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Events from the year 1778 in Great Britain.
- 18 January - The Third Pacific expedition of James Cook, with ships HMS Resolution (1771) and HMS Discovery (1774), first views Oahu then Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the "Sandwich Islands".
- 6 February - American Revolutionary War: Britain declares war on France, for aiding the Americans.
- 17 & 23 April - American Revolutionary War: John Paul Jones in USS Ranger (1777) attempts to raid Whitehaven.
- 24 April - American Revolutionary War: North Channel Naval Duel: John Paul Jones in USS Ranger captures HMS Drake (1777) in the North Channel.
- May - HMS Victory is commissioned and remains in active service for the following 32 years, most notably at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).
- 16 June - American Revolutionary War: Spain declares war on Britain.
- 28 June - American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Monmouth takes place in Monmouth, New Jersey.
- 3 July - American Revolutionary War: The Wyoming Valley battle and massacre takes place near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, ending in a defeat of the local colonists.
- 10 July - American Revolutionary War: Louis XVI of France declares war on Great Britain.
- 27 July - American Revolutionary War: First Battle of Ushant - British and French fleets fight to a standoff.
- September - First St. Leger Stakes horse race held under this name and at its present location, Town Moor, Doncaster. The winner is Hollandoise.
- 7 September - American Revolutionary War: French invasion of Dominica captures the British fort there before the latter is aware that France has entered the war in the Franco-American alliance.
- 26 November - In the Hawaiian Islands, James Cook becomes the first European to discover Maui.
- 5 March - Thomas Augustine Arne, composer (b. 1710)
- 22 April - James Hargreaves, weaver, carpenter, and inventor (b. 1720)
- 11 May - William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1708)
- 16 May - Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness, diplomat and politician (b. 1718)
- 12 August - Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, general and politician (b. 1714)