There were four major factors that radically transformed newspapers in 19th century Britain. First, by the 1830s the government had ended very high taxes and lifted severe legal restraints. Second, new machines, especially the rotary press, allowed the printing of tens of thousands of copies a day at a low cost. Third, the newspapers reached out to new readers in multiple ways, including features, illustrations, and advertisements that enlarged the audience. Finally, the franchise was expanded from one or two percent of the men to a majority, and newspapers became the primary means of political education.
In 1817 Thomas Barnes became general editor of The Times; he was a political radical, a sharp critic of parliamentary hypocrisy and a champion of freedom of the press. Under Barnes and his successor in 1841, John Thadeus Delane, the influence of The Times rose to great heights, especially in politics and in the financial district (the City of London). It spoke of reform. The Times originated the practice of sending war correspondents to cover particular conflicts. W. H. Russell wrote immensely influential dispatches on the Crimean War of 1853-1856; for the first time, the public could read about the reality of warfare. Russell wrote one dispatch that highlighted the surgeons' "inhumane barbarity" and the lack of ambulance care for wounded troops. Shocked and outraged, the public reacted in a backlash that led to major reforms especially in the provision of nursing, led by Florence Nightingale.
The Manchester Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by a group of non-conformist businessmen. Its most famous editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, made the Guardian into a world-famous newspaper in the 1890s. The Daily Telegraph in 1856 became the first penny newspaper in London. It was funded by advertising revenue based on a large audience.
Passage of the first Reform Act.
Ascension of Queen Victoria to the throne.
Treaty of Balta Liman (Great Britain trade alliance with the Ottoman Empire)
First Opium War (183942) fought between Britain and China.
Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield. He had been naturalised and granted the British style of Royal Highness beforehand. For the next 17 years, he was known as HRH Prince Albert.
Birth of the Queen's first child The Princess Victoria. Within months she was granted the title Princess Royal.
New Zealand becomes a British colony, through the Treaty of Waitangi. No longer part of New South Wales
Birth of the Queen's heir-apparent The Prince Albert Edward, Duke of Cornwall (Duke of Rothesay). He was swiftly made Prince of Wales. Sir James Brooke founds the White Rajah dynasty of Sarawak.
Treaty of Nanking. The Massacre of Elphinstone's Army by the Afghans in Afghanistan results in the death or incarceration of 16,500 soldiers and civilians. The Mines Act of 1842 banned women/children from working in coal, iron, lead and tin mining. The Illustrated London News was first published.
Birth of The Princess Alice
Birth of The Prince Alfred
The Irish famine begins. Within 5 years it would become the UK's worst human disaster, with starvation and emigration reducing the population of Ireland itself by over 50%. The famine permanently changed Ireland's and Scotland's demographics and became a rallying point for nationalist sentiment that pervaded British politics for much of the following century.
Repeal of the Corn Laws.
Birth of The Princess Helena
Death of around 2,000 people a week in a cholera epidemic.
Birth of The Princess Louise
Restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. (Scotland did not follow until 1878.)
Birth of The Prince Arthur
The Great Exhibition (the first World's Fair) is held at the Crystal Palace, with great success and international attention. The Victorian gold rush. In ten years the Australian population nearly tripled.
Birth of The Prince Leopold
Crimean War: The United Kingdom declares war on Russia.
The Indian Mutiny, a widespread revolt in India against the rule of the British East India Company, is sparked by sepoys (native Indian soldiers) in the Company's army. The rebellion, involving not just sepoys but many sectors of the Indian population as well, is largely quashed within a year. In response to the mutiny, the East India Company is abolished in August 1858 and India comes under the direct rule of the British crown, beginning the period of the British Raj. Prince Albert is given the title The Prince Consort
Birth of The Princess Beatrice
The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, responds to the Orsini plot against French emperor Napoleon III, the bombs for which were purchased in Birmingham, by attempting to make such acts a felony; the resulting uproar forces him to resign.
Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, which leads to various reactions. Victoria and Albert's first grandchild, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, is born he later became William II, German Emperor. John Stuart Mill publishes On Liberty, a defence of the famous harm principle.
Death of Prince Albert; Queen Victoria refuses to go out in public for many years, and when she did she wore a widow's bonnet instead of the crown.
The Prince of Wales marries Princess Alexandra of Denmark at Windsor.
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is published.
An angry crowd in London, protesting against John Russell's resignation as Prime Minister, is barred from Hyde Park by the police; they tear down iron railings and trample on flower beds. Disturbances like this convince Derby and Disraeli of the need for further parliamentary reform.
The Constitution Act, 1867 passes and British North America becomes Dominion of Canada.
Britain purchased Egypt's shares in the Suez Canal as the African nation was forced to raise money to pay off its debts.
Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
The Princess Alice becomes Grand Duchess of Hesse when her husband succeeds as Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse
Treaty of Berlin (1878). Cyprus becomes a Crown colony. The Princess Alice dies. Princess Louise's husband The Marquis of Lorne is appointed Governor-General of Canada. First incandescent light bulb by Joseph Wilson Swan.
The Battle of Isandlwana is the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War. Victoria and Albert's first great-grandchild, Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen, is born.
The British suffer defeat at the Battle of Majuba Hill, leading to the signing of a peace treaty and later the Pretoria Convention, between the British and the reinstated South African Republic, ending the First Boer War. Sometimes claimed to mark the beginning of the decline of the British Empire.
British troops begin the occupation of Egypt by taking the Suez Canal, to secure the vital trade route and passage to India, and the country becomes a protectorate.
Princess Louise and Lord Lorne return from Canada
The Fabian Society is founded in London by a group of middle class intellectuals, including Quaker Edward R. Pease, Havelock Ellis, and E. Nesbit, to promote socialism. Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany dies.
Blackpool Electric Tramway Company starts the first electric tram service in the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and the Liberal Party tries passing the First Irish Home Rule Bill, but the House of Commons rejects it.
The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper murders and mutilates five (and possibly more) prostitutes on the streets of London. Victoria's eldest daughter, the Princess Royal, becomes German Empress when her husband succeeds as Frederick III, German Emperor. Within months, Frederick dies, and their son becomes William II, German Emperor. The widowed Vicky becomes the Dowager Empress as is known as "Empress Frederick".
Emily Williamson founds the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Under the Elementary Education Act 1870, basic State Education becomes free for every child under the age of 10.
Victoria and Albert's last grandchild, Prince Maurice of Battenberg, is born.
The Prince of Wales' eldest son Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence dies of influenza.
The Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh succeeds as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when his uncle dies. The Duchy skips over The Prince of Wales due to his renunciation of his succession rights to that Duchy.
British and Egyptian troops led by Horatio Kitchener defeat the Mahdist forces at the battle of Omdurman, thus establishing British dominance in the Sudan. Winston Churchill takes part in the British cavalry charge at Omdurman.
The Second Boer War is fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics. The Boers finally surrendered and the British annexed the Boer republics.
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dies. His nephew Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany succeeds him, because his brother Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and nephew Prince Arthur of Connaught had renounced their rights.
The death of Victoria sees the end of this era. The ascension of her eldest son, Edward, begins the Edwardian era; albeit considerably shorter, this was another time of great change.