Victorian Timeline

Victorian Timeline – search by type of event

The Victorian era witnessed seismic shifts in geopolitics abroad and huge strides in social reform at home. The seeds were sown for the two World Wars of the twentieth Century. The condition of the poor, which was never enviable, did improve from an admittedly very low base. Major advancements in science, medicine and technology were also made.

The Victorian Era is obviously of prime importance to genealogists and social historians because it marked the first historical period in the UK in which comprehensive population records were taken. It is because of the Censuses from 1841 onwards that we are more able to trace our ancestors, and find such a wealth of information about them, with such comparative ease as a result of the digital age that we now live in.

We felt that a comprehensive Victorian timeline would be beneficial both to genealogists and those amongst you who are trying to place some context to the situations into which their ancestors found themselves. You are welcome to peruse the extensive Victorian timeline at your leisure. However, for ease of reference, we recommend that you use the search buttons to filter the events of most interest to you. For example, use the Industry, Science and Technology button to view some of the many Victorian inventions.  Alternatively, use the search box to carry out your own custom search.






YearEventsCategorySubcategory
183720 June 1837. Ascension of Queen Victoria, aged 18, following the death of her uncle King William IV.
Her coronation followed on 28 June.
Victoria was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg (sister of King Leopold of Belgium). The Duke of Kent was George III's fourth son and brother of both George IV and William IV. Victoria became William IV's heir because William had no children and Victoria's own father died when she was 8 months' old. Her parents wanted to name her Victoria but George IV had insisted that she was named after her godfather, Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Her full name was, therefore, Alexandrina Victoria.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18371 July 1837. General Register Office begins the practice of registering births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales.
(This followed the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1836.)
Domestic AffairsAll Events
183713 July 1837. Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace.
She was the first British monarch to make this their London home instead of St James's Palace.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
183720 July 1837. Euston Station was opened - London's first mainline railway terminus.
The railway boom had begun.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
183724 July - 18 August 1837. General Election. Triggered by William IV's death.
The Whigs, under Lord Melbourne, continued in office. Lord Melbourne was like a father figure to Queen Victoria and influential in her becoming a model constitutional (as opposed to despotic) monarch. Lord Palmerston (nicknamed 'Lord Pumice Stone" for his abrasive manner) continued as Foreign Secretary.
This was the last time that Parliament was disolved and a general election held following the death of a monarch (courtesy of the Reform Act 1867).
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
183725 July 1837. The Electric Telegraph.
Sir Charles Wheatstone & Sir William Cooke invented the 'needle' telegraph. First used on the railway between Euston & Camden Town.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18388 April 1838. Steam replaces sail.
The iron paddle steamer SS Great Western made the transatlantic crossing from Avonmouth to New York in 15 days.
It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18388 May 1838. The Peoples' Charter launched the Chartist Movement.
It called for six reforms, including a vote for every adult male and and secret ballots.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18381838. Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist was published as a book.
It was a damning indictment on the increased use of the Workhouses following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Lord Melbourne advised Queen Victoria not to read it because it dealt with "paupers, criminals and other unpleasant subjects".
Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
1839March 1839. Anti-Corn Law League founded by Cobden & Bright.
They argued that protectionist restrictions and tariffs on imported grain harmed both the poor and the economy.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1839March 1839 - August 1842. The First Opium War with China.
Palmerston objected to China's ban on imported opium from India (which he considered to be a protection racket) and demanded reparations for opium confiscated by the Chinese (together with guarantees for future trading). When the Chinese refused, the British Navy bombarded Canton and broke Chinese resistance.
Ended with Treaty of Nanjing.
International AffairsAll Events
1839March 1839 - October 42. The First Anglo-Afghan War.
Governor-General of India Lord Auckland was fearful of Russian influence in Afghanistan.
His solution: replace the popular Amir of Afghanistan (Dost Mohammad) with the exiled Shah Suja.
Result: Disaster.
International AffairsAll Events
183919 April 1839. The independence of Belgium from the Netherlands recognised in the Treaty of London.
Signatories: Austria, Belgium, France, German Confederation, Netherlands, Russia, UK.
International AffairsAll Events
18397 May 1839. The Bedchamber crisis.
This was triggered when Melbourne, the Queen's favourite, declared his intention to resign, having lost the support of the House of Commons. Queen Victoria very reluctantly invited Peel (who she considered a 'cold, odd man') to form a government. Peel agreed on condition that she dismiss her leading Ladies-of-the Bedchamber (all Whigs) and replace them with Conservative ladies. Victoria refused and the Whigs under Melbourne ressumed office for another two years.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1839June-July 1839. The Chartist Petition.
The first Chartist Petition, containing 1,280,000 signatures [Parliament.uk] and demanding universal suffrage (for men) was presented to Parliament. It was debated but overwhelmingly rejected.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18394 November 1839. The Newport Rising.
The last significant armed rebellion in Great Britain occurred when over 5,000 Chartists marched on the Westgate Hotel in the Welsh town of Newport. Approx. 22 men lost their lives when troops protecting the hotel opened fired on them.
Domestic Affairs.All Events
18391839. Custody of Infants Act.
This act gave mothers rights over their children for the first time (provided the Lord Chancellor agreed and the woman was of good character). A woman was now able to petition for custody of her children if they were aged under seven. She also had rights of access to older children. Largely passed due to a campaign by Caroline Norton.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184010 January 1840. The Uniform Penny Post.
Introduced a uniform charge, irrespective of distance. Ten years after its introduction, letters sent in Britain increased to almost 350 million a year (a five-fold increase).
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184016 January 1840. The the last time the sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering was passed in the UK.
Passed against the leaders of the Newport Rising who were sentenced to High Treason. The sentence was commuted to transportation: a sign of how bad it was.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18406 February 1840. Treat of Waitangi.
Various Maori chiefs recognised British sovereignty in exchange for guaranteed rights as British subjects and possession of their land (which they later lost). Over 500 Maori chiefs signed the treaty over the following months. By 21 May, Lieutenant-Governor Hobson declared British sovereignty over the whole of New Zealand. It is considered the founding document of New Zealand.
International AffairsAll Events
184010 February 1840. Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg at St James's Palace.
Albert, her first cousin, was later given the title Prince Albert.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18401 May 1840. The Penny Black - the world's first adhesive postage stamp was issued.Domestic AffairsAll Events
184010 June 1840. Assassination attempt on Queen Victoria by Edward Oxford.
Throughout Victoria's reign, there were a total of 7 attempted assassination attempts. Surprisingly, not one of the would-be assassins were executed - being either punished by transportation or imprisonment.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18407 August 1840. Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys Regulation Act - 'The Climbing Boys Act'.
Lord Shaftsbury turned his attention to the plight of 'climbing boys' as young as 6 working as chimney sweeps. This act forbade anyone less than 21 years' to a climb chimney and anyone under 16 years' to be apprentice. The law was widely flouted and boys continued to be employed to 'carry the brushes'. To accommodate the act, chimneys often needed to be rebuilt which most people (including the Magistrates responsible for enforcing the law) were loath to do.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184126 January 1841. The British take possession of Hong Kong.
A significant development in the First Opium War with China.
International Affairs.All Events
18416 June 1841. UK Census.
The 'first modern census' recording people's names, age, sex, occupation, and if they were born "in county". Indentified location: city/borough/parish or town.
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
184129 June - 22 July 1841. General Election: The Conservatives led by Sir Robert Peel won a majority.
The General Election had been called following a vote of no confidence against the Lord Melbourne's Whig Government.
Lord Aberdeen replaced Lord Palmerston as Foreign Secretary. Influenced by her democratically inclined new husband, Queen Victoria replaced three of her ladies in waiting with Tories.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
184113 July 1841. The Straits Convention.
Turkey agreed to:
a) withdraw Russia's exclusive rights to the Straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean (the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles) and
b) close the Straits to all warships in times of peace.
This was Britain's reward for Palmerston's strong defence of the Ottoman Empire against Egyptian hostility.
International AffairsAll Events
1841August - September 1841. Change of Government: Peel's Conservatives replaced Melbourne's Whigs.
Reason: Melbourne's Whigs, having lost the General Election a month previously, lost a second vote of no confidence. Melbourne resigned on 28 August and was replaced by Peel on 30 August. Peel formed his Second Ministry in September with Lord Aberdeen replacing Palmerston as Foreign Secretary. Influenced by her democratically inclined new husband, Queen Victoria replaced three of her ladies in waiting with Tories.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
18419 November 1841. The future King Edward was VII born.
Queen Victoria's eldest son was born at Buckingham Palace.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18426 – 13 January 1842. Retreat from Kabul - Massacre of Elphinstone's army.
Disastrous defeat for the British in the First Anglo-Afghan War. A whole army was destroyed (4,500 British & Indian troops plus 12,000 camp followers).
International AffairsAll Events
184211 May 1842. Income tax 'temporarily' reintroduced in Peel's Budget.
Robert Peel's hugely significant budget marked the largest single step towards free trade in recent history. Successive budgets ensured that, by 1845, all export duties had gone.
To mitigate any short-term losses, income tax was levied at 7d in the pound (equivalent to about 3%) on all incomes over £150 per annum. (Due to famine, it was postponed in Ireland until 1853). Income Tax had previously only been levied to meet the costs of the Napoleonic Wars.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18429 August 1842. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Lord Aberdeen finally settled the last boundary dispute between Canada and the United States.
International AffairsAll Events
184210 August 1842. The Mines and Collieries Act.
Banned all females and boys under ten from working in the mines. Lord Ashley (later, Lord Shaftesbury) succeed in pushing this legislation through by appealing to Victorian morality: he pointed out that women worked bare breasted and wore trousers; an immoral conduct which made girls unsuitable for marriage and unfit to be mothers.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184229 August 1842. Treaty of Nanking.
