A Swift's Chronology


1664 Marriage in Dublin of Swift’s parents, Jonathan Swift the elder and Abigail Erick.

1664 Birth of John Vanbrugh. Katherine Philips, Poems (pirated).


1665 Second Anglo Dutch War (until 1667). Plague in London.


1666 Fire of London. Death of Abraham Cowley. Boileau, Satires; Moliere, Le Misanthrope. Commencement of Philosophical Transactions by Royal Society.

1667 March or April: Swift’s father dies; 30 November: birth of Swift in Dublin.

1667 Dismissal of Clarendon; the Cabal (until 1673). Birth of John Arbuthnot. John Bunyan, Grace Abounding; John Dryden, Annus Mirabilis, Indian Emperor, Of Dramatick Poesy; John Milton, Paradise Lost (1st edn.); Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society


1668 Dryden appointed Poet Laureate. Beginning of Mercurius Librarius (Term Catalogues); Cowley, Works, with life by Sprat.


1670 Birth of William Congreve. Milton, The History of Britain; Pascal, Pensées; Izaac Walton, Lives.


1671 Milton, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes.


1672 Third Anglo-Dutch War (until 1674); second Declaration of Indulgence. Births of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. Buckingham, Rehearsal; Marvell, Rehearsal Transpros’d (Pt. II, 1673).

1673-82 Swift at school at Kilkenny

1673 Second Declaration of Indulgence withdrawn, and Test Act signed. End of Cabal.


1674 Death of Milton. Opening of Theatre Royal. Boileau, L’Art Poetique; Milton, Paradise Lost (2nd edn., in 12 books); Thomas Shadwell, Enchanted Island.


1675 William Wycherley, Country Wife.


1676 George Etherege, Man of Mode; Shadwell, Virtuoso.


1677 Aphra Behn, The Rover, Pt. I (Pt. II, 1681); Wycherley, Plain Dealer.


1678 Popish Plot. Beginning of Christopher Wren’s work on St Pauls’. Death of Andrew Marvell; birth of George Farquhar. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, I (Part II, 1684); Samuel Butler, Hudibras, III;


1679 Exclusion Crisis (until 1681). Birth of Thomas Parnell. Gilbert Burnet, History of the Reformation (Vols. II & III, 1681 & 1715).


1680 Deaths of Butler, Rochester, La Rochefoucauld. Sir Robert Filmer, Patriarcha; Rochester, Poems; Roscommon, Horace’s Art of Poetry Made English; Sir William Temple, Miscellanea, I.


1681 Thomas Burnet, Telluris Theoria Sacra, Books I and II; John Oldham, Satires Upon the Jesuits; Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel.

1682 April Swift admitted to Trinity College Dublin. He remains there until the outbreak of war between James II and William III.

1682 Death of Sir Thomas Browne. Dryden, The Medall, Religio Laici, Mac Flecknoe, Absalom and Achitophel, II; Lucretius, De natura rerum (tr. Thomas Creech); Thomas Otway, Venice Preservd; Sir William Petty, Essay Concerning the Multiplication of Mankind.


1683 Rye House Plot. Death of Oldham.


1684 Behn, Love-Letters Between a Noble-Man and his Sister (1684-7).


1685 February: Death of Charles II and Accession of James II. June to July: Monmouth Rebellion;

  • October Edict of Nantes revoked. Birth of John Gay; birth of George Berkeley. Sylvae (including contributions by Dryden); Dryden, ‘To the Pious Memory of Mrs Anne Killigrew’, and Threnodia Augustalis.

1686 Swift takes his bachelor’s degree by speciali gratia from TCD

1686 Behn, The Lucky Chance. Dryden, Hind and the Panther; ‘Song for St. Cecelia’s Day’.


1687 April James II’s Declaration of Indulgence. Isaac Newton, Principia.


1688 Civil war breaks out in Ireland. Birth of Alexander Pope; death of Bunyan; Shadwell named Poet Laureate in succession to Dryden; Charles Perrault, Parallèle des Anciens and des Modernes (completed 1697). Glorious Revolution.

