The following list of events is based on William Gates' History of Portsmouth with additional entries by the author. Entries for the Members of Parliament for Portsmouth, The Mayors of Portsmouth and the Governors of Portsmouth have largely been omitted, as they appear elsewhere on this site. Gates cites no references for any entry.
1702 June 19 - Great expedition, destined for Cadiz, sailed front Spithead, under Sir George Rooke.
1702 - Captain Sir William Gifford appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1703 Nov. 26 - Great storm, the Newcastle foundered at Spithead, 193 lives lost.
1703 December 26 - King Charles of Spain landed at Portsmouth.
1704 January 5 - Combined English and Dutch Fleets sailed from Portsmouth for Portugal, but were driven back by a storm, and remained till the middle of February.
1704 February 12 - King Charles of Spain sailed from Portsmouth for Lisbon.
1705 Captain Sir Isaac Townsend appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1707 September - The Queen of Portugal landed at Portsmouth and stayed some days at the house of Thomas Ridge.
1708 July 29 - Fleet under Sir George Byng sailed for the coast of France, but were unable to effect a landing at La Hogue, and returned August 28.
1710 May 8 - An expedition sailed from Spithead against Port Royal, which was captured on October 5th.
1710 September 29 - Henry Seeger elected Mayor. He was removed by mandamus on February 14th, 1711, and Henry Maydman elected in his stead. A great political struggle was raging at this time.
1710-11 February 21 - Sir James Wishart re-elected on appointment as a Lord of the Admiralty.
1711 October 9 - An expedition to Canada, under Sir Hovenden Walker and Brigadier Hill, shattered by a storm, returned to Portsmouth.
1711 October 15 - H.M.S. Edgar blown up at Spithead with 400 seaman on board.
1712 Jun 2 - Prince George of Denmark reviewed the Navy at Portsmouth.
1713 - William Smith, M.D., Mayor. This gentleman was the founder of the Grammar School. He was not related to the preceding Mayor.
1713 - Captain Lee appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1714 - Captain Sir Isaac Townsend appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyand.
1714 August 3 - John Carter brought news of the death of Queen Anne to Portsmouth, and was threatened with imprisonment for doing so.
1718 June 15 - Admiral Sir George Byng sailed from Spithead, with twenty ships of the line and other vessels, and on August 10th won a complete victory over the Spaniards off Cape Passaro.
1719 March 29 - The Earl of Berkeley, with a large fleet, sailed from Spithead to the Westward.
1727 March - Sir Charles Wager's squadron intended to be employed against Spain sailed from Portsmouth.
1729 - Establishment of the Royal Naval College in the Dockyard.
1729 - Captain R. Hughes, senior, appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1731 July 14 - A fleet of 40 men-of-war under the command of Sir Charles Wager, sailed from Spithead for the coast of Spain.
1734 - Earthquake at Portsmouth and in most parts of Hants.
1740 September 18 - Admiral Anson sailed from Portsmouth with six men-of-war and two victuallers on his famous voyage round the world. He returned on the 15th June, 1744, with only one ship, the Centurion, but with great riches and honour. It is said that his first act on landing was to fall upon his knees upon Southsea beach and thank God for his deliverance.
1741 April 25 - An Act passed to enable Thomas Smith, Lord of the Manor of Farlington, to supply with water the town and neighbourhood of Portsmouth.
1744 August 7 - Sir John Balchen, flying his flag on the Victory, sailed from Portsmouth in command of a large fleet to the relief of Sir Charles Hardy, then blockaded is the Tagus. The mission was successfully accomplished, but on the return voyage the Victory was wrecked on the Casquets and every soul on board perished.
1747 May - Admiral Anson brought into Spithead the squadron of six French warships and six merchantmen, which he had captured on the 3rd off Cape Finisterre. The occasion was one of considerable rejoicing. The money taken on board the French ships was sent to London in 20 waggons under a strong escort.
1747 October 31 - Admiral Hawke arrived at Spithead with the six prizes captured from the French in the battle of Finisterre on October 14th. There was great rejoicing in the town.
