|1871 in the United Kingdom|
|1869 | 1870 | 1871 | 1872 | 1873|
|Constituent countries of the United Kingdom|
|England | Ireland | Scotland | Wales|
- 1 January – disestablishment of the Church of Ireland by the Irish Church Act 1869 comes into effect.
- 26 January – Rugby Football Union established in London.
- 10 February – Great Gale in the North Sea: 28 ships wrecked and total fatalities are estimated at over fifty, including six crew of Bridlington life-boat Harbinger.
- 7 March – the first rugby international (played in Edinburgh) results in a 4–1 win by Scotland over England.
- 13 March – Britain, Russia, France, Austria, Turkey and Italy agree to abrogate the 1856 Treaty of Paris ending Black Sea neutrality.
- 21 March – marriage of Princess Louise to John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, whose father, the 8th Duke of Argyll, is the serving Secretary of State for India.
- 29 March – the Royal Albert Hall is opened by Queen Victoria; it incorporates a grand organ by Henry Willis & Sons, the world's largest at this time.
- 2 April – census in the United Kingdom, the first to record economic and mental status.
- 12 April – Durham Miners' Gala first held.
- 24 April – murder of servant girl Jane Clouson in Eltham.
- 11 May – the first trial in the Tichborne case begins in the Court of Common Pleas (England).
- 26 May – Parliament passes the Bank Holidays Act creating four annual bank holidays (five in Scotland).
- 29 May – first bank holiday held on Whit Monday.
- 6 June – Smith v Hughes, a landmark case in English contract law, is decided in the Court of Queen's Bench, allowing an objective approach to interpretation of the parties' conduct when entering into a contract.
- 18 June – the Universities Tests Act removes restrictions limiting access to Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities to members of the Church of England.
- 29 June – trade unions legalised by Trade Union Act.
- 20 July – C. W. Alcock proposes that 'a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association', giving birth to the FA Cup in football.
- August – Nine Hours Strike begins on Tyneside in favour of a shorter working day; employers capitulate after 14 weeks.
- 11 August – Stowmarket Guncotton Explosion kills 28.
- 17 August – Regulation of the Forces Act centralises and regularises control of the British Army as part of the Cardwell Reforms, creating a structure of regional Brigade (Regimental) Districts.
- 21 August – Pedlars Act requires pedlars to be licensed.
- 1 November – sale of commissions in the British Army abolished as part of the Cardwell Reforms.
- 6 November – MP Sir Charles Dilke, 2nd Baronet, delivers a speech critical of the expense of maintaining the monarchy to a radical audience in Newcastle upon Tyne.
- 7 November – the London–Australia telegraph cable is brought ashore at Darwin.
- 10 November – Welsh-born journalist Henry Morton Stanley locates missing Scottish explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika, and allegedly greets him saying "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
- 17 November – George Biddell Airy presents his discovery that astronomical aberration is independent of the local medium.
- 25 November – first performance of The Bells starring Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre, London.
- 25 December – Reading Football Club formed.
- 26 December – the Victorian burlesque Thespis, first of the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera collaborations, premières at the Gaiety Theatre, London. It does modestly well, but the two composers will not again work together until 1875.
- Thomas Lipton opens his first grocery shop, in Glasgow.
- Southall Football Club formed in Southall in the London Borough of Ealing, England.
- In rugby union, Neath RFC and Streatham-Croydon RFC are founded.
- Teddington Hockey Club formed, the world's first.
- The native-bred red kite becomes extinct in England.
- William Alexander's realist novel Johnny Gib of Gushetneuk (serialised in Aberdeen Free Press 1869-70).
- William Black's novel A Daughter of Heth.
- Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer's hymnal Christmas Carols, Old and New, 2nd series.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton's (anonymous) novel The Coming Race.
- Lewis Carroll's children's novel Through the Looking-Glass.
- George Tomkyns Chesney's (anonymous) invasion novella The Battle of Dorking.
- Charles Darwin's work The Descent of Man.
- George Eliot's novel Middlemarch (begins serialisation).
- Anthony Trollope's novel The Eustace Diamonds (serialisation).