  • November William of Orange invades England;
  • December James II flees to France (transfer of the crown to William and Mary in 1689).

1689 January Swift leaves for England; employed in Sir William Temple’s household at Moor Park, near Farnham, Surrey; meets Esther Johnson (Stella), then eight years old.

1689 Accession of William and Mary. Birth of Samuel Richardson; death of Behn. John Locke, First Letter on Toleration

1690 May Swift returns to Ireland, on doctors’ advice, after first appearance of Ménière’s disease.

1690 James II defeated by William III in Ireland (Battle of the Boyne) and flees to France. Dryden, Don Sebastian; Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (enlarged 1694-1700); Second Letter on Toleration; Petty, Political Arithmetick (see 1682); Temple, Miscellanea, II, includes ‘An Essay upon the Ancient and Modern Learning,’ which triggers Phalaris controversy (rev. 1692).

1691 Swift, Ode. To the King. Returns to Moor Park by end of year.

1691 Treaty of Limerick ends war in Ireland.

1692 Swift, Ode to the Athenian Society (in supplement to Athenian Gazette, Vol. V). Swift takes degree of M.A. at Oxford, for future purpose of ordination.

1692 Death of Shadwell. Locke, Third Letter on Toleration; Thomas Rymer, Short View of Tragedy.


1693 Beginning of National Debt. Congreve, Old Batchelor; Dryden, ‘Discourse Concerning Satire,’ prefixed to trs. of Juvenal and Persius; Locke, Thoughts Concerning Education.

1694 Swift returns to Ireland, takes deacon’s orders.

1694 Death of Mary II; Founding of Bank of England. Congreve, Double Dealer; Dictionary of French Academy; William Wotton, Reflections on Ancient and Modern Learning.

1695 January Swift ordained priest, and becomes prebendary of Kilroot, near Belfast.

1695 Death of Henry Purcell. Richardd Blackmore, Prince Arthur; Charles Boyle, ed., Epistles of Phalaris; Congreve, Love for Love; Locke, Reasonableness of Christianity and Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (second Vindication, 1697) Southerne, Oroonoko.

1696-9 Swift at Moor Park, at work on A Tale of a Tub and related writings.



1697 Birth of William Hogarth. Richard Bentley, ‘Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris’ (in 2nd edn. of Wotton’s Reflections, see 1694); Blackmore, King Arthur; Dryden, Works of Virgil; Vanbrugh, Provok’d Wife.


1698 Charles Boyle, Dr. Bentley’s Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris and the Fables of Aesop Examin’d; Jeremy Collier, Short View of the English Stage; William Molyneux, The Case of Ireland Stated.

1699 January death of Temple.

  • August Swift returns to Ireland as chaplain to Earl of Berkeley, Lord Justice of Ireland. Writes ‘When I come to be Old’.
  • November Swift’s edition of Temple’s Letters (dated 1700) is published

1699 Bentley, Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris, with an Answer to the Honourable Charles Boyle; Garth, The Dispensary.

1700 February Swift appointed Vicar of Laracor, Co. Meath.

  • October appointed prebendary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

1700 Death of Charles II of Spain; final statute against Catholics; dispute over Irish forfeitures; Act of Resumption; death of Duke of Gloucester; Partition Treaty. Death of Dryden; birth of James Thomson. Blackmore, Satire against Wit; Cervantes, Don Quixote, tr. Motteux; Congreve, Way of the World. Daniel Defoe, Enquiry into Occasional Conformity; Dryden, Fables and Secular Masque; Fénelon, Dialogue des Morts; James Harrington, Works, with life by Toland; Matthew Prior, Carmen Seculare.

