The following is a detailed timeline we are compiling of the movements of the life of the Victorian writer Charles Dickens during each year of his life, as we come across them in letters, newspaper articles and other research. We have also included some key contemporary events that occurred in society and major news events from across the world at the time.


January, 9. Humphry Davy’s lamp is first tested underground as a coal mining safety lamp at Hebburn Colliery in the Durham Coalfield.

January, 30. Wrecking of the military transport ships Sea Horse, Boadicea and Lord Melville off the coast of Ireland in a gale with the loss of around 570 lives.

February, 7. Charles Dickens’s 4th birthday.

March, 18. Income tax abolished.

April, 21. Birth of Charlotte Brontë, English novelist (died in 1855).

April, 23. Birth of Letitia Mary Dickens, younger sister of Charles and one of six children of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow who survived into adulthood. Letitia Dickens was born in the family home at St. Mary’s Place, Chatham.

April, 24. Lord Byron flees Britain to escape a growing scandal, his failed marriage and his growing debts.

May, 2. Marriage of Léopold of Saxe-Coburg and Princess Charlotte of Wales at Carlton House in London..

May, 16. Beau Brummell flees England by way of the port of Dover, sailing to France in order to escape his gambling debts.

May, 22. The Littleport and Ely riots break out as a result of economic distress in East Anglia.

June, 26. The first prisoners are admitted to the National Penitentiary, Millbank Prison, in London.

June, 28. Luddites destroy the bobbinet lace machines in John Heathcoat’s Loughborough factory.

August, 14. The United Kingdom formally annexes Tristan da Cunha, an archipelago in the south Atlantic Ocean.

November, 15. A mass meeting of conspirators is held at Spa Fields, Islington in the north of London. The popular radical speaker, Henry Hunt, gives an address to the crowd.

December, 2. Spa Fields riots. A second mass meeting of conspirators at Spa Fields, Islington in the north of London is dispersed by police and soldiers after some of the crowd riot. Small skirmishes break out in Snow Hill, Fleet Market, Royal Exchange and the Minories as some of the crowd marched to the centre of London. An attempt to take over the Tower of London fails.

Missing a date? if you know of any movements not covered here we would welcome letting us know, along with a reference to any source material so we can try to fill in the gaps.