1747 November 4 - Admiral Boscawen sailed with a fleet from Portsmouth on an expedition to India. Disaster overtook it on April 13th, 1749, while lying at Fort St. David, as during a violent hurricane the Namur of 74 guns the Admiral's flagship, the Pembroke and the Apollo were lost with the greater part of their crews. The remnant of the fleet returned to Portsmouth April 14th 1750.
1749 July 14 - Two officers Couchman and Morgan of H.M.S. Chesterfield shot in Portsmouth for mutiny.
1749 July 24 - Six seamen of the Chesterfield hanged for mutiny.
1750 March 18 - Portsmouth was thrown into the utmost consternation this day by the shock of an earthquake. It occurred between 5 and 6 o'clock in the evening, and was attended by a hollow rustling noise. No personal injuries were however sustained, though several houses were damaged.
1753. May ll - Foundation stone of St. George's Church, Portsea, laid at half past five in the morning.
1753 - Captain R. Hughes, junior. appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1753 July 9 - John Wesley preached in St. George's Square, Portsmouth, for the first time.
1754 - A bathing house was erected by subscription in Bath-square.
1754 - Erection of "The Tabernacle" in Orange-street.
1756 April 7 - Admiral John Byng sailed from Spithead upon the expedition that ended so tragically for him.
1756 - Hilsea Barracks built.
1766 December 28 - Court-martial on Admiral John Byng commenced on board the St. George in Portsmouth Harbour.
1757 March 14 - Execution of Admiral Byng.
1757 September 8 - Sir Edward Hawke sailed from Spithead in command of a great expedition designed for an attack upon Rochfort. Thu plan miscarried through the irresolution of the Military commanders, and the expedition returned ingloriously to Spithead on October 6th.
1758 February 19 - Admired the Hon. E. Boscawen sailed front Spithead in command of the expedition against Louisbourg. The Invincible, 74, missed stays, and running on a shoal east of St. He'en's, became a total wreck.
1758 Ju1y 4 - Admiral Saunders arrived at Spithead with the Foudroyant, 84, and Orpheus, 64, prizes captured from the French, together with 1,000 prisoners, who were lodged in Portchester Castle.
1758 August 1 - The fleet sailed for Cherbourg, which was captured and burnt.
1759 April 14 - Admiral Boscawen sailed from Portsmouth with a fleet of fourteen sail of the line and two frigates, and on August 18th obtained a decisive victory over the French fleet off the Barbary coast.
1759 August 23 - Portion of Southsea Castle blown up by accident. Several lives lost.
1759 November 17 - The body of General Wolfe landed at Portsmouth with full Naval and Military honours.
1760 January 17 - Admiral Lord Hawke arrived at Portsmouth from his victory over the French in Quiberon Bay, and landed amid the acclamations of the people. On the 28th of the month he attended in his place in the House of Commons, as Member for Portsmouth, and there received the thanks of that Assembly for his signal victory.
1760 July 3 - Fearful thunderstorm in Portsmouth and great fire in the Dockyard. Damage £40,000.
1761 March 29 - The expedition under Commodore Keppel, which resulted in the capture of Belle isle, sailed from Spithead.
1762 February - Admind George Lord Anson, whilst showing Prince George of Mecklenburg over the Dockyard, contracted a cold, which resulted in a fatal illness.
1762 March 5 - A fleet under the command of Admiral Pocock sailed from Spithead on an expedition to the West Indies which resulted in the capture of Havannah.
1762 June 23 - The Duke of York hoisted his flag on board the Princess Amelia at Spithead.
1762 August 11 - The treasure captured in the Spanish ship Hermione was landed at Portsmouth and conveyed to London in twenty waggons. A seaman's share of the prize money was £485. (Further Information)
1763 February 13 - A highwayman while attempting to rob the occupants of the Portsmouth coach was shot dead by a passenger.
1763 March 8 - Five waggon loads of money landed by the Rippon, man-of-war at Portsmouth, were taken to the Bank of England.
