Georgian Period

 Georgian Period 1714 – 1837 CE

The Georgian period in Britain, when Britain was ruled by a dynasty originating in Hanover Germany.  Use the timeline, latest articles and images to discover more about this extraordinary period, in which a new Britain emerged, the workshop of the world, during which, trade, wealth and Empire developed. 

What is the legacy of the Georgian Period?

The Georgian period, left us a legacy of Georgian literature and Georgian architecture that we interact with on a daily basis. We walk past splendid doorways, sweeping stairs that tumble onto the streets and elegant, perfectly symmetrically facades. Our schools teach us the literature of the Georgian period, Jane Austen paints us a picture of a society in which etiquette and gracefulness abound.

Georgian Period

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

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

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

DATEEVENTCATEGORY
1714George of Hanover, Germany succeeds Queen Anne to the ThroneRoyalty
1715Jacobite rising fails. King James II son James Stuart (old pretneder) tries to re-hain the throne for the House of Stuart but he fails.Political
1715Numerous newspapers and pamphlets hit the streets in the coming years. More people are becoming literate.Printing
1718Britain joins Dutch Republic, France and Austria in the war of the Quadruple Alliance against SpainPolitical
1719An abortive Jacobite uprising is quashed at the Battle of Glen Shiel in the HighlandsBattle
1719Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is publishedLiterature People
1720Shares in the South Sea Company reach their peak price, the bubble bursts.Business
1721Robert Walpole becomes Britain's first Prime MinisterPolitical People
1721Painter William Hogarth begins to create a series of engravings of scenes from popular theatre shows, demonstrating the earliest signs of the satirical work to come. Works such as The South Sea Scheme and The Lottery, both produced in 1721, show Hogarth's wit and both pieces were helped establish Hogarth's reputation as an artist in London.Art
1726Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels publishedLiterature
1727Accension of King George IIRoyalty
1729The rise of satire is obvious in the work of Jonathan Swift who published 'A modest proposal'Literature
1733JohnKay invents the flying shuttleIndustrial Revolution inventions
1735John Harrison invents the first chronometerInventions
1736Increased tax on gin causes rioting on streets of LondonPolitical
1736Josiah Wedgewood founded his stoneware factory in StaffordshireIndustrial Revolution Business People
1739John Wesley begins his open air methodist missionReligion People
1739War of Jenkins Ear between Britain and SpainMilitary Political
1740The song 'Rule Britannia' is publishedMusic
1740George Anson sets out on his 4 yr circumnavigation of the globeExploration
1741Launcelot 'Capability' Brown works on the gardens at StoweHorticulture
1745Prince Charles Stuart, 'the young pretender' lands in ScotlandRoyalty
1746Battle of Culloden effectively ends Jacobite hopes for Bonnie Prince CharlieBattle
1752Britain switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calender
1756Seven years war begins, Britain allied with Prussia, Portugal and others against FranceMilitary
1756Mozart composer is born in SalzburgMusic
1760King George III comes to the throneRoyalty
1761Bridgewater Canal openedIndustrial Revolution
1762Hogarth published an anti-war satire 'The Times' which caused outrage from one prominent MP in particular, John Wilkes. He published a scathing article dismissing Hogarth's work in his newspaper The North Briton. In response Hogarth created an engraving, John Wilkes Esq. showing the MP wearing a symbolic cap of liberty in such a way that it appears to be a halo along with a wig shaped like horns.
Literature Art People
1764Hargreaves Spinning JennyIndustrial Revolution
1764Parliament passes 'Sugar Act', the first of a series of measures designed to raise revenues by levying taxes on American colonies.Political
1764Mozart wrote his first symphony he was just eight years oldMusic
1765William Blackstone publishes his first volume of 'Commentaries on the Laws of England'. Ordinary people could for the first time consult a clear and authoratative guide to the law.Law
1768Captain Cook's first voyage to PacificExploration
1769James Watt improves the Newcomen steam engineIndustrial Revolution