The First Opium War against China was concluded on very favourable terms to the British. The Chinese were required to make financial reparations and cede Hong Kong to the British. The Treaty caused a great deal of resentment by the Chinese.
International AffairsAll Events
1842August - October 1842. The 'Kabul Expedition' ends the First Afghan War.
This was a punitive expedition carried out by the British against the Afghan army prior to British withdrawal from Afghanistan in October. Although they won this engagement, the British had lost the war and withdrew from Afghanistan. The Dost Mohammad was reinstated in 1843.
International AffairsAll Events
18431843 (& again in 1845). Entente with France sees Victoria & Albert visit King Louis Philippe I twice.
Their 1843 visit was the first visit by an English or British monarch since Henry VIII (1520 at the Field of the Cloth of Gold) and when the French King reciprocated, he became the first French king to visit a British Monarch. This harmonious interlude did not last long.
International AffairsAll Events
184320 January 1843. Failed assassination attempt of Robert Peel.
By Daniel M'Naghten, a criminally insane Scottish woodsman, who accidentally killed Peel's personal secretary (Edward Drummond) instead. M'Naghten was acquited on grounds of criminal insanity and the 'M'Naghten rules', developed after his case in the House of Lords, became the legal test of insanity.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184324 March 1843. Annexation of Sind (or Sindh).
Following the Battles of Miani (17 Feb) and Hyderabad (24 Mar) between the British East India company (led by Sir Charles Napier) and the Amirs of Sindh. Napier observed in his diary "We have no right to seize Sind, but we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality it will be".
International AffairsAll Events
18434 May 1843. Annexation of Natal (now part of South Africa).
The Boers had, in the 1830s, embarked upon a 'Great Trek' from Cape Colony (seized for the second time by the British in 1806) to Natal in an effort to escape British rule.
Not to be outdone, the British then annexed Natal, leading to the Boers trekking further north across the Orange River.
Unsurprisingly, this area was also annexed by the British in 1848.
International AffairsAll Events
184318 May 1843. Church of Scotland split ('The Disruption').
The new Free Church of Scotland formed, independent of state interference. Led by the evangelist Thomas Chalmers.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18435 August 1843. Sarah Dazley is the last woman to be publicly executed in Great Britain.
Known as the 'Potton Poisoner' she was hanged outside Bedford Prison.
Domestic Affairs.All Events
184415 June 1844. The Factories Act.
Considered to be the first 'Health & Safety' Act in Britain. Dangerous machinery had to be fenced off and working hours were limited to 12 hours for women and young people (6.5 hours for children under 13 years, plus 3 hours schooling). Lord Ashley was unable to reduce working hours to his desired 10 hours a day because Peel did not think England would survive foreign competition.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184419 July 1844. Bank Charter Act
Peel successfully addressed defects in the banking system and strengthened the connection between bank notes and gold reserves. 'Safe as the Bank of England' became a common phrase.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184421 December 1844. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers & the rise of the 'Co-op'.
A consumers' co-operative launched in Rochdale, they cut out the shopkeeper, and bought goods in bulk from the wholesaler. Subscriptions were one pound each. With no incentive to swindle themselves, they abstained from the common shopkeeper practice of adulterating foodstuffs e.g. adding sand to sugar and brickdust to pepper etc.
Friendly Societies.
Around the same time, Friendly Societies began to evolve: mutual societies which, for a small weekly payment, provided such benefits as relief payments and funeral expenses.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1845Sept 1845. The Irish Potato Famine begun.
Potato blight, first noticed in Europe, reached Ireland. Due to extreme poverty, almost half the population were dependent on the potato crop. The natural disaster was made worse by the government's mishandling of the crisis (particularly after Peel's departure in 1846). By 1849 it is estimated to have caused the deaths of 1 million people, through starvation or disease. By 1855 another 1 million had emigrated (usually to England or North America).
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
184513 Sept 1845. The Faraday Effect.
Michael Faraday discovered what was later called 'The Faraday Effect' i.e. that light and electromagnetism are related.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
184511 December 1845. The First Sikh War.
The Sikhs, concerned at British expansionism, attacked across the Sutlej.
International AffairsAll Events
18469 March 1846. The Treaty of Lahore ends the First Sikh War.
The Sikh's lost their lands South East of the Sutlej, plus Kashmir.
International AffairsAll Events
184627 January 1846. Peel sides with the anti-Corn Law League.
Peel delivers a three hour speech declaring that the Corn Laws will be abolished by February 1849.
Robert Cobden, founder of the anti-Corn Law League, had finally persuaded Peel that the protectionist Corn Laws were morally and economically unjustified. They kept food prices high and only benefited wealthy landowners. However, Peel led a party largely made up of wealthy landowners. It took the famine in Ireland for Peel to finally face down his own party...
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184615 June 1846. The Treaty of Oregon.
This agreement between the United States and Britain, set the border between the US and British North America at the 49th Parallel (apart from Vancouver Island which Britain retained).
International AffairsAll Events
184625 June 1846. The Repeal of the Corn Laws - The Importation Act.
Galvanised into action by the potato famine, Peel succeeded in pushing through the Importation Act which specified that the Corn Laws would be fully abolished by 1 February 1849.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184630 June 1846. Change of government: The Whigs, led by Lord John Russell, replaced the Conservatives.
Reason: Peel's Conservatives suffered a vote of no confidence in the Irish Coercion Bill but the real reason was divisions in the Conservatives following the repeal of the Corn Laws.
Lord Palmerston replaced Lord Aberdeen as Foreign Secretary.
FALL OUT FROM THE REPEAL OF THE CORN LAWS
Peel's campaign for the repeal of the Corn Laws set him on a collision course with his party.
Although he was ultimately successful, he resigned a few days later (over an unrelated bill) and died 4 years' later.
The Corn Laws hopelessly divided the Conservatives and kept them out of power for almost all of the next 20 years. During this period, Parliament splintered into five main groups:
- Whigs led by Russell & Palmerston.
- Radicals led by Cobden & Bright. Usually allied themselves with the Whigs.
- Irish Party supported whoever was most likely to advance the Irish cause (usually the Whigs)
- Conservative Free Traders ('Peelites') led by Peel, Gladstone & Aberdeen. Entered into a couple of brief coalitions (with the Whigs).
- Conservative Protectionists led by Stanley, Disraeli & Bentinck. Unsurprisingly, out of power until 1866.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
184610 October 1846. The affair of the Spanish Marriages.
The entente with France predictably broke down upon Palmerston's return.
France succeeded in blocking Palmerston's plans for a marriage between a British-backed Saxe-Coburg and the young Spanish queen. Instead, the French managed to arrange French-backed marriages for both the Spanish queen and her sister on October 10.
However, it was a pyrrhic victory: with the entente ruined, the French lurched to conservatism and by doing so paved the way to a second French revolution two years later.
International AffairsAll Events
18463 September 1846. The first public telegraph company is formed.
The Electric Telegraph Company is formed in the UK by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and John Lewis Ricardo, MP for Stoke-on-Trent.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18478 June 1847. Factories Act 'Ten Hours Act'.
Reduced the working day to 10 hours in textile mills for women and children - this was rowed back on three years' later.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184729 July - 26 August 1847. General Election. Whigs led by Lord Russell returned.
Although the Conservatives won the most seats, they were split between protectionists and free traders, resulting in the Whigs forming a government.
First Jewish MP elected: Lionel de Rothschild. (Disraeli, although Jewish by birth, had become an Anglican at aged 12) However, as all MPs were required to swear a Christian oath, Rothschild was unable to sit as an MP until the Jewish Relief Act of 1858 waived this requirement.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
18471847. The Bronte sisters published their seminal novels:
Anne Bronte published Agnes Grey (under the name Action Bell).
Charlotte Bronte published Jane Eyre (under the name Currer Bell).
Emily Bronte published Wuthering Heights (under the name Ellis Bell).
Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
184821 February 1848. The Communist Manifesto is published.
Commissioned by the Communist League, German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first published their groundbreaking political pamphlet in London (although it was written in German). With revolution about to break out across Europe, they could not have wished for better timing.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1848Revolutions of 1848 (or 'People's Spring).
The name given to a series of uprisings affecting over 50 countries, including Italian states, France, Germany, Hungary (crushed by Austria & Russia) and Denmark.
International AffairsAll Events
18481848 - 1849. Second Major Cholera Outbreak in London.
Although the first major cholera outbreak had last occurred in London in 1832, cholera was a scourge globally from the 1820s through to the 1860s.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184822 February – 2 December 1848. The French Revolution (their third!) and birth of the Second French Republic.
24 February. King Louis Philippe I abdicated to England as the Orleans monarchy (rulers since 1830) became one of the casualties of the 'February' Revolution.
Palmerston, unhappy with the French (following the affair of the Spanish marriages) gave no assistance to the French King beyond the provision of asylum.
Palmerston then recognised the new French republic, much to Queen Victoria's dismay.
International AffairsAll Events
184824 March 1848 – 8 May 1852. The First Schleswig War.
Denmark held on to its duchies of Schleswig & Holstein but the Schleswig-Holstein problem would flair up again in 1863.
International AffairsAll Events
184818 April 1848. Second Anglo-Sikh War begins.
War between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company in the Punjab.
International AffairsAll Events
184822 April 1848. The Treason Felony Act.
In order to increase conviction rates, categories of treason were reduced to 'felonies' punishable by penal transportation.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1848Irish troubles.
12 February 1848 - John Mitchel, Irish nationalist, publishes first edition of the United Irishman which called for Irish independence and gave tips for attacking British troups.
26 May 1848 Mitchel was arrested and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Van Diemen's Island (modern Tasmania).