1701 April Swift goes to England with Lord Berkeley; August: Esther Johnson’s move to Dublin;

  • September Swift moves back to Dublin with Rochester, new Lord Lieutenant.
  • October Swift, Contests and Dissensions in Athens and Rome; Swift’s edition of Temple, Miscellanea, III.
24 September, Gulliver sets off from Blefuscu
  • 26 September, Gulliver meets the ship of John Biddel of Deptford
13 April, Gulliver arrives at the Downs, returned from Lilliput;
  • 20 June Gulliver departs on the journey that takes him to Brobdingnag

1701 Death of James II; pretender recognized by Louis XIV; Act of Settlement; General Election (Tory landslide); Impeachment of Somers; General Election (Whig recovery); Joseph Addison, ‘Letter to Halifax’ (written); Charles Davenant, Essay on the Balance of Power; John Dennis, Advancement of Modern Poetry; Richard Steele, Christian Hero.

1702 February Swift takes the degree D.D., Trinity College, Dublin.

  • April travels to England. August: writes ‘Meditation on a Broomstick’ (published in Miscellanies, 1711).
  • October returns to Ireland.

1702 Death of William III, accession of Anne; Tory ministry; Godolphin-Marlborough influence; Harley Speaker of the House of Commons; War of Spanish Succession. Clarendon, History of the Great Rebellion (1702-4); Defoe, Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; William King, De Origine Mali; Observator (1702-12); Poems on Affairs of State (1702-7); Shaftesbury, Paradoxes of State

1703 November travels to England, and stays until May 1704. Swift’s edition of Temple, Letters to the King.17 June, Gulliver stranded in Brobdingnag;

  • 17 August Gulliver leaves the farmer’s house;
  • 26 October Guliver arrives at Lorbrulgrud

1703 First Occasional Conformity Bill defeated in Lords; campaign in Flanders; Great Storm (27 November); Defoe imprisoned, pilloried and released. Abel Boyer, History of the Reign of Queen Anne (1703-20); Steele, The Lying Lover; Ned Ward, London Spy (collected edn., 18 monthly parts , November 1698-1703).

1704 May publication of Tale of a Tub, containing also ‘Battle of the Books’, and ‘Mechanical Operation of the Spirit’. Second and third edns. follow this year.

  • 1 June arrives back in Dublin; there or in Laracor until November 1707.

1704 Battle of Blenheim; Queen Anne’s bounty; Nottingham ministry resigns; Harley Secretary of State; Bolingbroke Secretary at War; death of Locke. Defoe, Review (1704-12); Dennis, Grounds of Criticism in Poetry and Liberty Asserted; Wycherley, Miscellany Poems.

1705 Tale of a Tub, fourth edn.

1705 General Election, Whig victory, ‘Junto’ administration; Marlborough breaks through lines of Brabant; ‘Church in Danger’; Haymarket Opera House opened by Vanburgh; Addison Commissioner of Appeals. Addison, The Campaign and Remarks on Italy; Samuel Clarke, Being and Attributes of God; Bernard de Mandeville, The Grumbling Hive; Steele, The Tender Husband; John Toland, Socinianism Truly Stated; Vanburgh, The Confederacy; Wotton, Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning, 3rd edn., with a Defense of the Reflections, including ‘Observations upon The Tale of a Tub’.


1706 Act of Succession; Battle of Ramillies; Sunderland Secretary of State; Steele made Gazetteer; death of John Evelyn; birth of Benjamin Franklin. Addison, Rosamond; Farquhar, The Recruiting Officer; Locke, Conduct of Understanding, On Miracles and Fourth Letter on Toleration; Delarivier Manley, Almyna; White Kennett, Complete History of England (1706-19).

1707 April Swift writes ‘Story of the Injured Lady’.

  • August writes ‘Tritical Essay’.
  • November Swift in London on Church of Ireland business; meets Addison, Steele and other authors; writes tracts on political and ecclesiastical issues; begins friendship with Esther Vanhomrigh (Vanessa).

