- Horace-Bénédict de Saussure begins publication of Voyages dans les Alpes.
- Jean-Paul Marat publishes Découvertes de M. Marat sur le feu, l'électricité et la lumière (Discoveries of Mr Marat on Fire, Electricity and Light).
- January 8 – Bryan Higgins is granted a British patent for hydraulic cement (stucco) for use as an exterior plaster.
- May – Boulton and Watt’s Smethwick Engine is brought into service for pumping on the Birmingham Canal Navigations; two centuries later it will become the oldest working steam engine in the world.
- James Pickard first applies a crank and flywheel to a Newcomen atmospheric engine to produce circular motion.
- The Iron Bridge is erected across the River Severn in Shropshire, England; the first all-cast-iron bridge ever built. It will open to traffic on January 1, 1781.
- The spinning mule is perfected by the Lancashire inventor Samuel Crompton.
- The British Royal Navy adopts the carronade.
- The Girandoni Air Rifle is designed in Austria.
- January 22 – Jeremiah Dixon, English surveyor and astronomer (born 1733)
- February 14 – James Cook, English explorer (born 1728)
- June 28 – Martha Daniell Logan, American botanist (born 1704)
- October 18 – Patrick d'Arcy, Irish-born mathematician (born 1725)
- November 16 – Pehr Kalm, Swedish botanist (born 1716)
- Knight, David (2004). "Higgins, Bryan (c. 1741–1818)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13228. Retrieved 2011-06-20. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Icons, a portrait of England 1750-1800". Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
- Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 333–334. ISBN 0-304-35730-8.