1859 in the United Kingdom
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Events from the year 1859 in the United Kingdom.
- Monarch — 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 recognizes 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 — The Cornwall Railway is opened across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall. The bridge's designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, terminally ill, 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 and chimes of the Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster become operational. The great bell acquires the nickname "Big Ben" by association with Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover.
- 14 October — Glasgow Town Council's Loch Katrine public water supply scheme is 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.
- Muirkirk becomes the first town in Britain to have gas lighting.
- 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's poetic translation 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.
- "The Queen At Loch Katrine". The Times (23438) (London). 1859-10-15. p. 9.
- 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.