© National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir George Biddell Airy
by Thomas Herbert Maguire Click on the links below to find out more
The Peelites, a breakaway group who had supported Peel during the Corn Law reforms, join the Liberals. The Conservative Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, becomes Prime Minister after Lord John Russell's Liberal administration collapses. The administration is short-lived and replaced by a new Liberal-Peelite coalition, under the leadership of former Tory George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen.
Art and science
Start of spiritualism craze in England.London physician Peter Mark Roget first publishes his thesaurus.American author Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes the hugely successful anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Scottish physicist William Thomson formulates the second law of thermodynamics, demonstrating that a rapidly expanding gas cools.
Independent Boer republics north of the Vaal and Orange rivers are recognised by Britain following the Sand River Convention. Later, the Bloemfontein Convention (1854) formally recognises the independence of Boer republics between the Vaal and Orange rivers, resulting in the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State. Tension escalates in Crimea as France demands that Turkey end Russia's exclusive control of the Christian Holy Places in the Ottoman empire.