1764 - An Act passed for paving, cleansing, &e., the streets of Portsea.
1765 May 3 - The longboat belonging to H.M.S. Thunderer, with seventy men on board, foundered this day in Portsmouth Harbour, and only sixteen men were saved.
1765 October 8 - A wonderful celestial phenomenon which had been observed over a large part of the South of England reached its climax at Portsmouth. It was evidently a meteor of extraordinary proportions. In London it was observed as a globe of ruddy fire as large as the full moon a little after rising ; at Chichester it was about tho size of a man's head, and the light it diffused was almost us brilliant as Sunlight ; by the time it reached Portsmouth the light had paled and when over the town the meteor burst with a noise surpassing the loudest peal of thunder.
1766 February 10 - There was a desperate riot in Portsmouth this day, in which a publican's house was almost demolished. It arose through the landlord arresting some sailors who had spent all their money in his house and had at last got into his debt. Their comrades made three attacks upon the house in their determination to completely demolish it, but their design was partially frustrated by the Military, who were called out.
1767 July 14 - Lord Clive landed at Portsmouth from the Britannia, East Indiaman.
1767 July 20 - A collier of 150 tons burthen was burnt by the Custom officers at Blockhouse Point because brandy and tea were found concealed under her cargo of coals. A smuggling sloop was burnt at the same time.
1768 - At the Summer Assizes Sergeant James Williams, for killing and robbing Samuel Lewis, landlord of the " Battle of Minden," at Hilsea, was sentenced to be hanged in chains on Southsea Common. His body was removed some time later and quietly buried by his former comrades.
1768 - Act of Parliament passed for paving Portsmouth. The work was completed in 1773 at a cost. of £8,886.
1769 November 4 - A hurricane from S.S.E. blow at Portsmouth the whole day. Nine Dockyard-men, who lived at Gosport, were drowned in going home.
1770 January 24 - Great mortality prevailed among the sailors of the Russian ships at Portsmouth, and the Government gave permission for the crews to be landed in batches and quartered at Hilsea Barracks.
1770 February 2 - Two transports arrived from St. Petersburg with 700 soldiers on board. They were encamped on Southsea Common. There were at this time 400 sick Russians in Haslar hospital.
1770 February 23 - Sergeants of Marines were employed at Portsmouth in teaching Russian soldiers " the English Marine exercise, and manoevering of small arms, hand grenades, Etc., aloft and in the tops; a discipline with they were heretofore totally unacquainted."
1770 April 1 - The Russian Admiral's ship of 84 guns, which had undergone extensive alterations at Portsmouth, sailed out of harbour and saluted the English Admiral. Most of the Foreign Ministers were on board, and the occasion was one of great rejoicing.
1770 April 13 - The Russian Squadron, under Admiral Elphinston, consisting of four ships of the line, two frigates, one hospital ship, and five transports, sailed from Spithead.
1770 July 27 - Great fire in Portsmouth Dockyard, supposed to have been the work of an incendiary for whom apprehension the Admiralty offered a reward of £1,000. The damage was estimated at £149,880.
1770 September 19 - Press warrants from the Admiralty were sent to Portsmouth this day and on the following morning press gangs went on board the merchant ships and stripped them of all the hands they thought useful before it was known in the town. They secured the pressed men in a tender, then came on shore and in the public houses and the streets picked up many good sailors.
1771 January 18 - There was a fine fleet of twenty-six sail of the lino at Spithead this day, under the command of Admiral Buckle.
1771 August 13 - H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester arrived at Portsmouth, aud was received with much ceremony. He was rowed in a barge to Spithead, accompanied by two Admirals in their barges and most of the Captains of the ships in port. He embarked on board the Venus, frigate, which, in company with the Alarm, frigate, sailed with him for Lisbon.
1772 September 23 - " At, Portsmouth," writes the compiler of the " Annual Register," " they had the most, violent storm of wind and rain ever remembered. The wind blew off the roofs of several houses, threw down chimneys, especially those of the Marine barracks, where a whole stack fell at once on the roof. Providentially no person was hurt, nor much damage done among the shipping."
