William Henry was christened at St James’s Palace. His uncles William Duke of Gloucester and Henry, later Duke of Cumberland were stood as godfathers while his aunt, Augusta was godmother.
1766 (29th September)
William’s sister, Charlotte Augusta Matilda was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1767 (2nd November)
William’s brother, Edward Augustus, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1768 (8th November)
William’s sister, Augusta Sophia, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1769 (22nd May)
William’s sister, Elizabeth, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
William began his education. He was schooled by private tutors at Richmond and Kew Palace.
1771 (5th June)
William’s brother, Ernest Augustus, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1773 (27th January)
William’s brother, Augustus Frederick, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1774 (24th February)
William’s brother, Adolphus Frederick, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham Palace, London.
1775 (19th April)
American War of Independence/ American Revolutionary War
War began between Britain and American colonists after the colonists fought British troops at the battles of Lexington and Concord.
1776 (25th April)
William’s sister, Mary, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1777 (3rd November)
William’s sister, Sophia Matilda, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
King George suffered a period of mental instability where he became violent and had to be restrained in a straitjacket.
William joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman.
King George’s mental health recovered and he was able to resume royal duties.
1779 (23rd February)
William’s brother, Octavius, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
1780 (16th January)
Battle of Cape St Vincent
William saw action in this battle against the Spanish. William was serving as a midshipman in the British fleet commanded by George Rodney when they engaged a Spanish fleet. The British were victorious.
1780 (22nd September)
William’s brother, Alfred, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Buckingham House, London.
American War of Independence
William served in New York.
1781 (19th October)
American War of Independence – Battle of Yorktown
The British were decisively defeated by the Americans and French in this final battle of the war.
King George III was devastated by the loss of the American colonies and considered abdicating the throne.
1782 (20th August)
William’s brother, Alfred, died at Windsor Castle, London.
1783 (3rd May)
William’s brother, Octavius, died at Kew Palace, Surrey.
1783 (7th August)
William’s sister, Amelia, was born to George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at The Lodge, Windsor Castle.
1783 (3rd September)
Treaty of Paris
By this treaty, Britain acknowledged the independence of the thirteen colonies of America as the United States. Florida was returned to Spain.
William was promoted to lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
William was made Captain of the HMS Pegasus and assigned to patrol the coast of Canada and the West Indies.
William and HMS Pegasus joined the fleet of Horatio Nelson in the West Indies.
1787 (11th March)
William gave away the bride at the wedding of Horatio Nelson and Frances Nisbet.
1787 (22nd May)
Abolition of Slavery
William Wilberforce founded the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. William frequently spoke against abolition in the House of Lords arguing that freedom would worsen the slaves living conditions in the West Indies.
William was given command of HMS Andromeda.
King George III suffered a bout of insanity which was so bad his behaviour scared the Queen.
1788 (25th September)
Parliament was adjourned due to the King’s deteriorating state of mind.
George III’s condition worsened and he was reported as speaking and writing incessantly. There was conflict between William’s mother and Prince George, heir to the throne over the illness of King George. William’s mother believed that George wanted his father certified insane so that he could take over as Regent, George suspected that his mother wanted King George declared sane so that she could maintain power.
1788 (20th November)
Parliament reconvened but was unable to function as the King was unable to deliver the Opening of Parliament speech. Nevertheless Parliament began discussing a move to make George Regent while the King was incapacitated.
William was promoted to Rear Admiral of HMS Valiant.
Despite controversy over the legality of Parliament debating without the King’s authority, this bill was passed by the House of Commons but before it passed the House of Lords, George III recovered. The Bill made provision for Prince George to become Regent if the King became permanently mentally insane. It also made Charlotte guardian of King George and the royal children.
1789 (16th May)
William was created Duke of Clarence and St Andrews and Earl of Munster.
William gave up active service with the Royal Navy.
William began a relationship with actress Dorothea Bland, who was known by her stage name of Mrs Jordan. They lived together at Bushy House, London.
1793 (1st February)
War of the First Coalition
France declared war on Britain. William was disappointed not to be given command of a ship.
1794 (29th January)
An illegitimate son, George FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1795 (27th March)
An illegitimate son, Henry FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1795 (8th April)
William’s brother, George reluctantly married Caroline of Brunswick at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London in order to secure a grant of money to pay off his debts.
