry Compton, bishop of London

Death of Thomas Sprat (1635-1713)

Joseph Addison, Cato (drama)

Jane Barker, Love Intrigues (2d rev. edn. as The Amours of Bosvil and Galesia, 1719 [text])

Richard Bentley, Remarks upon a Discourse of Freethinking

George Berkeley, Dialogues of Hylas and Philonous

Anthony Collins, A Discourse of Free-Thinking, occasion'd by the Rise and Growth of a Sect call'd Free-Thinkers

William Derham, Physico-Theology, or a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God from his Works of Creation (12 editions by 1760)

Anne Finch, countess of Winchilsea, Miscellany Poems (poetry)

John Gay, Rural Sports (poetry)

Sir Matthew Hale (d. 1676), History of the Common Law

Alexander Pope, Windsor-Forest (poetry) [text]

Alexander Smith, History of the Lives of the most noted Highwaymen

Richard Steele, The Guardian (12 March-1 October) (periodical)


Richard Steele, The Englishman (6 Oct. 1713-11 Feb. 1714) (periodical)

Rule of Hanoverian Dynasty (1714-1901)

1714-1727: Reign of George I


Schism Act

Tories split between Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, and Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke

Richard Steele's The Crisis leads to his expulsion from the House of Commons

1 Aug.: death of Queen Anne; accession of George, Elector of Hanover as George I:--
Leads to a turning out of the previous Tory ministry, led by Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, and the inauguration of a long period of rule by Whig oligarchs. The end of the Stuart dynasty's rule in England and Scotland upon Anne's death reignites Jacobite sentiments among loyalists to the displaced dynasty and foments opposition to the Hanoverians as "foreign" kings (much like the earlier opposition to William of Orange when he became William III of England). George I, notoriously, did not speak any English and remained more attached to his homeland of Hanover than to his new kingdom of Great Britain.

Riots accompany and follow coronation

First Indemnity Act

Death of Sophia, Electress of Hanover

Usury law reduces legal interest to 5 per cent

St Mary-le-Strand begun, James Gibbs architect

Thomas Maddox appointed Historiographer Royal

Death of John Radcliffe, physician and benefactor

Death of George London formal gardener

Death of Charles Davenant, economist and public servant

John Gay, The Shepherd's Week (poetry)

John Locke (d. 1704), Collected Works

Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (revised edns. to 1729)

Bernard Mandeville, Inquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue

Delarivier Manley, The Adventures of Rivella

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (revised 5 canto version; orig. version pub. 1712) (poetry)

Nicholas Rowe, Jane Shore (drama)


Stanhope ministry:--
Featuring Halifax, Townsend, Carlisle, Methuen, Walpole, Sunderland [Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland], Addison, Craggs, and Carteret, in addition to Stanhope [James, 1st earl of Stanhope] in the crucial offices of First Lord of the Treasury and the two Secretaries of State. Members of the ousted Tory ministry--Bolingbroke, Oxford, and Ormonde--were subsequently impeached in 1715 as part of the partisan strife of the age.


General election

Impeachment of former ministers: Bolingbroke and Ormonde flee to France, Oxford in Tower of London

Riot Act

Jacobite rising ("The Fifteen"):--
Old Pretender briefly in Scotland, after the Earl of Mar declared his support for the Jacobite claimant to the throne. This rebellion "had been preceded by widespread riots with a Jacobite flavour, prompting the new Whig and Hanoverian government to make riot, hitherto a common-law misdemeanour, into a capital offence by statute" (Hay & Rogers 1997: 33).

Suspension of Habeas Corpus

William Wake appointed Archbishop of Canterbury

Death of Louis XIV (1638-1715); succeeded by Louis XV (reigned 1715-74)

Barrier Treaty

Cattle disease rife in southern England

Solar eclipse accurately predicted by Edmund Halley

Nicholas Rowe (d. 1718) appointed Poet Laureate

Death of Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury

Death of marquis of Wharton, politician

Joseph Addison, The Freeholder (periodical)

Jane Barker, Exilius, or the banish'd Roman

John Hughes's edition of Shakespeare

Alexander Pope, trans., Iliad, books 1-4 (rest completed by 1720) (poetry)

Jonathan Richardson, An Essay on the Theory of Painting

Isaac Watts, Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of Children (poetry)


Abbé Lenglet-Dufresnoy, Méthode pour étudier la géographie, 4 vols.


Andrea Palladio (d. 1580), Four Books of Architecture, ed. Leoni


Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus


Alain René Le Sage (1668-1747), L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane, 4 vols. (first two vols., 1715; vol. 3, 1724; vol. 4, 1735) (English translations by Tobias Smollett in 1748 and by Henry Malkin in 1809)


Execution of two Jacobite lords

Failure of Select Vestries Bill

Septennial Act passed:--
This act required elections only every 7 years (rather than every 3 years as required since the passage of the Triennial Act in 1694), thus attempting to increase the insulation of the political class from the populace at large or, even, from the narrower group that constitutes the electorate. It underlined and reinforced the oligarchic structure of the traditional political order.

Whig schism follows Townshend's dismissal as Secretary of State

Anglo-French alliance

Treaty of Westminster with the Holy Roman Emperor

Nicholas Hawksmoor's designs for All Souls College, Oxford begun

Death of John, Lord Somers, lawyer and politician

Death of William Wycherley (1641-1716)

Death of Leibnitz

John Gay, Trivia (poetry)

Mary Molesworth Monck, Marinda, Poems and Translations upon Several Occasions (poetry)

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Town Eclogues:--
These poems were written 1714-16, but not published till 1747, except for a pirated edition of the first three eclogues, published by Edmund Curll as Court Poems (1716)


Daniel Defoe, Mercurius Politicus (periodical)


Convocation suspended: last significant meeting of Convocation in the century

Walpole and his followers resign office (see 1720)

Rift between King George I and the Prince of Wales (see 1720)

Collapse of impeachment of Robert Harley, earl of Oxford

Triple Alliance of Britain, France, and the Dutch Republic

Swedish Jacobite plot uncovered

James Francis Edward Stuart, known to Jacobite adherents as "James III" and to Hanoverian loyalists as "the Pretender" (or later the "Old Pretender"), moves to Rome

"Sinking Fund" established

Inauguration of the Union of the English Freemasons Grand Lodge

Georg Handel's first Chandos anthem

Georg Handel, Water Music

William Penn, The Religion Professed by Quakers

Alexander Pope, Collected Works (poetry)

Lewis Theobald, History of the Loves of Antiochus and Stratonice


Bangorian Controversy:--
Benjamin Hoadly, bishop of Bangor, preaches sermon on the text "[Christ's] kingdom is not of this world" before George I and the sermon is published by royal command:--
Hoadly was "an Erastian, who believed that the Church should be subordinate to the state in ecclesiastical affairs. . . . In his view Christianity subsisted not in the visible church but in the commitment of each sincere individual believer to the teachings of Jesus"; his sermon of 1717 "prompted over two hundred replies in the space of two or three years: testimony both to the firepower of orthodox Anglicans and the importance attached to questions of church doctrine and government by a quite large educated reading public" (Sambrook 1993: 45)


Abortive Jacobite invasion plan

Transportation Act:--
Transportation to the American colonies, as an alternative to capital punishment, "had become a fairly common form of conditional pardon" by 1700. But until 1718, either the prisoners themselves or merchants paid for passage across the Atlantic. "The 1718 Act gave merchants contracts granting them £3 for each convict transported. In addition, the merchants could sell the prisoners' services at auction in the colonies where men brought an average of £10, healthy, young women £8 to 9, and craftsmen as much as £25." By the early 1720s, "about 70% of the felons convicted at the Old Bailey were deported and only about 7.5% executed" (Backscheider 2004: 467-68)

Capt. Woodes Rogers defeats the large colony of pirates in the Bahamas:--
In the aftermath of this battle, "some 2000 [of the pirates] surrendered and received the royal pardon." The high incidence of piracy was seen as a threat to the West Indies trade and in "December 1718, a Royal Proclamation [PRO T 27/24, 21 Dec. 1718] set rewards for the discovery and capture of the pirates" (Backscheider 2004: 463)

Introduction of innoculation for smallpox by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, based on her observations of Turkish practices

Thomas Lombe builds silk-throwing mill at Derby

Refoundation of the Society of Antiquaries (originally established in 1707)

Laurence Eusden (d. 1730) named Poet Laureate

Death of Nicholas Rowe

Death of William Penn

Anon., The Double Captive: or chain upon chains

Abraham de Moivre, Doctrine of Chances

Charles Gildon, The Complete Art of Poetry

Matthew Prior, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Nicholas Rowe, translation of Lucan's Pharsalia

1718-20: War of the Quadruple Alliance

Pitting Britain, France, Dutch Republic, and the Holy Roman Empire against Spain


Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts repealed

Peerage Bill defeated:--
Walpole, himself lacking in aristocratic parentage, led the opposition to this "blatant attempt to establish the British aristocracy as an inaccessible caste" (Langford 1989: 34).

University Bill defeated

Dissenters split over Trinity

Attempted Spanish-Jacobite landing in Scotland

Royal Academy of Music founded

Norwich, Colchester calico riots; Lombe's silk-mill riot in Derbyshire

Death of Joseph Addison

Death of Sir Samuel Garth

Death of John Flamsteed, Astronomer Royal

Patrick Abernethy, Religious Obedience Founded on Personal Persuasion

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe and Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Isaac Watts, Psalms and Hymns (poetry)


Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess


Bernard de Montfaucon, L'Antiquité expliqué et représentée en figures


Jonathan Swift, "Stella's Birthday" poems


Walpole and Townshend return to office, ending Whig schism (see 1717)

King and Prince of Wales reconciled (see 1717)

Declaratory Act, reaffirms Irish legislative and judicial subordination to British Parliament (repealed in 1782)

End of war with Spain

Anglo-Swedish alliance

Birth of Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender"

Collapse of "South Sea Bubble" in Britain and of John Law's financial schemes in France

Bubble Act passed

London calico riots and passage of an Act "to preserve and encourage the Woollen and Silk Manufactures of this Kingdom, and for more effectual employing of the Poor, by prohibiting the Use and Wear of all printed, painted, stained or dyed Callicoes in Apparel, Houshold Stuff, Furniture, or otherwise" (7 Geo. I. cap. 7)

Quarantine to stop spread of plague from Marseilles, where 40,000-60,000 people died during this year

Royal Exchange Assurance established

Hell Fire clubs reported

Mereworth Castle, Kent, designed by Colen Campbell

James Thornhill appointed Sergeant Painter to King

Death of Anne Finch, countess of Winchelsea

Daniel Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier

Daniel Defoe, Captain Singleton

Daniel Defoe, Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe

Martha Fowke and William Bond, Epistles of Clio and Strephon (poetry)

John Gay, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Anthony Hammond, ed. A New Miscellany of Original Poems, Translations and Imitations. By the most Eminent Hands (anthology)

Delarivier Manley, The Power of Love, in Seven Novels

Jonathan Swift, A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture


John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters (periodical)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 6.0 million; Scotland 1.1 million; Ireland 2.9 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 5.5 million (in 1726).

House of Commons investigates South Sea affair

Statutory ban on importation of Indian calicoes (see riots in 1719 and 1720)

West Country weavers riot

The Act against Prophanenes and Immorality of 1721 seeks to curb the vogue for masquerades

Quarantine Act passed to address plague threat (but repealed and replaced by a modified Act in 1722)

First use of smallpox inoculation in England

Edmund Halley (1656-1742) appointed Astronomer-Royal

Death of Stanhope

Death of Grinling Gibbons, wood carver

Death of Matthew Prior

Charles Gildon, The Laws of Poetry

Montesquieu, Lettres persanes (English trans. as Persian Letters, 1730)


General election

Atterbury plot revealed; impeachment of Bishop Atterbury

Habeas Corpus suspended

Penal taxes levied on Roman Catholics

Regium Donum--state aid to some poor Dissenters

Case of Wood's half-pence begins in Ireland

St Martin-in-the-Fields begun, designed by James Gibbs

Houghton Hall begun, designed by Colen Campbell and James Gibbs

Death of earl of Sunderland, politician

Death of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722):--
Marlborough had been the Whig hero as the commander of the allied forces during the War of the Spanish Succession, achieving celebrated victories at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), and Oudenarde (1708), and he reaped honors and great financial rewards during the course of the war. But as the war dragged on and a Tory ministry came to power in 1710, his position became more fraught. "Dismissed from all his offices on 31 December 1711, Marlborough lived abroad until Queen Anne's death in 1714. After a severe paralytic stroke in 1716 he spent his last years in retirement." He was given a lavish state funeral on 9 August 1722--and a critical send-off in Jonathan Swift's "A Satirical Elegy On the Death of a late Famous General" (first published in 1764) (Fairer & Gerrard, ed. 2004: 80).

