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King George III (1760 - 1820)

Name: King George III
Full Name: George William Frederick
Born: June 4, 1738 at Norfolk House, St. James Square, London
Parents: Frederick Prince of Wales, and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
Relation to Charles III: 4th great-grandfather
House of: Hanover
Ascended to the throne: October 25, 1760 aged 22 years
Crowned: September 22, 1761 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Charlotte, daughter of Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Children: Ten sons including George IV and William IV, and six daughters
Died: January 29, 1820 at Windsor Castle, aged 81 years, 7 months, and 24 days
Buried at: Windsor
Reigned for: 59 years, 3 months, 2 days
Succeeded by: his son George IV

George III, unlike his father and grandfather, was born in England. He became heir to the throne when his father Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in 1751 from a lung abscess (believed to be caused by a blow on the chest from a cricket ball) before he could succeed his father. George was shy and stubborn but well educated in science and arts. He became King George III in 1760 following the death of his grandfather. In 1761, after an official search for a suitable wife, he married Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz whom he first met on his wedding day. The couple enjoyed a happy marriage and he never took a mistress. They had 16 children including George (later George IV) and William (who became William IV) and they were married for 57 years. In 1762 he purchased Buckingham House in London which later became Buckingham Palace. George had high moral standards, and appalled by the loose morals of his brothers introduced the Royal Marriage Act in 1772 which made it illegal for members of the Royal Family to marry without the consent of the Sovereign. He was interested in agricultural improvement, and during his reign there were advances in manufacturing mechanisation including the spinning frame and steam engine.

George was determined to be thrifty with his own and public expenses. He handed Parliament the right of income from Crown Estates in return for a Civil List annuity for the support of his household and expenses, an arrangement that continues today. Britain had been fighting a colonial war against France since 1756 with military success but at high financial cost. George appointed Lord Bute to negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1762 to end the Seven years war. This caused patriotic outrage for the concessions it gave to the French including the rights of French colonists in North America to remain in Quebec and New Orleans. Lord North became Prime Minister determined to make the colonies pay for their own security. The Stamp Act of 1765 levied a tax on every official document in the British colonies and high customs duties introduced. These were mostly repealed in the face of American protests, with the exception of the tax on tea. In 1773 colonists threw chests of tea overboard in Boston harbour in a protest know as the ‘Boston tea party’.

The American War of Independence began in April 1775 when colonists fought British troops at Lexington. George Washington was appointed commander of the Continental Army. On 4 July 1776 the Continental Congress under leadership of John Hancock declared independence. Fighting continued until 1781 when the British were defeated by Americans and French at Yorktown. In the Treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain agreed to recognise American independence. King George took the loss badly and considered abdication before facing the political and military realities. 1788 he suffered his first attack of insanity (now believed to be the result of the inherited disease porphyria) which was to plague him for the rest of his life. His son George, Prince of Wales, was made temporary regent an arrangement which became permanent in 1810.

In 1789 France was shaken by revolution and King Louis XVI guillotined in 1793. Britain was once more at war with France. Attempted revolution by Catholics and French troops in Ireland was crushed and eventually union with Ireland was passed in 1801. By 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte was assembling a fleet for the invasion of England, but the French fleet was defeated by Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle Trafalgar in 1805. Napoleon defeated the Russians at Austerlitz but was forced to withdraw from Moscow by the Russian winter. The battles continued with the Peninsular War in which the British fought to drive the French from Spain. Napoleon was eventually defeated by British and German forces at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. George III died at Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820, after a reign of almost 60 years - the third longest in British history, and was succeeded by his son George IV.

King George III's Signature


‘Knavery seems to be so much the striking feature of its inhabitants that it may not in the end be an evil that they will become aliens to this kingdom.’ - King George III (about Americans at the time of the declaration of independence)

‘I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor.’ - King George III

'Lord Chancellor, did I deliver the speech well ?' 'Very well indeed, sir,' was the enthusiastic answer. 'I am glad of that,' replied the king; 'for there was nothing in it.' - King George III

Timeline for King George III

Year Event
1760George III becomes king on the death of his grandfather, George II.
1762The Earl of Bute is appointed Prime Minister. Bute proves so unpopular that he needs to have a bodyguard.
1763Peace of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War.
1765Stamp Act raises taxes in American colonies.
1766William Pitt the Elder becomes prime minister
1768Richard Arkwright invents the spinning frame
1769Captain James Cook’s first voyage to explore the Pacific.
1770Lord North becomes Prime Minister.
1770James Cook lands in Botany Bay, South East Australia.
1771Encyclopaedia Britannica is first published.
1772John Harrisons H4 clock allows navigators to accurately measure longitude enabling long distance sea travel
1772Warren Hastings is appointed Governor General of India.
1773The world’s first cast-iron bridge is constructed over the River Severn at Coalbrookdale.
1773Boston Tea Party. American colonists protest against British taxes.
1775American War of Independence begins when colonists fight British troops at Lexington.
1775James Watt develops the steam engine.
1776On 4 July, the American Congress passes the Declaration of Independence.
1780Anti Catholic Gordon riots in London
1781Americans supported by the French fleet defeat British at Battle of Yorktown.
1782Ireland obtains a short-lived parliament.
1783On 3 Sept, The Treaty of Paris ends the American War of Independence. Britain recognizes American independence.
1783-1801 William Pitt the Younger serves as Prime Minister.
1783Robert (Robbie) Burns publishes his first book of poetry
1788George suffers his first attack of porphyria.
1788Colony of New South Wales established in Australia
1789Outbreak of the French Revolution. Storming of the Bastille.
1791Publication of James Boswell’s Life of Johnson and Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man.
1793King Louis XVI of France executed by guillotine
1793- 1802 War between Britain and France.
1798Nelson destroys French fleet at the Battle of the Nile
1798Wordsworth publishes Lyrical Ballads
1798Income Tax introduced
1800Act of Union with Ireland unites Parliaments of England and Ireland.
1803Beginning of Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon assembles a fleet for the invasion of England.
1805Nelson defeats French and Spanish fleets off Trafalgar, but is killed during the battle. Napoleon defeats the Russians at Austerlitz.
1807Slave Trade Act. William Wilberforce is successful in his campaign to abolish slave trade in the British Empire.
1808-1814 Peninsular War to drive the French out of Spain.
1809British defeat the French at the Battle of Corunna
1810Final illness of George III leads to his son becoming Regent in 1811.
1812Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated in the House of Commons by a disgruntled bankrupt
1812War of 1812 between the British and Americans. Several naval engagements. American forces stopped from invading Canada.
1813Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is published.
1813Monopoly of the East India company is abolished
1814Napoleon defeated at Laon and Toulouse. He abdicates but returns from Elba.
1815The defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo marks the end the Napoleonic Wars.
1815Corn Laws passed by Parliament to protect British agriculture from cheap imports
1818The King’s wife, Queen Charlotte, dies.
1818Publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
1819Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, of political reform campaigners.
1820Death of King George Ill, aged 81 years