William Sterling

George III

Life and Times of King George III

I ran this workshop at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) in November 1999 as part of a series on the Kings and Queens of England. I ran a new version at the City Lit on 22 March 2015

Infamous for “losing” America and going mad, George III was the first English-born king for over 70 years and a great patriot who supported agricultural improvements and helped advance learning in the Age of the Enlightenment.  The 1999 workshop explored his long life and how his attitude to kingship changed from wanting to exercise the powers that his Hanoverian ancestors had neglected into becoming a more constitutional monarch trusting exceptionally gifted politicians such as William Pitt the Younger who became our youngest Prime Minister and one of the longest serving.  Pitt was largely independent of party and ruled through a combination of his own oratorical skill and the support of the king.  George II and Queen Charlotte had a large family; fifteen children.  Although they were devoted parents their children were still a source of problems and frustrations.  The difficult relationship with the Prince of Wales was a constant worry for the king.  Meanwile there were great things going on in agriculture, industry and learning and George was interested in all the changes being brough about by the Enlightenment.  The course was illustrated by a large selection of slides from my own collection.


George III chronology

Below is a copy of the spreadsheet I created for the class showing a year by year list of events in George III’s life.

George III chronology


This is how the City Lit advertised it.

George III had the longest reign of any English monarch up to his time and only Queen Victoria and our queen have surpassed him since.  During his 82 years he never left England although the British Empire expanded rapidly during his reign.  He was one of the best educated of all our monarchs and had a huge thirst for knowledge, accumulating a massive library of some 60,000 books.   Although Parliament had taken over the reins of government during his two predecessors George was keen to play an important role and encourage moderation and reasonable reform.  He had one of the happiest marriages in royal history although his relations with his children were not always ideal.  His reign marked the start of the Industrial, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions but steered Britain free from the political revolution in France. Dr Sterling will present an outline of his life and reign but allowing plenty of time for class discussion and personal views to be expressed.

Due to family problems I was unable to produce any handouts other than a bibliography but promised to put some material on the website.

This is the bibliography


This is a time line of George’s family ,events at home and abroad and what was going on in science and the arts.

George III timeline 2015

George had 14 Prime Ministers, more than Queen Victoria (10) or Queen Elizabeth II (12 so far) despite 3 being among the longest serving.  Below is a list of their premierships with some notable events.

Prime Ministers

Finally, I always have requests for family trees.  Below is a simplified version of the descendants of George II up to the generation of George III’s grandchildren.  It contains George III’s paternal uncles and aunts, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces, children and grandchildren.  I have included all marriages including morganatic ones and those in contravention of the Royal Marriage Act 1772.  I have not shown mistresses and lovers and their children.  I have tried to simplify titles and realms but included dates and places of births, marriages and deaths where I can find them.  I have shown children in birth order except where cousins have married and I move them to be next to each other.  For example, George IV’s wife Caroline was his cousin but not the youngest as I have shown her.  By looking at the dates of birth the correct order can be discerned.  Where people appear more than once I have written “see opposite” underneath.  Using the Excel search tool it is easy to see where else in the tree this person appears.

Family Tree

Any questions please feel free to contact me via the email link.