Death of John Toland, political theorist

Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders

Daniel Defoe, Colonel Jacque

Eliza Haywood, The British Recluse (dated '1723') [text]

Thomas Parnell (d. 1718), Poems on Several Occasions, ed. Alexander Pope (incl. "A Night-Piece on Death") (poetry)

Richard Steele, The Conscious Lovers (acted; pub. 1723) (drama)


Walpole ministry:--
With the death of Sunderland in April 1722, Sir Robert Walpole, as First Lord of the Treasury, assumes functions of a "prime minister," with Harrington and Newcastle as the two Secretaries of State, and Hardwicke as Lord Chancellor. Walpole's ministry of 22 years was of extraordinary duration by contemporary norms; his longetivity in power was sustained by a variety of practices of buying off the allegiance of Members of Parliament, through his control of patronage in government offices and perks. This led to recurrent charges of "corruption" (indeed, of having "reduced corruption to a system"). Eventually, there emerged a "Patriot" opposition to the "rule" of this minister (displacing the authority of the king), a "rule" characterized as "Robinocracy" by Walpole's opponents.


Atterbury banished

Bolingbroke pardoned

Passage of the Black Act
This act constituted the largest increase in the number of capital offenses ever instituted in the eighteenth century. Attuned to a generalized fear of increasing crime, the act was passed by Walpole's administration "under colour of emergency" (as E. P. Thompson puts it).

Workhouse Test Act

Founding of the Associates of Dr. Bray:--
A group formed in honor of Thomas Bray (1656-1730) (a leading figure in the formation of the SPCK [1698], the SPG [1701], and the organizer of a scheme to purchase and distribute parochial libraries to the American colonies [initiated in 1696]). The object of the group was to further Bray's missionary projects by abetting the conversion of Native Americans and Africans to Christianity.

Death of Sir Christopher Wren, architect

Death of Sir Godfrey Kneller, painter

Death of Thomas D'Urfey, dramatist, poet, and song writer

Jane Barker, A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies, incl. "On the Difficulties of Religion" [text]

Eliza Haywood, Idalia: or the Unfortunate Mistress


George I establishes regius professorships of History and Languages at Cambridge and Oxford

Death of Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, politician and collector

Death of Thomas Guy, bookseller and philanthropist

Death of Delarivier Manley

Execution of Jack Sheppard, criminal

Authentic Memoirs of John Sheppard

Mary Davys, The Reform'd Coquet

Daniel Defoe, General History of the Pirates

Daniel Defoe, Roxana

Georg Handel, Giulio Cesare (opera)

Allan Ramsay, The Evergreen (anthology of old Scottish poetry)

Jonathan Swift, Drapier's Letters


Daniel Defoe, Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain


Gilbert Burnet (d. 1715), History of My Own Time


City Election Act

Lord Chancellor Macclesfield found guilty of corruption and resigns

Order of the Bath revived

Wood's patent annulled

First of General George Wade's roads in the Scottish Highlands

Treaty of Hanover (among Britain, France, and Prussia)

Chiswick House, designed by the earl of Burlington

Execution of Jonathan Wild, corrupt thief-taker

Bussy-Rabutin, Amorous History of the Gauls (English trans.)

Daniel Defoe, A True and Genuine Account of the Life and Actions of the late Jonathan Wild

Daniel Defoe, A New Voyage Round the World

Eliza Haywood, Secret Histories, Novels and Poems, 4 vols., incl. "Fantomina" [text]

Francis Hutcheson, Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue

Alexander Pope's edition of Shakespeare

Edward Young, The Universal Passion (poetry)


Alexander Pope's translation of Homer's Odyssey


Daniel Defoe, Complete English Tradesman


Middlesex JPs report on gin drinking

West Country weavers riot; Act for wage-setting

"Rabbit woman" case (Mary Toft)

Academy of Vocal Music formed (later renamed Academy of Ancient Musick)

Death of Sir John Vanbrugh

John Dyer, Grongar Hill (poetry):--
The poem was published in two forms: as an irregular Pindaric ode in Richard Savage's anthology, Miscellaneous Poems (1726) and in octosyllabic couplets in David Lewis's anthology, Miscellaneous Poems, by Several Hands (Fairer & Gerrard, ed. 2004: 239)

George Smalridge (1663-1719), bishop of Bristol, Sixty Sermons, preached on Several Occasions

Alexander Smith, Memoirs of the famous Jonathan Wilde

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

James Thomson, Winter (poetry)


Voltaire in England


Viscount Bolingbroke et al., The Craftsman (periodical)

1727-1760: Reign of George II


Death of George I; accession of George II:--
George I died on 11 June 1727 at Osnabrugh. George II was the first Prince of Wales to succeed his father in a century (since Charles I in 1625). His wife and consort was Queen Caroline; his mistress was Mrs. Howard. The succession passed without any Jacobite uprising (unlike George I's accession in 1714 which was quickly followed by "the Fifteen"). The existing ministry--headed by Sir Robert Walpole--continued virtually unchanged despite George II's dislike of several of its leading members. "Parliament met for a short session on 27 June. . . The King was granted a civil list of £800,000 [per year]. This sum was unprecedentedly generous and carried with it a promise of any surpluses on the duties voted to finance it. The Queen's jointure was fixed no less lavishly at £100,000. . . . Only the Jacobite William Shippen had the temerity to oppose the financial arrangements" (Langford 1989: 15). Nonetheless, by the mid-1730s the popularity of the royals--King, Queen, and Prince of Wales--had reached a nadir: "It is doubtful whether royalty has ever been the object of more obloquy [in English history] than it was during these years" (Langford 1989: 35).

General election:--
As a result of the election, the strength of the opposition Tories in the House of Commons was reduced from 180 to 130 (Langford 1989: 17).

Civil List Act (1 George II, sess. 1, c.1)

Hostilities between Britain and Spain:--
Amidst reports of Spanish attacks on the British merchant marine, there was growing sentiment in Britain in support of outright attack on the Spanish, but the British forces, although on a war footing, were kept in check: "Admiral Hosier's ships were compelled to watch the silver galleons carrying Spain's financial life-blood pass freely under their guns; a still more expensive fleet was kept armed but immobile at Spithead. The war had to be paid for yet it was not to be waged. The land tax stood at an unpopular four shillings in the pound" (Langford 1989: 17). These hostilities would continue to simmer for a dozen years, with rising popular clamor for war, until finally Walpole was forced into the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739. (The land tax would be reduced to 3s. in 1728-29, to 2s. in 1730-31, and to 1s. in 1732 [see below].)

Death of Sir Isaac Newton:--
Though famous as an astronomer, a mathematician, and a student of optics, and as President of the Royal Society from 1703 till his death (Sambrook 1993: 12), Newton was also deeply engaged with alchemical studies (i.e., investigations into the chemical properties of matter) and with theological studies (especially issues of Biblical chronology and Biblical prophecy). At his death he left unpublished papers "estimated to contain two-thirds of a million words on alchemy and a million and a half on theology" (Sambrook 1993: 17). Newton's The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728) and his Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (1731) were both published posthumously.

Death of Edward Lloyd, marine insurer

John Gay, Fables (poetry)

Designs of Inigo Jones, ed. William Kent

Engelbert Kaempfer, History of Japan

Longueville, The Hermit

James Thomson, Summer (poetry)


Moravians arrive in London

William Cheselden successfully operates on a 13-year-old boy who had been blind from birth:
This child's accession to sight provided a celebrated "experiment" on the relative autonomy of the mind's perception of the world through the various senses, in this case, the mind's perception of the world through touch versus its perception of the world through sight. Cheselden's description of the case was published in the Philosophical Transactions in 1728: "An Account of some Observations made by a young Gentleman, who was born blind, or lost his Sight so early, that he had no Remembrance of ever having seen, and was couch'd between 13 and 14 Years of Age." See further discussion in Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (Princeton UP, 1951), 114-15; Oliver Sacks,"To See and Not Se" (New Yorker 10 May 1993); and Marjolein Degenaar, Molyneux's Problem: Three Centuries of Discussion on the Perception of Forms (Kluwer Academic, 1996).

Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia

Henry Fielding, Love in Several Masques (drama)

John Gay, The Beggar's Opera (drama)

Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Friendship in Death, or Letters from the Dead to the Living

Richard Savage, The Bastard (poetry)

James Thomson, Spring (poetry)


Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (in 3 books, 1728; "Dunciad Variorum" [with notes], 1729; "The New Dunciad," 1742; complete, in 4 books, 1743) (poetry)


Land tax reduced to 3s. in the pound (down from 4s.) (Langford 1989: 28). It would be further reduced in 1730-31 and in 1732 (see below).


John Wesley begins Holy Club meetings at Oxford (first "Methodist" meetings)

Act regulating Attorneys (2 George II, c. 23): requiring statutory registration of attorneys and solicitors

Bribery Act (2 George II, c. 24)

Agitations against Spanish depredations:--
Already brewing for several years, the anti-Spanish sentiment in Britain was excited once again by claims of Spanish attacks on British shipping: "When the opposition ventilated the sensitive issue of 'Spanish depredations' in February 1729, the [Walpole] ministry's majority fell with startling suddenness from over 200 to only 35" (Langford 1989: 18). The popular bellicose sentiment would only be satisfied with the outbreak of the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739.

Treaty of Seville (November):--
Restores peace with Spain, at least temporarily, and reconfirms the Asiento contract (which would finally be given up by treaty in 1750, after the long war with Spain that began in 1739).

Thomas Woolston, Cambridge academic and deist, "prosecuted [for blasphemy] for writing a series of pamphlets . . . denying the literal truth of the miracles of the New Testament and arguing that they should be construed allegorically. These pamphlets were held to have struck 'at the very root of Christianity' and Woolston was detained until he died in 1733" (Webster 1990: 22).

Death of William Congreve (1670-1729)

Death of Richard Steele

John Gay, Polly: an Opera (drama)

Eliza Haywood, The Fair Hebrew

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to their Parents or the Country

James Thomson, Britannia


John Oldmixon, History of England


Resignation of Townshend as Secretary of State (May)

Repeal of Salt Duty (3 George II, c. 20) (cf. 1732, below)

Special Juries Act (3 George II, c. 25)

Trial of Colonel Francis Charteris:--
Although he was found guilty of having raped a serving-maid (and of committing perjury), Charteris (1675-1732) received a royal pardon--illustrating, perhaps, how there was one law for the common person and another for the well-born and the well-connected. Robert Walpole, in his role as "Skreenmaster," was portrayed as responsible for obtaining this pardon (though there is no evidence to support the claim); Jonathan Swift, in his Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift (wr. ca. 1731, but published only in 1738 or 1739), suggests that Charteris made himself useful to Walpole "either as Pimp, Flatterer, or Informer."

Colley Cibber (d. 1757) named Poet Laureate

Death of Laurence Eusden

Stephen Duck, Poems on Several Subjects (a pirated edition of Duck's early poetry, including "The Thresher's Labour")

Henry Fielding, Tom Thumb (drama), Rape upon Rape (drama), and The Author's Farce (drama)

Eliza Haywood, Love Letters on all Occasions

James Thomson, The Seasons (rev. ed. 1744) (poetry)

Matthew Tindal, Christianity as Old as the Creation


Land tax reduced to 2s. in the pound (Langford 1989: 28). It had previously been reduced in 1728-29 (see above) and would be reduced still further in 1732 (see below).