1772 September 29 - John Carter, jun., Mayor. He was Knighted by George III., on that monarch's first visit to the town, June 22nd, 1773.
1772 November 22 - The rock known by the name of the Needle or Lot's Wife, more than 120 feet above high water mark, at the West-end of the Is1e of Wight, was over set this day, and totally disappeared.
1772 - Captain James Gambier appointed to the command of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1773 February 18 - The murder of a Mr. Binsteed Goffry in the pest-house field about twelve months before was explained this day by one of the perpetrators who was confined in Portsmouth Gaol on another charge confessing to a companion who gave information against him. In due course he expiated his crime at Winchester.
1773 June 22 - Visit of George III.
1773 - The Independent Chapel in Orange-street, Portsea, built in place of the original Tabernacle.
1774 March 13 - Urgent orders were received at Portsmouth for the immediate despatch of the Royal Oak, Worcester. Egmont, and Preston to repair with all expedition to Boston, whence news of the incipient revolt had been received.
1774 July 14 - The Adventure, sloop, arrived at Spithead after having circumnavigated the globe in company with the Resolution, Captain Cook.
1774 Sept. 29 - Thomas White, Mayor. he was ousted by mandamus March 6th, 1775, and Philip Varlo elected in his stead. A fierce political struggle was raging at this time.
1775 Feb. 1 - Great storm and floods at Portsmouth. A whole row of houses at the back of the Point was swept away, but no lives were lost. Other portions of Portsea Island were also under water, hundreds of sheep, cattle, Etc., being drowned.
1775 June 1 - A Russian Admiral, named Bassballe, in charge of a squadron at Spithead, refused to salute the Commander-in-Chief until he received peremptory orders to do so from the Russian Embassy in London. The Squadron remained until July 8th.
1775 June 14 - The shipwrights in the Yard stood out for work and returned on the 21st. They stood out again on the 28th, and the major part returned on the 7th and 12th August.
1775 July 31 - Captain Cook in the Endeavour arrived at Portsmouth from his tour of circumnavigation.
1776 August 5 - Gunpowder explosion on board the Marlborough in Portsmouth Harbour, 12 men, three women, and three children being killed. The Gunner was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for carelessness.
1776 December 7 - " Jack the Painter" fired Portsmouth Dockyard.
1777 March - " Jack the Painter " hanged at the Dockyard Gates.
1777 - Captain Sir Samuel Hood, Bart. appointed Commissioner of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1778 May 2 - George III and his Queen visited Portsmouth.
1778 June 25 - Large encampment of troops on Southsea Common. Camp broke up October 20.
1778 July 9 - Admiral Keppe11 sailed from Portsmouth with 24 sail of the line and on the 12th engaged the enemy fleet off Ushant.
1778 October 4 - Two Liverpool privateers brought into Spithead a French East Indiaman which they had captured. Her cargo was valued at £500,000 and she had also a French General on board.
1778 Dec 25 - Admiral Lord Shuldham sailed from Portsmouth in the Foudroyant with upwards of 300 sail of merchantmen under his convoy.
1779 January 7 - Trial of Admiral Keppel began at the Governor's House.
1779 - Captain Sir Henry Martin appointed Commissioner of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1779 June 14 - Prince William Henry, afterwards William IV., joined the Prince George at Portsmouth as a midshipman.
1779 June 22 - A midshipman hanged on hoard the Culloden for attempting to carry the ship to France.
1779 July 1 - Camps formed on Southsea Common and Spring Gardens Common, Gosport, and continued till November.
1779 September 29 - Edward Linzee was elected Mayor, but would not appear to take the oath on September 29th. On October 21st John Carter was elected, but was ousted by Mandamus on January 28th following. On the 10th February John Godwin was elected, but, he resigned on May 20th, and Portsmouth was without a Mayor till the following Michaelmas. A bitter political struggle was in progress at this time.
1779 December 25 - Admiral Sir George Rodney sailed from Spithead with a fleet of thirty ships and a large convoy. Before he returned again he captured many prizes and won a decisive victory over the Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent.