1796 (7th January)
A daughter, Charlotte, was born to William’s brother, George and Caroline of Brunswick. Her birth meant that William became fourth in line to the throne.
An illegitimate daughter, Sophia FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
William was made an admiral but was not given a ship.
1798 (19th December)
An illegitimate daughter, Mary FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1799 (9th December)
An illegitimate son, Frederick FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1801 (1st January)
Act of Union
The Kingdom of Ireland was formally united with the Kingdom of Great Britain as a single country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1801 (17th January)
An illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1802 (18th February)
An illegitimate son, Adolphus FitzClarence was born to William and Dorothea Bland.
1803 (18th May)
Napoleonic Wars – War of the Third Coalition
War resumed against France in the face of a possible invasion of Britain by Napoleon Bonaparte. Faced with the possibility of an invasion thousands of Britons joined the army.
King George III suffered another temporary period of mental instability.
1805 (21st October)
Napoleonic Wars – War of the Third Coalition – Battle of Trafalgar
This naval battle saw the British Navy commanded by Lord Horatio Nelson defeat the French fleet off Cape Trafalgar.
1806 (23rd January)
Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger died. He was succeeded as Prime Minister by William Grenville.
King George III vetoed a proposal to allow Roman Catholics to join the armed forces in a bid to increase recruitment.
1807 (25th March)
Prime Minister William Grenville was dismissed. He was succeeded by William Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland.
1809 (4th October)
Prime Minister William Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland resigned his office. He was succeeded by Spencer Perceval.
1810 (2nd November)
William’s sister, Amelia, died at Augusta Lodge, Windsor.
William’s brother, George, was made Regent after his father, George III, suffered a bout of insanity that did not respond to treatment.
William ended his twenty year relationship with Mrs Jordan. During the time they had been together they had had ten illegitimate children.
William had substantial debts and proposed to the heiress Catherine Tylney-Long but she rejected his proposal.
William was made honorary Admiral of the Fleet.
1811 (5th February)
This act passed most royal duties to George who was given the title Prince Regent. George took little part in government being happy to leave government to Parliament.
1812 (11th May)
Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated. He was succeeded by Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool.
William visited British troops stationed in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Napoleonic Wars – Battle of Waterloo
Napoleon was defeated by British and German troops.
1817 (6th November)
William became third in line to the throne after his niece, Charlotte died. The succession was uncertain since neither William nor his two elder brothers had children.
The engagement of William to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was announced.
1818 (11th July)
William, married Adeleide of Saxe-Meningen at Kew Palace, Surrey. The couple began their married life in Germany. At the same time his brother Edward, married Victoria of Leiningen.
1818 (17th November)
William’s mother, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz died at Kew Palace.
1819 (27th March)
A daughter, Charlotte Augusta Louise was born to William and Adeleide of Saxe-Meningen in Hanover. She died soon after her birth.
1819 (24th May)
A daughter, Alexandrina Victoria, was born to William’s brother Edward.
1819 (5th September)
Adeleide of Saxe-Meningen was delivered of a stillborn child at Calais.
1820 (23rd January)
William’s brother, Edward died at Woodbrook Cottage, Devon.
1820 (29th January)
William’s brother, George, became King George IV after his father died at Windsor Castle.
Pains and Penalties Bill
This bill, to end the marriage of George IV and Caroline of Brunswick and to strip Caroline of the title of Queen was debated in Parliament where it passed the House of Lords but was not put to the House of Commons because it was believed it would fail to pass.
1820 (10th December)
A daughter, Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide was born to William and Adeleide of Saxe-Meningen at St James’s Palace.
1821 (4th March)
William’s daughter, Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide died at St James’s Palace.
1821 (19th July)
William’s brother, George, was crowned King George IV at Westminster Abbey. Despite being advised to stay away, his estranged wife, Caroline tried to enter the Abbey and made a scene before finally accepting defeat and riding away.
1822 (8th April)
Adeleide of Saxe-Meningen was delivered of stillborn twin boys at Bushy Park.
Despite moves to allow Catholic emancipation, King George IV publicly denounced the act stating that as Head of the Church of England he could not support pro-Catholic moves.
King George IV instructed architect, John Nash, to transform Buckingham House into a sumptuous palace.