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 6.1 million; Scotland [n/a]; Ireland 3.0 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289)

English in Law Proceedings Act (4 George II, c.26)

Second Treaty of Vienna (March):--
Establishes Anglo-Austrian alliance. "It included a controversial guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction, by which the Emperor Charles VI provided for his daughter's succession to the Habsburg territories on his own death" (Langford 1989: 19).

Death of Daniel Defoe

Gentleman's Magazine established by Edward Cave (periodical)

George Lillo, The London Merchant, or the History of George Barnwell (drama)

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Burlington (poetry)

Prévost d''Exiles, Life of Mr Cleveland, natural Son of Oliver Cromwell

Lewis Theobald, Orestes: A Dramatic Opera (drama)

James Thomson, Sophonisba (drama)


Charitable Corporation and Derwentwater Trust scandals:--
The affair of the Charitable Corporation involved "public trustees [e.g., Sir Robert Sutton] lining their own pockets at the expense of a fund established for the employment and relief of the poor"; in the case of the Derwentwater Trust, "Jacobite estates forfeited to the State had been plundered by men [e.g., Sir John Eyles] appointed to supervise their sale in the public interest" (Langford 1989: 22). Such all-too-common conduct by elites tended to hollow out the language of "public interest" and "the public good" and to produce the cynical view that public life was the domain of knaves who posed as "public minded" individuals. Samuel Johnson's later definition of "patriotism" as "the last refuge of a scoundrel" echoes, in another context, this kind of disillusioned outlook on the discrepancy between word and deed in public life.

Land tax reduced to 1s. in the pound (Langford 1989: 28)

Revival of Salt Duty (5 George II, c. 6):--
"The salt duty had been abolished in 1730 as an objectionable tax on general consumption. In reviving it to keep down the land tax [which had been reduced successively in 1728-29, 1730-31, and again in 1732] Walpole was accused of grinding the faces of the poor. He was also charged with providing renewed employment for salt officers and thereby swelling the fund of patronage at his disposal. . . . [Moreover,] [t]he salt duties had belonged in the Sinking Fund account. When revived in 1732 they were included in the annual budget. This was effectively a means of transferring resources from Debt redemption to the current account" (Langford 1989: 29).

Qualification of JPs Act (5 George II, c. 18)

Colony of Georgia founded by Gen. James Oglethorpe

Protestant Dissenting Deputies established

Covent Garden Theatre built

Vauxhall Gardens opened

Society of Dilettanti founded

Anon., Memoirs of Love and Gallantry

Richard Bentley's edition of Milton's Paradise Lost

George Berkeley, Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher

Henry Fielding, Covent Garden Tragedy (drama), Modern Husband (drama), and The Mock Doctor (drama)

William Hogarth's engraving series, The Harlot's Progress

London Magazine established (periodical)

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Bathurst (poetry)

Jonathan Swift, The Lady's Dressing Room (poetry)


Excise Crisis poses a real challenge to Walpole's rule:--
After a storm of extramural protests, and declining majorities in the Commons, Walpole was forced to withdraw the bill. His administration suffered losses in the election of 1734 that followed and, though he retained his majority, he lost his uniquely dominant position in contemporary politics.

War of the Polish Succession

Molasses Act (6 George II, c. 13)

John Kay patents his "flying shuttle"

Henry St. John, 1st viscount Bolingbroke, Dissertation upon Parties

George Cheyne, The English Malady: or, a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of all Kinds, as Spleen, Vapours, Lowness of Spirits, Hypochondriacal Distempers &c.

Henry Fielding, The Miser (drama)

William Hogarth's engraving series, A Rake's Progress

Benjamin Martin, Philosophical Grammar

Alexander Pope, Essay on Man (poetry)

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Cobham (poetry)

Jonathan Swift, On Poetry, a Rhapsody (poetry)

Lewis Theobald's edition of Shakespeare

Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation (English trans.)


Walpole retains power but with reduced majority

Failed attempt to repeal Septennial Act

Society of Dilettanti established

Prosecution of Philip Doddridge

Mary Barber, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Henry Fielding, Don Quixote in England (drama)

[Lady Mary Wortley Montagu], Verses Address'd to the Imitator of . . . Horace. By a Lady (poetry)

George Sale's trans. of The Koran


Engraving Copyright Act (8 George II, c. 13)

Bristol Hospital founded

Henry Brooke, Universal Beauty

Samuel Johnson, trans. Father Lobo's Voygae to Abysinnia

Carl Linnaeus, Systema Plantarum

George Lyttelton, Letters from a Persian in England to His Friend at Ispahan

Marivaux, Le Paysan Parvenu: or the Fortunate Peasant

Alexander Pope, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (poetry)

Alexander Pope, Epistle to a Lady (poetry)


James Thomson, Liberty (poetry)


Porteous Riots in Edinburgh

Failed attempt to repeal Test and Corporation Acts

Gin riots

Quaker Tithe Bill defeated

Witchcraft Act (9 George II, c. 5): witchcraft decriminalized (although mobs continued to accuse and attack witches into the 1750s and beyond) (Hay & Rogers 1997: 35)

Gin Act (9 George II, c. 23)

Smuggling Act (9 George II, c. 35)

Mortmain Act (9 George II, c. 36)

Joseph Butler, The Analogy of Religion Natural and Revealed to the Constitution and Course of Nature: this work was "for nearly a century the classic Anglican argument for the truth of revelation" (Sambrook 1993: 47)

Stephen Duck, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Henry Fielding, Historical Register for the Year 1736 (drama)

Eliza Haywood, Adventures of Eovaai, Princess of Ijaveo (reissued in 1741 as The Unfortunate Princess)

Carl Linnaeus, Systema Natura (various, continuously expanded editions to 1758)

William Warburton, Alliance between Church and State, or The Necessity and Equity of an Established Religion and a Test Law Demonstrated


Hardwicke named Lord Chancellor

Frederick, Prince of Wales, expelled from court, and moves to Leicester House

Death of Queen Caroline

Stage Licensing Act (10 George II, c. 28):--
This Act, provoked by the political satire in Fielding's Historical Register for the Year 1736, came into force on 24 June 1737, and stipulated that "no Person shall, for Hire, Gain, or Reward, act, perform, represent, or cause to be acted, performed, or represented any new Interlude, Tragedy, Comedy, Opera, Play, Farce, or other Entertainment of the Stage, or any Part or Parts therein; or any new Act, Scene, or other Part added to any old Interlude, Tragedy, Comedy, Opera, Play, Farce, or other Entertainment of the Stage, or any new Prologue or Epilogue, unless a true Copy thereof be sent to the Lord Chamberlain of the King's Household for the time being fourteen Days at least before the acting, representing, or performing thereof." The Act helped enhance the importance of old plays in the repertory, since they were not subject to licensing unlike new plays.

Financial settlement on Prince Frederick (10 George II, c. 29)

James Thomson granted an annual pension by Frederick, Prince of Wales (Fairer & Gerrard, ed. 2004: 211)

Porteous Act (10 George II, c. 35)

John Potter succeeds William Wake as Archbishop of Canterbury

Alexander Pope, Horatian Epistles (poetry)

William Shenstone, Poems (poetry)


William Shenstone, The School-Mistress, a Poem in Imitation of Spenser (poetry)


Last report issued by London Society for Reformation of Manners

John Wesley's conversion experience

Death of Hermann Boerhaave

Henry St. John, 1st viscount Bolingbroke, Letters on the Study of History

Samuel Johnson, London (poetry) [text]

Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Devout Exercises

Jonathan Swift, Collection of Genteel Conversation

James Thomson, Agamemnon: A Tragedy (drama)

James Thomson, Edward and Eleanora (drama) (banned under the terms of the 1737 Stage Licensing Act)

William Warburton, The Divine Legation of Moses

John Wesley, Psalms and Hymns (poetry)


Extensive riots in West Country

1739-48: War of Jenkins' Ear between Britain and Spain

Military hostilities between Spain and Britain, which had been brewing for some time, broke out and then got caught up in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48).


Convention of the Pardo

Admiral Vernon captures Porto Bello

County Rates Act (12 George II, c. 29)

Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital incorporated

Field preaching by George Whitefield and John Wesley

Dick Turpin executed

Mary Collier, The Woman's Labour (poetry)

Richard Glover, Admiral Hosier's Ghost (poetry)

[Samuel Johnson], Compleat Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage

Jonathan Swift, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift (poetry)

Journals of John Wesley and George Whitefield


David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature


Henry Fielding and James Ralph, The Champion (15 Nov. 1739-June 1741) (periodical)


War of the Austrian Succession (see War of Jenkins' Ear, above)

Food riots

Seaman's Act (13 George II, c. 3)

Gaming Act (13 George II, c. 19)

Vagrancy Act (13 George II, c. 24)

Thomas Arne composes music for James Thomson's "Rule Britannia," a song in his masque, Alfred (drama)

Colley Cibber, An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber

[Sarah Dixon], Poems on Several Occasions

John Dyer, The Ruins of Rome (poetry)

Samuel Richardson, Pamela

William Warburton, The Divine Legation of Moses


George Anson's circumnavigation of the globe (account published in 1748)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 6.2 million; Scotland [n/a]; Ireland [n/a] (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289)

"The Motion" to remove Walpole defeated

Elections, leading to Robert Walpole's fall in February 1742

Famine in Ireland

British military failures in Spanish America and West Indies (Cartagena)

First performance of Handel's Messiah (in Dublin)

David Garrick acts in the role of Richard III

Arbuthnot, Pope, Gay, et al, Memoirs of Scriberus

Henry Fielding, Shamela

Eliza Haywood, Anti-Pamela

John Kelly, Pamela's Conduct in High-Life

Samuel Richardson, Pamela, part II

Samuel Richardson, Familiar Letters


David Hume, Essays Moral and Political (expanded edn., 1748)


Walpole's resignation; formation of Carteret ministry

Place Act (15 George II, c. 22)

James Bradley (1693-1762) appointed Astronomer-Royal

Convocation allowed to sit for last time

Portsmouth shipyard riot

[William Collins], Persian Eclogues (poetry)

Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews

Alexander Pope, The New Dunciad

Select Trials at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey


Carteret ministry:--
John, Lord Carteret as Secretary of State, Wilmington and Henry Pelham as successive First Lords of the Treasury and Newcastle still ensconced as the Secretary of State for the northern department (a position he held since April 1724)

Roger North, Lives of the Norths


Edward Young, The Complaint, or Night Thoughts (poetry)


George II leads British, Austrian, and Hanoverian forces against French at battle of Dettingen

Treaty of Worms

Gin Act (16 George II, c. 8)

Robert Blair, The Grave (poetry)

Henry Fielding, Jonathan Wild, published in his Miscellanies, 3 vols.

Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (in four books)


Granville (Carteret) dismissed; formation of Broad-Bottom ministry

War declared on France (part of the War of the Austrian Succession)

George Anson's expedition

Suspension of Habeas Corpus (17 George II, c. 6)

Tyne and Wear keelmen riot; Deptford and Woolwich shipyard disputes

Levant trade opened

Dresden Museum opened

Death of Alexander Pope

Mark Akenside, Pleasures of Imagination

John Armstrong, The Art of Preserving Health (poetry)

Sarah Fielding, David Simple

Samuel Johnson, Life of Richard Savage

Edward Moore, Fables for the Female Sex (poetry)

Joseph Warton, The Enthusiast, or the Lover of Nature (rev. 1748) (poetry)


Pelham ministry (or "Broad-Bottom Ministry"):--
Henry Pelham as First Lord of the Treasury, Harrington and Newcastle as the two Secretaries of State

Eliza Haywood, The Female Spectator (periodical)

1745-46: Jacobite Rebellion ("The Forty-Five")

At first, the Jacobite forces, led by Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie"; "The Young Pretender"), were successful (battle of Prestonpans) and captured Edinburgh before marching into England. But after the bloody defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden (1746), there was a whole slew of legislation passed and actions taken to "subdue" the Highlands of Scotland, which were seen as the seat of active loyalty to the Stuart line. The event also stirred up religious passions: Wilbur Cross remarks that it was an era in which "every church . . . rang with denunciations of Rome and all her ways" (Cross 1929: 88).