1707 Union of England and Scotland; births of Henry Fielding and Charles Wesley. Colley Cibber, Comical Lovers, The Double Gallant and The Lady’s Last Stake; Defoe, Modest Vindication of Present Ministry; Farquhar, The Beaux’ Stratagem; John Philips, Ode to Bolingbroke; Prior, Poems on Several Occasions (pirated); Thomas Tickell, Oxford.

1708 January Swift, Predictions for 1708;

  • March Elegy on Partridge, Account of Partridge’s Death;
  • December Letter concerning the Sacramental Test; writes Sentiments of a Church of England Man (published 1711); writes Argument against Abolishing Christianity
21st April, Gulliver sails to Luggnagg (1711 in pre-1735 edns.)

1708 Battle of Oudemarde; Harley and St. John resign; Catalonia Campaign; Somers returns to office; Naturalization Act; Addison Keeper of Records, Dublin Castle. Joseph Bingham, Origines Ecclesiasticae; Jeremy Collier, Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain (1708-14); Fontenelle, Dialogues of the Dead, tr. Hughes; Locke, Letters; John Philips, Cyder; Shaftesbury, Letter Concerning Enthusiasm; Lewis Theobald, Persian Princess

1709 April Swift, Famous Prediction of Merlin, A Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff, Project for the Advancement of Religion. ‘Baucis and Philemon’ published in various locations. Steele starts The Tatler (12 April); Swift’s ‘A Description of the Morning’ appears in No. 9 (30 April). Swift’s edition of Temple, Memoirs III.

  • June returns to Dublin.

1709 Charles XII defeated at Pultawa; Sacheverell’s sermon; births of Samuel Johnson and George Lyttelton; Copyright Act (first, 14-year term, renewable for another 14 if author is alive); Steele dismissed from the Gazette. Berkeley, New Theory of Vision; Manley, The New Atalantis; Ambrose Philips, ‘Pastorals’ and Pope, ‘Pastorals’, published in the Tonson Poetical Miscellanies VI; Prior, Poems on Several Occasions; Nicholas Rowe’s Shakespeare (1709-10); Shaftesbury, The Moralists.

1710 Swift arrives in London on 1 September, travelling on behalf of the Church of Ireland soliciting for a remission of some financial imposts on the clergy of the Church of Ireland; begins epistolary diary known as Journal to Stella, 1710-13; Swift’s letter on corruptions of style published as Tatler 230.

  • October meets Harley, leader of the new Tory government; still dining regularly with Addison and Steele; “A Description of a City Shower” appears in Tatler, No. 238;
  • November takes over pro-government paper, The Examiner.

1710 January Marlborough threatens to resign commision over Tory influence of Abigail Masham at court. March: trial of Sacheverell ends disappointingly for Whig managers.

  • August Godolphin dismissed as Lord Treasurer, replaced by Tory treasury under Robert Harley.
  • September Addison begins The Whig Examiner. Bayle, Dictionary, first English edn.; Congreve, Collected Works; Manley, Memoirs of Europe.
  • October landslide victory brings Tories to power. Samuel Clements, Faults on Both Sides; Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge;

1711 February Swift attends Harley’s ‘Saturday Club’ dinners; publishes Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (includes ‘Sentiments of a Church-of-England Man’ and ‘Argument Against Abolishing Christianity’).

  • September Death of Swift’s Friend Anne Long.
  • November Swift, Conduct of the Allies.

1711 January Peace conference at Utrecht begins.

  • February Tory ‘October Club’ attacks Harley for perceived moderation. March: assassination attempt by Guiscard on Harley.
  • May Harley created Lord Treasurer and Earl of Oxford; Pope, Essay on Criticism. November: Nottingham (Swift’s ‘Dismal’) breaks with Harley.
  • December Marlborough dismissed. Pope, Essay on Criticism; Steele, Tatler final number, January; Addison and Steele, Spectator (1 March 1711 - 6 December 1712); Shaftesbury, Characteristicks.

1712 May Swift, Proposal for Correcting the English Tongue.

  • August Swift, Some Remarks on the Barrier Treaty. Formation of the ‘Scriblerus Club’ with Pope, Gay, Parnell and Arbuthnot.

