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Eighteenth Century English Literature: CHRONOLOGY


Chronology from Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO)  [DATABASE]


  • Death of James II while in exile in France
  • Captain William Kidd executed for piracy in London
  • War of Spanish Succession begins in Europe
  • Louisiana becomes province of France
  • Society for the Propagation of the Gospel is established
  • War of the Spanish Succession begins


  • Death of William III and accession of Queen Anne
  • Daily Courant, England's first daily newspaper, begins publication


  • The Grand Alliance proclaims Austria's 18-year-old archduke Karl (Charles) king of Spain
  • Journalist and pamphleteer Daniel Defoe (who would later write Robinson Crusoe) placed in pillory for his satirical attacks on Church
  • Guadeloupe's governor Jean-Baptiste Labat arms the Caribbean island's black slaves to augment his forces and keep the English from taking the French possession


  • Battle of Blenheim won by troops under the command of the Duke of Marlborough
  • Imprisoned Daniel Defoe begins his weekly newspaper The Review
  • Boston News-letter, first newspaper in America to survive, begins weekly publication
  • The Battle of the Books by English satirist Jonathan Swift is a travesty on the controversy over ancient and modern learning


  • Act of Union between England and Scotland, and the creation of Great Britain


  • The Evening Post begins publication
  • The Tatler begins publication


  • First Copyright Act asserts the rights of authors over printers


  • Holy Roman Emperor Josef I dies of smallpox
  • The Tatler is succeeded by the Spectator--founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele


  • Stamp Act introduces taxes on newspapers, pamphlets and newspaper advertisements
  • Medley and some other newspapers forced to close following Stamp Act
  • Thomas Newcomen introduces first practical steam engine
  • Pennsylvania Assembly bans future slave imports


  • Treaty of Utrecht ends War of the Spanish Succession and Spain cedes Gibraltar and Minorca to Britain
  • The South Sea Company receives asientos to import 4,800 African slaves per year into Spain's New World colonies for the next 30 years


  • Death of Queen Anne and accession of George I
  • Typewriter patented by Englishman, Henry Mill


  • First Jacobite rebellion
  • France's Louis XIV dies at Versailles at age 76


  • The Historical Register published
  • John Law introduces paper currency into France


  • Handel's "Water Music" first performed in London


  • Edward "Blackbeard" Teach blockades Charleston, South Carolina. He is later captured and killed by the British in battle off Virginia coast
  • Colonist William Penn dies at age 73


  • French explorer Pierre de Charlevoix travels up the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes, and down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans


  • South Sea Bubble, frenzied speculation in shares issued by the South Sea Company ends with its financial collapse
  • Spain's Felipe V joins the Quadruple Alliance of Britain, France, Holland, and Austria


  • Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745) becomes Britain's first prime minister
  • The New England Courant begins publication


  • Yellow fever appears in Europe


  • New Stamp Act closes loopholes in 1712 Stamp Act, but no newspapers are forced out of business
  • Russia's Peter I (the Great) dies at St. Petersburg
  • The New York Gazettepublishes


  • Lloyd's List published in London twice weekly


  • Death of George I and accession of George II
  • Death of Sir Isaac Newton
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland founded at Edinburgh; will invent the bank overdraft which gives depositors a standing line of credit attached to a checking account


  • Treaty of Seville November 9 ends a 2-year war between Spain and an Anglo-French alliance
  • Methodism has its beginnings at Oxford University, where fellow students call Charles Wesley, 22, a "methodist" because of his methodical study habits
  • Ben Franklin purchases Pennsylvania Gazette


  • Grub Street Journal begins publication


  • Gentleman's Magazine begins monthly publication at London
  • The Library Company, founded by Benjamin Franklin, is the first circulating library in North America


  • Poor Richard's Almanack begins publication at Philadelphia as an agricultural handbook


  • Britain's new Sugar and Molasses Act imposes taxes on molasses from non-British colonies
  • John Kay introduces flying shuttle to textile production, revolutionizing the hand loom


  • Daily Gazetteer begins publication as a government newspaper, replacing the Daily Courant and other titles
  • Scarlet fever strikes New England in a devastating epidemic
  • Parliament passes a Copyright Act (Hogarth Act) to protect artists against pirating of their work in cheap copies


  • Britain repeals her statutes against witchcraft after centuries of oppressing women, many of them midwives who compete with physicians


  • Licensing Act restricts the number of theatres in London and elsewhere


  • Sir Robert Walpole falls from power
  • The wood-burning Franklin stove invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • The centigrade scale of temperatures devised by Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius


  • Second Jacobite rebellion


  • Jacobites defeated at the Battle of Culloden


  • Subscription library opens in Charleston, South Carolina
  • London Stock Exchange moves from Jonathan's Coffee House on Change Alley to new building on Threadneedle Street


  • The Iron Act prohibits Britain's American colonists from manufacturing iron products
  • Johann Sebastian Bach suffers a stroke and dies


  • Hallifax Gazette, first newspaper in Canada, is launched
  • First volume of Diderot's Encyclopedie


  • Public Advertiser begins publication
  • The Gregorian Adjustment--adding 11 days to the calendar--occurs in Britain resulting in widespread rural unrest as people protest against the government "stealing" time from them
  • Benjamin Franklin flies a kite during a thunderstorm at Philadelphia and demonstrates that lightning is an electrical phenomenon


  • British Museum established
  • Hans Sloane, physician and scientist, offers his library and collections to the nation: becomes the foundation of the British Museum


  • Royal Society of Arts founded in London
  • Scotland's Royal and Ancient Golf Club has its beginnings in an organization founded at St. Andrews


