A Timeline of 17th Century England

By Tim Lambert

1600 The East India Company is founded

1601 The Poor Law is passed. People are made to pay a rate to support the poor.

1603 In March Queen Elizabeth dies. James I becomes king.

1605 The gunpowder plot, a Catholic conspiracy to blow up parliament, is discovered.

1607 Jamestown, the first successful British colony in North America, is founded

1608 John Milton is born

1611 The King James Bible is published

1625 James I dies. Charles I becomes king.


William Harvey publishes his discovery of the circulation of the blood

The Petition of Right is presented to the king by parliament

George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham is assassinated in Portsmouth

1629-1640 The Eleven Years Tyranny. Charles I rules without parliament.

1632 The great architect Christopher Wren is born

1633 William Laud becomes Archbishop of Canterbury

1641 MP’s draw up a list of grievances called the Grand Remonstrance.


The English Civil War between the king and parliament begins. They fight the indecisive battle of Edgehill.

1643 Isaac Newton is born

1644 Parliament wins the battle of Marston Moor


Parliament wins the battle of Naseby

William Laud is executed

1646 Charles I surrenders to the Scots and the first civil war comes to an end


Charles I starts another civil war. The Scots intervene on his behalf. However, the battle of Preston ends hopes of restoring Charles I to power.

Pride’s Purge. Thomas Pride removes some Presbyterian MPs from parliament.

1649 King Charles I is beheaded


A Scottish army invades England in an attempt to put Charles II on the throne. The Scots are defeated at Worcester and Charles flees abroad.

Thomas Hobbes publishes his work Leviathan

1652 Architect Inigo Jones dies

1652-1654 The first Anglo-Dutch war is fought

1653 Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England

1655-1657 Rule of the Major-Generals in England

1658 Oliver Cromwell dies. His son Richard takes over.

1659 Richard Cromwell resigns. His fall from power is so swift he becomes known as ‘Tumbledown Dick’.

1660 Charles II becomes king

1661 Robert Boyle publishes his great work The Sceptical Chemist


The Royal Society (a scientific organisation) is given its charter by Charles II

Charles II marries a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza

The Act of Uniformity is passed


The first turnpike road is opened. (Turnpike roads were owned by turnpike trusts that maintained them. You had to pay to use them).

1665 Plague kills many people in London. This is the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England.

1665-1667 The second Anglo-Dutch war is fought

1666 The Great Fire of London. Much of the city is destroyed but it is soon rebuilt.

1667 John Milton publishes Paradise Lost

1670 Hudsons Bay Company is formed

1672-1674 The third Anglo-Dutch war is fought


The Test Act is passed. Catholics and Protestant dissenters (who do not belong to the Church of England) are prevented from holding public office.

1670 The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is founded

1679 The Act of Habeas Corpus. Imprisonment without trial is outlawed.


Charles II dies. James II (a Roman Catholic) becomes king.

The Duke of Monmouth (Charles II’s illegitimate son) leads an unsuccessful rebellion in Southwest England.

1686 ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys sentences many of the rebels to death.


Isaac Newton publishes his great work Principia Mathematica. He lays the foundations of modern physics.


The ‘Glorious, Bloodless Revolution’. James II flees abroad and William and Mary become the new monarchs.

1689 The Bill of Rights is passed


Queen Mary dies of smallpox aged 32

The Bank of England is founded

1698 Thomas Savery invents the first steam engine