Battle of Fontenoy

British capture of Louisburg

County Election Act (18 George II, c. 18)

Thomas Arne's setting of God Save the King played at Drury Lane Theatre

Death of Jonathan Swift

William Hogarth's engraving, Marriage-à-la-Mode

Mark Akenside, Odes on Several Subjects (poetry)

Samuel Johnson's "Observations on Macbeth"

Jonathan Swift, Directions to Servants


Henry Fielding, The True Patriot (5 Nov. 1745-17 June 1746) (periodical)


Bath ministry:--
Lord Bath as First Lord of the Treasury and two Grenvilles (Richard and George) as Secretaries of State

Final defeat of Granville (John Carteret) ushers in Pelham ministry

Battle of Culloden (see Jacobite Rebellion, above)

Loss of Madras to the French

Repeal of City Elections Act (19 George II, c. 8)

First Disarming of the Highlands Act (19 George II, c. 39)

Lock Hospital founded

William Collins, Odes on Several Descriptive and Allegoric Subjects (poetry, published on 20 Dec. 1746, though with "1747" on the title-page [Fairer & Gerrard, ed. 2004: 369])

Tobias Smollett, The Tears of Scotland (poetry)

John Upton, Critical Observations on Shakespeare

Joseph Warton, Odes on Various Subjects (poetry)


The Museum (periodical)


Pelham ministry (second Pelham ministry, after short hiatus of Bath ministry):--
Henry Pelham as First Lord of the Treasury, and a variety of men as Secretaries of State: Harrington, Chesterfield, and Newcastle succeeding each other in one position; Newcastle, Bedford, and Holderness succeeding each other in the other position


Battle of Laffeld

Naval victories of Finisterre and Belle-Île

General election

Heritable Jurisdictions Act (20 George II, c. 43)

Thomas Herring named new Archbishop of Canterbury

January: "Kelly" riots in Dublin after Thomas Sheridan prohibits the presence of gentlemen on the stage of the Theatre-Royal

September: David Garrick, as manager of Drury Lane Theatre in London, ends the practice of allowing "the freedom of the scenes" to gentlemen: this reform was defeated six months later. "Not until Garrick remodeled the theater in 1762 was he finally able to keep spectators off the Drury Lane stage" (Harris 2004: 1264)

Thomas Carte, History of England, vol. 1

Sarah Fielding, Familiar Letters between the Characters in "David Simple"

Thomas Gray, "Ode on Eton College"

William Hogarth's engraving Industry and Idleness

Samuel Johnson, Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language

Joseph Spence, Polymetis

Thomas Warton, Pleasures of Melancholy (rev. 1755) (poetry)


Biographica Britannia published


Henry Fielding, The Jacobites Journal (5 Dec. 1747-5 Nov. 1748) (periodical)

Samuel Richardson, Clarissa


Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ends War of the Austrian Succession

Second Disarming of Highlands Act (21 George II, c. 34)

Lady Huntingdon's house opened for preaching

Henry Fielding appointed as Westminster magistrate

Death of James Thomson (1700-1748)

George Anson, Voyage Round the World (about his voyage of 1740-44)

Robert Dodsley, ed., Collection of Poems, 3 vols. (expanded to 6 volumes by 1758)

David Hume, Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding (incl. "Essay on Miracles")

Julien Offroy de la Mettrie, L'homme machine

Mary Leapor, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Tobias Smollett, Adventures of Roderick Random

Tobias Smollett's trans. of Le Sage's Gil Blas (see above 1715-35)

James Thomson, The Castle of Indolence (poetry)

Voltaire, Zadig (English trans. as Zadig, or The Book of Fate: An Oriental History, 1749)


John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (a.k.a. Fanny Hill)


Westminster election

Bugging Act

British settlement of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Bosavern Penlez riots

British Lying-in Hospital opened (first of its kind)

Law officers say that Black slavery is legal in England

Comte de Buffon, Histoire Naturelle (various editions till his death in 1788 and after to 1804)

William Collins, Ode occasion'd by the Death of Mr Thomson (poetry)

Denis Diderot, Lettre sur les aveugles

Henry Fielding, Tom Jones

Sarah Fielding, The Governess, or Little Female Academy

David Hartley, Observations on Man

Samuel Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes (poetry)

Conyers Middleton, A Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers

Monthly Review established (periodical)


Interest rate reduction (23 George II, c. 1, etc.)

London earthquake

Excavation of Pompeii begins

Tyne and Wear keelmen riot

Henry Fielding, An Enquiry into . . . the late Increase of Robbers

Mary Jones, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse

Charlotte Lennox, The Life of Harriot Stuart

[Tobias Smollett], trans. of Le Sage's Le Diable Boiteux as The Devil upon Crutches (rev. 1759) (see 1707 above)


Samuel Johnson, The Rambler (20 March 1750-14 March 1752) (periodical)


Journal britannique, edited by Matthieu Maty in London (but published in The Hague) (periodical):--
This journal made English-language books available to a wider European audience, widely literate in French though, at this time, only infrequently in English.


Population estimates: --
England and Wales 6.5 million; Scotland 1.3 million; Ireland 3.2 million (in 1754) (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 5.8 million (in 1750/51) and 6.0 million (in 1756).

Death of Frederick, Prince of Wales

James Dawkins and Robert Wood discover Palmyra

Robert Clive captures Arcot in India

Calendar Act (24 George II, c. 23)
The Act, whose provisions came into effect in Sept. 1752, applied to Great Britain, Ireland, and the colonies. Some exception was taken, by the opposition in the Irish Parliament, to this arrogation of "imperial" legislative authority by the British Parliament, but the matter was allowed to drop (Poole 1995: 112n.65).

St Luke's Hospital for the insane (lunatic asylum) founded in London (Christopher Smart was an early inmate)

Lloyd Committee on crime and poverty

William Brakenridge on population in Philosophical Transactions

John Cleland, Memoirs of a Coxcomb

Francis Coventry, History of Pompey the Little

First volume of d'Alembert and Diderot's Encyclopédie appears in France (completed in 28 volumes by 1772)

Thomas Gray, An Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard (poetry)

David Hume, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals

Mary Leapor, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry) (different from her 1748 volume)

Robert Paltock, The Adventures of Peter Wilkins

Malachy Postlethwayt, Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce

Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle


Gregorian calendar adopted in Great Britain, Ireland, and British colonies, replacing the "old style" Julian calendar:--
"Lord Chesterfield's Act of 1751 [24 Geo. II., c. 23] provided that, throughout the dominions of the British Crown, the following January should be the first day of 1752 and [Wednesday,] 2 September 1752 should be followed by [Thursday,] 14 September" (Cox 2002: xxv). In making this change, England was catching up with Continental Europe, which had already adopted the Gregorian calendar (first promulgated in 1582); Scotland had not adopted the Gregorian calendar but had already begun to mark the start of the year on 1 Jan. (rather than 25 March) in 1600, in conformity with Gregorian usage. Until 1700, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian (i.e., April 10 in the Julian calendar, before 1700 = April 20 in the Gregorian calendar); after 1700, which was a leap year in the Julian calendar but not in the Gregorian, the difference was 11 days (i.e., April 10 in the Julian calender, after 1700 = April 21 in the Gregorian calendar). Moreover, countries using the Gregorian calendar tended to mark the new year on January 1st, whereas the official "Old Style" practice in England was to mark the new year on March 25th (the Feast of the Annunciation or "Lady Day") (although in popular usage, New Year's Day was identified with January 1st). Many citations of dates in the first quarter of the year (between January 1 and March 24) thus hold a potential for confusion depending on how consistently the different new year dates (O.S., or Old Style vs. N.S., or New Style) and the calendrical gap between Julian and Gregorian dates are kept in mind. For dates in English history falling in the interval between January 1st and March 25th, scholars often designate the "year" using a convention acknowledging the two different markings of the turn of the year (e.g., as 14 February 1710/11), which would, however, correspond to 25 February 1711 in countries using the Gregorian calendar.

Murder Act (25 George II, c. 37)

Henry Fielding, Amelia

David Hume, Political Discourses

Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote

Sir John Pringle, Observations on the Diseases of the Army

Christopher Smart, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)

Tobias Smollett, trans. of Micromegas: A Comic Romance. . . Together with a Detail of the Crusades; and a New Plan for the History of the Human Mind (three works by Voltaire)


The Adventurer (periodical)


Jewish Naturalization Act passed (26 George II, c. 26) (see 1754, below)

Hardwicke's Marriage Act (26 George II, c. 33):--
This Act established the modern legal form of marriage in England and Wales--"with banns or a licence, parental permission for minors, before witnesses and an authorized clergyman, and by recording the event in a marriage register" (Bannet 2000: 15). The Act was meant to prohibit clandestine marriages and elopements by the underaged--since now a couple who didn't have parental permission had to escape to Scotland (e.g. Gretna Green) or Guernsey to get married. Quakers and Jews were exempt from the provisions of the law (Hay & Rogers 1997: 37).

British Museum established (first opened to the public in 1759):--
The British Museum Act of 1753 (26 George II, c. 22) allowed for the establishment of a national repository for three foundation collections--Sir Hans Sloane's library, herbarium, and collection of some 71,000 objects (for which £20,000 was paid to his heirs); the Cotton collection of manuscripts (previously donated to the nation in 1700); and the Harleian collection of manuscripts (acquired for £10,000). In 1757, George II donated the "Old Royal Library" of the sovereigns of England to the new Museum and with it the privilege of copyright receipt. On 15 January 1759 the Museum opened to the public. Admission for a guided tour was given to small groups of persons at a time, who had to obtain a ticket in advance. Admission tickets and escorts for visitors were abolished fifty years later, in 1810.

Elizabeth Canning controversy

Census proposed (first census was actually held in 1801)

George Ballard, Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain

Jane Collier, An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting

Aaron Hill (d. 1750), Works, 4 vols.

Charlotte Lennox, Shakespeare Illustrated

Tobias Smollett, Ferdinand Count Fathom

Joseph Warton, ed., Works of Virgil, 4 vols.


Samuel Richardson, Sir Charles Grandison


Death of Pelham inaugurates period of ministerial instability:--
There are a succession of short-lived ministries till the Pitt-Newcastle ministry in 1757.

General election

Anglo-French hostilities begin in North America

Repeal of Jewish Naturalization Act (27 George II, c. 1):-- (see 1753, above)
As a sequel to this episode, one might note the controversy, a century later, over the seating of Jewish MPs in Parliament: "In 1847, 1850 and 1853, unconverted Jews [as distinct from a figure like Benjamin Disraeli, a baptized Anglican, who had been elected to Parliament in 1837] had been elected to Parliament, but could not be seated because they could not take the oath 'on the faith of a Christian'; in 1858, after having been introduced and defeated for twenty-nine consecutive years, the Jewish Emancipation Bill was passed, and Baron Rothschild, having been elected, was permitted to take the oath as a member of the House of Commons with the alternative words, 'So help me, Jehovah!'" (Morse 1976: 790).

Society of Arts founded

Death of Henry Fielding

Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director

Jane Collier and Sarah Fielding, The Cry

John Duncombe, The Feminead, or Female Genius

David Hume, History of England, vol. 1 (completed 1761)

James Lind, Treatise on the Scurvy

Thomas Warton, Observations on the Fairie Queene of Spenser (rev. 1762)


Newcastle ministry:--
Thomas Pelham-Holles, duke of Newcastle as First Lord of the Treasury, Holderness as Secretary of State for the southern department; Robinson, succeeded by H. Fox as other Secretary of State

George Colman and Bonnell Thornton's The Connoisseur (periodical)


Admiral Boscawen's expedition

Naval impressment riots

Major earthquake in Lisbon

Death of Henry St John, 1st viscount Bolingbroke

Henry St. John, 1st viscount Bolingbroke, Works

Henry Fielding (d. 1754), Voyage to Lisbon

Eliza Haywood, The Invisible Spy

Francis Hutcheson, A System of Moral Philosophy

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language

Poems by Eminent Ladies (poetry)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur Inégalité

Tobias Smollett, trans. of Cervantes's Don Quixote

1756-63: Seven Years War between Britain and France

Anglo-French hostilities had erupted into undeclared war already in 1755; formal war began in 1756. That same year (1756) the British signed a treaty with Prussia (Treaty of Westminster) and the French signed one with Austria (Treaty of Versailles), and when Frederick II of Prussia invaded Saxony, the Seven Years War broke out. This was the first truly global war of empire between the two rival powers of Britain and France, fought in the Americas, in Europe, and in India and the East. It was clearly an imperial war and Britain emerged more categorically victorious than usual and thus consolidated a place as the leading European imperial power. Paul Langford comments that, "Every war during this period [1727-83] was in essence a commercial war, and to a marked extent a colonial war, whether the enemy was a rival power or one's own insubordinate colonists. Every peace was the continuation of war by economic means" (Langford 1989: 3).


