The time of his life

This chronology includes some events from the years 1760 to 1840, mostly in England and the other lands where William Courtenay lived or had property.

FR = France / GB = Great Britain / IE = Ireland / UK = United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (union in 1800) / US = United States of America

  • 1760 British forces capture Montréal, ending French control of Canada
    • George III becomes king of Great Britain and king of Ireland (until 1811/1820)
  • 1762 British forces occupy Havana, capital of the Spanish West Indies (until 1763)
  • 1763 Peace of Paris ends war between Britain, France and Spain (until 1778)
  • 1768 James Cook sails from Plymouth (Devon, GB) on first voyage of exploration (returns 1771)
    • German art historian and archaeologist Winckelmann murdered in Trieste (city now in Italy but within Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918)
    • William born (GB)

  • 1776 Continental Congress declares independence of the Thirteen Colonies (US)
  • 1778 France and US form alliance – Britain declares war on France (until 1783)
  • 1779 Spain declares war on Britain – combined French & Spanish fleets enter Plymouth Sound but withdraw without a landing or battle (GB)


  • 1780 Protestant Association march in London begins Gordon riots (GB)
  • 1783 eruption of Lakagígar (Iceland) disrupts climate in Europe & North America
    • Peace of Versailles between GB, France, Spain and USA
  • 1787 Warren Hastings impeached for maladministration and corruption in India – acquitted in 1795 after seven-year trial by House of Lords (GB)
    • British and Irish convicts transported to new colonies in Australia (until 1867)
    • ‘Sons of Africa’ begin to campaign for abolition of slavery (GB)
  • 1784 general election strengthens government of William Pitt (until 1801, GB/UK)
  • 1788 illness of king George III precipitates regency crisis in Great Britain & Ireland
    • William succeeds his father as viscount Courtenay (GB)
  • 1789 mutiny on the Bounty (British Royal Navy ship in Pacific Ocean)
    • revolution in France
    • William is ‘presented’ to king George III at Exeter (GB)

  • 1790 William takes his seat in the House of Lords at Westminster (GB)
  • 1791 revolution in French colony of Saint-Domingue in Caribbean Sea (independent as Haiti 1804)
    • new penal code adopted in France – sodomy decriminalised
  • 1792 France proclaimed republic (until 1804)
  • 1793 France declares war on Britain (until 1815 with intervals in 1802 & 1814)
    • British forces occupy but then withdraw from naval base of Toulon (FR)
  • 1794 Juries at the Old Bailey (London) acquit Thomas Hardy, John Thelwall and Horne Tooke of high treason (GB)
  • 1795 Food riots across England; Staffordshire Militia, stationed at Okehampton (Devon), ‘to a man joined the People’ (GB)
  • 1796 French forces arrive in Bantry Bay (County Cork) but are unable to land (IE)
  • 1797 mutinies in Royal Navy at Plymouth (Devon) and other home bases (GB)
  • 1798 National scheme of ‘Voluntary Contributions’ to the Bank of England ‘for the Defence of the Country’ raises £2million (GB & IE)
    • last session of Irish parliament until 1919 opens in Dublin (IE)
    • United Irishmen rebel against British rule (IE)
    • French forces land at Killala Bay (Mayo) but surrender within a few weeks (IE)
  • 1799 Napoléon Bonaparte becomes First Consul of France (until 1804)


  • 1800 UK formed from kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland (until 1919/1922) and king George III relinquishes claim to French crown (dating from 1340)
  • 1802 Treaty of Amiens – Britain recognises the French Republic – peace between Britain and France (until 1803)
  • 1803 France sells vast territories west of Mississippi (‘Louisiana’) to US
  • 1804 Haitian Declaration of Independence from France (Haiti, Caribbean Sea)
    • Napoléon becomes Emperor of the French (until 1814/15)
  • 1805 Napoléon prepares forces to invade GB but abandons plans in August
  • 1807 Robert Fulton’s steamship given trial run on the Hudson river from New York (USA)
  • 1809 Dartmoor Depot (Devon) holds thousands of prisoners of war (until 1816, GB)

