Chronology: The Life and Work of Edmund Burke

Related Links:
Related Links in the Goodrich Seminar Room:

Source: Introduction to Select Works of Edmund Burke. A New Imprint of the Payne Edition. Foreword and Biographical Note by Francis Canavan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 2.


  • 1729 Burke born in Dublin, January 12.
  • 1735–40 Lives with mother’s relatives in countryside of County Cork.
  • 1741–44 Attends Abraham Shackleton’s Quaker school in Kildare.
  • 1744–48 Attends Trinity College, Dublin, and graduates A.B.
  • 1750 Moves to London to study law in Inns of Court, abandons it for a literary career.
  • 1756 Publishes A Vindication of Natural Society, a satire on Enlightenment political and religious reasoning.
  • 1757 Publishes A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, an essay in aesthetics.Marries Miss Jane Nugent.
  • 1758 Richard Burke, Jr., born.Becomes editor of The Annual Register.
  • 1761 Returns to Ireland as secretary to William Gerard Hamilton, Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant.Begins but never finishes Tracts Relative to the Laws Against Popery in Ireland.
  • 1764 Returns to London, has bitter break with Hamilton.Becomes a charter member, along with Johnson, Reynolds, Goldsmith, and others, of The Literary Club.
  • 1765 Becomes private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham.George III reluctantly appoints Rockingham Prime Minister.Burke elected to House of Commons from borough of Wendover.
  • 1766 Rockingham dismissed as Prime Minister after achieving repeal of Stamp Act that inflamed the American colonies.
  • 1768 Burke buys an estate in Buckinghamshire.
  • 1770 Publishes Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, the political creed of the Rockingham Whigs.
  • 1771 Becomes parliamentary agent for the colony of New York.
  • 1773 Visits France.
  • 1774 Elected Member of Parliament for city of Bristol, delivers classic speech on the independence of a representative.Delivers Speech on American Taxation, criticizing British policy of taxing the colonies.
  • 1775 Delivers Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies.
  • 1780 Because of opposition, withdraws from election at Bristol. Is elected M.P. from borough of Malton through Rockingham’s influence.Speech on the Economical Reform advocates Whig policy of reducing the king’s influence on Parliament.
  • 1782 Rockingham again appointed Prime Minister to end the American War.Burke becomes Paymaster of the Forces.Rockingham dies in office.
  • 1783 Rockingham Whigs under Charles James Fox form a government in coalition with Lord North.Burke, again Paymaster, delivers Speech on Fox’s East India Bill, attacking East India Company’s government of India.Coalition falls from power and is replaced by William Pitt the Younger’s Tory ministry, leaving the Whigs out of power for rest of Burke’s life.
  • 1786 Burke moves the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the Company’s Governor-General of Bengal.
  • 1788 Trial of Hastings begins, led by Burke.
  • 1789 French Revolution begins.
  • 1790 In November, publishes Reflections on the Revolution in France.
  • 1791 Breaks with Fox, leader of the former Rockingham Whigs, over the French Revolution.A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly [of France], An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, and Thoughts on French Affairs.
  • 1793 War breaks out between Great Britain and France.Burke criticizes failure to prosecute the war vigorously in Observations on the Conduct of the Ministry and Remarks on the Policy of the Allies.
  • 1794 Prosecution of Hastings ends; Burke retires from Parliament.Burke’s son dies.
  • 1795 Hastings is acquitted.Thoughts and Details on Scarcity.
  • 1796 Burke defends his public life in A Letter to a Noble Lord.
  • 1796–97 Letters on a Regicide Peace protest British willingness to make peace with Revolutionary France.
  • 1797 Burke dies, July 9.