1712 July St. John created Viscount Bolingbroke.

  • October Oxford and Bolingbroke clash in cabinet. Pope, Rape of the Lock (2-canto version); Arbuthnot, Proposal for an Art of Political Lying.

1713 January Swift, Mr. C[olli]ns’s Discourse of Free-Thinking, put into Plain English.

  • May public acrimony between Swift and Steele.
  • June Swift installed as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
  • October Swift, Importance of the Guardian Considered; composes ‘Cadenus and Vanessa’.

1713 March Peace and commerce treaties signed by Britain and France at Utrecht.

  • August Bolingbroke’s bid to control ministry defeated by Harley; general election, another Tory victory.
  • December Queen Anne seriously ill. Pope, Windsor-Forest; Gay, Rural Sports; Parnell, Essay on the Different Styles of Poetry; Addison, Cato; Steele, Guardian, Englishman

1714 February Swift, Public Spirit of the Whigs; declared ‘seditious and scandalous libel’ by Lords; Swift govenor of Bethlehem Hospital (‘Bedlam’).1714 March Swift helps draft Queen’s speech.

  • June Swift leaves London for Letcombe Basset, Berkshire; Swift, Some Free Thoughts.
  • August sails for Dublin, beginning of six-year break from publication.

1714 January Steele, Crisis.

  • July Oxford dismissed by Queen Anne.
  • August death of Queen Anne; accession of George I. Beginning of Whig supremacy.


1715 June Pope, Iliad, books I-IV.


1717 January Pope, Gay and Arbuthnot, Three Hours After Marriage. Pope, Works.


1718 Death of Parnell

1719 March 13: Swift writes birthday verses for Stella.

1719 June death of Addison.

1720 Swift, Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture; at subsequent trial of its printer, Edward Waters, Chief Justice Whitsed refuses to accept ‘not guilty’ verdict from jury.

1720 March Declaratory Act (that the British Parliament may make laws binding on Ireland).

  • August collapse of the ‘South Sea Bubble’.
  • November Trenchard and Gordon begin publishing Cato’s Letters.

1721 April earliest references to writing of Gulliver’s Travels, in a letter to Charles Ford. Swift travels over 400 miles on his ‘Summer Rambles’ in Ireland.

1721 Emergence of Robert Walpole as de facto Prime Minister.

  • September death of Prior.
  • December Parnell, Poems on Several Occasions, with Pope’s ‘Epistle of Oxford’ as preface.


1722 July patent to strike copper coins for Ireland granted to William Wood.

  • August Atterbury implicated in Jacobite ‘Layer’s Plot’.

1723 June Death of Vanessa; Swift begins four-month tour of southern Ireland


1724 January: Swift finishes book four of Gulliver’s Travels, and begins book three.

  • March Letter to the Shopkeepers of Ireland (first Drapier’s Letter).
  • August Letter to Harding (second DL).
  • September Some Observations (third DL).
  • October Letter to Whole People of Ireland (fourth DL).
  • December Letter to Molesworth (fifth DL)

1724 May death of Oxford.

  • October £300 reward offered for naming of the author of fourth Drapier’s Letter. Gilbert Burnet, History of his Own Time.

1725 April: Swift created freeman of City of Dublin.

  • April-October Swift and Stella at Quilca with Sheridan family; completion of Gulliver’s Travels.

1725 April Bolingbroke returns from exile in France.

  • September Cancellation of Wood’s patent. Pope’s edition of Shakespeare and translation of Homer’s Odyssey (to 1726).

1726 March: Swift travels to London.

  • April Audience with Princess of Wales. Meetings with patriot members of opposition, and with Walpole.
  • May at Pope’s Twickenham villa with Gay and Martha Blount; visits Cobham at Stowe; Stella seriously ill.
  • August returns to Dublin amid public acclamation. 28 October: first ed. Gulliver’s Travels.