29 July 1848 The 'Young Irelander rebellion' (aka Battle of Ballingarry) led by Smith O'Brien.
This hardened Irish attitudes against the English.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
184826 July 1848. Matale rebellion in British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
An armed 'peasants' revolt' against the British which was qwelled and its leaders arrested.
International AffairsAll Events
1848July 1848. Public Health Act.
Created a General Board of Health and Local Boards of Health (in certain circumstances). It followed a campaign by Edwin Chadwick to reduce mortality rates by improving public sanitation. Perceived interference caused the act to be unpopular and the General Board of Health was wound up in 1858. However, it did draw attention to the terrible conditions in which some people lived.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
184829 August 1848. Battle of Boomplaats.
Britain annexed the land between the Vaal and Orange Rivers in South Africa. The Boers objected but were defeated at the Battle of Boomplaats.
International AffairsAll Events
184930 March 1849. Treaty of Lahore ends the Second Anglo-Sikh War.
Result: British annexation of the Punjab and the end of the Sikh kingdom.
This ushered in a period of Westernisation under Lord Dalhousie: canals, harbours and railways were built and coal and iron mines were opened.
International AffairsAll Events
18491849. The Irish troubles continue: conflicts between landlords and tenants in Ireland.
Between 1849 - 51 36,755 families suffered eviction in Ireland.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
185018 January 1850. Don Pacifico affair: the blockade of the port of Piraeus.
Background: The Greek government had refused to pay a compensation claim made against it by a British citizen (living in Athens but born in Gibraltar) who had suffered an anti-Semitic attack. Palmerston reacted in typically robust fashion by ordering a blockade of the Greek port of Piraeus and the seizure of Greek shipping to the value of the outstanding claim.
International AffairsAll Events
18505 March 1850. Britannia Tubular Bridge Opened.
Robert Stephenson's 1,512 feet (461 m) bridge spanned from mainland Wales to Anglesey. It used 460 feet long rectangular iron tubes. The bridge sections were constructed on shore and then floated into position.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
185029 June 1850. Don Pacifico affair: Palmerston's defence of his actions.
A vote of censure against Palmerston over his handling of the Don Pacifico affair was reversed by the House of Commons following a rousing five hour speech by Palmerston, which concluded with the now famous words:
'As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity when he could say "Civis Romanus sum" [I am a Roman citizen], so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong'.
International AffairsAll Events
18502 July 1850. Robert Peel dies.
Following a riding accident on Constitution Hill, London.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1850August 1850. The first telegraph cable laid across the English Channel.
Using a converted tug (The Goliath). It failed due to lack of protection.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18504 September 1850. The incident with General 'Hyena' Haynau.
Already out of favour with Queen Victoria, Palmerston now insulted her guest, General Haynau. When this general, a brutal suppressor in the Hungarian revolt, is roughed up by some workers whilst visiting a brewery, Palmerston was far from sympathetic; his 'apology' to Haynau suggested that he should have stayed at home.
International AffairsAll Events
1850November 1850. Charles Dickens' David Copperfield first published as a book.
It had been published in instalments from May 1849.
Home Affairs.All Events
18501850. Grey's Factory Act.
This act watered down the 1847 Factory Act by increasing the working hours limit to ten and half hours per day. This was a blow to Shaftesbury's reputation but he lacked support in the Commons.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
185130 March 1851. Census.
New questions included: who is head of the household/relationship to head of the household, marital status, house number, place of birth. Physical defects such as whether blind, deaf or dumb. Language spoken (Ireland). Rounding down of ages dropped. Removed: question as to whether houses were inhabited or being built.
It showed that 80% of Welsh churchgoers attended a nonconfirmist church (only 20% attending a Church of England church). This led to a push for the Church of England in Wales to be disestablished. (Although it did not actually happen until 1914).
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
18511 May - 15 October 1851. The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.
Organised by Prince Albert and designed by Joseph Paxton, it showcased the world's inventions and works of art. It attracted over 6 million people, many of whom were able to take advantage of cheap train travel.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1851September 1851. First successful cross channel telegraph cable laid.Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1851December 1851. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte launches coup d'etat.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, President of France since the French Revolution of 1848, launches a coup d'etat, leading to the emprisonment or exile of his enemies (including Victor Hugo, writer of Les Miserables, who ended up in Guernsey, where he finished this novel).
In a dispatch (typically unsubmitted to Queen Victoria) Palmerston congratulated Bonaparte, (believing him to be less of a threat than either the extreme Republicans or the Orleans family.)
Queen Victoria, a supporter of the Orleans family, was appalled.
International AffairsAll Events
185119 December 1851. Palmerston's dismissal.
Bowing to royal pressure, Lord Russell forced Palmerston's resignation. Palmerston then turned all his energies to bringing down the Russell government; the government only lasted another two months.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
185217 January 1852. The Sand River Convention.
Britain reversed its 1848 annexation of the region across the Vaal River and formally recognised the independence of the South African Republic.
International AffairsAll Events
18523 February 1852. The new House of Commons is opened.
Designed by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. It was part of a reconstruction project to replaced the old Houses of Parliament which were burned down in 1834 when the Clerk of Works used two underfloor stoves to burn some documents.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
185221 - 23 February 1852. Change of government: The Who? Who? Ministry: The protectionist Conservatives, under the Earl of Derby, replaced the Whigs.
Reason: Palmerston, out for revenge, had succeeded in turning the Militia Bill into a vote of no confidence against Lord Russell's Whigs.
It is called the 'Who? Who?' Ministry.
Formed of political unknowns, it gained this nickname because the Octogenarian (and largely deaf) Duke of Wellington kept shouting "Who? Who?" as each new cabinet minister was read out.
Disraeli became Chancellor of the Exchequer. It only lasted a few months.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
18525 April 1852 - 20 January 1853. Second Anglo-Burmese War.
Between the East India Company and the Burmese Empire. War broke out due to British provocation.
International AffairsAll Events
18527 - 31 July 1852. General Election. Derby's Conservatives held on with a small majority.Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
18522 December 1852. President Napoleon of France declared Emperor Napoleon III.International AffairsAll Events
1852December 1852. Change of government: A Peelite-Whig Coalition, under Lord Aberdeen, replaced the Conservatives.
Reason: Lord Derby's minority government had lost a vote of no confidence in Disraeli's first budget.
William Ewart Gladstone became Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Russell became Foreign Secretary.
Palmerston became Home Secretary - it was not possible to give him the position of Foreign Secretary as he had only been dismissed from that position the year before.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
18521852. The Irish Famine ended. It had by now led to a huge Irish diaspora; for example, a quarter of the population of Liverpool was now Irish.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
185320 January 1853. Anglo-Burmese War ends.
The British annex Lower Burma.
International AffairsAll Events
185318 April 1853. Gladstone's first budget.
Gladstone believed that tax, and therefore government spending, should be as low as possible, on the theory that it is always spent unwisely. His budget abolished many duties and he planned to reduce income tax to zero by 1860 - this was scuppered by the Crimean War.
Although the speech lasted over 4 hours, it was still considered a triumph.
Gladstone continued to reduce duties wherever possible until, by 1865, Britain was a virtually free trade country.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1853Oct 1853 - Mar 1856 - The Crimean War.
The first 'modern' war: it featured modern technology, such as explosive naval shells, and the use of extensive reporting, including photography.

Background: The Sultan of Turkey agreed to French guardianship of the Christian Holy Places of Palestine. Russia objected - they had existing rights on behalf of the Orthodox church - and asserted their role as protector of all Christians in the Ottoman Empire.

Main events: the Siege of Sevastopol and the Battles of Balaclava and Inkerman.

Immortalised by Lord Tennyson's poem, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', and Florence Nightingale.
International AffairsAll Events
185423 February 1854. The Orange River 'Bloemfontein' Convention.
Britain recognised the independence of the Orange Free State - a Boer republic situated between the Orange and Vaal rivers in South Africa.
International AffairsAll Events
185428 March 1854. Britain & France joined the Crimean War on the side of Turkey.
Alarmed that Russia was capitalising on a declining Ottoman Empire (the original 'Sick Man of Europe'), Britain and France issued Russia with an ultimatum to withdraw from two Ottoman provinces. The ultimatum was ignored.
International AffairsAll Events
185417 October 1854 – 9 September 1855. The Siege of Sevastopol (Crimean War).International AffairsAll Events
185425 October 1854. The Battle of Balaclava (Crimean War).
This is the most well known battle of the War due to the infamous 'Charge of the Light Brigade', where a misinterpreted order resulted in the wrong position being charged and the wrong set of guns captured. It was immortalised by Lord Tennyson's poem six weeks after the event.
International AffairsAll Events
18545 November 1854. The Battle of Inkerman (Crimean War).
Russian attack was repelled.
International AffairsAll Events
1855January 1855. Change of government: The Whigs and Peelites, under Palmerston, replaced the Coalition government.
Reason: Lord Aberdeen's coalition government had lost a vote of no confidence over their handling of the Crimean War. Palmerston replaced Aberdeen to 'win the war'.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
185514 August 1855. The Limited Liability Act.
Gladstone continued has financial reforms. All companies were allowed to become 'limited liability', thereby encouraging investment (as investors' risks would be limited to the value of their initial outlay).
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1855 9 September 1855. The Siege of Sevastopol ends (Crimean War).
The British & French succeed in dismantling the great naval base.
International AffairsAll Events
185629 January 1856. The Victoria Cross introduced by Queen Victoria.
This highest award for acts of valour was first introduced to honour those who fought in the Crimean War and was intended to be a classless. There was a tradition that the medal was struck from Russian Cannon taken at the Seige of Sevastopol but studies suggest that later medals were struck from antique Chinese Cannon.
Search here for Victoria Cross Registers between 1856 - 1944.