Convention of Westminster

Act for rating of West Country textile wages; food riots; Lancashire strikes

Loss of Minorca, followed by resignation of Newcastle and formation of Pitt-Devonshire ministry

Thomas Amory, The Life of John Buncle

The Critical Review established (edited by Tobias Smollett till 1763) (periodical)

John Home, Douglas (drama)

Voltaire, Désastre de Lisbonne

Joseph Warton, Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope (revised eds. to 1782)


Pitt-Devonshire ministry:--
Duke of Devonshire as First Lord of the Treasury, Holderness and William Pitt as Secretaries of State


Court martial and execution of Admiral Byng:--
The war with France not going well, Byng was executed "pour encourager les autres" [to encourage the others] and to shift blame from the politicians to the military commanders

Robert Clive's victory at the Battle of Plassey, consolidating the British East India Company's position in Bengal

Textile Act repealed

Militia Act (30 George II, c. 25)

Militia riots; food riots

Thomas Secker named Archbishop of Canterbury

William Whitehead (d. 1785) named Poet Laureate

First appearance of John Baskerville's new type-face

Death of Colley Cibber

John Brown, Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (2nd edn., 1759)

William Collins, Oriental Eclogues (poetry)

John Dyer, The Fleece (poetry)

Sarah Fielding, The Lives of Cleopatra and Octavia

Thomas Gray, Odes ("The Bard" and "The Progress of Poesy") (poetry)

David Hume, Four Dissertations (incl. "A Natural History of Religion")

Horace Walpole, A Letter from Xo-Ho, a Chinese Philosopher at London to His Friend Lien Chi at Peking


Tobias Smollett, The Complete History of England


Pitt-Newcastle ministry:--
Duke of Newcastle as First Lord of the Treasury, earl of Bute and William Pitt as Secretaries of State


Second Treaty of Westminster

British capture Louisburg

Habeas Corpus Bill defeated

William Blackstone becomes first Vinerian Professor of English Law

Magdalen Hospital founded

Halley's comet (as it came to be called) reappears, as predicted by Halley in 1705 (based on sightings of the comet in 1531, 1607, and 1682), further cementing the authority of modern astronomy

Annual Register established (periodical)

Elizabeth Carter, translation of Epictetus

Charlotte Lennox, Henrietta

Jonathan Swift (d. 1745), Four Last Years of Queen Anne's Reign


Samuel Johnson, The Idler (15 April 1758-5 April 1760) (periodical)

ca. 1758-63

Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno:--
This fragmentary poem was written during his confinement in George Potter's madhouse (early 1759-Jan. 1763); left incomplete at his death, the ms. was discovered and published by W. F. Stead in 1939, but the antiphonal structure of parts of the text were only realized in W. H. Bond's edition of 1954 (Fairer & Gerrard, ed. 2004: 427)


Britain's "annus mirabilis" in the Seven Years War:--
A string of victories for the British marked a turn in the tide of war: notably, General Wolfe defeated Montcalm to capture Quebec. The British also captured Guadeloupe and Goree and scored naval victories off Lagos and at Quiberon Bay.

Battle of Minden

Trial of Eugene Aram

Jan 15: British Museum opened to the public (see 1753, above)

Francis Egerton, duke of Bridgewater begins construction of canal

Death of Handel

Death of William Collins

Sarah Fielding, History of the Countess of Dellwyn

David Garrick, Heart of Oak

Alexander Gerrard, Essay on Taste

Oliver Goldsmith, The Present State of Polite Learning in Europe

Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

William Mason, Caractacus, A Dramatic Poem: Written on the Model of the Antient Greek Tragedy (poetry)

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

Voltaire, Candide

Edward Young, Conjectures on Original Composition


Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (fiction):--
(the nine volumes of this work appeared as follows: vols.1-2, '1760' [Dec. 1759]; vols.3-4, 1761; vols.5-6, '1762' [Dec. 1761]; vols.7-8, Jan. 1765; vol.9, Jan. 1767)

1760-1820: Reign of George III


Death of George II; accession of George III

British capture Montreal

MPs Qualification Act (33 George II, c. 20)

Lord Ferrers hanged

Public exhibition of paintings at Society of Arts

Rolvenden prosecution of Methodists

Samuel Foote, The Minor (drama)

Thomas Francklin, Dissertaion on Ancient Tragedy

Charles Johnstone, Chrysal: the Adventures of a Guinea

Robert Lloyd, The Actor (poetry)

[Robert Lloyd], Shakespeare: An Epistle to Mr Garrick

Lyttelton, Dialogues of the Dead

James Macpherson, Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland (Ossianic poems)

Israel Maudit, Considerations on the present German War

Mme. de Riccoboni, Letters from Juliet


Oliver Goldsmith, "Chinese Letters" (serialized in The Public Ledger, 1760-61; separately published in 1762 as Letters from a Citizen of the World)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 6.7 million; Scotland [n/a]; Ireland 3.5 million (in 1767) (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289).

General election

Pitt resigns

Spain joins the war against Britain

British capture Pondicherry from the French in India

Civil List Act (1 George III, c.1)

Judges Tenure Act (1 George III, c. 23)

Death of Samuel Richardson

Charles Churchill, The Rosciad (poetry)

Charles Churchill, Night. An Epistle to Robert Lloyd (poetry)

George Colman, the elder, The Jealous Wife (drama)

John Hawkesworth, Almoran and Hamet: An Oriental Tale


Bute ministry:--
John Stuart, earl of Bute as First Lord of the Treasury; Egremont as one Secretary of State; G. Grenville, succeeded by Halifax, as other Secretary of State


Spain joins war against the British

British capture Martinique

Newcastle resigns, replaced by Bute

British capture Havana and Manila

Peace terms debated

Jonas Hanway's Act for Registering Infant Poor (2 George III, ca. 22)

Westminster Paving Commission established

Mystery of Cock Lane ghost

With the remodeling of Drury Lane Theatre, David Garrick succeeds in eliminating the presence of spectators from the stage itself--a reform he had attempted to institute back in 1747

Samuel Johnson granted a government pension

Johann Christian Bach (son of Johann Sebastian Bach) arrives in England, as music master to the Court

Catherine II (the Great) assumes throne in Russia (reigns 1762-96)

Death of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Anon., The Life, Travels and Adventures of Christopher Wagstaff

Charles Churchill, The Ghost (poetry)

Henry Home, lord Kames, Elements of Criticism

Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance

Leland, Longsword, Earl of Salisbury

Charlotte Lennox, Sophia

Robert Lloyd, Poems

James Macpherson, Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem (poetry)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Contrat Social

Tobias Smollett, Sir Launcelot Greaves

James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, The Antiquities of Athens, vol. 1

Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting


Peace of Paris ends Seven Years War:--
Britain having achieved great military victories in the war, many in Britain were outraged by the peace terms which seemed to them to give too much back to the French, though more sober minds realized that this was necessary in order to avoid imperial overstretch and an inevitable renewal of hostilities by the defeated parties. Nonetheless, popular outrage at the "treasonous" peace led to the fall of the Bute ministry. The prosecution of John Wilkes for seditious libel, for his publication of The North Briton no. 45, was part of an unsuccessful effort to quell critique of the ministry.

Proclamation for government of American conquests (e.g., Quebec)

Bute resigns, replaced by Grenville

British colonial possessions in 1763:-- (cf. in 1660 and in 1815)
* In North America: Newfoundland, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Rupert's Land; Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.
* In the Caribbean and northern coast of South America: Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St Christopher [St Kitts] and Nevis), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
* In Africa and the Mediterranean: Gambia, Gibraltar, Minorca, St Helena, Senegal.
* In India: Bombay, Bengal, Bihar, Carnatic, Orissa.

Cider excise (3 George III, c. 12)

Durham Electoral Qualification Act (3 George III, c. 15)

Frances Brooke, The History of Lady Julia Mandeville

Charles Churchill, The Prophecy of Famine (poetry)

Charles Churchill, The Author (poetry)

Catharine Macaulay, History of England, vol. 1

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (d. 1762), Letters (including her "Turkish Embassy Letters" written in 1717-18)

Thomas Percy, Five Pieces of Runic Poetry

Christopher Smart, A Song to David (poetry)

Christopher Smart, Poems by Mr Smart (poetry)

Christopher Smart, Poems on Several Occasions (not to be confused with his 1752 volume)


Grenville ministry:--
George Grenville as First Lord of the Treasury; Sandwich and Halifax as Secretaries of State

Marmontel, Moral Tales


Grant of diwanni to East India Company in Bengal

John Wilkes expelled from Parliament

James Watt invents separate condenser

James Harrison claims the Longitude Board's £20,000 prize (offered since 1714):--
Harrison had invented a chronometer able to keep time accurately across a lengthy sea voyage (allowing one to calculate the longitude by measuring the difference between the local time, calculated from the sun's position, and the reference time of the chronometer). Harrison's chronometer (H4) had already been tested on a voyage to the West Indies in Nov. 1761 to Jan. 1762, and again in a voyage to Barbados in March 1764, but the Longitude Board put forth additional conditions and Harrison only received half the prize money in 1765 and was only awarded £8750 more (not the remaining £10,000) by an Act of Parliament in June 1773, after appeals to the King and to Parliament (National Maritime Museum).

James Hargreaves invents spinning jenny (patented in 1770)

Sugar Act (4 George III, c. 15)

Death of Charles Churchill (1731-64)

Robert Adam, Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian, at Spalatra

Charles Churchill, The Duellist (poetry)

Charles Churchill, Gotham (poetry)

Francis Gentleman, A Trip to the Moon

Oliver Goldsmith, History of England

Thomas Reid, Enquiry into the Human Mind

James Ridley, Tales of the Genii

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile

Tobias Smollett, The Present State of all Nations

Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto

J. J. Winckelmann, Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums


Stamp Act (5 George III, c. 12), raising tensions with the American colonies even further

Grenville dismissed, replaced by Rockingham

American trade boycotts

Regency Act (5 George III, c. 27)

American Mutiny Act (5 George III, c. 33)

General warrants ruled illegal by Charles Pratt, 1st baron Camden (Lord Chief Justice):--
In issuing this judgment, however, Lord Camden was careful to stress the reigning consensus among the political establishment on the dangers of public criticisms of the government: "Before I conclude," he wrote, "I desire not to be understood as an advocate for libels. All civilized governments have punished calumny with severity; and with reason; for these compositions debauch the manners of the people; they excite a spirit of disobedience, and enervate the authority of government; they provoke and excite the passions of the people against their rulers, and the rulers oftentimes against the people. . . . I will always set my face against them, when they come before me; and shall recommend it most warmly to the jury always to convict when the proof is clear. . . . When licentiousness is tolerated, liberty is in the utmost danger; because tyranny, bad as it is, is better than anarchy, and the worst of governments is more tolerable than no government at all" (quoted in Christie 1965: 64).

Samuel Foote, The Commissary (drama)

James Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women

Samuel Johnson's edition of Shakespeare

James Macpherson, Works of Ossian

Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (poetry)

Christopher Smart, A Translation of the Hymns of David

Christopher Smart, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Fasts and Festivals of the Church of England


Rockingham ministry:--
Charles Watson-Wentworth, marquess of Rockingham as First Lord of the Treasury; Grafton, succeeded by Conway, as one Secretary of State; Conway, succeeded by Richmond, as other Secretary of State. Edmund Burke, who was Rockingham's private secretary, enters Parliament as a loyal member of the Rockingham Whigs and an advocate of "party" politics.