1780 March 1 - Great rejoicings over Rodney's victory.
1780 April 24 - The enlargement of the Dockyard was commenced this day. The new ground was rather more than 15 acres in extent.
1780 May 8 - Sudden death at Portsmouth of Admiral Sir Charles Hardy, as he was preparing to resume command of the Channel Fleet.
1781 February 27 - A dreadful gale of wind, which did much damage and blew a French privateer into the harbour.
1781 July 30 - The body of a Mr. Bryan, who had been executed, at Winchester, for murder, was hung in chains on Blockhouse beach, near " Jack the Painter." The body was attired in a new suit of black, new shoes, and ruffles.
1781 November - Gillkicker Fort completed.
1782 April 25 - Arrival at Portsmouth of the Pegasus, a French 74, captured by the Foudroyant, which had only three or four men wounded, including the captain.
1782 June 6 - Thirty sail of vessels, the remaining part of the Charles Town fleet, arrived at Portsmouth.
1782 August 5 - Count de Grasso, the French Commander-in-Chief, who was taken prisoner in Rodney's victory, landed on Southsea Common, and was sumptuously entertained at the " George Hotel" by Admiral Sir Peter Parker. No other French Commander-in-Chief had been a prisoner in England since the reign of Queen Anne.
1782 August 29 - H.M.S. Royal George sank at Spithead, and loss of 900 lives.
1782 September 11 - The Grand Fleet, consisting of 34 ships of the line, 8 frigates, and 3 fireships, sailed from Spithead to the relief of Gibraltar.
1782 October 31 - Dreadful fire on the Hard, several houses being destroyed.
1783 July 6 - The Marines came from Hilsea and first did duty in the Dockyard.
1783 - There was trouble at Spithead with the crews of some of the ships about the port at which they should be paid off. Portsmouth ships were ordered to Chatham, and in these the crews became very riotous. The men of the Raissonable refused to weigh anchor, until the ringleaders were seized by their officers and three seamen afterwards suffered death for this affair.
1784 March 29 - The first balloon set off at Portsmouth behind the Sadler's Wells, at the " White Swan.
1785 April 7 - The foundation stone of the Beneficial Society's Hall laid. The hall was first used on November 15.
1786 February - A Government scheme for the better fortification of Portsmouth and Plymouth by an expenditure of £760,097 was defeated by the casting vote of the Speaker.
1786 March 10 - Demolition of the old Dock Chapel, which had been maintained by the subscription of the workmen.
1786 March 24 - The convicts on board one of the prison ships at Portsmouth rose upon their keepers, and were not subdued until eight were shot dead and 36 wounded.
1786 October 30 - 0fficers' houses in the Dockyard commenced.
1707 February 4 - Opening of the new Dockyard Church.
1787 May 13 - The first fleet of transports conveying convicts to Botany Bey left Portsmouth under the command of Captain Phillips, of H.M.S Sirius. The voyage lasted 36 weeks.
1787 June 4 - Foundation stone laid of St. John's Church, Prince George's-street.
1787 June 10 - Sir George Augustus Elliott arrived from Gibraltar and was received with great popular rejoicings.
1788 March 30 - Mr. Pennington's Chapel (now known as St. Peters), in Daniel-street, used for first time,
1787 December 23 - The Bounty sailed from Portsmouth.
1789 - Captain Sir Charles Saxton, Bart., appointed Commissioner of Portsmouth Dockyard.
1790 November 21 - Portsmouth was visited by an extraordinary storm of lightning, thunder, and hail. The lightning rolled along the ground like a body of liquid fire, and the hailstones were of immense size. The 74-gun ship Elephant, lying in the harbour, was struck by the lightning, and the mainmast was shivered to splinters.
1792 June 21 - Arrival of H.M.S. Gorgon, having on board the survivors of the Pandora, which was lost in Endeavour Strait, and ten of the Bounty mutineers.
