Written by Dr. Randall Stephens at the blog The Historical Society
On October 25, 1760, George III became King of Great Britain. News traveled slowly, of course, and British American colonists didn't know about George II's (b. 1683) death or their new monarch for weeks.
King George II (1683-1760) of England by Charles Jervas
Just how slow did people and information cross the Atlantic? In 1750 the school master and organist Gottlieb Mittelberger made the voyage from England to Philadelphia. He later wrote: "When the ships have for the last time weighed their anchors near the city of Kaupp [Cowes] in Old England, the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail 8, 9, 10 to 12 weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with the best wind the voyage lasts 7 weeks."
George II (1683-1760) of England
So, finally, in late December, colonists read of the King's demise in the Boston Post-Boy: "Saturday arrived here Capt Partridge in about 6 weeks from London by whom we have the melancholly News of the Death of the most high, most mighty, and most excellent Monarch, GEORGE the Second, King of Great Britain . . . Defender of the Faith . . . . GEORGE the Third was proclaimed KING. . ." ("Partridge; Weeks; London; News; Death; Monarch; George," Boston Post-Boy, December 29, 1760, 2.)
King George III (1738-1820) of England by Alan Ramsey 1762
The Boston Post-Boy relayed additional news from London: "In obedience to the order transmitted to us by the Right Hon. Vice-Chamberlain, We the under-signed have this day opened and examined the body of his Majesty . . . all parts contained in a natural and healthy state, except only the surface of each kidney there were some hydrides, or watery bladders, which however, we determined could not have been at this time of any material consequence." The regal heart, though, did not look so well. Among other abnormalities, they observed "a rupture in the right venticle." ("London, November 4," Boston Post-Boy, December 29, 1760, 2.)
The British American loyalty to King and Country sometimes gets lost in our popular view of colonials as patriots in the making. But as Brendan McConville writes in his The King's Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776, "British North Americans championed their British king with emotional intensity in print, during public political rites, and in private conversation."