William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England


Henry Brooke, The Fool of Quality


Repeal of Stamp Act (6 George III, c. 11)

American Declaratory Act (6 George III, c. 12), affirming the British Parliament's right to legislate for the American colonies (see [Irish] Declaratory Act of 1720, above)

Repeal of cider excise (6 George III, c. 14)

Free Ports Act (6 George III, c. 49)

Revenue Act (6 George III, c. 52)

Rockingham dismissed, replaced by Chatham

Widespread food riots

Death of James Edward Stuart ("James III"; "The Old Pretender")

Grand Trunk canal projected

French annexation of Lorraine

Christopher Anstey, The New Bath Guide (poetry)

Francis Blackburne, Confessional

Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield

Thomas Pennant, British Zoology

Tobias Smollett, Travels through France and Italy


Chatham ministry:--
William Pitt, now elevated to the peerage as earl of Chatham, as Lord Privy Seal; Grafton [August Fitzroy, duke of Grafton] as First Lord of the Treasury; Weymouth and Shelburne as Secretaries of State.
xxIan Christie suggests that this ministry (1766-68 under Chatham) and its two successors (1768-70 under Grafton and 1770-82 under North) really constitute one continuous, if somewhat fluid, grouping: "Between 1767 and 1775 the long-lived and, at first, somewhat chameleon-like ministry, of which Chatham, Grafton, and North were successively the titular heads, recruited various groups to the mosaic fragments originally assembled by Chatham--the Bedford party, subsequently led by Earl Gower, the followers of George Grenville . . . , and dissident politicians from the party of Lord Rockingham, notably Lord George Germain. There was some shifting among these factions subsequently, and in addition North, like every eighteenth-century head of the Treasury, acquired his own following; but this section of the government majority [as distinct from "the more or less permanent 'court and administration' party"] always remained a coalition of factions, and under the stress of 1782-84 these once again drifted apart, Lord North and his friends into the coalition with Charles Fox, the much smaller Bedford group into an alliance with the Younger Pitt" (Christie 1965: 74).


Bedford party joins ministry

Townshend duties (7 George III, c. 46)

East India regulations (7 George III, cc. 49, 57)

New York assembly suspended (7 George III, c. 59)

American boycotts reimposed

Food riots

Elizabeth Brownrigg executed

Joseph Priestley, History and Present State of Electricity

Frances Sheridan, The History of Nourjahad


General election:--
John Wilkes elected MP for Middlesex by a majority of the voters, but ruled ineligible by the House of Commons and not allowed to take his seat: there followed, in 1769, a petition and protest campaign for "Wilkes and Liberty" to unseat Henry Lawes Luttrell (whom the House of Commons had declared elected) and return Wilkes as MP for Middlesex.

St George's Fields Massacre

French annexation of Corsica

American non-importation movement

Chatham resigns, replaced by Grafton

Frederick Cornwallis named Archbishop of Canterbury

Lord Baltimore's trial

Royal Academy of Arts established

Oliver Goldsmith, The Good-Natured Man (acted) (drama)

Thomas Gray, Poems (poetry)

Hugh Kelly, False Delicacy (acted) (drama)

Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy

Arthur Young's Tours commenced


Grafton ministry:--
August Fitzroy, duke of Grafton still as First Lord of the Treasury; Rochford and Weymouth as Secretaries of State


Captain James Cook's first voyage to the Pacific

First edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica published


Wilkesite petitioning movement

Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights founded

Crown Lands Act (9 George III, c. 16)

Josiah Wedgwood opens Etruria pottery

June 3: observations of the transit of Venus:--
This event, which would not recur until 1874, was pursued with avidity by European astronomers. Capt. James Cook led an expedition to Tahiti in the South Seas (i.e., the Pacific) to make observations, a voyage with consequences for moral philosophy and romantic literature as well as for hydrography and natural history (Sambrook 1993: 14).

Shakespeare Jubilee

Denis Diderot, Rêve de d'Alembert (written; not published till 1830)

Tobias Smollett, The Orientalist: A Volume of Tales after the Eastern Taste


Anon., Letters of Junius


Sir Joshua Reynolds, Discourses (delivered annually at the Royal Academy)


Grafton resigns, replaced by North

Boston Massacre

Falklands Islands crisis & impressment riots at home

Repeal of Townshend duties, except on tea (10 George III, c. 17)

Grenville's Elections Act (10 George III, c. 41)

Death of Thomas Chatterton by suicide

Death of George Whitefield (1714-1770)

James Beattie, Essay on Truth

Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents

Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (poetry)


North ministry:--
Lord North as First Lord of the Treasury and (from 1778) Thurlow as Lord Chancellor; Sandwich, Halifax, Suffolk, and Stormont successively in one Secretary of State position; Rochford, Weymouth, and Hillsborough in other Secretary of State position


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 7.1 million; Scotland 1.4 million (in 1775); Ireland [n/a] (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 6.45 million.

Printers' controversy regarding the publication of parliamentary debates:--
The House of Commons sought to ban the publishing of parliamentary debates, as it had long insisted: "The Journals [of the House of Commons] from 1694 to 1722 recorded a series of resolutions against the authors of newsletters, and from 1722 onwards the ban was extended to newspapers and magazines. The position the House was attempting to defend in 1771 had been in substance established by a resolution passed in 1738 with the concurrence of all parts of the House, including the opposition Whigs, and was reaffirmed in 1762" (Christie 1965: 64-65). But this reassertion of the old position "failed ignominiously when, for the first time, the magistrates of the City of London opposed their jurisdiction to the privileges of the House of Commons" (Christie 1965: 66).

New Shoreham Disenfranchisement Act (11 George III, c. 55)

Warren Hastings appointed Governor of Bengal

Capt. James Cook returns from Pacific

Food riots; Spitalfields silk-weaver riots

Richard Arkwright's first spinning mill opens at Cromford

John Wesley's controversy with Calvinistic Methodists

Death of Thomas Gray

Death of Tobias Smollett

Death of Christopher Smart

James Beattie, The Minstrel, book I (poetry)

Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling

John Millar, Observations concerning the Distinction of Ranks

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker


Food riots

Feathers' Tavern Petition

Gaspée burned

Royal Marriage Act (12 George III, c. 11)

Financial crash

Lord Mansfield's judgment in Somersett's case regarding status of slaves in Britain

Pantheon opened

Partnership of Boulton and Watt established

Society for Relief of Small Debtors

Partition of Poland by rival European powers

Samuel Foote, The Nabob (drama)


Capt. James Cook's second Pacific voyage


Food riots

Recoinage (cf. 1696)

Boston Tea Party

Dowdeswell's Insurance Bill defeated

Spitalfields Act

Pownall's Corn Law (13 George III, c. 43)

Tea Act (13 George III, c. 44)

East India Regulating Act (13 George III, c. 63)

Warren Hastings appointed Governor-General of India

Adelphi Lottery

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, describes the Church of England as consisting of "a Calvinistic Creed, a Popish Liturgy and Arminian Clergy" (quoted in Sambrook 1993: 46)

Anna Laetitia Aikin (later Barbauld), Poems

Anna Laetitia Aikin and John Aikin, Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose

Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (drama)

Lord Monboddo, Origin and Progress of Language

George Alexander Steevens's edition of Shakespeare


American non-importation

Popham's Prison Acts (14 George II, cc. 20, 59)

Coercive Acts: Boston Port Act (14 George III, c. 19); Justice Act (14 George III, c. 39); Massachusetts Government Act (14 George III, c. 45); Quartering Act (14 George III, c. 54)

Madhouse Act (14 George III, c. 49)

Quebec Act (14 George III, c. 83)

General election

Joseph Priestley isolates "dephlogisticated air":--
This would later come to be recognized as oxygen, but Priestley understood it in terms of the theory of phlogiston (formulated early in the 18th century by Georg Ernst Stahl in Germany and "completely dominant" by Priestley's era--until it was demolished by Antoine Lavoisier in his Réflexions sur la phlogistique in 1786) (Sambrook 1993: 18)

Theophilus Lindsey establishes (Unitarian) Essex Chapel

Failure of proposed examination reform at Cambridge University

Copyright Law settled by the House of Lords

Humane Society formed

Death of Louis XV of France; succeeded by Louis XVI (reigned 1774-92; guillotined 1793)

Death of Oliver Goldsmith

Jacob Bryant, A New System or Analysis of Ancient Mythology, vol. 1

James Burgh, Political Disquisitions

John Campbell, Political Survey

Lord Chesterfield, Letters to His Son

John Langhorne, The Country Justice, part I

Mary Scott, The Female Advocate: A Poem Occasioned by Reading Mr. Duncombe's "Feminead" (poetry)


Thomas Warton, History of English Poetry, 3 vols. (left unfinished at his death)

1775-83: War of American Independence

After years of mounting tensions between the American colonies and the British ministries, war breaks out with the Proclamation of Rebellion in 1775, followed by the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. The French join the war on the American side in 1778. Hostilities continued till the surrender of the British army at Yorktown in 1781. As a result of this political revolution, roughly 40,000 loyalist refugees left the thirteen colonies for Canada and other parts of the British empire in the Americas.


Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill

Proclamation of (American) Rebellion issued by the British

North's conciliatory resolution

Life bond for Scottish miners abolished

Violent seamen's strike, Liverpool

Lunar Society's first formal meeting

Edmund Burke, Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies

Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland

Samuel Johnson, Taxation no Tyranny

William Mason, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Gray

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals (drama)


American Declaration of Independence

Battle of Long Island

American Prohibitory Act (16 George III, c. 5)

Poor Relief Survey Act (16 George III, c. 40)

Hulks Act (16 George III, c. 43)

National report on poor relief expenditure

Duchess of Kingston's trial

Retirement of David Garrick from the stage

Death of David Hume (1711-1776)

Jeremy Bentham (b. 1743), Fragment on Government

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 1 (subsequent vols. to 1787)

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Richard Price, Observations on Civil Liberty

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations


Capt. James Cook's third Pacific voyage


Gen. John Burgoyne surrenders at Saratoga

Bath Society founded

William Dodd hanged

Execution of John the Painter

Edmund Burke, Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol

Thomas Chatterton, Poems, Supposed to have been Written at Bristol, By Thomas Rowley, and Others, in the Fifteenth Century (poetry)

John Howard, State of the Prisons

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal (drama)

Thomas Warton, Poems


France joins with American colonies in war against Britain

Carlisle peace commission

Catholic Relief Act (18 George III, c. 60)

Arminian Magazine first issue (periodical)

Anna Laetitia Barbauld (née Aikin), Lessons for Children

Comte de Buffon, Les Époques de la nature

Frances Burney, Evelina


Spain joins war against Britain

Keppel court-martialled

Dissenters Relief Act (19 George III, c. 44)

Completion of iron bridge at Coalbrookdale, the first of its kind

Machine-breaking riots: attack on Arkwright's mill

Samuel Crompton invents spinning mule

Penitentiary Act

Yorkshire Association established: Association Movement for parliamentary reform

Death of David Garrick

William Alexander, History of Women

William Cowper & Rev. John Newton, Olney Hymns

David Hume (d. 1776), Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (wr. 1751)

William Mason, The English Garden


Samuel Johnson, Prefaces Biographical and Critical, to The Works of the English Poets, re-published separately as The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, 4 vols. (1781)


Holland joins war against Britain

Capture of Charleston

Association movement: Dunning's motion

Gordon Riots in London:--
Led by Lord George Gordon (1751-93) and directed against Catholics and Dissenters: Gordon put himself at the head of the Protestant organizations organized to seek the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778. He led a mob to Parliament on 2 June 1780 to present a petition and the ensuing riots lasted a week and caused 500 casualties. Gordon himself was arrested on a charge of high treason, but was acquitted on the grounds that he had no treasonable intentions [Encyclopaedia Britannica].
xxxThe New Newgate Calendar remarks on these events: "We must here observe that the enormous outrages committed by these abandoned wretches were so numerous and terrifying, and the further mischiefs dreaded from their menaces were so tremendous, that . . . one would almost think that Divine Providence had suffered them to run to such shocking lengths to shew what horrid excesses the human mind is capable of when left to its own evil bias without restraint" (quoted in Novak 1981: 48, where it is also suggested that Dickens's Barnaby Rudge is the "best novel to concentrate on these riots and perhaps on riots of any kind").

