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.


Dickens meets Maria Beadnell, his first love interest.

January, 4. A dense fog envelops London, forcing people to light candles during the daytime.

January, 7. Thomas Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy, dies at his house in Russell Square, London.

January, 21. Funeral of Thomas Lawrence (see 7 January) held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

January, 22. Hinchingbrooke House, a stately home in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, is destroyed by fire.

January, 25. Death of the Anglo-Irish Whig politician George Tierney at his house in Saville Row, London (born in 1761). From 1818 to 1821, Tierney was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons.

February, 2 (Tuesday). Rendlesham Hall, a large manor house in the Suffolk village of Rendlesham, is destroyed by fire.

February, 3 (Wednesday). London’s River Thames partially freezes following a severe recent cold spell, preventing many ships from navigating.

February, 5 (Friday). Fire destroys the Argyll Rooms, a fashionable concert and dance venue on London’s Regent Street.

February, 7 (Sunday). Charles Dickens’s 18th birthday.

February, 7 (Sunday). Thomas Graves, 2nd Baron Graves, commits suicide at his London Hanover Street residence, after reports emerged that his wife was having an affair.

February, 8 (Monday). Dickens joins the library of the British Museum.

February, 16 (Tuesday). In the early hours of the morning, the Lyceum Theatre (also known as the English Opera House), on London’s Strand is destroyed by fire.

March, 8 (Monday). A large political meeting is held in the grounds of the Eagle Tavern in London’s City Road, said to be attended by up to 20,000 people. The meeting is led by influential reformers including Daniel O’Connell and Henry Hunt.

May, 3 (Monday). The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway is opened, the first commercial passenger railway in southern England and the first in the country to have a tunnel on the route.

May, 3 (Monday). Death of Robert Peel, politician and industrialist and one of the early textile manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution (born in 1750). He was the father of Robert Peel, twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

May, 13. Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia (a state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831).

May, 28. United States President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act into law. It denies Native Americans land rights, forcing them to relocate.

Mr. SADLER’S motion for a bill to better the condition of the labouring poor of the British empire was negatived, after very little discussion, without a division. There is, indeed, something supremely offensive in a man of his limited knowledge and mediocre talents presuming to grapple with such a comprehensive, and transcendently important subject. There is a degree of pretension so disproportionate to the means of the pretender, that even flattery is forced to call it, not high-spirited ambition, but gross presumption. A tawdry speech, stuffed with quotations, constitute neither an orator nor a statesman.

The Times. Friday, 4 June 1830.

June, 26. Death of King George IV. He is succeeded by his younger brother William IV.

July, 15. Funeral of King George IV is held at Windsor.

July, 23. Parliament is prorogued in person by the new monarch, William IV.

July, 26–29. French Revolution of 1830 (also known as the July Revolution) sees the overthrow of King Charles X, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans. Charles X and his family went into exile in Britain.

July, 28. PC Joseph Grantham is murdered in Somers Town, north London, becoming the first police officer to be killed on duty in the United Kingdom. Grantham was kicked to death while trying to break up a fight between two drunk men.

August. The 1830 general election results in a Tory victory, but with a reduced majority.

August, 9. Louis-Philippe sworn in as King Louis-Philippe I of France.

August, 17. A huge fire rips through the Wapping area of London.

August, 25. Riots break out in Brussels on what would be become the first day of the Belgian Revolution (25 August 1830 – 21 July 1831), a conflict that led to the southern provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands breaking away to form the independent Kingdom of Belgium. The protests were sparked by a visit of the Dutch King Willem I to a performance of Auber’s opera La Muette de Portici at the Brussels opera house as part of celebrations for the 15th year of his reign.

August, 28. The Swing Riots break out in Kent and spread across southern and eastern England. The protests, by agriculture workers, were in response to mechanisation and harsh conditions.

August, 31. A patent was granted for the world’s first lawnmower. It was invented by Edwin Beard Budding, a mechanic who built and repaired textile machinery near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

September, 6. The Otmoor riots break out, a mass demonstration against the enclosure of Otmoor in Oxfordshire.

September, 13 (Monday). Banquet held in Manchester to celebrate the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opening that week. Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, is in attendance.

September, 14 (Tuesday). Banquet held in Liverpool to celebrate the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opening that week. So many people wanted to attend that a ballot was drawn for the two hundred places. Both the present and former Mayors were excluded from the banquet after failing to be picked from the ballot.

September, 15 (Wednesday). The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opens, the world’s first intercity passenger railway operated solely by steam locomotives. Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, rode on one of the eight inaugural trains. During the opening, Liverpool MP William Huskisson is accidentally killed by Robert Stephenson’s Rocket, whilst trying to board the Duke’s railway carriage. He thereby becomes history’s first railway casualty.

September, 18. Death of William Hazlitt, essayist, drama and literary critic, painter, social commentator, and philosopher (born in 1778).

September, 27 (Tuesday). A political meeting, addressed by Henry Hunt, is held on London’s Kennington Common.

November, 22. The Whig politician Earl Grey succeeds Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington as Prime Minister.

December, 16 (Thursday). The last hanging for piracy takes place at Execution Dock, Wapping, in east London.

December, 20. London Conference. During the Belgian Revolution (25 August 1830 – 21 July 1831), five major European powers from the 1815 Vienna Congress, namely Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia, gather in London for a conference that recognises the success of Belgian separatists fighting for independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The parties permanently guarantee Belgian independence.

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.

William IV (1765–1837) was King of Britain and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death on 20 June 1837. The third son of George III, William succeeded his elder brother George IV, becoming the last king and penultimate monarch of Britain’s House of Hanover. William served in the Royal Navy in his youth, and was later nicknamed the ‘Sailor King‘. As his two older brothers died without leaving legitimate issue, he inherited the throne when he was 64 years old. His reign saw several reforms: the poor law was updated, child labour restricted, slavery abolished in nearly all of the British Empire, and the British electoral system refashioned by the Reform Act 1832. Although William did not engage in politics during his reign as much as earlier kings, he was the last British monarch to appoint a prime minister against the will of Parliament. He granted his German kingdom a short-lived liberal constitution. William was succeeded by his niece Victoria in Britain and his brother Ernest Augustus in Hanover.