International Affairs
Domestic Affairs
All Events
185630 March 1856. Treaty of Paris - Crimean War Ends.
Although an allied victory, the whole campaign was disastrously organised; 21,097 British soldiers died, of which over 16,000 died from disease. It is a fair reflection of this conflict that the most famous name to emerge was that of Florence Nightingale - a nurse.
Terms of the treaty included: Naval vessels forbidden in the Black Sea i.e. Russian expansionism was checked.
The Eastern question re: protection of Christians remained unanswered and ready to flare up again.
International AffairsAll Events
1856August 1856. Bessemer's Steel Process is developed by Sir Henry Bessemer.
This enabled the mass production of steel - a huge contributor to the advancements of trade and industry. Further improvements were made to steel production over the next 30 years.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1856Oct 1856 - Oct 1860 : The Arrow Affair leading to the second Opium War.
The Chinese attempted to board a British registered ship called The Arrow. In retaliation, the British bombarded Canton, which in turn caused the Chinese to retaliate by burning down foreign warehouses and hostilities generally escalated as they invariably do.
The war ended with the Beijing Convention: the Chinese agreed to allow the free movement of Christian missionaries and the legalisation of opium imports.
International AffairsAll Events
185727 March - 24 April 1857. General Election: Whigs under Lord Palmerston won a majority.
The election had been called due to the vote of censure on Palmerston's government following the Arrow Affair.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
185710 May 1857 - 1 November 1858. The Indian Mutiny.
This was an uprising by the Bengal Sepoys (Indian Soldiers) against the British East India Company, which had effectively ruled India on behalf of the British Crown.
The outbreak occurred when the Sepoys murdered their officers at Meerut and then marched on Delhi (modern day Old Delhi) the next day, capturing it. The rebellion then quickly spread to Agra, Cawnpore (modern day Kanpur), and Lucknow.
There were many political and religious reasons for the uprising; the Sepoys objected to the Doctrine of Lapse (a form of annexation), Dalhousie's 'westernising policies' and the new cartridges for the Enfield Rifle, which were rumoured to be greased with animal fat.
The mutiny involved three main seiges:
30 May – 27 November 1857. The Siege of Lucknow by the Indian rebels.
5 - 25 June 1857. The Siege of Cawnpore by the Indian rebels.
8 June - 21 September 1857. The British Siege of Delhi (to recapture it from the rebels).
International AffairsAll Events
185730 May 1857 - 27 November 1857. The Seige of Lucknow (Indian Mutiny).
Following the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, Brigadier-General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence ordered all the women and children of Lucknow to take shelter in the Government HQ at Lucknow (the "Residency") - the city's main fortress but vulnerable to attack. The troops and civilians managed to hold out for 6 months.
International AffairsAll Events
18575 - 25 June 1857. The Seige of Cawnpore (Indian Mutiny).
Cawnpore fell to the rebels after they besieged the town.
International AffairsAll Events
18578 June - 21 September 1857. The Siege of Delhi (Indian Mutiny).
The British began their recapture of Delhi which had been taken by the Sepoys in May.
International AffairsAll Events
185715 July 1857. The Bibighar massacre (Indian Mutiny).
This involved the literal butchering of around 200 women and children who had been taken prisoner following the Siege of Cawnpore; 'Remember Cawnpore' became the British troops' battle cry for the remainder of the conflict and attitudes towards the mutineers hardened at home.
International AffairsAll Events
185716 July 1857. Recapture of Cawnpore by the British (Indian Mutiny).
This is followed by a number of atrocities by the British in retribution for the Bibighar Massacre.
International AffairsAll Events
185728 August 1857. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1857.
This allowed divorce proceedings to be brought through the civil law courts rather than by a (very expensive) private Act of Parliament. Unsurprisingly, the law was still weighted in a man's favour. A man could successfully divorce on the grounds of his wife's adultery alone whereas a wife would need to prove adultery combined with other factors (e.g. incest, cruelty, bigamy, desertion etc.) The wife could, however, rely upon cruelty or abandonment. If a woman was divorced for adultery, she would lose legal rights to her children.
For historic divorce files and decrees nisi, see : http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Domestic AffairsAll Events
185721 September 1857. The siege of Delhi concluded with the British recapture of Delhi (Indian Mutiny). International AffairsAll Events
185727 November 1857. The Relief of Lucknow - record number of Victoria Crosses awarded (Indian Mutiny).
On 27 November, after two relief attempts, the Residency was successfully evacuated.
The defence of Lucknow resulted in a large number of Victoria Crosses being awarded. During the second relief, 24 Victoria Crosses were earned for acts of valour on 16 November alone; this remains the largest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded in a single day.
International AffairsAll Events
1858February 1858. The Conspiracy to Murder Bill.
This was introduced by Palmerston to stop foreign exiles plotting assassinations - e.g. Orsini's attempted assassination of Napoleon III.
Palmerston was shocked to meet Palmerstonian resistance from the new Parliament who decided that English laws didn't need changing just to please foreign despots.
Palmerston's government fell and he resigned.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1858February 1858. Change of Government: The Conservatives, under the Earl of Derby, replaced the Whigs.
Reason: Palmerston's government had collapsed over the Conspiracy to Murder Bill forcing him to resign.
Disraeli became Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
18582 August 1858. The Government of India Act ushered in the 'British Raj'.
The Indian Mutiny had been largely quashed when provisions were made for the transfer of power in India from the East India Company (which had ruled India) to the British i.e. the 'British Raj' was established.
International AffairsAll Events
185816 August 1858. First telegraph cable laid under the Atlantic.
It read "Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will toward men"
By September, it had burnt out.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18581 November 1858. A Royal Proclamation replaced the East India Company with British Government in India.
Most commentators consider this to mark the official end of the Indian Mutiny.
"We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligation of duty which bind us to all our other subjects."
An unconditional pardon was granted to mutineers except for those directly involved in murder or the protection of murderers.
International AffairsAll Events
18581858. The Fenian Society (aka the Fenian Movement/Brotherhood, Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Irish-American Brotherhood).
Established in Ireland and the United States (by John O'Mahony and Michael Doheny). The name 'Fenian' is a derivative of 'Fianna' who were an ancient Irish militia. The mission of this secret organisation was armed revolt to secure an independent Ireland.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
185928 April -18 May 1859. General Election.
Lord Palmerston's Whigs won a majority against the Earl of Derby's Conservatives.
The last General Election in which the Chartists fought for seats.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
Change of Govt
All Events
185929 April - 11 July 1859. The Second Italian War of Independence.
Waged against Austria by various Italian kingdoms. It resulted in much of Italy being united.
'Those two dreadful old men' (in Queen Victoria's opinion) Palmerston & Russell supported Italian unification, much to the chagrin of Queen Victoria and Albert who supported Austria (specifically) and Monarchy (in general).
International AffairsAll Events
18592 May 1859. Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge, in Saltash opens.
This revolutionary suspension bridge carried a railway line across the River Tamar, linking Devon and Cornwall. The only suspension bridge to take main-line trains, it greatly improved transport links to the West Country.
Brunel died 4 months after its opening.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1859Battle of Solferino 24 June 1859 (The Second Italian War of Independence) is the inspiration behind the establishment of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention.
The Sardinians and France defeated Austria in this final battle of the Second Italian War of Independence.
Jean-Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman who witnessed the terrible aftermath, wrote 'A memory of Solferino'. It was Dunant's publication of this book and his subsequent campaign which ultimately led to the founding of both the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention.
Armistice signed at the Conference of Villafranca.
International AffairsAll Events
185924 November 1859. Charles Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' published.
It expounded the theory of evolution and natural selection.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
186023 January 1860. The Cobden-Chevalier Treaty.
From 1859, Palmerston had been playing on domestic fears of French agression to build up the British military. Gladstone, feeling the scare was unwarranted and resenting the increased expenditure, sent Cobden, a champion of free trade to Paris. Cobden returned with a mutually beneficial trade deal which was ratified in the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty.
Palmerston still managed to beef up the military until the perceived crisis ended in 1861.
International AffairsAll Events
18617 April 1861. UK Census.
New questions: reintroduced whether houses were inhabited or being built. Possible indentifiers extended to municipal ward etc.
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
186112 Apr 1861 - 9 May 1865. The American Civil War.
Palmerston and Russell were determined to keep Britain neutral. Apart from a couple of shakey patches (e.g. the 'Trent' and 'Alabama' incidents) they largely achieved this objective.
The Trent Incident - a Unionist Warship compelled a British ship to surrender two confederate envoys (they were heading to Britain to garner support). War between the US and Britain averted when the envoys were released.
One of Prince Albert's last acts was to persuade Russell to tone down his complaint.
The Alabama Incident - A British built ship was used to sink several Unionists ships, causing a great deal of ill-feeling. This dispute was peacefully settled by arbitration in 1872.
International AffairsAll Events
186117th May 1861. Post Office Savings Bank.
The world's first postal savings system, it was introduced to encourage thrift among, what Gladstone (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) termed, 'the humber classes'.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
186114 December 1861. Prince Albert dies, aged only 42.
Queen Victoria sunk into a prolonged period of mourning. Prince Albert was very able and heavily engaged in Britain's scientific, technological and intellectual developments, as witnessed by his Great Exhibition. A restraining and positive influence on Queen Victoria, he struggled to win popularity from the British public, mainly due to his German heritage. However, he was the perfect consort for a constitutional monarch. His loss to the country, together with Queen Victoria's extended mourning, enhanced the popularity of the republican movement.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18631863. 'The Water Babies' by Charles Kingsley.
It drew public attention to the plight of chimney sweeps. In the novel Tom, its main character, is a chimney sweep. However, despite being no doubt moved by novels such as 'The Water Babies' and the earlier 'Oliver Twist', women preferred child sweeps because they caused less mess.
Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
18641 February - 30 October 1864. The Second Schleswig War.
The duchies of Schleswig-Holstein were ruled by the Danish King under the title 'Duke of Schleswig-Holstein'. In an attempt to head off a dispute over succession, the new King of Denmark incorporated Schleswig fully into Denmark. (Schleswig was Danish in character, whereas Holstein was Germanic.) Austria & Prussia then insisted that Denmark give up both the Duchies.
Palmerston, with typical bravado, declared that 'it would not be Denmark alone with which they had to contend'. However, Palmerston misjudged the ascendancy of Bismarck's Prussia and too late tried to secure French support.
International AffairsAll Events
186430th June 1864. Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act.
Another largely ignored act aimed at preventing child chimney sweeps.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
186430 October 1864. The Treaty of Vienna ended the second The second Schleswig War.
Denmark was abandoned by the British and crushed by the Austrians and Prussia who divided Schlieswig and Holstein between them. Disputes over these territories led to the Austro-Prussian War. Palmerston's last act in foreign affairs was to be hopelessly out thought by Bismarck.
Foreign Affairs.All Events
18654 July 1865. The Locomotive 'Red Flag' Act.
This act made powered cars impractical for 30 years & severely hindered technological advancement in road transport.
Rules: a man had to walk 60 yards in front of the car with a red flag; a speed limit was imposed of 4 miles (2 in towns). A £10 'speeding' fine was introduced.
Steam cars were soon only seen in India.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
186511 - 24 July 1865. General Election.
Liberals under Lord Palmerston returned. Gladstone continued as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Gladstone's support for extended voting rights caused him to lose his Oxford University seat. However, he was later returned as the third MP Lancashire in the same election.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
186518 October 1865. Palmerston died from a chill at the age of 80.
He was the last Prime Minister to die in office.
Lord Russell replaced him as Prime Minister.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1866March 1866. The Reform Bill introduced - to extend the vote to "respectable" working men.
This was introduced by Gladstone, in his pursuit of increased voting rights; "Every man who is not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness or of political danger is morally entitled to come within the pale of the Constitution. (House of Commons, 11 May 1864).
It caused a split in the Liberal Party (partly engineered by Disraeli), the bill was defeated and the Liberal government collapsed.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
186614 June - 23 August 1866. The Austro-Prussian War.
Decisive victory in this encounter enabled Prussia to create the North German Confederation and, a year later, annex Schleswig-Holstein. Formed part of the wars of German unification.
International AffairsAll Events
186626 June 1866. Change of Government: The Conservatives, under Earl of Derby, replaced Lord Russell's Liberals.
Reason: collapse of the Liberals over the defeat of the Reform Bill.
Disraeli became Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
186627 July 1866. The first permanent telegraph cable laid under the Atlantic by the British ship Great Eastern.
It ran from Valentia Island in Ireland to Heart's Content in Newfoundland and was 80 times faster than the original 1858 cable. London became the world centre in telecommunications.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
186623 August 1866. The Peace of Prague ended the Austro-Prussian War.International AffairsAll Events
18661866. The Kimberley Mine Field.
The first diamond is discovered in an area claimed by both the Orange Free State and the Griqua Tribe, leading to a dispute over who owned the rights.
In 1871, the Governor of Cape Colony decided in favour of the Griqua Tribe, who then handed over their rights to the British Government. (Although the Orange Free State was compensated, it was a bargain).
Named 'Kimberley' after Lord Kimberley in 1873.
International AffairsAll Events
1867March - July 1867. 'Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery' published by Joseph Lister in the Lancet.
Lister was initially mocked when he experimented with carbolic acid as an antiseptic, but the reduced mortality on his accident ward (from 45% to 15%) soon won people over.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
186715 August 1867. Second Reform Act (aka Representation of the People Act).
The number of men eligible to vote was doubled.
Disraeli, after having engineered the failure of the original 1866 Reform Bill, which in turn brought down the Liberal Government, now ensured its success. This produced an intense rivalry between Gladstone and Disraeli that only ended with Disraeli's death.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1867October 1867. Christopher Scholes filed a patent application for the typewriter in the United States.
To overcome the problem of jammed keys, he developed the QWERTY keyboard a year later.
Remington bought the patent in 1873 and produced the first commercial keyboard on 1 July 1874.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
186723 November 1867. The 'Manchester Martyrs'.
William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O'Brien, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, were hanged for their part in the rescue of two Fenian prisoners. The rescue involved the death of Police Sargeant Charles Brett. Brett, the first Manchester policeman to be killed on duty, has a memorial in St Ann's Church.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
1868February 1868. Derby resigned due to ill- health and was replaced by Disraeli as Prime Minister.Domestic AffairsAll Events
186817 November–7 December 1868. General Election.
Gladstone's Liberals defeat Disraeli's Conservatives.
Gladstone ('my mission is to pacify Ireland') set out to address the two main Irish grievances of religion and land.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
Change of Govt
All Events
18681868 - 1874. Cardwell's Army Reforms.
Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for War, introduced a series of far reaching army reforms which were necessary for the British army to move from a 'gentlemen-soldier' army to an effective and professional fighting force. Supported by Gladstone, they included the abolition of flogging (1868) and the abolition of bounty money (1870) and the purchase of army commissions (1871).
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1869July 1869. The Irish Church Act disestablishes the Church of Ireland (w.e.f 1 Jan 1871).
Aim: to address Irish religious grievances.
Despite being an ardent churchman, Gladstone understood the unfairness of the Anglican Church extracting tithes from a mostly Catholic population. Irish Bishops would no longer sit in the House of Lords.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
186917 November 1869. The Suez Canal opens linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.
Built and financed by the French, it took 10 years to build.
It was opposed by the British Government; in what was considered an act of opportunism by the French, the British objected to the use of 'slave labour' during its construction.
International AffairsAll Events
18704 February 1870. The General Post Office (GPO) takes over private telegraph companies.Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
187019 May 1870. The Home Government Association.
Established by Isaac Butt to campaign for home rule in Ireland.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
187019 Jul 1870 - 10 May 1871 The Franco-Prussian War.
Lord Granville, Foreign Secretary, 'opted' for neutrality (few other options were available). He did not anticipate that France would collapse so swiftly, nor that its demise would herald a new German Empire, dominant on the Continent.
Britain did succeed in securing Belgium neutrality (owing to Bismarck's policy of never fighting more than one power at once).
International AffairsAll Events
18701 August 1870. Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act.
Aim: to address Irish land grievances.
Tenants were given legal protection and would now receive compensation if they were evicted. Also, if they could afford it, tenants could now purchase their holdings.
Unfortunately, the act did not give the Irish want they really wanted: fair rents, fixed periods of tenure or, ideally, outright ownership.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
18709 August 1870. Married Women's Property Act.
Providing limited rights for married women to retain property. They could keep their own wages and inherit property (with restrictions).
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18701870. Elementary Education Act (Forster's Education Act).
First piece of 'education' legislation in Britain.
A national system of primary education, with secular school boards, is established. The main argument in passing this Act was the importance of education in ensuring that Britain remained economically competitive.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18701 September 1870. Napoleon III captured in the Battle of Sedan.International AffairsAll Events
1871THE RISE OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE & THE FALL OF FRENCH EMPIRE.
18 January 1871. Unification of Germany.
In the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor. Ten days later, Paris fell to Germany.
International AffairsAll Events
187129 March 1871. The Royal Albert Hall.
Opened by Queen Victoria
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18712 April 1871. UK Census.
New questions: to the question regarding possible defects was added imbecile, idiot or lunatic. Possible indentifies extended to Local Board or Commissioners District.
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
18718 May 1871. Treaty of Washington.
Pivotal in setting a precedent for international arbitration so that disputes in a ground-breaking way - i.e. peacefully. It paved the way for good relations between the United States, Canada and Great Britain. It describes itself as a "Treaty between Her Majesty and the United States of America, for the Amicable Settlement Of all Causes of Difference between the two Countries ("Alabama" Claims; Fisheries; Claims of Corporations, Companies or Private Individuals; Navigation of Rivers and Lakes; San Juan Water Boundary; and Rules Defining Duties of a Neutral Government during War).
International AffairsAll Events
187110 May 1871. Treaty of Frankfurt - The Franco-Prussian War ends.
Bitterness over the French loss of territory (Alsace-Lorraine) was one of the reasons for WW1.
International AffairsAll Events
187116th June 1871. The Universities Tests Act.
This brought an end to religious tests at Oxbridge and Durham which meant that Catholics, Non-Conformists, Jews or those of no faith could attend university.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
187129 June 1871. The Trade Union Act.
This legalised trade unions and gave them legal protections.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1871June 1871. The Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Passed on the same day as the Trade Union Act, these strict 'coercion' laws, neutralised many of its benefits by making it very difficult to picket or threaten to strike.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
187110 November 1871. "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Henry Morton Stanley (explorer & journalist) relieves the famous Christian explorer David Livingstone in Tanzania.
International AffairsAll Events
187218 July 1872. The Ballot Act.
To discourage bribery and intimidation, secret ballots were introduced. An unforseen effect of this act was to strengthened the hand of the Irish Home Rule movement in the next election. This was because Irish voters had, previously, been too fearful to vote against their landlord's wishes.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
187210 August 1872. The Licensing Act.
An unpopular act, it imposed 'closing times' on public houses (which caused riots) and banned being drunk in public places - including pubs. It also prohibited the tampering of drink, such as the common practice of adding salt to beer.
The act was bitterly opposed; Bishop Magee of Peterborough believed that it was "better an England free than an England sober"
Result: The wealthy and influential liquor trade transferred their loyalties wholesale to the conservatives.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1872September 1872. The Alabama Settlement.
The "Alabama" Claims mentioned in the Treaty of Washington were settled via international arbitration (in Geneva).