1827 (5th January)
William’s brother, Frederick Augustus, Duke of York, died at Rutland House, London. William became heir to the throne.
1827 (10th May)
Prime Minister Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool resigned due to ill health. He was succeeded by Tory George Canning.
Prime Minister George Canning appointed William Lord High Admiral.
1827 (31st August)
Prime Minister George Canning died. He was succeeded by Frederick Robinson, Viscount Goderich.
William, as Lord High Admiral, took a fleet of ships to sea without giving notice of their destination. Prime Minister Wellington persuaded King George IV to request William’s resignation. William duly resigned his post.
1828 (22nd January)
Prime Minister Frederick Robinson, Viscount Goderich died, he was succeeded by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.
1829 (29th January)
Catholic Relief Bill
William was in full support of Catholic emancipation and helped to persuade his borther, King George to support the introduction of this bill which would give Catholics the right to vote, to become a member of Parliament and to work as civil servants or judges.
1829 (4th March)
Catholic Relief Bill
King George changed his mind about the bill and withdrew his support. Members of the Cabinet resigned in protest and George was forced to reinstate his agreement.
1829 (13th April)
Catholic Relief Act
The Catholic Relief Bill was passed into law
1830 (26th June)
William became King William IV when his brother, George died at Windsor Castle.
1830 (16th October)
The Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire. William suggested that Buckingham Palace be used as the new home for Parliament but this was turned down.
1830 (22nd November)
Charles Grey, Earl Grey, became Prime Minister. Although he had gained a few less votes than the Duke of Wellington he was able to form a government where Wellington was not. Grey was committed to reforming the elcectoral system to remove inequalities in the number of MPs elected by boroughs.
First Reform Bill
This bill was introduced by Prime Minister Grey to reform the electoral system. When it was defeated by the House of Commons, Grey asked William to dissolve Parliament.
1831 (28th April)
A new election was held and Charles Grey won the election with a clear majority.
Second Reform Bill
This new reform bill passed the House of Commons with a good majority. However, it failed to pass the House of Lords.
1831 (8th September)
William and Adelaide were crowned King and Queen at Westminster Abbey.
National Political Union
This was set up to canvas for reform.
At Parliament’s request, William had dismissed the government and new elections were held. Charles Grey was returned as Prime Minister with an increased majority.
Third Reform Bill
This bill passed the House of Commons with a large majority. Opponents to the bill in the House of Lords introduced amendments which changed the nature of the bill.
Prime Minister, Charles Grey, asked William to create new Whig peers so that the Reform Bill would pass the House of Lords Although he supported reform, he was against increasing the number of peers in the country. Charles Grey resigned. William asked Wellington to form a government but he was unable to. William then said that if the bill did not pass the House of Lords he would create the new peers.
1832 (7th June)
The Third Reform Bill finally passed the House of Lords and became law.
This Act regulated the number of hours that children could work and the conditions that they were allowed to work in. The Act also set up a system whereby factories would be inspected to ensure they kept to the law.
1833 (28th August)
Slavery Abolition Act
This Act abolished slavery throughout the British Empire.
1834 (16th July)
Charles Grey resigned as Prime Minister and William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne took over.
1834 (14th August)
Poor Law Amendment Act
This Act changed the poverty relief system in England and Wales.
1834 (17th November)
William dismissed Melbourne as Prime Minister and appointed Tory Robert Peel in his stead. As Peel was abroad Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington took over as caretaker Prime Minister.
1834 (10th December)
Robert Peel returned to Britain and took over as Prime Minister. However, he found it difficult to govern as the Whig Party had a majority. Parliament was dissolved.
1835 (18th April)
The Whig Party won the General Election William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne returned as Prime Minister.
William had not had a good relationship with his younger brother’s second wife, the Duchess of Kent, whose daughter Victoria was heir to the throne. He expressed his desire that he live until Victoria reached the age of 18 years so that the Duchess would not become regent.
William’s wife, Adelaide had returned to Hanover as her mother was dying. While there she became very ill and it was feared that she would die but she recovered.
Published Feb 2, 2019 @ 7:25 pm – Updated – Feb 4, 2019 @ 10:49 am
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2019). King William IV of Great Britain and Ireland 1765 – 1837. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/king-william-iv-of-great-britain-and-ireland-1765-1837. Last accessed February 23rd, 2020