Society for Constitutional Information founded

General election

Sunday schools begin: the Sunday School movement would reach over a quarter of a million poor children between 1787 and 1797, giving them rudimentary instruction in reading if not in writing

Irish Trade Act (20 George III, c. 18)

Denis Diderot, La Religieuse (begun around 1760; completed in 1780; serialized in 1780-82; separately published 1796)


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 7.5 million; Scotland [n/a]; Ireland 4.1 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289)

Lord Cornwallis surrenders to American forces at Yorktown

Audit of Public Accounts Act (21 George III, c. 45)

Richard Arkwright's patent overturned

Discovery of Uranus:--
William Herschel, using a large reflecting telescope, discovers Uranus, "the first planet to be found since antiquity" (Sambrook 1993: 15).

Immanuel Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of Pure Reason)

Charles Macklin, Man of the World (drama)


Battle of the Saints

North resigns, replaced by Rockingham, who dies and is replaced by Shelburne

Second Rockingham ministry (very short lived):--
Charles Watson-Wentworth, marquess of Rockingham as First Lord of the Treasury; Shelburne as Home and Charles James Fox as Foreign Secretary

Crewe's Place Act (22 George III, c. 45)

Repeal of Irish Declaratory Act (22 George III, c. 53) (see 1720, above)

Burke's Establishment Act (22 George III, c. 82)

Gilbert's Poor Law Act (22 George III, c. 83)

Frances Burney, Cecilia

William Cowper, Poems (poetry) and Table Talk

Hannah More, Sacred Dramas (poetry)

Joseph Priestley, History of the Corruptions of Christianity


Shelburne ministry:--
William Petty, earl of Shelburne as First Lord of the Treasury; Sydney as Home Secretary and Grantham as Foreign Secretary


Shelburne resigns, replaced by Fox-North coalition

Fox-North ministry (very short lived):--
William Bentinck, duke of Portland as First Lord of the Treasury; North as Home Secretary and Charles James Fox as Foreign Secretary

Treaty of Versailles (Peace of Paris) ends the American war

Fox's East India Bill

Dismissal of Fox-North ministry, replaced by Pitt

Food riots; Nottingham weavers riot

Public executions moved from Tyburn to Newgate

Hot air balloon invented by Montgolfier brothers in France; the first balloon ascent in Britain took place the next year

Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres

George Crabbe, The Village (poetry)

Joseph Ritson, A Select Collection of English Songs (anthology)


William Pitt the younger ministry:--
William Pitt as First Lord of the Treasury and (from 1783-92) Thurlow as Lord Chancellor; Temple, Sydney, W. W. Grenville, Henry Dundas, and Portland successively in position of Home Secretary; Temple, Leeds, Grenville, and Hawkesbury successively in position of Foreign Secretary


General election endorses Pitt, who begins financial and administrative reform

India Act

Handel centenary celebration, featuring a concert in Westminster Abbey by 500 musicians and attended by the Royal family and the elite of British society

Death of Samuel Johnson

Sir William Jones establishes the Asiatic Society of Bengal (in Calcutta)

Immanuel Kant, "What Is Enlightenment?"

Charlotte Smith, Elegaic Sonnets and Other Essays (poetry)


Pitt's parliamentary reform proposals defeated

the age of steam:--
Boulton-Watt (Matthew Boulton and James Watt) rotary steam engine applied to spinning: the harnessing of steam power (steam-driven manufacturing, steam locomotives, steam boats, etc.) enabled a fundamental change, from a productive order in which "natural" energy (human power, animal power, water, and wind) was the major source of energy to one in which mechanical energy (steam power, fueled by coal or wood or, later, oil) became predominant (to be followed later by the emergence of electricity and chemical processes as similarly transformative technological-scientific innovations). Friedrich Engels comments in 1845: "The history of the proletariat in England begins with the second half of the last century, with the invention of the steam engine and of machinery for working cotton. These inventions gave rise, as is well known, to an industrial revolution, a revolution which altered the whole civil society; one, the historical importance of which is only now beginning to be recognized" (Engels 1845: 15). Not only did the coming of the "age of steam" and the industrial revolution it ushered in (with the simultaneous mechanization of many activities previously performed by hand and the emergence of the factory system) transform "the whole of civil society," it also created a profound gap between the productive and technical capacities of industrializing societies and those of the rest of the world, a legacy whose consequences are still evident two centuries later.

Thomas Warton (d. 1790) named Poet Laureate

William Cowper, The Task (poetry)

Daily Universal Register established (renamed The Times in 1788) (newspaper)

Ann Yearsley, Poems on Several Occasions (poetry)


Eden economic treaty with France

Sinking Fund established

Closing of Warrington Academy (1757-86), which had been the seed-bed of Unitarianism

William Beckford, Vathek

Robert Burns, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (poetry)

Antoine Lavoisier, Réflexions sur la phlogistique (see Priestley 1774, above)

Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi, Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson


Association for Abolition of Slave Trade founded

First Fleet leaves for Botany Bay

The corvée (a "feudal" practice of forced labor ironically used for such modernization projects as road-building) abolished in France

U.S. constitution adopted

Mary Wollstonecraft, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters

Ann Yearsley, Poems on Various Subjects (poetry)


Impeachment of Warren Hastings:--
The impeachment, conducted by Edmund Burke and Richard Brinsley Sheridan among others, brought charges of extortion and other crimes against Hastings in relation to his time as the first governor-general of British India (1774-84). The trial caused a sensation, but much public opinion sided with Hastings, and after a long and costly prosecution, he was acquitted by the House of Lords in 1795.


The Scots Musical Museum


Regency Crisis (induced by George III's first bout of madness)


First large anti-slavery petition presented to Parliament

Death of Charles Edward Stuart ("the Young Pretender")

Charlotte Smith, Emmeline


Outbreak of the French Revolution:--
The meeting of the Estates General, called on 5 May 1789, takes a revolutionary turn, as the Third Estate, resisting Louis XVI's efforts to detach it from the other Estates, declares itself the National Assembly on 17 June 1789 and takes the Tennis Court Oath on 20 June 1789, declaring its intention to continue until a constitution is drafted. On 14 July 1789, the storming of the Bastille and freeing of the prisoners accomplishes a symbolic dethroning of monarchial power. The National Assembly issues a Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen on 27 Aug. 1789. Women's march on the royal palace of Versailles, 5 Oct. 1789, demanding that their rights be acknowledged.
xxA new constitution is drafted by the National Assembly in Oct. 1791 and agreed to by the king. Later, in 1792, war breaks out between France and Austria, but proceeds badly for France, increasing the pressure on the king. On 10 Aug. 1792, the Tulleries palace is stormed and Louis XVI is arrested and a republican government put in his place. On 21 Sept. 1792, the monarchy is abolished and France is declared a republic by the National Convention. Louis XVI is tried for treason and executed on 21 Jan. 1793.
xxFrance declares war on England, Spain, and the Netherlands in Feb. 1793. In June 1793, the radical Jacobins expel the more moderate Girondins from the National Convention and in July 1793 Maximilien Robespierre assumes charge of the Committee of Public Safety and begins to purge dissenters from the French government. There follows the "Reign of Terror" from July 1793 to July 1794, as Robespierre roots out dissenters and opponents domestically, which, together with the war with the combined forces of monarchist Europe, produces a radicalization of the revolutionary dynamic. Several thousand were guillotined before the overthrow and execution of Robespierre himself in July 1794. The Directory, a new governing council of five men chosen by the legislature, is established in Oct. 1795. Eventually, in Nov. 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte becomes the new leader of France when the Directory invites the general to help reform the impotent government.

George III recovers from first bout of madness (probably from porphyria)

Jeremy Bentham (b. 1743), Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

William Blake, Songs of Innocence (poetry)

William Lisle Bowles, Fourteen Sonnets (poetry)

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

Gilbert White, Natural History of Selbourne


Nootka Sound Crisis between Britain and Spain

Death of Thomas Warton

Henry James Pye (d. 1813) named Poet Laureate

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

Edmund Malone's edition of Shakespeare

Hannah More, Slavery, A Poem (later titled "The Slave Trade") (poetry)

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 8.3 million; Scotland 1.5 million; Ireland 4.8 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289)

Oczakov (Ochakov) Crisis between Britain and Russia

Death of John Wesley (founder of Methodism)

Anti-Dissenter riots directed against Joseph Priestley as a Unitarian

Haitian Revolution, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, the first successful slave revolt in the western hemisphere

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Epistle to William Wilberforce (poetry)

James Boswell, Life of Johnson

Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden

Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, part I

Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple


George Vancouver's voyage up coast of California and Pacific Northwest and to Alaska


Founding of London Corresponding Society and of first Loyalist association

Proclamation against seditious publications

Libel Act:--
In previous English law, reaffirmed by Lord Mansfield as recently as 1770 in the Woodfall case and again in the case of the Dean of St. Asaph in 1783, juries in cases of libel were not allowed to decide "the vital question whether the matter complained of was libelous or not" (Christie 1965: 63). This stipulation had been challenged in 1731 in the case of Rex v. Francklin, and repeatedly thereafter "by liberal-minded lawyers," but the judges consistently ruled in keeping with the established precedents (Christie 1965: 65). A change in this particular was only achieved, "in the teeth of orthodox legal opinion, by Fox's Libel Act of 1792" (Christie 1965: 66).

Colliers and weavers riot

Death of Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lord Macartney's embassy to China

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Poems (poetry)

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

1793-1802: British involvement in the French Revolutionary war

Hostilities between the revolutionary regime in France and other European powers (Austria, Prussia, Holland, Spain) broke out in 1792, though Britain did not enter the war till 1793. Then the war became an overwhelming preoccupation--more dire than most previous wars--until the Peace of Amiens brought a temporary respite in 1802.


Execution (by guillotine) of Louis XVI of France

British Convention meets in Edinburgh

Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, revolutionizing the production of cotton in North America and making the cotton-based slave plantation economy more profitable

Tyne and Wear keelmen riot; impressment riots

William Godwin, Political Justice

William Wordsworth, Descriptive Sketches (poetry)


Treason trials

Portland Whigs join Pitt

Admiral Howe's naval victory in the Channel

France invades Holland

Slavery is abolished in the French colonies

Death of Edward Gibbon

Death of Antoine Lavoisier

William Blake, Songs of Experience (poems)

William Godwin, Caleb Williams

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

William Paley (b. 1743), Evidences of Christianity

Uvedale Price (b. 1747), Essay on the Picturesque

Anne Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho


The "Gagging Acts" against seditious meetings and publications passed

Food riots and anti-war demonstrations

Speenhamland decision authorizes wage supplementation

Spain declares war on Britain

Mungo Park's first expedition in Africa

Death of James Boswell

James Hutton, Theory of the Earth


Peace talks fail

French attempt landing at Bantry Bay

Edward Jenner tests vaccination against smallpox

Death of Robert Burns

Death of James Macpherson

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Watchman (periodical)

Elizabeth Inchbald, Nature and Art (2nd ed., 1797) (novel)

Matthew Lewis, The Monk

Robert Southey, Joan of Arc (poetry)


Napoleon's Italian campaign


Bank crisis:--
Fears of a French invasion produce a run on the banks and a consequent Bank Restriction Act suspending specie payments until 1821.

