Charles Dickens was born in February, the second child and first son of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow in Landport, then just outside Portsmouth. He was christened a month later Charles John Huffam Dickens at St. Mary’s Church, Portsea. John worked as a pay clerk in the nearby Royal Navy Dockyard. 1812 was an eventful year in British politics. Three months after Dickens was born Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated, whilst industrial unrest continued throughout the year from the Luddites. British military forces were fighting on several fronts, including involvement in the continuing Peninsular Wars (against France) whilst a new war opened up in America.


Timeline of key events around the birth of Charles Dickens.

1801. January.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The Acts of Union 1800 comes into force on 1 January 1801, uniting Britain and Ireland.

1805. October.

Battle of Trafalgar.

During the Napoleonic Wars, a a British fleet under Admiral Horatio Nelson defeats a larger combined French and Spanish fleet off Spain’s Cape Trafalgar. The victory establishes British naval supremacy for the next 100 years.

1809. June.

John and Elizabeth marry.

John Dickens marries Elizabeth Barrow at St Mary-le-Strand, London.

1810. October.

Frances born.

Frances “Fanny” Dickens (1810 – 1848) is born. Frances was the older sister of Charles Dickens.

1811-12.

Luddites.

Machine-breaking Luddites attack and burn factories.

1812. February.

Charles Dickens born.

Charles Dickens born on 7 February 1812, the second child and first son of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow in Landport, then just outside Portsmouth. He was christened a month later Charles John Huffam Dickens at St. Mary’s Church, Portsea. John worked as a pay clerk in the nearby Royal Navy Dockyard.

1812. May.

Spencer Perceval assassinated.

Merchant John Bellingham assassinates Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons. Bellingham was an unsuccessful businessman with a grievance against the Government. It remains the only instance of a British Prime Minister being assassinated.

1812 (June) – 1815 (February).

War of 1812

Just 29 years after the American War for Independence, the United States is involved in another conflict with Great Britain, which is backed by Canadian colonies and Native American allies.

1813. February.

1st birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 1st birthday.

1814. February.

2nd birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 2nd birthday.

1814. March.

Birth of Alfred Dickens.

Birth of Alfred Allen Dickens, the third child of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow.

1814. September.

Death of Alfred Dickens.

Death of Alfred Allen Dickens, aged 5 months.

1815. January.

Move to London.

John Dickens is recalled to work at Somerset House, and the family move to London, living in lodgings at 10 Norfolk Street, where they would stay for the next two years.