A timeline of 18th-century Britain

British museum, london, top attractions
The British Museum was founded in the 18th century Credit: VisitBritain/Jason Hawkes

We trace the history of Britain in the 18th century.



1702 Anne becomes queen, succeeding William II.

1707  The Kingdom of Great Britain is formed: England and Scotland became one country.

1704 Battle of Blenheim: A combined Dutch and English army defeats France in Bavaria.


1710 Wren’s St Paul’s cathedral is completed.

stpauls cathedral cristopherwren cathedralorigial
The design for St Paul’s Cathedral. Credit: Wikipedia


1711 The first race meeting is held at Ascot Racecourse.



1712  The last execution for witchcraft is carried out.

1715 A total solar eclipse is seen in England. Another total solar eclipse has not been seen in London since, and will not be seen for another 600 years.

1714 Queen Anne dies. George I of Hanover succeeds her.


1721 Robert Walpole becomes first Prime Minister.

1729 The first fixed point for crossing the River Thames is built: the Putney Bridge.

PutneyBridge London 1793 Thamesriver
Putney Bridge, drawn from afar in 1793. Credit: Wikipedia


1727 George I dies, and is succeeded by George II.



1728 Astronomer James Bradley first calculated the speed of light.


1733 10 Downing Street is first occupied by the prime minister.

10DowningStreet David Cameron Theresa May London parliament prime minister
10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives. Credit: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD

1737 HMS Victory, the oldest ship still in commission in the British Navy, is launched.

Loss of HMS Victory, 4 October 1744 Credit: Wikipedia/National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Fund

1739 Britain declares war on Spain in the ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’. A British captain, named Jenkins, had his ear cut off by Spanish sailors – Britain declared war in retaliation.


warofjenkinsear spain britain spanish british map
A map of the War of Jenkins’ Ear. Credit: Wikipedia

1744 George Anson finishes his four-year voyage around the world.

1746 The Battle of Culloden,  the last battle to have taken place on British soil, is fought.

pitched battle Culloden britain
The Battle of Culloden. The last pitched battle on British soil. Credit: Wikipedia


1751 Parliament passes the Calendar Act introducing the Gregorian Calendar, correcting the 11-day difference and making 1 January New Year’s Day.

Montague House British muesum
Montague House, part of the British Museum. c. 1750. Credit: Wikipedia

1759 The British Museum is founded.

1755 Samuel Johnson publishes A Dictionary of the English Language.

1756 British and French Seven Years War begins.


1760 George III succeeds his father George II.

1768 First modern circus is held with acrobats on galloping horses, in London.

royalacademyofarts timeline 18th century simon fieldhouse
The Royal Academy of Arts. Credit: Wikipedia

1768 The Royal Academy of Arts was founded.


1770 Lord North is appointed Prime Minister.

1778 The world’s first iron bridge is built.


 1781 The planet Uranus is first discovered by William Herschel. It is first called ‘George’s Star’, in honour of King George III.

1783 William Pitt the Younger becomes Prime Minister.

1788 The first edition of the Times is published.

1789 The Thames and Severn Canal opens.


frontpage, front, page, times, thetimes, firstedition, firsteditiontimes
The front page of the first edition of the Times. Credit: Wikipedia

1793 Britain goes to war with France.

1796 Edward Jenner, discoverer of the vaccine, successfully cures James Phipps of smallpox. 

Words: Khusrau Islam

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