Timeline of key events during the early childhood of Charles Dickens.

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.

1815. February.

3rd birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 3rd birthday.

1815. June.

Battle of Waterloo.

In the Napoleonic Wars, a British-led coalition, under the command of the Duke of Wellington, wins a decisive victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

1816. February.

4th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 4th birthday.

1817. January.


John Dickens is temporarily posted to Sheerness.

1817. February.

5th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 5th birthday.

1817. March.

March of the Blanketeers.

A group of working class men, campaigning for parliamentary reform and an improvement to the state of the Lancashire textile industry, begin a march from Manchester to Westminster in London. The marchers, nicknamed the ‘Blanketeers’ after blankets they carried, were dispersed by troops before they reached Stockport.

1817. April.


After just four months in Sherness, the family are uprooted again when John Dickens is posted to the naval town of Chatham. The family move to a terraced house on Ordnance Hill, overlooking the harbour and dockyard.

1817. June.

Pentrich rising.

An armed uprising by mainly weavers and miners, intent on overthrowing the government, was brutally put down by military forces in Derbyshire.

1818. February.

6th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 6th birthday.

1818. July-September.

Manchester Spinners Protests.

Over the summer, thousands of spinners in Lancashire protest against a cut in wages, attacking factories.

1819. February.

7th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 7th birthday.

1819. August.

Peterloo Massacre.

Eighteen people are killed when cavalry charged into a crowd of around 60,000 people who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation at St Peter’s Field in Manchester.

1820. January.

George IV’s accession.

George IV becomes king. He had been Regent since 1811, as a result of the mental illness of his father, George III.

1820. February.

Cato Street Conspiracy.

A plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers is foiled. Three months later the conspirators are executed at Newgate Prison in London.

1820. February.

8th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 8th birthday.

1820. March.

John Dickens as a writer.

John Dickens writes a report of a fire at Chatham, published in The Times newspaper.

1820. July.

Frederick Dickens born.

The fourth child, and second son, of John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow is born on 4 July 1820, Frederick William Dickens.

1821. February.

9th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 9th birthday.

1821. March.

Chatham downsizing.

The Dickens family move to a smaller house in Chatham, at St. Mary’s Place (known as ‘The Brook’).

1821. June.

Grampound Disfranchised.

A bill to disfranchise the parliamentary borough of Grampound in Cornwall receives Royal Assent. The constituency, which returned two Members to Parliament was symbolic of the need for political reform of the so-called ‘rotten boroughs’ that would come with the Reform Act of 1832.

1821. August.

Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), Queen of George IV.

Queen Caroline dies.

Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel dies at her home in Hammersmith. Caroline married her first cousin, George, Prince of Wales, (later George IV) but was abandoned by him the following year, shortly after the birth of their only child. A few weeks before her death, Caroline was refused entry to George’s coronation.

1822. February.

10th birthday.

Charles Dickens’s 10th birthday.