- Edward Burnett Tylor's anthropological study Primitive Culture.
- 1 January – Montagu Toller, cricketer and lawyer (died 1948)
- 17 January – David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, admiral (died 1936)
- 18 February – Harry Brearley, inventor (died 1948)
- 19 March – Schofield Haigh, cricketer (died 1921)
- 28 March – R. Silyn Roberts, Welsh socialist and pacifist writer (died 1930)
- 16 April – John Millington Synge, Irish dramatist (died 1909)
- 11 June – Walter Cowan, admiral (died 1956)
- 3 July – W. H. Davies, poet (died 1940)
- 4 July – Hubert Cecil Booth, engineer and inventor (died 1955)
- 15 August – Arthur Tansley, botanist and ecologist (died 1955)
- 6 September – Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England (died 1950)
- 10 September
- 24 September – Lottie Dod, athlete (died 1960)
- 10 October – Wickham Steed, newspaper editor (died 1956)
- 12 October – Lilias Margaret Frances, Countess Bathurst, née Borthwick, newspaper proprietor (died 1965)
- 25 October – John Gough, general, Victoria Cross recipient (died 1915)
- 3 November – Albert Goldthorpe, rugby league footballer (died 1943)
- 18 January – Sir George Hayter, English portrait painter (born 1792)
- 22 February – Sir Charles Shaw, Scottish-born army officer and police commissioner (born 1795)
- 17 March – Robert Chambers, Scottish publisher and geologist (born 1802)
- 18 March – Augustus De Morgan, mathematician (born 1806)
- 7 April – Prince Alexander John of Wales (born 6 April)
- 20 April – Samuel Halkett, Scottish librarian (born 1814)
- 30 April – Jane Clouson, murder victim (born 1854)
- 4 May – Pablo Fanque, black circus owner, popularized by The Beatles in song (born 1810)
- 11 May – Sir John Herschel, astronomer (born 1792)
- 9 June – Anna Atkins, botanist and pioneer photographer (born 1799)
- 14 July – Michael Loam, Cornish engineer, pioneer of the man engine (born 1797)
- 1 September – Sir James Pennethorne, architect (born 1801)
- 6 September – James Burns, Scottish shipowner (born 1789)
- 7 September – William Prowting Roberts, Chartist lawyer (born 1806)
- 10 September – Ugo Foscolo, Italian poet (born 1821)
- 21 September – Charlotte Elliott, hymnwriter (born 1789)
- 7 October – Sir John Burgoyne, field marshal (born 1782)
- 18 October – Charles Babbage, mathematician and inventor (born 1791)
- 22 October – Sir Roderick Murchison, Scottish-born geologist (born 1792)
- 7 December – Lavinia Ryves, claimant to membership of the royal family (born 1797)
- 14 December – George Hudson, railway financier (born 1800)
- 28 December – John Henry Pratt, clergyman and mathematician (born 1809)
- Palmer, Alan; Palmer, Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 293–294. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- "History of Durham Miner's Gala". Co-Curate. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
- Majendie, Vivian Dering (1872). Report on the Explosion of Gun-Cotton at Stowmarket, on the 11th August 1871.
- Bruce, Anthony P. C. (1980). The Purchase System in the British Army, 1660–1871. London: Royal Historical Society.
- Costa, Thomas M. (1996). "Dilke, Charles Wentworth". In Olson, James S.; Shadle, Robert (eds.). Historical Dictionary of the British Empire. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-27917-9.
- "1871 Java - Port Darwin Cable". History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications. 5 November 2014. Archived from the original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- Rowell, George, ed. (1953). Nineteenth Century Plays. World's Classics. Oxford University Press.
- "Red kite – Population trends". RSPB. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- Donaldson, William (2004). "Alexander, William (1826–1894)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39241. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Leavis, Q. D. (1965). Fiction and the Reading Public (2nd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus.
- Finkelsteain, David (2021). "The 6d pamphlet that caused an invasion scare". History Scotland. 21 (5): 29–31.
- Grasso, John (2011). Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Scarecrow Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780810872370.
- Haines, Catharine M. C. (2001). International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-57607-090-1.