1792 Sept. 6 - A boat belonging to the Scourge was upset on returning to Spithead, and all on hoard were drowned except two. Two midshipmen of the ship were among the lost.
1792 October 29 - Execution of three of the mutineers of the Bounty.
1793 June 30 The people of Portsmouth this day decided to follow the example of London and King's Lynn by giving a bounty to seamen entering the Navy in addition to the sum granted by Parliament.
1793 June 17 - The La Nymphe, frigate, Sir Edward Pollow, captured the French frigate Cleopatra, which was the first prize brought into Spithead since the commencement of the war. For many years afterwards the mainmast of the captured ship formed the centre pillar of the mill near Lumps Fort.
1793 April 14 - The French prisoners at Forton, numbering 850, were frustrated in an attempt to °escape, by the discovery of a subterranean passage they were constructing. They had already carried it 27 feet, and a few days more would have led them to freedom.
1793 December 16 - The Pigmy, 14, lost on the Motherbank.
1794 June 16 - Lord Howe, with the fleet under his command, arrived at Spithead after his glorious victory of the 1st.
1794 June 25 - George III, with the Queen and Princess, came to Portsmouth and went on board Lord Howe's flagship, the Queen Charlotte.
1794 June 27 - Launch of the Prince of Wales, 98 guns, in the presence of George III and his Court.
1794 Aug. 24 - The Impetuous: accidentally burnt at Portsmouth.
1794 Oct. 4 - The ship Martha arrived at Portsmouth, having on board more than 200 French prisoners, "most of whom," says a contemporary account, " are very ill. They are people of colour, and many of them quite naked. There are seven women amongst them."
1795 June 22 - Admiral Lord Bridport sailed from Spithead with the Channel Fleet, and on the 23rd engaged the French Fleet off L'Orient and captured three of their ships.
1795 May 1 - The Boyne, 98, accidentally burnt, at Spithead.
1795 August 28 - Rear-Admiral Harvey sailed from Spithead with five ships of the line, two frigates and a sloop, convoying a fleet of upwards of 210 transports with troops on board, bound to the coast of Brittany.
1796 November - Departure of Abercrombie's expedition to the West Indies. It was driven back by a violent storm, and several of the transports foundered, 200 dead bodies being washed ashore near Portland. It sailed again on the 9th December, but was again unfortunate, and 60 of the convoy returned to Spithend in a dreadful condition. Of the remainder, some were captured by the enemy, and a few foundered at sea.
1796 June 21 - Public funeral at Portsmouth of Admiral Sir John Laforey, who died from yellow fever two days before reaching England. Save for the minute guns, " profound silence" was the order of the day, and the ceremony appears to have been of the most impressive character.
1796 August - From Spithead sailed the Duff on its first missionary voyage.
1798 - The following return of exports, etc., during 1798 shows how important was the commercial position of Portsmouth at that time : Southampton/Portsmouth - Imports £27,000/£77,000; Coast Duties £9,000/£13,500; Exports £900/£2,000
1799 June 4 - Great review on Southsea Common of regulars and volunteers, the total strength of the force being 7,000 men.
1799 August - Earl St. Vincent with his fleet arrived at Portsmouth after his brilliant victory over the French.
1799 Oct. 14 - First number of the Hampshire Telegraph printed.
1799 Oct. 19 - The Impregnable, 98, totally wrecked on the Woolmer Sands.
1799 Nov. 9 - Two merchant ships caught fire in the harbour and H.M.S. Prince Frederick, 64, at Spithead.
1799 Nov. 23 - A large Russian Fleet arrived at Spithead, and a fleet of 300 merchant ships sailed thence.
1799 Dec 6 - Review of 5000 troops, including the Portsmouth and Portsea Volunteers, on Southsea Common, in honour of the Russian Naval and Military officers present at the port.
1799 Dec 23 - Public Subscription opened on behalf of the poor who were suffering greatly. Bread was 2s 4d a gallon, coals 63s a chaldron.
See also the Chronology of Events for the periods
500-1499 | 1500-1599 | 1600-1699 | 1800-1849 | 1850-1899 | 1900-1936