In this settlement, Britain agreed to pay $15.5m in damages for failing to stop British built ships (the Alabama being the most famous) being supplied to the Confederates during the American Civil War. The settlement is considered to be a forerunner to the League of Nations and United Nations, and resulted in the two countries becoming firm allies.
Although now considered an achievement, it caused Gladstone a great deal of unpopularity from a British public who, unsurprisingly, did not believe that Britain should pay anything.
International AffairsAll Events
18731873 - 1896. The 'Long Depression' or 'Great Depression' of trade and Industry in Europe & USA.
A period of falling prices and increased unemployment (a term first coined in 1888). It began with the collapse of the Vienna Stock Exchange and is considered to be the first global financial crash.
International AffairsAll Events
18731873 - 1896. Great Depression of British Agriculture.
Caused by cheap corn and other produce from Canada, Argentina and Australia flooding the British market.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18731 May 1873. David Livingstone. Famous explorer, died.
He died in present day Zambia due to malaria & dysentry. A Christian missionary, he made the ending of the slave trade his main aim and believed that this could be best achieved by establishing commercial trade routes which would replace slave routes.
International AffairsAll Events
18738 - 21 November 1873. The Home Rule League established in Ireland.
Basically a rebranding of the Home Government Association. Butt was still their leader. They were to win 59 seats at the next General Election.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
187431 January - 17 February 1874. General Election: Conversatives under Disraeli defeat Gladstone's Liberals.
'We have been borne down in a torrent of gin and beer' observed Gladstone ruefully, referring to the unpopular Licensing Act.
The Liberals ('exhausted volcanoes' according to Disraeli) had, in fact, alienated themselves from almost all influential sections of society.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
Change of Govt
All Events
1874The Factory Act 1874. The 'Ten Hour Day' was finally achieved.
But only for textile workers.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18751875. Disraeli's Reforms.
11 August 1875 Public Health Act. Codified previous acts and formed basis of future acts.
13 August 1875 Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act. Effectively legalised peaceful picketing (by repealing Gladstone's Criminal Law Amendment Act.)
11 August 1875 Chimney Sweepers Act. The (largely ignored) earlier chimney sweep acts of 1840 & 1864 finally got their teeth: offences against these acts resulted in sweeps losing their license to trade. Finally, the use of 'climbing boys' ceased.
1875 The Artisans' and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement Act. Gave permission for local authorities to clear slums and replace with housing estates.
1875 Employers and Workmen Act. Breach of contract by either employer or workman was now treated as a civil offence. Previously, it was civil for employers but criminal for employees.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
187610 March 1876. "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." The first telephone call.
It was made by Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish born American, inventor of the telephone. He patented it later that year.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18761 May 1876. Queen Victoria becomes Empress of India.
The Royal Titles Act 1876 was pushed through Parliament by Disraeli. Gladstone's criticism of the title turned the Queen against against him (an added bonus for Disraeli).
International AffairsAll Events
187615th August 1876. British gain a stake in the Suez Canal with The Suez Canal (Shares) Act, 1876.
Apart from the French, the Khedive Ismail of Egypt held the largest block of shares in the Suez Canal. By 1875 the Khedive Ismail was on the brink of bankruptcy and entered into secret talks with French businessmen for the sale or mortgage of his shareholding.
Desperate that France should not acquire Ismail's shareholding, Disraeli arranged the purchase of Ismail's shares, with a loan from Rothschilds (without obtaining Parliament's consent).
The canal was then afforded military protection from 1883.
It was strategically important as a route to India and the Far East.
International AffairsAll Events
18761876. The Merchant Shipping Act.
Marine insurance meant that overloaded vessels were a win-win situation for shipowners: an insurance payout if the ship sunk, maximum profits if it didn't. Samuel Plimsoll campaigned passionately against overloaded 'coffin ships'.
Unfortunately, the Act was largely ineffectual; the position of the 'load-line' (or 'Plimsoll Line') designed to stop overloading was left to the to individual shipowners and some shipowners even painted the line on the funnel of the ship. However, matters were tightened up four years' later with a further act.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18761876. Elementary Education Act.
Penalised parents who did not send their children to school (unless they had an exemption). A step on the way to compulsory education.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
187712 April 1877. Transvaal (The South African Republic) reannexed.
The Transvaal, under threat from the Zulus, was annexed by the British. This annexation was later resented by the Boers when the Zulu threat was removed.
International AffairsAll Events
187724 Apr 1877 - 3 Mar 1878 Russo-Turkish War.
A conflict between a Russian-led Eastern Orthodox coalition and the Ottoman Empire.
Russia secured Britain's neutrality; Disraeli's hands were tied by rising anti-Turkish sentiment, vividly expressed in Gladstone's pamphlet entitled 'The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East'.
Defence of Plevna
British public opinion turned against Russia after this heroic Turkish defence. The Queen even threatened to resign unless Britain intervened, exclaiming 'Oh, if the Queen were a man, she would like to go and give those Russians, whose word one cannot believe, such a beating!'
International AffairsAll Events
18783 March 1878. Treaty of San Stefano - Russo-Turkish War ends.
The war ended before any British military intervention. However, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Germany objected to this Treaty because it handed Russia too much power. Russia, bowing to pressure, agreed to the terms of the Treaty being revised at the Congress of Berlin.
International AffairsAll Events
187827 May 1878. Factory & Workshop Act.
Terms included: Consolidation of previous acts; maximum 10 hour day extended to all trades; No children under 10 years to be employed and they must be in education.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1878May 1878. Gilchrist-Thomas process of steel production is patented.
The Bessemer process of steel production tended to produce low grade steel due to the amount of phosphorus in the iron.
The Gilchrist-Thomas process involved removing phosphorus from iron by means of a lining brick which would absorb phosphoric acid.
The use of steel now completely eclipsed iron for all industrial building.
This process was invented by Sidney Thomas, a young London police clerk, who carried out chemical experiments in his bedroom. It was then developed by his cousin (Percy Gilchrist), a Welsh chemist.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
187813 June - 13 July 1878. Congress of Berlin culminating in the Treaty of Berlin.
Russia agreed to the Treaty of San Stefano being replaced by the Treaty of Berlin.
This treaty was considered a British success by securing the following;
> Russian expansion into the Mediterranean was avoided when they agreed to hand back large areas of the Balkans to the Turks.
> Greater Bulgaria (which Russia planned to make a client state) was dismantled.
> Turkey agreed to lease Cyprus to the British.
> Turkey promised good behaviour towards Christians (although this did not last long as the masacre of Armenian Christians a few years' later was to prove).
> Britain agree to Austria-Hungary gaining Bosnia-Herzegovina (to ensure Austria's support in the event of a future conflict with Russia.) Therefore, whilst Russian influence was reduced, Austria-Hungary's was enhanced. This resulted in a predictable struggle for dominance that was one of the chief causes of WW1.
International AffairsAll Events
1878September 1878 - 1881 Second Anglo-Afghan War.
When a British diplomatic mission to Kabul was rebuffed, the British invaded with 50,000 (mainly India) troops. The real motive: to thwart Russian expansion in the area.
International AffairsAll Events
187911 January - 4 July 1879. Anglo-Zulu War.
Started, against London's instructions, by Sir Bartle Frere (British High Commissioner for South Africa) to ensure a unified South Africa.
The Usual method was employed: he presented a list of unreasonable demands.
Ended in triumph for the British at Ulundi. Zululand was broken up and the sections apportioned to compliant chiefs.
Battle of Isandlwana (22 Jan) - one of the worst defeats in british history. British troops stumbled across a 20,000 strong Zulu camp, resulting in the deaths of 1,350 British troops and auxillaries.
Battle of Rorke's Drift (22 Jan) - due to a mixture of romance and propaganda, it was the strategically insignificant battle of Rorke's Drift that has captured the public imagination (eclipsing the Battle of Isandlwana which occurred on the same day). It led to the award of 11 Victoria Crosses. Subject of the famous 'Zulu' film.
Battle of Ulundi (4 July) - the War ends when the British defeat the Zulus in this decisive battle.
International AffairsAll Events
187926 June 1879. Britain secures regime change in Egypt.
Having acquired control of the Suez Canal, the British now had a direct interest in Egypt. In an attempt to resolve Egypt's financial crisis, the British & French persuaded the Sultan of Turkey to to depose the Khedive (similar to a viceroy) Ismail Pasha in favour of his son, Tewfik Pasha.
International AffairsAll Events
18791879. The 'Black year' - the Great Depression of British Agriculture (of 1873 - 1896) reached its height.
Many farmers were driven out of business as Britain was flooded with cheap corn from Canada, Argentina and Australia. Landlords called for the Corn Laws to be reintroduced but Disraeli, once a protectionist, considered it political suicide. He was probably right; the 1867 Reform Act had given many working class males the vote and they benefited from the cheap imported food.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
187921 October 1879. The Irish Land League was set up by Michael Davitt.
Charles Parnell was elected president. Davitt was a member of the Fenian (Irish Republican) Brotherhood and had served a 7 year sentence for treason. The League spearheaded the 'Land War' by organising rent strikes and intimidation.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
1879November 1879. Thomas Edison, an American inventor and businessman, patented the first commercially viable electric light bulb.Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
188031 March - 27 April 1880. General Election: Gladstone's Liberals defeated Disraeli's (now Lord Beaconsfield) Conservatives.
UK General Election
Change of Govt
All Events
1880August 1880. Elementary Education Act.
Education for children became compulsory. Minimum age: 10 years old. Maximum age: 13 years (upper limit fixed by the local school board.)
Domestic AffairsAll Events
18801 September 1880. Battle of Kandahar: decisive British victory in Second Anglo-Afghan War.
September 1880 - Second Anglo-Afghan War ends with British victory.
Afghanistan became a British protectorate and its frontier areas were annexed.
