1714 –  1830, or 1837  The birth of Modern Britain

Mary Anning

The fossil collector, dealer and paleontologist of Lyme Regis (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847). Her discoveries and careful observations would help change the understanding of the history of the Earth and significantly help establish geology as an scientific discipline.

Historical Context

The Georgian era started when George Louis, Elector of Hanover became King of Britain as a consequence of the Act of Settlement naming his mother Sophia of Hanover the heir to the British crown. The succession of four Georges giving the period its name. Some end the period in 1830 with the death of George IV, Others 1837 with the accession of Victoria I following the death of George’s brother and heir William IV.

Regardless of its end point, the Georgian period is one of great change with extreme poverty and luxury alongside each other. Where an industrial nation emerges from a mainly rural one causing cities to rapidly expand; there is wide spread emigrations because of the lack of rural jobs; poor relief changes from ‘handouts’ by the parish to institutions (workhouses); slavery starts as the provider of luxury goods to the masses and moves to the right to stay on British soil in 1772 before its abolition in 1807 for Britain, and 1833 for the British colonies; other social reforms occur in social justice and the prison system; architecture changes are greatly influenced by contact with the wider world; the improving transport systems lead to greater exchanges of ideas and possibly helping fuel the cultural growth. It is a period of massive change and adjustment that lays the foundations for the modern world.

This period is usually uncovered within the primary curriculum; the exception being famous people. Like the painters Gainsborough, Turner and Constable; landscape designers like Capability Brown; entrepreneurs Abraham Darby, George Cadbury, Josiah Wedgewood; engineers Robert Stephenson; collectors Mary Anning to name some.