1859 in the United Kingdom
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Events from the year 1859 in the United Kingdom.
- Monarch — Queen Victoria
- Prime Minister — The Earl of Derby (Conservative; until 12 June), The Viscount Palmerston (Liberal)
- 1 January — Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to have her name entered on the General Medical Council's Medical Register, under a clause in the Medical Act 1858 that recognized doctors with foreign degrees.
- 15 January — National Portrait Gallery opens in London.
- March — General Post Office begins erection of First National Standard pillar box design.
- 30 April — Charles Dickens publishes the first issue of his new magazine All the Year Round
- 1 May — West Riding of Yorkshire Penny Savings Bank, predecessor of the Yorkshire Bank, begins operation in Leeds.
- 4 May — Cornwall Railway opened across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall. The bridge's designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, terminally sick, is wheeled across it later this month.
- 31 May — Whigs under Palmerston win the general election.
- 6 June — The British Crown colony of Queensland in Australia is created by devolving part of the territory of New South Wales.
- 10 June — Derby resigns as Prime Minister after a defeat in the House of Commons; replaced by Palmerston.
- 1 September — Astronomer Richard Carrington makes the first observation of a solar flare.
- 7 September — The clock of the Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster becomes operational. The bell acquires the nickname "Big Ben" by association with Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover.
- 24 October — Glasgow Town Council's Loch Katrine public water supply scheme officially opened.
- 25–26 October — 'Royal Charter Storm', the most severe storm to hit the British Isles this century. 133 ships are sunk and another ninety badly damaged, with a death toll estimated as up to 800 (including some killed on land); most notably from the steam clipper Royal Charter, driven ashore on the north-east coast of Anglesey on 26 October with around 459 dead and just 39 men surviving.
- 12 November — HMS Victoria, the Royal Navy’s last and largest wooden first-rate three-decker ship of the line to see sea service, is launched at Portsmouth.
- 24 November — Naturalist Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species, a book which argues that species gradually evolve through natural selection. It immediately sells out its initial print run. Trinity College, Cambridge bans it.
- Formation of the Liberal Party out of the Whig Party, Peelites and Radicals.
- District nursing begins in Liverpool when philanthropist William Rathbone employs Mary Robinson to nurse the sick poor in their own homes.
- Welsh religious revival led by Humphrey Jones.
- Red House (London) in Bexleyheath, a key building in the Arts and Crafts Movement, is designed by its owner, William Morris, and the architect Philip Webb.
- The Needles lighthouse built on the Isle of Wight.
- Isabella Beeton's compilation Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management begins publication as a partwork supplement to The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine (published by her husband Samuel Orchart Beeton) in September.
- Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species.
- Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities.
- George Eliot's novel Adam Bede.
- Edward FitzGerald (poet)'s first edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
- John Stuart Mill’s book On Liberty.
- Christina Rossetti's poem "Goblin Market".
- Samuel Smiles' book Self-Help.
- Alfred Tennyson's poetry cycle Idylls of the King.
- The racing newspaper The Sporting Life is first published (From its launch on 24 March to 30 April it is called Penny Bell's Life & Sporting News).
- 11 January — George Nathaniel Curzon, statesman and Viceroy of India (died 1925)
- 14 February — Henry Valentine Knaggs, physician and author (died 1954)
- 16 February — T. E. Ellis, politician (died 1899)
- 22 February — George Lansbury, politician and social reformer; leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935 (died 1940)
- 8 March — Kenneth Grahame, author (died 1932)
- 26 March — A. E. Housman, poet (died 1936)
- 18 April — Evan Davies Jones, civil engineer (died 1949)
- 2 May — Jerome K. Jerome, author (died 1927)
- 13 May — Kate Marsden, medical missionary (died 1931)
- 22 May — Arthur Conan Doyle, writer (died 1930)
- May — Samuel Thomas Evans, politician and judge (died 1918)
- 8 July — Annie Shepherd Swan, writer (died 1943)
- 17 July — Ernest Rhys, writer (died 1946)
- 21 January — Henry Hallam, historian (born 1777)
- 28 January — Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich, Prime Minister (born 1782)
- 13 February — Eliza Acton, cookery writer (born 1799)
- 1 May — John Walker, inventor (born 1781)
- 15 September — Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer (born 1806)
- 12 October — Robert Stephenson, engineer (born 1803)
- 22 November — George Wilson, chemist (born 1818)
- 8 December — Thomas de Quincey, writer (born 1785)
- 28 December — Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, poet, historian and politician (born 1800)
- Elston, M. A. (2004). "Blackwell, Elizabeth (1821–1910)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 279–280. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
- Farrugia, Jean Young (1969). The Letter Box: a history of Post Office pillar and wall boxes. Fontwell: Centaur Press. ISBN 0-900000-14-7.
- Baren, Maurice (1996). How It All Began Up the High Street. London: Michael O'Mara Books. pp. 141–4. ISBN 1-85479-667-4.
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- Holden, Chris; Lesley (2009). Life and Death on the Royal Charter. Chester: Calgo Publications. ISBN 978-0-9545066-2-9.
- "Icons, a portrait of England 1840–1860". Retrieved 2007-09-13.
- "Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Nineteenth Century". British Library. Retrieved 2011-01-18.