Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, when she was 18 years old. She ruled for 64 years and gave her name to an age. In 1840 she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. They had nine children and in 1857 Victoria gave Albert the title of Prince Consort.
The 1830 was a period of reform :
- In 1832 the Great Reform Act was passed, that transferred voting privileges from the small districts, to the large industrial town, like Manchester.
- The Factory Act, passed in 1833, had prevented children aged 9 to 13 from being employed more than forty-eight hours a week, and no person between 13 and 18 could work more than seventy-two hour a week.
- In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed. It reformed the old Poor Laws dating from Elizabeth I.
Life in workhouses was terrible. The poor had to wear uniforms and their families were split.
Workhouses were mainly run by the Church and Religion was a strong force. In industrial areas the nonconformist churches promoted study and abstinence from alcohol.
In 1838, a group of radicals, drew up a People’s Character demanding equal electoral districts, universal male suffrage and a secret ballot, but no one in power was ready for this democracy and the Chartist movement failed. However, in 1872, the secret ballot was introduced with the Ballot Act.
Ireland agriculture depended on potatoes. In 1845 bad weather and an plant disease caused the destruction of potato crops. During this terrible femine a lot of people died, and many emigrated in search of a better life.
The Irish crisis forced the Prime Minister , Sir Robert Peel, to abolish the Corn Laws in 1846.
In the mind-years of the 19th century, England experienced a second wave of cultural and economic changes. England avoided the revolutionary wave that caused chaos in the Europeans Monarchies in 1848. People were very interested in exhibitions, and several museums were founded, like: Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and what is now called the Victoria and Albert Museum. Entrance was free.