1770British soldiers kill 5 protestors against 'taxation without representation' at Boston massacrePolitical
1771Architect Robert Adams begins work on the Duke of Wellington's London residence, Apsley House. Robert Adam is was of Georgian London's greatest architectsArchitecture
1772Cooks second voyage in search of southern continentExploration
1773First Boston Tea PartyPolitical
1774First continental congress of American colonies begins in PhiladelphiaPolitical
1775Novelist Jane Austen was born in Steventon HampshireLiterature People
1775Richard Arkwright's Spinning Frame improves on the Spinning JennyIndustrial Revolution
1775Fighting breaks out between colonists and the British at the battles of Lexington and Concord. The British are besieged in Boston.Military
1775British soldiers win the Battle of Bunker HillMilitary Battle
1775American colonists are badly defeated at QuebecMilitary Battle
1776Adam Smith's 'An Inquiry into Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations' is publishedEconomics
1776Declaration of IndependencePolitical
1776Cook's third voyage to the Pacific.Exploration
1780Gordon riots, an anti Catholic riot in London. Lord George Gordon called for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 and a return to the repression of Catholics. The 1778 Act had repealed harsh anti-Catholic legislation from the 17th century and excused Roman Catholics from swearing the oath of allegiance (with its implicit recognition of the Church of England) on joining the army. Many Protestants were outraged and riots ensued.Political
1783William Pitt the younger is Britain's youngest ever prime ministerPolitical Prime Ministers People
1785William Herschel begins to build what will become the world's largest telescopeScience People
1787Society for the abolition of the slave trade is foundedReform Political
1790Final year of Mozart's life. He composed a great deal, including some of his most admired works, the opera The Magic Flute, the final piano concerto, the Clarinet Concerto, the last in his great series of string quintets, the motet Ave verum corpus and the unfinished Requiem.Music
1791The Oberver newspaper is publishedPrinting Business
1791William Wilberforce introduces his first anti slavery bill in ParliamentPolitical Prime Ministers People
1791The Society of United Irishmen is founded and sectarian violence followsPolitical
1793France declares war on BritainMilitary
1793Charter granted to the board of agriculture to promote best modern farming practiceAgriculture
1795Famine in the mid 1790's causes unrest amongst the populationSocial Political
1796Smallpox vaccine is introducedMedicine
1797Mutiny by sailors at SpitheadMilitary
1798Vinegar Hill. Irish rebels are defeatedMilitary Battle
1798Nelson defeats French at the Battle of the NileMilitary Battle
1798Income Tax introduced by William Pitt Prime Minister to help pay for the Napoleonic WarPolitical
1805Nelson wins the Battle of TrafalgarMilitary Battle
1807Slavery abolished throughout the British EmpireReform Political
1811Wellington defeats the French at GrioMilitary Battle
1812Americans send an invasion force to Canada but they are routed by the British and Canadian militias. Further battles took place.Military Battle
1813Architect John Nash transformed London by conceiving, designing and developing Regent's Street and Regent's Park from 1813-32Architecture
1814With the war in Europe mostly over, Britain used it's ships and forces to place a naval blockade on America. The economy suffered and the British marched on Washington burning down the public buildings.Military
1815Wellington defeats the French once and for all at the Battle of WaterlooMilitary Battle
1815Cornlaws are introduced. They fix a minimum price below which grain may not be imported. These laws have a major impact upon society and are the root cause of much suffering.Political
1816Jane Austen's book 'Emma' is publishedLiterature
1817Novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester in Hampshire.Literature People
1818Final defeat of the Maratha Empire leaves the British East India Co in power across most of IndiaMilitary Business
1819Peterloo Massacre Manchester. The Massacre occurred during a period of immense political tension and mass protests. Fewer than 2% of the population had the vote, and hunger was rife with the disastrous corn laws making bread unaffordable. People met peacefully to protest for Universal Suffrage, Reform and an abolition of the Corn Laws. Troops were sent in and over 700 people were badly wounded and 17 died.

