Kingdom of Great Britain

Anthem: 'God Save the King'/'Queen'
Location of Great Britain in 1789 in dark green; Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Hanover in light green
Location of Great Britain in 1789 in dark green; Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Hanover in light green
51°30′N 0°7′W / 51°30′N 0°7′W / 51.500; -0.117
Official languagesEnglish, French[a]
Recognised regional languagesScots, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Norn, Cornish[b]
Church of England
Church of Scotland
Demonym(s)British, Briton
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• 1707–1714[a]
• 1714–1727
George I
• 1727–1760
George II
• 1760–1801[b]
George III
Prime Minister 
• 1721–1742
Robert Walpole
• 1742–1743
Earl of Wilmington
• 1743–1754
Henry Pelham
• 1757–1762
Duke of Newcastle
• 1766–1768
William Pitt the Elder
• 1770–1782
Lord North
• 1783–1801
William Pitt the Younger
LegislatureParliament of Great Britain
House of Lords
House of Commons
22 July 1706
1 May 1707
1 January 1801
Total230,977 km2 (89,181 sq mi)
• 1707
• 1801
CurrencyPound sterling
ISO 3166 codeGB
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Today part of United Kingdom
  1. ^ Monarch of England and Scotland from 1702 to 1707.
  2. ^ Continued as monarch of the United Kingdom until 1820.
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Map of Great Britain in 1720
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The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,[1][2] was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 1 January 1801. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England (which included Wales) and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". Since its inception, the kingdom was in legislative and personal union with the Kingdom of Ireland. Following the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

The early years of the newly-united kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings, which ended in defeat for the Stuart cause at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. In 1763, victory in the Seven Years' War led to the dominance of the British Empire, which was to become the foremost global power for over a century, slowly growing to become the largest empire in history.

From the mid-1750s, the Kingdom came to dominate the Indian subcontinent through the aggressive expansion of the East India Trading Company, and until suffering defeat in the American War of Independence, it claimed vast swaths of the North American continent through its burgeoning American colonies.

The Kingdom of Great Britain was replaced by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 January 1801 with the Acts of Union 1800.[3]


The name Britain descends from the Latin name for the island of Great Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons via the Old French Bretaigne (whence also Modern French Bretagne) and Middle English Bretayne, Breteyne. The term Great Britain was first used officially in 1474.[4]

The use of the word "Great" before "Britain" originates in the French language, which uses Bretagne for both Britain and Brittany. French therefore distinguishes between the two by calling Britain la Grande Bretagne, a distinction which was transferred into English.[5]

The Treaty of Union and the subsequent Acts of Union state that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain",[6] and as such "Great Britain" was the official name of the state, as well as being used in titles such as "Parliament of Great Britain".[2][7][8] Both the Acts and the Treaty describe the country as "One Kingdom" and a "United Kingdom", which has led some much later publications into the error of treating the "United Kingdom" as a name before it actually came into being in 1801.[9][10] The websites of the Scottish Parliament, the BBC, and others, including the Historical Association, refer to the state created on 1 May 1707 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain.[11][12][13][14][15] The term United Kingdom was sometimes used during the 18th century to describe the state, but was not its name.[16][17]