  • Dr. Samuel Johnson publishes his Dictionary of English Language


  • Seven Years War begins--also known as French and Indian Wars in American colonies


  • London Chronicle begins publication, the first newspaper to combine news with feature articles
  • Admiral Byng executed by firing squad for not doing his utmost in Battle of Minorca
  • Battle of Plassey--Robert Clive's victory in Bengal begins British colonial dominance of India
  • Master printer Charles Baskerville introduces his typeface


  • The Annual Register, edited by Robert Dodsley, is launched


  • British Museum opens to the public at Montague House
  • British forces under Wolfe capture Quebec from the French, leading to British dominance of Canada


  • Death of George II and accession of George III
  • London's Botanical Gardens open at Kew


  • London physician John Hill makes the first association between tobacco and cancer


  • Britain declares war on Spain as the Seven Years' War threatens to engulf all of the European powers
  • Catherine the Great becomes ruler of Russia


  • Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War
  • Spain cedes Florida to Britain and regains all of Britain's conquests in Cuba


  • John Wilkes tried and found guilty for seditious libel for his attack on George III's government and the Treaty of Paris
  • The Currency Act passed by Parliament forbids Britain's colonies from printing paper money
  • The Connecticut Courant begins weekly publication at Hartford


  • British Parliament issues Stamp Act for taxing American colonies; a declaration of rights and liberties is drawn up at the Stamp Act Congress in New York by the delegates from nine colonies


  • Russia's Catherine II (the Great) grants freedom of worship


  • Public protests in Boston against taxes on imports imposed by Townshend Revenue Acts


  • Massachusetts Assembly refuses to assist collection of taxes
  • Boston citizens refuse to accommodate British troops
  • First of the weekly number of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica'
  • First Royal races held at Ascot Park outside London


  • James Watt patents improved piston engine steam engine
  • England's first Shakespeare Festival opens at Stratford-upon-Avon


  • Boston Massacre, a confrontation between Boston citizens and British troops
  • Industrial revolution begins spreading over Europe
  • The Massachusetts Spy begins publication
  • Captain James Cook discovers Botany Bay in Australia


  • Lloyd's of London insurance founded at Lloyd's Coffee Shop
  • Richard Arkwright introduces his patented mechanical water frames to cotton mill: creates first industrial era factory


  • Boston Assembly threatens secession, demands rights of colonies


  • Boston Tea Party
  • Philadelphia Museum founded
  • Explorer James Cook crosses the Antarctic Circle


  • A new Quartering Act passed by Parliament requires colonists to house British troops in their own homes where barracks, barns, or public inns are not available


  • The American War of Independence begins April 19 at the Battles of Lexington and Concord


  • Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense--a pamphlet that leads public opinion in favor of American independence
  • Adam Smith publishes An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
  • The Declaration of Independence signed July 4 in Philadelphia
  • The Continental Congress starts a national lottery to raise money for the Continental Army


  • Bass Ale is introduced at Burton-upon-Trent by English entrepreneur William Bass


  • Robert Walpole and scores of other British merchants smuggle arms and provisions to the American colonies through the West Indies
  • Actor-playwright-theater manager David Garrick dies at age 61


  • Anti-Catholic Gordon riots in London
  • The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is founded at Boston


  • Lord Cornwallis surrenders to Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown, the last major conflict of the War of Independence
  • The Continental Congress charters the Bank of North America


  • London's Newgate Prison is completed to replace an earlier prison burnt down in the Gordon riots of 1780


  • William Pitt the Younger becomes Prime Minister at the age of 24
  • Britain recognizes independence of the U.S
  • Montgolfier brothers successfully demonstrate hot air balloon flights


  • Daily Universal Register launches, precursor to The Times
  • Power loom developed by Edmund Cartwright which further fuels British dominance of global textile market
  • Congress establishes the dollar as the official currency of the new United States


  • The First Fleet, transporting convicts to Australia, leaves London
  • William Wilberforce introduces motion for the abolition of the slave trade to Parliament where it fails
  • Marylebone Cricket Club founded: codifies laws of cricket


  • Daily Universal Register becomes The Times
  • King George III suffers first bouts of mental illness


  • Fall of the Bastille in Paris and beginning of the French Revolution
  • George Washington becomes first U.S. President and Constitution of the United States goes into effect
  • The Mutiny on the Bounty--Capt. Bligh set adrift in South Pacific


  • The Bill of Rights becomes U.S. law


  • Libel Act ends government prosecutions of newspapers for seditious libel
  • Denmark abandons the slave trade and becomes the first nation to do so


  • Louis XVI of France, and Queen Marie Antoinette executed


  • France's Convention frees slaves in all French colonies, making France the first nation to emancipate her slaves
  • Eli Whitney patents cotton gin--leads to major expansion of cotton industry


  • Beethoven recognized in Vienna as a musical virtuoso
  • English physician Edward Jenner pioneers the use of vaccination against smallpox


  • Naval battle of Cape St Vincent won through the actions of Horatio Nelson
  • John Adams becomes second U.S. President
  • Naval mutinies at Spithead and the Nore raise concerns that French republicanism is spreading to England
  • Hatchards on Piccadilly founded, widely regarded as oldest English bookshop


  • Naval battle of the Nile won by forces under Horatio Nelson
  • Thomas Malthus publishes Essay on Principle of Population: his forecast of a famine induced population crash influences a generation of social and political reformers
  • William Wordsworth publishes Lyrical Ballads--launches Romantic period in British literature


  • Napoleon assumes power in France as First Consul
  • The world's first general income tax bill passes Parliament
  • Rosetta Stone discovered, instrumental in understanding hieroglyphic writings


  • The Library of Congress is established at Washington, D.C.

 "Eighteenth Century Collections Online Chronology." Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2008.

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