Jervis and Nelson defeat Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent

Naval mutiny at the Nore and Spithead

Death of Edmund Burke

Death of Mary Wollstonecraft

Death of Horace Walpole

William Wordsworth, The Borderers (poetry) (written; published in 1842)


The Anti-Jacobin (periodical)


French invasion and rebellion in Ireland

Suspension of Habeas Corpus Act

French fleet destroyed at battle of Aboukir Bay (Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile)

Newspaper Publication Act passed

Walter Savage Landor, Gebir (poetry)

Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principles of Population (2nd ed., 1803)

William Wordsworth and Samuel T. Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (poetry)


Income tax first levied

Second Coalition (against France), including Russia, Austria, Turkey, Portugal, Naples

Combination Act (against combinations of workers)

Seditious and Treasonable Societies Act

Nov.: Napoleon Bonaparte assumes control in France

Thomas Campbell, Pleasures of Hope (poetry)

Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa


Act of Union passed, consolidating Great Britain and Ireland into the "United Kingdom"

Second Combination Act

Extensive food riots in London and provinces

Malta captured by the British

Establishment of the Royal Institution

Census Act

Death of William Cowper

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent

William Wordsworth and Samuel T. Coleridge, "Preface" to the 2d edn. of Lyrical Ballads


First census of the British population:--
Population estimates: England and Wales 9.2 million; Scotland 1.6 million; Ireland 5.2 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 8.7 million or 9.15 million. The figures provided in Gregory & Stevenson 2000 suggest roughly a 50% rise since the start of the century (the respective populations are estimated to have been England and Wales 5.8 million and Scotland 1.0 million in 1701, and Ireland 2.8 million in 1711), with most of the increase having taken place in the second half of the century (at mid-century, the populations were England and Wales 6.5 million, Scotland 1.3 million in 1751; Ireland 3.2 million in 1754). This rapid population growth would continue into the 19th century:

   Total population of Great Britain and of UK

  1701: 6.1-6.8 million 8.8-9.5 million
1751: 7.1-7.8 million 10.3-11.0 million
1801: 10.3-10.8 million 15.5-16.0 million
1821: 13.6-14.2 million 20.4-21.0 million

Pitt resigns, succeeded by Addington

Food riots

Danish fleet destroyed by Nelson at battle of Copenhagen

Robert Southey, Thabala (poetry)


Addington ministry:--
Henry Addington as First Lord of the Treasury; Hawkesbury still as Foreign Secretary and Pelham and C. P. Yorke, successively, as Home Secretary


Peace of Amiens brings a temporary halt to the war between Britain and France

First Factory Act

William Cobbett, Political Register established (periodical)

Edinburgh Review established (periodical)

William Paley (b. 1743), Natural Theology

Sir Walter Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (poetry)

1803-15: Napoleonic War between Britain and France

The short-lived peace dissolves into war once more as Britain declares war on France in 1803, and Napoleon conducts successful or resourceful campaigns until he meets his Waterloo in 1815


Parliament suspends apprenticeship in wool trades

Thomas Malthus, Essay on the Principles of Population, 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1798)

Jane Porter, Thaddeus of Warsaw


William Cowper, The Life and Posthumous Writings, ed. William Hayley, 3 vols.


Second Pitt ministry:--
William Pitt as First Lord of the Treasury; Hakwesbury now as Home Secretary and Horrowby and Mulgrave successively as Foreign Secretary


French invasion force assembles at Boulogne


Formation of Third Coalition against France, with Austria and Russia

Nelson defeats Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, but suffers wounds that lead to his death

Impeachment of Dundas

Mungo Park's second expedition in Africa

Sir Walter Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel (poetry)

William Wordsworth, The Prelude (written; much revised and pub. 1850) (poetry)


Death of Pitt, succeeded by the Grenville ("All the Talents") ministry

Continental System embargoes British exports to Europe

Death of Elizabeth Carter


"Ministry of All the Talents":--
William Wyndham, lord Grenville as First Lord of the Treasury; Spencer as Home Secretary, and Charles James Fox and Howick successively as Foreign Secretary


Britain blockades France and her allies

Portland succeeds the "Talents" ministry

General election

Russia declares war on Britain

Abolition of the slave trade in the British empire (but not of slavery per se, until 1833)

Gas lighting introduced in London

Lord Byron, Hours of Idleness (poetry)

Charles and Mary Lamb, Tales from Shakespeare

William Wordsworth, Poems in Two Volumes (poetry)


Portland ministry:--
Duke of Portland as First Lord of the Treasury; Hawkesbury as Home and George Canning as Foreign Secretary


British expeditionary force to Portugal

Leigh Hunt, The Examiner (periodical)

Charles Lamb, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets (poetry)

Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, a Tale of Flodden Field (poetry)


Failed British expedition to Walcheren

Investigation of sale of army commissions

Portland resigns, succeeded by Perceval

Curwen's Act against electoral bribery

Apprenticeship in woollens eliminated

Death of Thomas Paine

Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (poetry)

Richard Payne Knight, Specimens of Ancient Sculpture

Quarterly Review established (periodical)

Correspondence of Catherine Talbot and Elizabeth Carter published


Perceval ministry:--
Spencer Perceval as First Lord of the Treasury; R. Ryder as Home Secretary and Bathurst, Wellesley, and Castlereagh successively as Foreign Secretary


Burdett riots

British capture Mauritius Islands from the French

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, ed. British Novelists, 50 vols.

George Crabbe, The Borough (poetry)

Edward Moor, The Hindu Pantheon

Jane Porter, Scottish Chiefs

Sir Walter Scott, Lady of the Lake (poetry)

[Percy Bysshe Shelley], Zastrozzi, a Romance, "by P.B.S."

[Percy Bysshe Shelley], St. Irvine; or, The Rosicrucian: A Romance, "By a Gentleman of the University of Oxford" (pub. Dec. 1810; title-page dated 1811)

Robert Southey, The Curse of Kehama (poetry)

1811-1820: Regency England

Regency established (in consideration of George III's madness):--
George III, no longer able to rule, remains king in name only; his son (the future George IV) is established as Prince Regent (in 1811). A more decadent atmosphere in court circles, under the self-indulgent Prince Regent (estranged from his wife, Caroline, and engaged with various mistresses) than under the "family values" king.


Population estimates:--
England and Wales 10.3 million; Scotland 1.8 million; Ireland 5.9 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289).

Prince of Wales made Regent

First outbreak of Luddite riots

National Society for the Education of the Poor founded

Hansard issues verbatim reports of parliamentary debates

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

[Percy Bysshe Shelley and Thomas Jefferson Hogg], The Necessity of Atheism (the publication of this pamphlet leads to Shelley's expulsion from Oxford)


Economic crisis: food riots

Luddism spreads

Assassination of Spencer Perceval, succeeded by Liverpool

Wellington defeats French in Spain

Lord Byron, Childe Harold, cantos I and II (poetry) (Canto III followed in 1816 and Canto IV in 1818)


Liverpool ministry:--
Robert Jenkins, lord Liverpool as First Lord of the Treasury; Sidmouth and Robert Peel, successively, as Home Secretary and Castlereagh and George Canning, successively, as Foreign Secretary


War of 1812 between United Kingdom and USA


Following victory at Vitoria, Wellington invades France

Fourth Coalition against France

Repeal of Statute of Artificers (of 1536)

Robert Southey (d. 1843) made Poet Laureate

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Lord Byron, Bride of Abydos (poetry)

Hannah More, The Works of Hannah More

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab (poetry)


Napoleon abdicates, exiled to Elba

Parliament abolishes apprenticeship provisions in all trades

George Stephenson builds steam locomotive

First use of steam in printing

British and Foreign School Society founded

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Sir Walter Scott, Waverley

William Wordsworth, The Excursion (poetry)


Final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo:--
This defeat brings an end to almost a quarter century of fighting during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (since 1793).

Peace of Vienna (ends Napoleonic war)

Corn Law

British colonial possessions in 1815:-- (cf. in 1660 and in 1763)
* In North America: Newfoundland, British Columbia and Vancouver Island, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Rupert's Land.
* In the Caribbean and northern coast of South America: Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St Christopher [St Kitts] and Nevis), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
* In the Mediterranean and other European waters: Corfu, Gibraltar, Heligoland, Ionian Islands, Malta, St Helena.
* In Africa: Cape Colony, Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone.
* In India and the East: Bengal, Bhutan, Bihar, Bombay, Carnatic, Cochin, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Pondicherry, Surat, Travancore, and Ceylon; Java, Penang.
* In Australia and the wider oceans: New South Wales, Van Dieman's Land; Ascension Island, Pitcairn Island, Falkland Islands, Mauritius, Seychelles, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island.

Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering


Establishment of Hampden Clubs and Political Unions

Lord Byron, Song for the Luddites

Lord Byron, Prisoner of Chillon (poetry)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel (wr. 1797-98 and 1800) (poetry)

Thomas Love Peacock, Headlong Hall

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alastor (poetry)


Suspension of Habeas Corpus

March of the Blanketeers

Death of Jane Austen

Blackwood's Magazine established (periodical)

Lord Byron, Manfred (poetry)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

John Keats, Poems (poetry)

David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


Strikes throughout Lancashire cotton district

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (wr. ca. 1800)

John Keats, Endymion (poetry)

Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Revolt of Islam (poetry)


The Peterloo Massacre:--
At least 11 men, women, and children died of sabre wounds or from being trampled to death, and over 400 were wounded, "many of them maimed for life," when a mass meeting for parliamentary reform at St Peter's Field, Manchester, was attacked by order of the magistracy (Hay & Rogers 1997: vii)

Six Acts

Thomas Bowdich, Mission to Ashantee

Lord Byron, Don Juan, I and II (poetry)

Stamford Raffles, History of Java

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cenci (drama)


Death of George III; accession of George IV to the throne:--
The new reign began with scandal, when the new king tried to prevent his estranged wife, Caroline, from attending the coronation, and then engaged in a lengthy, unsuccessful divorce trial against his wife--which won public sympathy for Caroline.

Cato Street and Grange Moor conspiracies

Death of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820)

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (drama)



Population estimates:--
England and Wales 12.1 million; Scotland 2.1 million; Ireland 6.8 million (Gregory & Stevenson 2000: 289); other estimates put the population of England and Wales at 11.5 million.

Death of John Keats

Manchester Guardian established


Death of Percy Bysshe Shelley


Death of George Gordon, Lord Byron


John Milton, De Doctrina Christiana (long thought lost, this work was now first published; it made even more evident than the scattered evidence of his poetry that Milton held heterodox religious views)

Death of Anna Laetitia Barbauld


Death of William Blake


New Corn Law relaxes tariffs on foreign grain

Repeal of Test and Corporation Acts (of 1661 and 1662)


Catholic Emancipation Bill enacted

Metropolitan Police Act passed


Death of William Hazlitt


Death of Henry Mackenzie


Reform Act of 1832 begins process of expanding political representation:--
The franchise was still very narrow, even after this First Reform Act: "scarcely one in five adult males had the vote, which meant Britain was arguably no more 'democratic' than it had been in the age of Queen Anne; and in 1865, the national franchise was one of the narrowest in Europe, behind Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Switzerland" (Cannadine 2003: 9). The Second Reform Act (1867) "roughly doubled the size of the electorate"; "The third and fourth Reform Acts [1884 and 1918] brought universal adult suffrage, which meant that by 1919 the lower house was representative of the entire British population for the first time in its history--though women between the ages of twenty-one and thirty had to wait until 1928" (Cannadine 2003: 10, 13).

Death of Sir Walter Scott

Death of George Crabbe


Abolition of slavery in the British empire:--
"British slave owners in the West Indies and on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius received over £20 million in compensation from the British government for the loss of their human 'property'" (Parsons 1999: 11); West Indies sugar was also granted preferential duties (maintained for roughly the next twenty years), and "throughout the British West Indies, the planters' 'sufferings' after freedom were resolved, with the connivance of the Foreign Office, by the importation of contracted laborers from India, China, and elsewhere, and special legislation to keep freedmen from voting and from acquiring land. The overall aim was to prevent the newly freed from either securing a livelihood independent of the sugar industry, or from using collective bargaining and strikes to negotiate wages and working conditions. . . . . These strategies worked" (Mintz 1985: 176).

Death of Hannah More


Repeal of Navigation Acts

Oct.: fire destroys much of the Westminster parliament building

Death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Death of Charles Lamb


Death of Frances d'Arblay (formerly Burney)


Death of Robert Southey

William Wordsworth (d. 1850) named Poet Laureate


Death of William Wordsworth

Alfred Lord Tennyson (d. 1892) named Poet Laureate


Death of Leigh Hunt

Death of Thomas de Quincey

Death of Thomas B. Macaulay