1781 in Great Britain
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Events from the year 1781 in the Kingdom of Great Britain.
- 1 January - Industrial Revolution: The Iron Bridge opens across the River Severn.
- 5 January - American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
- 6 January - Battle of Jersey: British troops prevent the French from occupying Jersey in the Channel Islands.
- 17 January - American Revolutionary War: The American Continental Army under Daniel Morgan decisively defeats British forces at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina.
- January - William Pitt the Younger, later Prime Minister, enters Parliament, aged 21.
- 3 February - American Revolutionary War and Fourth Anglo-Dutch War: The Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius (which has been supplying the United States) surrenders to Admiral Rodney.
- 28 February - Foundation of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester.
- 13 March - Sir William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus. Originally he calls it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) in honour of King George III.
- 15 March - American Revolutionary War: American General Nathanael Greene loses the Battle of Guilford Court House to British.
- 1 July - Second Anglo-Mysore War: At the Battle of Porto Novo, the British defeat the Mysore ruler Hyder Ali.
- 6 July - American Revolutionary War: At the Battle of Green Spring, the British led by Lord Cornwallis defeat the French led by the Marquis de Lafayette.
- 27 July - French spy François Henri de la Motte executed at Tyburn (London) for high treason.
- 30 August - American Revolutionary War: French fleet under the Comte de Grasse enters Chesapeake Bay, cutting British General Charles Cornwallis off from escape by sea.
- 5 September - American Revolutionary War: In the Battle of the Chesapeake, a British fleet under Thomas Graves arrives and fights de Grasse, but is unable to break through to relieve the Siege of Yorktown.
- 6 September - American Revolutionary War: The British army attacks a fort in Groton, Connecticut, which became known as the Battle of Groton Heights.
- 19 October - American Revolutionary War: Following the Siege of Yorktown, General Charles Cornwallis surrenders to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, ending the armed struggle of the American Revolutionary War.
- 29 November
- Zong massacre: English slave traders begin to throw approximately 142 slaves taken on in Accra overboard alive from the slave ship Zong in the Caribbean Sea to conserve supplies for the remainder; the Liverpool owners subsequently attempt to reclaim part of their value from insurers.
- Henry Hurle officially founds the Ancient Order of Druids in London.
- 3 December - First known building society established, in Birmingham.
- 12 December - American Revolutionary War: Second Battle of Ushant: The Royal Navy, commanded by Rear Admiral Richard Kempenfelt in HMS Victory, decisively defeats the French fleet in the Bay of Biscay.
- Last year in which the monarch participates in a regular peacetime meeting of the Cabinet.
- Volumes 2 and 3 of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
- The collection of children's poetry Mother Goose's Melody.
- 29 May - John Walker, inventor (died 1859)
- 9 June - George Stephenson, locomotive engineer (died 1848)
- 6 July - Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore (died 1826)
- 14 September - James Walker, Scottish civil engineer (died 1862)
- 6 November - Lucy Aikin, English writer (died 1864)
- 30 November - Alexander Berry, adventurer and Australian pioneer (died 1873)
- 11 December - Sir David Brewster, physicist (died 1868)
- 12 January - Richard Challoner, English Catholic prelate (born 1691)
- 21 February - Matchem, racehorse (born 1748)
- 24 February - Edward Capell, critic (born 1713)
- 23 April - James Abercrombie, general (born 1706)
- 8 May - Richard Jago, poet (born 1715)
- 28 September - William Henry Nassau de Zuylestein, 4th Earl of Rochford, diplomat and statesman (born 1717)
- 16 October - Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke, naval officer (born 1705)
Full date unknown
- Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 333–334. ISBN 0-304-35730-8.
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- "Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society". Manchester Lit and Phil. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "BBC History British History Timeline". Archived from the original on 09 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- Baren, Maurice (1996). How It All Began Up the High Street. London: Michael O'Mara Books. p. 58. ISBN 1-85479-667-4.
- "Queen set to attend cabinet meeting in Downing Street". BBC News. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Driscoll, Michael; Hamilton, Meredith; Coons, Marie (2003). A Child's Introduction to Poetry. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 10. ISBN 1-57912-282-5. Retrieved 26 January 2011.