International AffairsAll Events
1880December 1880. Domestic electric lighting used for the first time.
Incandescent lamps, supplied by Joseph Swan (Edison's British rival), were installed in 'Cragside', Sir William Armstrong's mansion in Northumberland.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1880December 1880 - March 1881 First Boer War.
Fought between British Empire and the South African Republic (Transvaal).
Caused by the Boer's declaration of independence.
International AffairsAll Events
188126 February 1881. The Battle of Majuba Hill - First Boer War ends.
Final decisive battle in the First Boer War resulted in defeat for the British who recognised the independence of the Transvaal (although under the suzerainty of the British).
International AffairsAll Events
18812 March 1881. Coercion Act.
Habeas Corpus Act suspended in order to deal with intimidation orchestrated by the Irish Land League.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
18813 April 1881. UK Census.
New questions: language spoken (Scotland only).
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
188119 April 1881. Death of Disraeli from bronchitis.
On his death bed, he declined a visit from Queen Victoria as 'She would only ask me to take a message to Albert'.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1881August 1881. The Land Law (Ireland) Act aka The Second Irish Land Act.
Pushed through by Gladstone, it gave Irish tenants the 'three F's' - Fixity of tenure, Fair Rent and Freedom to sale.
Parnell and the Irish Land League were encouraged by this concession to push further: for Home Rule.
Tenant strikes and acts of violence continue as before, resulting in Parnell and leaders of the Irish Land League being arrested and lodged in Kilmainham Gaol (using the powers of the Coercion Bill).
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
1881September 1881. Arabi Pasha's revolt in Egypt.
Arabi Pasha, an army officer, led a revolt against European interference. The Khedive of Egypt asked for French and British assistance, resulting in the British bombardment of Alexandra the following year.
International AffairsAll Events
188224 March, 1882. The cause of tuberculosis is discovered
The German scientist and physician, Robert Koch, announced his groundbreaking discovery to the Berlin Physiological Society. This Followed the devastating tuberculosis epidemic which had lasted throughout the century.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1882May 1882. The Kilmainham 'Treaty'.
A 'gentlemen's agreement' reached between Parnell & Gladstone in which Gladstone agreed to clear rent arrears in exchange for an end to the campaign of violence.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
18826 May 1882. The Phoenix Park Murders.
To carry out the Kilmainham 'Treaty', a new Viceroy and Chief Secretary for Ireland were appointed. They were stabbed to death as soon as they arrived in Dublin by a member of the 'The Invincibles' - an extreme wing of the Fenians.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
1882July 1882. British bombard Alexandria - occupation of Egypt begins.
To qwell Arabi Pasha's revolt which had begun the previous year, the British and French sent naval ships to Alexandria. However, following riots in which Europeans were murdered, the French refused to bombard Alexandria, giving Britain a free reign.
The British defeated Arabi 's rebels at Tall al-Kabir (13 September) and commenced their occupation of Egypt. This completed the removal of Egypt from the Ottoman Empire. Arabi was sentenced to death but this was commuted to exile.
International AffairsAll Events
1882
12 January 1882. Holborn Viaduct power station (aka the Edison Electric Light Station) opens.
This was the world's first coal fired power station.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1883October 1883. The Boys' Brigade founded in Glasgow.Domestic AffairsAll Events
18831883. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island published as a book.Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
18844 January 1884. The Fabian Society founded.
A grouping of middle class intellectuals 'to make thinking persons socialistic' (Beatrice Webb). Notable members include Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. They took their name from the Roman General Fabius who defeated Hannibal by strategy rather than war.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
188413 March 1884 - 26 January 1885 - Siege of Khartoum, capital of the Sudan.
Britain's occupation of Egypt came with a big headache - the Sudan, Egypt's dependency. When a self-styled 'Mahdi' (or 'Messiah) led a revolt, Gladstone decided to evacuate the garrisons rather than bother reconquering the Sudan. General Charles George 'Chinese' Gordon, a hugely popular general, was chosen to lead the evacuation. Unfortunately, Gordon was a born soldier and retreat did not come easily to him; he could not resist trying to save Khartoum. The British Government vetoed his proposed attempt but weeks were wasted and, by May 1884, General Gordon was besieged in Khartoum by rebel forces. Gladstone, irritated by Gordon going 'off message', only agreed to send an expendition in July...
International AffairsAll Events
188415 November 1884 - February 1885 Conference of Berlin.
Chaired by Bismarck and attended by 14 countries, it agreed the rules for claiming territory in Africa. It ensured the 'scramble for Africa' did not lead to war.
International AffairsAll Events
188528 January 1885. 317 day seige of Khartoum ends in General Gordon's death.
An expeditionary force finally reached Khartoum but only to find General Gordon's decapitated body - he had been killed only two days' earlier. The Sudan was abandoned to the Mahdi and Gladstone's reputation was in tatters. Queen Victoria's telegram censuring him found its way to the press.
International AffairsAll Events
1885Feb 1885. General Act of the Conference of Berlin.
The Conference ends with an an agreement upon how Africa would be carved up. There was also a general agreement to supress slavery and protect Christian missionaries, scientists and explorers.
The signatories were: Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Norway, Turkey and the United States.
By 1914, 90% of Africa was under European control.
International AffairsAll Events
1885June 1885. The Conservatives formed a caretaker government under the Marquess of Salisbury, replacing Gladstone's Liberals.
Reason: Parnell and his followers had joined Lord Salisbury's Conservatives in a vote of no confidence over Gladstone's budget. However, the root cause of Gladstone's unpopularity was his failure to save General Gordon.
Salisbury's specialism was in foreign policy. Whilst the traditional role of Prime Minister was First Lord of the Treasury, he took the role of Foreign Secretary for most of his period in office. His approach to foreign policy was summed up in his letter to Lord Lytton; “English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boat-hook to avoid collisions.”
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
18856 September 1885. Bulgaria unified in defiance of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin.
Salisbury ensured no action was taken against them - he now supported Balkan independence, believing that the earlier Congress had favoured Turkey too heavily.
International AffairsAll Events
18857 - 29 November 1885. Third Anglo-Burmese War
British victory resulted in Burma becoming a province of India under the British Raj.
International AffairsAll Events
188524 November to 18 December 1885. General Election.
Although the Liberals, under Gladstone, narrowly won, they were dependent on Irish MPs who had won the same number of seats. The Marquess of Salisbury's Conservatives continued in government until the early part of the following year but relied on the support of Irish MPs.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
18861 Jan 1886. Britain completed its annexation of Burma.
And made it a province of India.
International AffairsAll Events
188627 January 1886. Salisbury resigned as Prime Minister.
He had lost the support of Irish MPs.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1886January 29 1886. Carl Benz patented the first Motor Car.Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
18861 February 1886. Change of government: The Liberal Party, under Gladstone, replaced Salisbury's Conservatives.
Reason: Salisbury had lost the support of the Irish Party, forcing his resignation. Whilst Gladstone was in favour of Irish Home Rule, Salisbury opposed it and had formed an alliance with the Liberal Unionists.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
1886April - June 1886. First Home Rule Bill.
Dependent on Irish votes, and by now persuaded that nothing less than Home Rule would satisfy the Irish, Gladstone proposed to set up an Irish parliament in Dublin. The argument over the terms and scope of Irish home rule caused the government to collapse and the Liberals to split.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
18861 - 27 July 1886. General Election.
The Marquess of Salisbury's Conservatives defeated the Liberals.
The conservative attitude to Ireland over the next 20 years: 'resolute government'.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
Change of Govt
The Irish Question
All Events
1886July 1886. Royal Niger Company.
A British mercentile company that established British control in Lower Niger. The Crown took over the company in 1900.
International AffairsAll Events
1887Feb - May 1887. The 'Mediterranean Agreements'.
A series of agreements between Britain and, in turn; Italy, Austria-Hungary and Spain.
The British agreed to ensure stability in the Balkans (by checking Russian expansion) and to support Italy (against France) in the Mediterranean.
International AffairsAll Events
18877 March 1887. A J ('Bloody') Balfour (Salisbury's nephew), new Secretary of Ireland.
Balfour was the nephew of Lord Robert 'Bob' Salisbury and his appointment is believed to have inspired the phrase 'Bob's your uncle'.
He pursued the Conservative policy of 'resolute government' by introducing new Crimes Acts and strictly enforcing the law (e.g. by shooting rioters).
Balfour was strongly opposed to Home Rule but English public opinion swung towards it, largely due to his actions.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
188818 April 1888. The British East Africa Company established.
It was granted a royal charter on 6 September to secure British influence between Zanzibar and Uganda.
International AffairsAll Events
1888July 1888. The Bryant and May Match Girls Strike, Bow, East London.
This highlighted the terrible plight of women who worked in match factories and contracted 'phossy jaw' (phosphorus necrosis of the jaw) as a result of prolonged exposure to the white phosphorus from which matches were made. Phossy jaw was an extremely painful and disfiguring condition which caused extreme swelling of the gums, abscesses, glowing bones, rotting bone tissue, putrid discharge and, ultimately, severe brain damage. The use of white phosphorus was not banned until 1908 although the Salvation Army set up their own match factory using harmless red phosphorus in 1891.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
188813 August 1888. Local Government Act.
This created elected County Councils to take over responsibilities previously handled by Justices of the Peace since Tudor times, thus newtering local landlords. Their responsibilities extended to poor law relief, roads and bridges. London, apart from the City, and towns with populations over 50,000, became 'county boroughs' i.e. their powers were on a par with county councils. Their duties later extended to education and health. A similar act came into force in Scotland the following year.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1888October 1888. British South Africa Company formed by Cecil Rhodes.
(20 December 1889 - received its Royal Charter.)
Failing to persuade the British to annex the huge region between Limpopo and the Zambesi, Cecil Rhodes negotiated mineral rights with the region's ruler. The South Africa Company was set up to exploit those rights.