1726 March Theobald, Shakespeare Restored.

  • December Pultney and Bolingbroke launch opposition periodical The Craftsman.

1727 January: attempts to correct early editions of Gulliver.

  • April Swift travels to London for his last English visit.
  • June Pope/Swift Miscellanies, vols. 1 & 2.
  • August returns to Ireland, writing ‘Holyhead Journal’ during a week of delays before crossing.

1727 June death of George I, accession of George II.

  • Autumn floods, crop failures and rural poverty in Ireland. Gay, Fables. Death of Newton.

1728 January Death of Stella. Swift, ‘On the Death of Mrs. Johnson’.

  • March "last" volume of Pope/Swift Miscellanies; Swift, A Short View of the State of Ireland.
  • May Swift and Sheridan begin The Intelligencer, runs until May 1729.

1728 January Gay’s Beggar’s Opera begins triumphant run at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

  • May Pope, Dunciad; numerous printed attacks on Pope.

1729 October Swift, A Modest Proposal. December: Swift meets Laetitia Pilkington, author of Memoirs (1748-54) concerning Swift, and her husband Matthew.

1729 April Pope, Dunciad Variorum

1730 February Swift tells Pope of his friendship with a ‘triumfeminate’ of Dublin literary Bluestockings (Mary Barber, Constantia Grierson, Mrs. Sican)

1730 Townshend resigns as Secretary of State. Trial of Francis Charteris. Colley Cibber made Poet Laureate.

1731 Swift works on Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift (published 1739) and the scatological poems published in 1734

1731 December Pope, Epistle to Burlington. First issue of Gentleman’s Magazine. Death of Defoe.

1732 April Swift, Life and Character of Dr. Swift.

  • June Swift, The Lady’s Dressing Room.
  • October Pope/Swift Miscellanies, "third" vol.; Swift has met his future biographer, the Earl of Orrery.

1732 December Death of John Gay. Hogarth, Harlot’s Progress.


1733 January Pope, Epistle to Bathurst.

  • February Pope, first Imitation of Horace; An Essay on Man. Excise Crisis.

1734 A letter of commendation from Swift appears as preface to Mary Barber’s Poems on Several Occasions.

  • November George Faulkner begins to publish Swift’s Works in Dublin.
  • December Swift, A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed published with ‘Strephon and Chloe’ and ‘Cassinus and Peter’

1734 January Pope, Epistle to Cobham. Prosecution of Philip Doddridge; Hogarth, Rake’s Progress (engravings published 1735).

1735 Death of Swift’s faithful housekeeper, Mrs. Brent

1735 January Pope, Epistle to Arbuthnot.

  • February death of Arbuthnot. Bolingbroke returns to France.

1736 December Swift tells Pope that ‘I now neither read, nor write; nor remember, nor converse. All I have left is to walk, and ride’.

  • June A Character of the Legion Club.

1736 Porteous Riots; repeal of Test and Corporation Acts defeated. Butler, Analogy of Religion.

1737 August Swift created freeman of the City of Cork

1737 May Pope’s ed. of his letters. Prince of Wales expelled from court; Death of Queen Caroline.

1738 Spring Swift, Genteel and Ingenious Conversation; fifth and sixth volumes of the Faulkner Works

1738 October death of Thomas Sheridan. Pope visited by Bolingbroke. Last report of Society for Reformation of Manners.

1739 January Swift, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, edited by Pope and William King, followed by Dublin edition in February

1739 October War of Jenkins’ Ear.

1740 May Swift makes his last will, on the brink of his final decline; bequests to Rebecca Dingley (Stella’s companion), Martha Whiteway (guardian during his final years), and others; land purchased for St. Patrick’s Hospital

1740 War of Austrian Succession.

1742 November Swift’s understanding ‘quite gone’.

1742 March Pope, The New Dunciad (i.e. book IV)


1744 May death of Pope.

1745 19 October death of Swift

1745 Death of Walpole. Jacobite rebellion.