  • 1811 George III’s son becomes Prince Regent (until 1820, UK)
    • William emigrates from UK to US (until 1814)
    • Luddite movement begins with protests in Nottinghamshire (until 1817, GB)
    • Great Comet visible to the naked eye for 260 days
  • 1812 US declares war on UK (until 1814 peace treaty of Ghent, ratified in 1815)
    • French armies retreat from Moscow (Russia)
  • 1813 Portuguese, Spanish and UK forces invade France from south
    • Austrian forces and Prussian forces invade France from east
  • 1814 UK forces set fire to public buildings in Washington DC (US)
    • Napoléon abdicates and is exiled to Elba (island in Mediterranean Sea)
    • William leaves US and settles in France (until 1835)
  • 1815 US victory over UK at battle of New Orleans (US)
    • Napoléon returns to France but is exiled after battle of Waterloo to St Helena (island in South Atlantic Ocean) where he dies in 1821
    • eruption of Tambora (east of Java) disrupts climate of Northern Hemisphere
    • 7 American prisoners of war killed by British soldiers at Dartmoor Depot [see 1809] during unsuccessful attempt at mass escape (GB)
  • 1818 Seventh Coalition withdraws occupation armies from France
  • 1819 11 demonstrators killed by militia in ‘Peterloo’ massacre at Manchester (GB)


  • 1820 George III dies – Prince Regent becomes king George IV (until 1830, UK)
    • mass protests in support of Queen Caroline during her trial by House of Lords (UK)
  • 1821 Captain Rock agrarian rebellion in province of Munster (until 1824, IE)
  • 1829 Relief Act brings emancipation for (Roman) Catholics in GB & Ireland (UK)


  • 1830 king George IV dies and his brother becomes king William IV (until 1837, UK)
    • French forces capture Algiers and begin occupation of Algeria (until 1962)
    • revolution in France – Louis-Philippe becomes king (until revolution of 1848)
    • Captain Swing agrarian riots in England (GB)
    • mass petitions and protests demanding reform of parliament (UK)
  • 1831 mass campaign against payment of tithes to Church of Ireland (until 1836, IE)
    • first Canut revolt by silkworkers in Lyon (FR)
    • rebellion by slaves in British colony of Jamaica (Caribbean Sea)
  • 1832 cholera epidemic spreads into UK, France and USA
    • June Rebellion – republican insurrection in Paris (FR)
  • 1834 Tolpuddle (Dorset) trade union members sentenced to transportation (GB)
    • second Canut revolt in Lyon suppressed with mass deportations (FR)
    • soldiers protecting tithe-collectors kill 3 men at Mahoonagh (County Limerick, IE)
    • UK government pays compensation to slaveowners but not to slaves when slavery is abolished in most areas of the British Empire
    • workhouses established across England and Wales by New Poor-law (until 1948, GB)
    • Westminster Houses of Parliament destroyed by accidental fire (GB)
    • Robert Peel, incoming Conservative prime minister, issues the ‘Tamworth Manifesto’ (UK)
  • 1835 William dies in Paris (FR)
    • James Pratt and John Smith tried in London and executed – the last men to be hanged in England for sodomy (GB)
  • 1836 Charles Darwin returns to Britain after circumnavigation in HMS Beagle
  • 1837 king William IV dies and Victoria becomes queen of UK (until 1901)
  • 1838 the People’s Charter for electoral reform launched in Glasgow (UK)
    • Irish Poor Law Act establishes system of workhouses (until 1925, IE)
  • 1840 Napoléon Bonaparte’s remains brought from St Helena [see 1815] and reburied at Les Invalides in Paris (FR)



The illustrations are from woodcuts by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828).

Page history

  • 2018 May 30: first published online.
  • 2020 April 1: reviewed; at 1815, ‘Waterloo’ amended to ‘battle of Waterloo’.
  • 2020 April 10: 1800 and 1802 entries amended to mention English/British claim to French crown and recognition of French Republic.
  • 2020 April 23: new entries at 1794 (treason trials) and 1798 (Voluntary Contributions).
  • 2020 April 27: new entry at 1795 (food riots).
  • 2020 May 14: new entry at 1768 (Winckelmann).
  • 2022 June 18: new entries at 1789 (William’s presentation) and 1790 (William and House of Lords).
  • 2023 April 10: more images added.
  • 2023 April 25: new entry at 1807.

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