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The 18th Century

The 18th century saw many changes including the Industrial Revolution, America’s Independence from Britain, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Uprising and the birth of Methodism.

As Queen Anne began her reign in 1702, the War of the Spanish succession broke out. The Duke of Marlborough finally won a victory over the French at Blenheim.

In 1707 the Act of the Union was finally passed between England and Scotland which made the two countries one. They had shared a ruler since 1603 and continued to have separate legal, church and educational systems.

Some of the key events during the 18th century were:

1702 Queen Anne ascended the throne
1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland
1714 George I was crowned king
1720 South Sea Bubble burst
1727 George II was crowned king
1745 Jacobite Uprising
1760 George III ascended the throne
1760 Industrial Revolution begins
1769 Captain James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific
1776 The thirteen States of America declared their independence on 4th July
1790s French Revolution

However, in 1714 James Stuart, son of the deposed James II, landed at Peterhead and the Highlanders rose up in support of him. A battle was fought at Sheriffmuir and James Stuart finally gave up his claim in 1716.

Queen Anne died without an heir in 1714 and her cousin George I became king. However he was also the ruler of Hanover and left Britain to be run by his ministers.

1720 goes down as the year when the South Sea Bubble burst. Many people had invested in the company which had exclusive rights to trade slaves. As share prices rose, investors created a frenzy of overbuying until the share price reached a peak and collapsed, leaving many investors penniless.

In 1721 Robert Walpole became the king’s chief minister. In effect he became the first Prime Minister and he moved into a house in Downing Street in 1735. Meantime George I had died in 1727 and was succeeded by his son, George II. He also left the governing of Britain to his advisers but he did lead the British army to war against the French in Dettingen in 1743.

In 1739 there was a revival in religious enthusiasm. The evangelist George Whitefield began preaching as did John Wesley, who eventually formed the Methodist Church.

In 1745, James Stuart’s son landed in the Hebrides and was supported by the highlanders as had his father before him. Known as "Bonnie Price Charlie", he captured the city of Edinburgh and moved over the border to capture Carlisle. His army reached Derby but then were turned back.

The English, led by the Duke of Cumberland, pursued Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite supporters back to Scotland. At the Battle of Culloden many innocent Scots were slaughtered, even those who had had no part in the Uprising. It goes down in history as one of the bloodiest battles. The prince hid and eventually escaped back to Italy.

The 18th century was a time of agricultural revolution as hand processes gradually were superceded by simple tools. Improved agriculture, the development of iron and technological inventions brought about the Industrial Revolution from 1760 onwards. Mills were built, steam engines were developed and railways were established all over the country.

In 1760 George III ascended the throne and ruled for 50 years although he often suffered fits of madness. His attempts to gain power led to Britain losing the colonies in North America. The American colonists showed their disapproval of taxes to Britain at the "Boston Tea Party" in 1773. They declared Independence from Britain in 1776.

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