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Timeline

15th & 16th  |  17th  |  18th  |  19th  |  20th  |

15th& 16th Century

1497 John Cabot sets sail for Bristol to Newfoundland, marking the beginning of the Empire
1553 Earliest voyages between Britain and Guinea in West Africa
1564 Slaving voyages start between Britain, Africa and the West Indies
1585 First English colony in Roanoke, N. America, failed after two years as did second (1588-1591)

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17th Century

1600 Charter for the East India Company established
1607 Formation of first successful settlement in Jamestown, N. America, Virginia became a crown colony in 1624
1620 Voyage of the Mayflower – established the Plymouth Colony in New England
1640 Madras granted to English – English began to exert authority over large areas of India
1655 English capture Jamaica from Spain (confirmed at Treaty of Madrid 1670)
1661 First slave code introduced at Barbados to regulate relations between slaves, servants and masters. Sanctioned segregation
1664 English capture the Dutch American colony of New Netherlands including the city of New Amsterdam, renamed New York
1670 Hudson Bay Company charter granted
1676 Widespread rebellions in the American colonies of Maryland, Virginia and N. Carolina against deemed pro-Catholic governors
1681 War breaks out between the Mughals and the English in Bengal
1689 Rebellions in Boston, New York and Maryland
1690 Battle of the Boyne in Ireland - Catholic James P defeated by Protestant William III
1692 First slave revolt in colonies at Barbados, unsuccessful

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18th Century

1704 English capture Gibraltar from French, formerly ceded at Peace of Utrecht 1713
1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland
1718 Convict transportation begins to N. America
1720 Act of parliament asserting British authority over Ireland
1740 Rule Britannia first performed
1745 The Jacobite rebellion In the Highlands of Scotland
1755 Anglo-French imperial rivalry in India and N. America leads to war
1756 Black Hole of Calcutta
1759 French defeated when Britain gained Cape Breton, Florida, Quebec and the Trans-Appalachian lands
1763 Treaty of Paris, Britain gains Canada, Carribean Islands and territories in America west to the Mississippi
1765 Stamp Act. Followed by widespread riots in N. American colonies
1766 Britain lays claim to the Falkland Islands, disputed by Spain
1770 Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific in the Endeavour
1773 Boston Tea Party, colonists throw tea into harbour as a protest against taxes
1775 Battle of Lexington signalled the start of the American War of Independence
1776 Declaration of American Independence
1781 British surrender at Yorktown and leads to loss of their first colony. Treaty of Versaille in 1783 gives 13 Colonies in America independence
1784 East India act places government restrictions on East India company
1786 The London Committee for the Abolition of Slavery established
1788 First fleet arrives at Botany Bay marking the transportation of convicts to Australia
1789 Crew of HMS Bounty mutiny on Pacific voyage
1795 Cape Colony, Cape of Good Hope formed

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19th Century

1801 Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland
1805 Battle of Trafalgar leads to 100 years of British Royal Navy maritime supremacy
1807 British ships banned from carrying slaves
1815 After defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Vienna Settlement consolidates British gains from French in Malta, the Ionian islands, Tobago, St Lucia, the Guiana colonies, Cape of Good Hope and Mauritius
1819 Singapore founded as a colony by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles
1824 Anglo-Burmese war begins, ending in 1826
1831 Five-year voyage of the Beagle begins
1833 Slavery abolished throughout British Empire
1835 War in the Cape Colony and start of the Great Trek by Afrikaners
1839 Aden seized - Start of Afghan War
1839 First Opium War begins, following the Chinese Government’s confiscation of opium from the British in Canton
1840 Treaty of Waitangi, designed to make peace between the Maoris and British settlers in New Zealand
1842 Britain gains Hong Kong as a colony
1845 Two- year voyage by Sir John Franklin to discover the North West Passage
1845 Potato Famine begins in Ireland
1845 The Sikh Wars begin
1850 Railway construction begins in India
1852 Gold Rush in Australia
1855 Dr David Livingstone in Africa, in what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe
1857 France and Britain at war with China, Second Opium war
1857 The Indian Mutiny against the East India Company
1858 The British government takes over the rule of India
1860 The Sturt Expeditions (1860-62) transverse Australia south to north
1867 Canadian Confederation granted dominion status
1869 Suez Canal opens
1870 Cecil Rhodes arrives in southern Africa. Takes control of the Kimberley diamond mines, 1872
1875 Disraeli buys Suez Canal shares from the Khedive
1876 Zulu Wars Begin
1876 Queen Victoria declared Empress of India
1877 Bechuanaland (Botswana) becomes a British Protectorate
1879 Zulu War
1885 Indian National Congress formed
1885 The Mahdi capture Khartoum and General Gordon is killed
1887 The British East Africa Company is chartered
1888 Royal Niger Company consolidates British control of Nigeria
1888 Rhodes signs treaty with King Lobengula
of the Matabele and forms the British South Africa Company
1890 Rhodes becomes Prime Minister of Cape Colony
1899 The Boer War (1899-1902)

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20th Century

1901 The Federation of Australia created
1905 Bengali pro-independence struggle begins after British partition of state
1906 The Transvaal gains self-government
1907 New Zealand granted Dominion status
1908 Ghandi launches first non-violent resistance campaign against anti-Indian racial policies in South Africa
1910 South Africa becomes fourth Dominion
1914 Siam cedes Malay states of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu to Britain
1914 World War I. Over 600,000 Empire and Dominion soldiers killed or wounded in the war
1916 Easter rising suppressed in Ireland
1922 Southern Irish get Dominion status and known as Irish Free State
1925 Anti-British strikes in China
1931 Statute of Westminster - The four Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa ) become freely associated members of the British Commonwealth
1932 Iraq gains independence
1933 At Imperial Economic conference, Britain agrees to give preferential treatment to certain goods from commonwealth nations, and for Commonwealth countries to increase tariffs to non-commonwealth nations
1936 Egypt gains independence
1939 World War II - the Dominions and colonies contribute over 3,600,000 men and women to the British war effort
1947 India gains independence leading to partition and the creation of Pakistan
1948 Period of Apartheid begins in South Africa lasting until 1990
1949 The London Declaration drops ‘British’ from the Commonwealth and accepts republics (such as India) as long as they accept the British monarch as the Head of the Commonwealth. The Republic of Ireland withdraws
1952 Queen Elizabeth II ascends the throne
1952 Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya
1961 South Africa withdraws from Commonwealth (Apartheid)-(rejoins 1994)
1965 Commonwealth Secretariat established
1971 Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles
1972 Pakistan withdraws in protest over recognition of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) but rejoins later
1973 System of preferential tariffs abandoned as Britain joins the European Community
1991 Harare Declaration expands Commonwealth Principles
1994 First Multi-racial elections in South Africa. Nelson Mandela becomes president
1997 Hong Kong is returned to China

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