International AffairsAll Events
1889February 1889. Parnell's rise.
Parnell's reputation was enhanced when letters purporting to prove he was involved in the Phoenix Park murders turned out to be forgeries. The forger, Richard Piggott fled to Madrid and shot himself.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
188914 Aug 1889 - 16 Sep 1889. London Dock strike.
The most significant strike of this period. It publicised the appalling pay and unsecure employment endured by dockers. Due to financial support from Britain, Australia and Europe, the dockers were able to hold out for their objective: sixpence an hour ('the dockers' tanner') and a minimum 4 hours' work. The turning point in the dispute was when the Stevedores joined the strike.
This strike was pivotal in acelerating the trade union movement. By 1900, the trade unions had 2 million enrolled members. These new style of trade unions were formed on industrial rather 'craft' lines and were more political in their outlook.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1890November 1890. Parnell's fall.
His star dramatically fell to earth when he was cited as co-respondent in a divorce suit & found to have been in an adulterous relationship - mortifying both his Catholic and Non-confirmist followers. A broken man, he died aged 45 years.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
18901 July 1890. Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty Convention.
Between the British and German Empires
Settled the rival claims of Britain and Germany in East Africa. Germany gained Tanganyika as a German colony plus Heligoland in the North Sea (important for their navy). In return, Germany agreed to stop encroaching into British Kenya.
International AffairsAll Events
18915 April 1891. UK Census. New questions: employer/employee/neither, number of rooms (if less than 5. Language spoken (Wales only).Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events
189125 June 1891. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes published in the Strand magazine.Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
18924 – 26 July 1892. General election.
The Conservatives, under Salisbury, won but failed to win a majority. Salisbury refused to resign and awaited the inevitable vote of no confidence.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
18923 Aug 1892. Keir Hardie, scottish miners' leader, is elected as an independent Member of Parliament.
He creates a stir by wearing a cloth, rather than top, hat to Parliament.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
189211 August 1892. Change of government: Gladstone's Liberals replaced Salisbury's Conservatives.
Reason: The Conservatives had failed to win a majority in the July General Election and could not, therefore, govern.
Gladstone formed a minority government, dependent upon Irish Nationalist support.
Domestic Affairs
Change of Govt
All Events
189314 - 16 January 1893. Independent Labour Party (forerunner to the Labour Party) set up by Keir Hardie.Domestic AffairsAll Events
1893February - September 1893. Second Home Rule Bill.
7 years after the failure of his First Home Rule Bill, Gladstone tried again. Unlike the First Bill, this bill provided for continued Irish MPs in the UK Parliament. Its defeat in the House of Lords caused it to fail again but but this time, Gladstone neither resigned nor called an election.
Domestic Affairs
The Irish Question
All Events
1893October 1893 - January 1894. The First Matebele War.
Between the British South Africa Company and Ndebele Kingdom (Matebele).
25 Oct 93 - Battle of the Shangani - First wartime use of a Maxim gun - the first automatic machine gun.
700 British soldiers, with only 4 Maxim guns, were able to fight off over 5000 warriors.
International AffairsAll Events
1894January 1894. The First Matebele War ended.
Result: The British South Africa Company acquired Matebeland - it was renamed Rhodesia in 1895.
International AffairsAll Events
18942 March 1894. Gladstone resigned (and retired) aged 84.
He was Britain's oldest Prime Minister.
Queen Victoria replaced him with the Earl of Rosebery.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
189513 July - 7 August 1895. General Election.
The Marquess of Salisbury's Conservatives (together with the Liberal Unionists) defeated the Liberals.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
Change of Govt
All Events
18958 November 1895. X-rays discovered.
By German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
189516 November 1895. Annexation of British Bechuanaland.
British Bechuanaland, a Crown colony since 1885, was now annexed to Cape Colony and effectively ceased to exist.
International AffairsAll Events
1895Dec 1895 - Jan 1896. The Jameson Raid.
An ill-fated attempt by the British South Africa Company to 'assist' an uprising in Johannesburg. It resulted in Rhodes' disgrace as Jameson was administrator of the British South Africa Company.
International AffairsAll Events
18951895. H G Wells publishes 'The Time Machine'.
It popularised the idea of time travel. This book marked the beginning of Well's most productive and successful period; he wrote 'War of the Worlds three years' later.
Domestic Affairs
Literature
All Events
1896February 26-1 March 1896. French scientist Henri Becquerel discovered natural radioactivity.
The term 'radiation' was first coined by Marie and Pierre Curie who later shared the Nobel Prize with Becquerel. Marie Curie died aged 66 from illness caused by radiation exposure.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1896March 1896. Conquest of the Sudan began, led by Sir Herbert (later Lord) Kitchener.
Salisbury's aim was to ensure that Egypt was secure against French ambitions.
Kitchener ran a perfect campaign, utilising railways and the Maxim gun.
International AffairsAll Events
1896Mar 1896 - October 1897. Second Matebele War (Matabeleland Rebellion).
In the area now known as Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe), the Ndebele rebelled against the British South Africa Company. It was well-timed because Jameson had tied up most of his troops and equipment in the ill-fated Jameson Raid. However, the rebellion eventually failed.
International AffairsAll Events
189614 November 1896. Locomotives Act.
This removed the Red Flag rule for motor cars and increased the speed limit to a daring 12 mph.
This speed limit was celebrated in the 'emancipation run' from London to Brighton.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
1897April - May 1897. Discovery of the electron by Sir J J Thomson.
Proved that things smaller than atoms existed.
Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
189720 August 1897. Sir Ronald Ross discovers that malaria is caused by mosquitos transmitting parasites.Industry science and TechnologyAll Events
1897October 1897. The Second Matebele War ended.
Rebellion quelled by the British.
International AffairsAll Events
18971897. Workmen's Compensation Act.
The Government dragged itself back to domestic affairs long enough to enact just one piece of significant social reform.
This Act entitled employees to compensation for injury at work (i.e. they didn't have to prove the employer's negligence).
Domestic AffairsAll Events
189819 May 1898. Gladstone died, aged 88.Domestic AffairsAll Events
18982 September 1898. The Battle of Omdurman. (The Sudan).
Earl Kitchener avenged General Gordon's death in this comprehensive British-Egyptian Victory against Sudan.
International AffairsAll Events
189918 September 1899. The Fashoda Incident. (The Sudan).
A tense stand off between Kitchener and the French Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand of France over Fashoda, an abandoned Egyptian fort. Marchand had been attempting to secure the Upper Nile river basin. However, both wanted to avoid confrontation and it was agreed that British, French and Egyptian flags should fly over the fort.
International AffairsAll Events
189911 Oct 1899 - 31 May 1902 Second Boer War.
It began with two (ignored) ultimatums: one from the British to the Boers demanding full voting rights for the uitlanders (foreigners - mainly British) living in the transvaal; and the other ultimatum was from the Boers to the British demanding a troop withdrawal from the borders of the Transvaal. Unfortunately, the second ultimatum was only received after the deadline had expired.
The real causes are disputed but were largely due to a (not totally groundless) suspicion by the Boers of British expansionism.

Early on, the British suffered three main seiges and a 'black week':
International AffairsAll Events
189913 October 1899 - 17 May 1900. The Seige of Mafeking (Boer War).
This is the most well known. It created a hero out of British commander Colonel Robert Baden-Powell - who went on to found the boy scouts.
International AffairsAll Events
189914 October 1899 - 15 Feb 1900. The Seige of Kimberley (Boer War).International AffairsAll Events
18992 November 1899 - 28 February 1900. The Seige of Ladysmith (Boer War).International AffairsAll Events
189915 November 1899. Winston Churchill (then a 25 year old war correspondent) was captured (Boer War).
He was accompanying a scouting party when their train was ambushed by the Boers.
Although a civilian, he was treated as a POW.
International AffairsAll Events
189910 - 15 December 1899. 'Black week' (Boer War).
The British suffered three defeats against the Boers in the space of 5 days:
Battles of Stormbert - 10 December.
Battle of Magersfontein - 11 December.
Battle of Colenso - 15 December.
International AffairsAll Events
189912th December 1899. Churchill's escape (Boer War).
He later joined the army.
International AffairsAll Events
1900February 1900. The seiges of Kimberley & Ladysmith are relieved (Boer War).International AffairsAll Events
190017 May 1900. The relief of Mafeking (Boer War).
The army relieving Mafeking included Churchill who had joined the army after his escape.
International AffairsAll Events
1900September 1900. Final (Third) Phase of the Second Boer War.
When the British considered the war won, the Boers switched to guerilla tactics. The British then adopted of a scorched earth policy and the establishment of of concentration camps to counter the guerilla warfare.
International AffairsAll Events
190026 September – 24 October 1900. General ('Khaki') Election.
Marquis of Salisbury's Conservatives were returned. From this time onwards, the term 'Khaki Election' refers to any election where wartime/postwar sentiment is a factor.
Domestic Affairs
UK General Election
All Events
19001900. The trade union movement gathers pace.
By the turn of the century, there were around 2 million trade union members. The new style of unions were organised on industrial lines rather than specific to an individual trade and tended to be more political in outlook.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
19001900. Birth of the Labour Party.
A fusing of the trade union movement and socialist groups such as the Fabian Society.
Kier Hardie elected as Labour MP for dual-member constituency Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare. He became Labour's first leader 6 years' later.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
190122 January 1901. Queen Victoria died.
At Osborne House on the Isle of Wight at the age of 81.
During her reign, she had ruled over almost a quarter of the world' population.
Domestic AffairsAll Events
190131 March 1901. UK Census.
New questions: whether self employed or working at home, number of rooms (all dwellings). 'Feeble-minded' added to list of possible defects.
Domestic Affairs
UK Census
All Events