Social Political
1820George IV accedes to the throneRoyalty
1820The Cato St conspiracy to assasinate Lord Liverpool fails. The newly industrialised world produced inflation, food shortages and difficult factory conditions, there stemmed from this a climate of discontent and radicalism. A series of riots and industrial unrest occurred. The government responded with a series of repressive measures, including the Combination Acts of 1799, which forbade the gathering of working men with a common purpose. A conspiracy was plotted to murder the British cabinet but it was foiled.Political
1821A great famine begins in Ireland as the potato harvest fails again. The failure of the potato crop is a recurring event.Social
1824First Anglo Burmese War beginsMilitary
1829The Catholic Relief Act allows Catholics to sit in ParliamentPolitical
1830William IV accedes to the throneRoyalty
1830Liverpool to Manchester railway openedIndustrial Revolution
1831Darwin sets out on HMS BeagleExploration
1832The Great Reform Act becomes lawPolitical Law
1834The Toll Puddle labourers are tried for trying to set up a trade union. They become the Toll Puddle Martyrs.Political
1837Victoria accedes to the throneRoyalty
Georgian Period
King George I

 

The Georgian Period, a new start.

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

Act of Settlement 1701 instigates the Hanoverian Succession

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

The emergence of the Whigs and Tories

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

The power of the printed word in 18th century Britain

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

Georgian arts and fashion

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

Stuarts Collection

Georgian Collection

Post 1754 Marriage Registers

Post 1754 Marriage Registers

Post 1754 marriage registers following Hardwickes Act of the same year give a wealth of information for the family and local historian. Details of the bride and groom are obvious but who were the witnesses and what was their relationship to the couple?

Laura Bassi Scientist

Laura Bassi Scientist

Laura Bassi was born in Bologna in 1711, the same year as St Paul’s Cathedral in London was completed. Laura Maria Caterina Bassi was a brilliant and erudite young woman, born into a heady atmosphere of early 18th century Bologna, a melting pot of ideas and fusion of like minded scholars, caught in the bosom…

Sarah Guppy an English Inventor

Sarah Guppy an English Inventor

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Women Inventors, Scientists and Engineers

Sarah Guppy an English inventor and a rare breed indeed. She was born in 1770 and developed a passion for engineering that culminated in a plethora of useful and esoteric inventions.

Gin Act 1751

Gin Act 1751

The Gin Act 1751 is a reminder that drunkenness on the streets is nothing new. London has always been a magnet for people wanting to improve their chances in life.  The early 18th century rural economy was already beginning to creak and groan under the yoke of enclosure and agricultural revolution. More people were seeking…

Britain After Waterloo the British Disillusion

Britain After Waterloo the British Disillusion

What happened to Britain after Waterloo? What did the victory mean to the population and why was there a British disillusion for the following 20 years? Britain seemed to implode as an economic bomb went off under her feet.

John Wilkinson Ironmaster

John Wilkinson Ironmaster

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Industrial Revolution

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Industrial RevolutionJohn Wilkinson was the ‘Ironmaster’ of the industrial revolution Iron  ran through the veins of John Wilkinson, who was fortunate enough to be born into the heart of the industrial revolution, both literally and figuratively. He was born in 1728, the son of Isaac…

Caroline of Ansbach Wife of King George II

Caroline of Ansbach Wife of King George II

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Intriguing Women

Caroline of Ansbach, Queen Consort to George II, described her son as a filthy beast, was friends with Leibnitz the philosopher and Walpole the politican. She was a shrewd and intelligent woman who played the game of royalty with considerable skill.

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Law and Democracy

Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1754 was necessary to stamp out the problem of clandestine marriages which had become rampant in 17th and early 18th century London.

James Watt Industrial Revolution

James Watt Industrial Revolution

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Industrial Revolution

James Watt the inventor of the steam engine and the industrial revolution was driven by steam but he was a man with a ferociously keen scientific mind that dabbled in many areas. This is an introduction to one of Britain’s finest engineers, we salute James Watt and his steam engines.

After The Battle of Waterloo

After The Battle of Waterloo

Britain after the Battle of Waterloo was thrown into a state of turmoil. A depression in part caused by the end of the war, left a divided society.