1857 in the United Kingdom
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- Monarch – Victoria
- Prime Minister – Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (Whig)
- Parliament – 16th (until 21 March), 17th (starting 30 April)
- 7 January – London General Omnibus Company begins operating.
- 3 March – France and the United Kingdom formally declare war on China in the Second Opium War.
- 5 March – in London, barrister James Townsend Saward receives a sentence of penal transportation for forging cheques.
- 27 March–24 April – a general election secures Palmerston's Whigs a clear majority.
- 4 April – end of the Anglo-Persian War.
- 5 May–17 October – the Art Treasures of Great Britain exhibition is held in Manchester, one of the largest such displays of all time.
- 10 May – Indian Rebellion: In India, the Mutiny of XI Native Cavalry of the Bengal Army in Meerut, revolt against the British East India Company.
- 11 May – Indian combatants capture Delhi from the East India Company.
- 18 May – British Museum Reading Room opens.
- 22 June – the South Kensington Museum, predecessor of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is opened by Queen Victoria in London; it is the world’s first museum to incorporate a refreshment room.
- 25 June – Queen Victoria formally grants her husband Albert the title Prince Consort.
- 26 June – at a ceremony in Hyde Park, London, Queen Victoria awards the first sixty-six Victoria Crosses, for actions during the Crimean War. Commander Henry James Raby, RN, is the first to receive the medal from her hands.
- 12 July – in Belfast, confrontations between crowds of Catholics and Protestants turn into 10 days of rioting, exacerbated by the open-air preaching of Evangelical Presbyterian minister "Roaring" Hugh Hanna, with many of the police force joining the Protestant side. There are also riots in Derry, Portadown and Lurgan.
- 18 July – prison hulk HMS Defence catches fire at her moorings off Woolwich, bringing an end to the use of hulks in home waters.
- 28 August – Matrimonial Causes Act makes divorce without parliamentary approval legally possible.
- September – Obscene Publications Act makes the sale of obscene material a statutory offence.
- 20 September – British forces recapture Delhi, compelling the surrender of Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor.
- 24 October – Sheffield F.C., the world's first football team, is founded in Sheffield.
- November – Kilburn White Horse cut in North Yorkshire.
- 29 November – Orsini affair: Piedmontese revolutionary Felice Orsini leaves exile in London to make an assassination attempt on Emperor Napoleon III of France in Paris.
- 31 December – Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as the capital of Canada.
- First official issue of uniforms of the Royal Navy to naval ratings.
- Tom Gallaher sets up the Gallaher tobacco business in Ireland.
- R. M. Ballantyne's novel The Coral Island.
- George Borrow's novel The Romany Rye.
- Charlotte Brontë's novel The Professor (posthumously, as by 'Currer Bell').
- Charles Dickens's novel Little Dorrit (complete in book form).
- Elizabeth Gaskell's biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.
- P. H. Gosse's creationist text Omphalos.
- Thomas Hughes' novel Tom Brown's Schooldays.
- George A. Lawrence's novel Guy Livingstone, or Thorough (anonymously).
- John Ruskin's introductory text The Elements of Drawing.
- William Makepeace Thackeray's historical novel The Virginians (begins serialisation).
- Anthony Trollope's novel Barchester Towers.
- 18 January – William Lethaby, Arts and Crafts architect and designer (died 1931)
- 31 January – George Jackson Churchward, chief mechanical engineer of the Great Western Railway (died 1933)
- 2 February – Sir James Cory, 1st Baronet, politician and ship-owner (died 1933)
- 22 February – Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement (died 1941)
- 13 March – Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, general (died 1932)
- 14 March – Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, patron and promoter of women's interests (died 1939)
- 27 March – Karl Pearson, statistician (died 1936)
- 8 April – Lucy, Lady Houston, born Fanny Lucy Radmall, political activist, suffragette, philanthropist and promoter of aviation (died 1936)
- 11 April – John Davidson, Scottish-born poet and playwright (suicide 1909)
- 14 April
- 13 May – Ronald Ross, physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (died 1932)
- 15 May – Williamina Fleming, astronomer (died 1911)
- 28 May – Charles Voysey, Arts and Crafts designer and domestic architect (died 1941)
- 2 June – Edward Elgar, composer (died 1934)
- 12 June – Kate Lester, stage & silent screen actress (died 1924)
- 15 June – William Fife, Scottish yacht designer (died 1944)
- 19 September – James Bridie, rugby union international (died 1893)
- 28 September – Lewis Bayly, admiral (died 1938)
- 2 October
- 5 November – Joseph Tabrar, songwriter (died 1931)
- 17 November – George Marchant, inventor, manufacturer, and philanthropist (died 1941)
- 22 November – George Gissing, novelist (died 1903)
- 27 November – Charles Scott Sherrington, physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (died 1952)
- 30 November – Bobby Abel, cricketer (died 1936)
- 1 January – John Britton, antiquary and topographer (born 1771)
- 2 January – Andrew Ure, doctor and writer (born 1778)
- 10 February – David Thompson, explorer (born 1770)
- 18 February – Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere, politician (born 1800)
- 13 March – William Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst, diplomat and peer (born 1773)
- 16 May – Sir William Lloyd, soldier and mountaineer (born 1782)
- 12 August – William Daniel Conybeare, dean of Llandaff (born 1787)
- 16 August – John Jones, Talysarn, leading non-conformist minister (born 1796)
- 29 November – Henry Havelock, general (born 1795)
- 15 December – Sir George Cayley, aviation pioneer (born 1773)
- 17 December – Francis Beaufort, naval officer and hydrographer (born 1774)
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 277–278. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
- Exhibition of art treasures of the United Kingdom, held at Manchester in 1857: report of the Executive Committee. 1859. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- Sheppard, F.H.W., ed. (1975). Survey of London XXXVIII: The Museums Area of South Kensington and Westminster. p. 99.
- Physick, John (1982). The Victoria and Albert Museum: the History of its Building. Oxford: Phaidon. p. 30.
- London Gazette & 26 June 1857.
- Holmes, Finlay (2004). "Hanna, Hugh (1821–1892)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52699. Retrieved 26 July 2012. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Parades and Marches - Chronology 2: Historical Dates and Events". Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN). Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- Gossett, William Patrick (1986). The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793-1900. Mansell. p. 114. ISBN 0-7201-1816-6.
- "The Obscene Publications Act, 1857". h2g2. BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Top 100 Companies Archived 17 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Leavis, Q.D. (1965). Fiction and the Reading Public (2nd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus.
- "Icons, a portrait of England 1840–1860". Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- Ewan, Elizabeth; Pipes, Rose; Rendall, Jane; Reynolds, Siân (eds.). The new biographical dictionary of Scottish women. Edinburgh University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9781474436281.