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|Centuries:||18th century – 19th century – 20th century|
|Decades:||1810s 1820s 1830s – 1840s – 1850s 1860s 1870s|
|Years:||1837 1838 1839 – 1840 – 1841 1842 1843|
Year 1840 (MDCCCXL) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Monday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar).
Events of 1840
January - June
- January 3 - One of the predecessor papers of the Herald Sun of Melbourne, Australia, The Port Phillip Herald, is founded.
- January 10 - Uniform penny postage introduced in the UK.
- January 13 - The steamship Lexington burns and sinks in icy waters, four miles off the coast of Long Island: 139 died, only 4 survived.
- January 19 - Captain Charles Wilkes circumnavigates Antarctica, claiming what became known as Wilkes Land for the United States.
- January 20 - Dumont D'Urville discovers Adélie Land, Antarctica. The first public school is established in Rockingham County
- January 22 - British colonists reach New Zealand. Official founding date of Wellington.
- February - Rhodes blood libel against the Jews of Rhodes.
- February 5 - The murder of a Capuchin friar and his Greek servant leads to the Damascus affair, a highly publicized case of blood libel against the Jews of Damascus.
- February 6 - Treaty of Waitangi, document granting British sovereignty in New Zealand, is signed.
- February 10 - Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom marries Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg-Gotha.
- February 11 - Gaetano Donizetti's opera La Fille du Regiment premieres in Paris.
- March 1 - William Hobson, first Governor of New Zealand, suffers a stroke.
- March 1 - Adolphe Thiers becomes prime minister of France.
- April 15 - King's College Hospital opens in Portugal Street, London.
- May 1 - Britain issues the Penny Black, world's first postage stamp.
- May 6 - The Penny Black, world's first postage stamp becomes valid for the pre-payment of postage.
- May 7 - The Great Natchez Tornado: A massive tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi during the early afternoon hours. Before it was over, 317 people had lost their lives and 109 were injured. It is the second deadliest tornado in U.S. history.
July - December
- July 4 - The Cunard Line's 700- ton wooden paddlewheel steamer RMS Britannia departs from Liverpool bound for Halifax , Nova Scotia on the first transatlantic passenger cruise.
- July 15 - Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia sign a London Treaty with the Sublime Porte, ruler of the Ottoman Empire.
- July 23 - The Province of Canada is created by the Act of Union.
- August 10 - Fortsas hoax - number of book collectors gather to Binche, Belgium to attend a non-existent book auction of the late "Count of Fortsas"
- September 10 - Ottoman and British troops bombard Beirut and land troops on the coast to pressure Egyptian Muhammad Ali to retreat from the country.
- September 16 - Joseph Strutt handed over the deeds and papers concerning the Arboretum, which was to become England's first public park.
- September 30 - The frigate Belle-Poule arrives in Cherbourg, bringing back the remains of Napoléon from Saint Helena to France. He is buried in the Invalides.
- October 7 - Willem II becomes King of the Netherlands.
- November 7 - William Henry Harrison defeats Martin Van Buren in the U.S. presidential election.
- December 7 - David Livingstone leaves Britain for Africa.
- December 7 - Stockport viaduct (located in Greater Manchester, England) was completed in this year. It is the largest brick structure in Western Europe.
- Louis Agassiz publishes his work in two volumes entitled Etudes sur les glaciers ("Study on Glaciers"), the first major work to scientifically propose that the Earth has been subject to a past ice age.
- Pedro II is declared "of age" prematurely and begins to reassert central control in Brazil.
- Mount Allison University is founded in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
- Washingtonian Temperance Society is founded.
- First English translation of Goethe's Theory of Colours by Charles Eastlake published.
|Ab urbe condita||2593|
|British Regnal year||3 Vict. 1 – 4 Vict. 1|
|Chinese calendar|| 己亥年十一月廿七日
— to —庚子年十二月初八日
|- Vikram Samvat||1896–1897|
|- Shaka Samvat||1762–1763|
|- Kali Yuga||4941–4942|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||840–841|
|Japanese calendar|| Tenpō 11
|Juche calendar||N/A (before 1912)|
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 12 days|
|Minguo calendar||72 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2383|
January - June
- January 3 - Father Damien, Belgian missionary priest (d. 1888)
- January 22 - Ernest Roland Wilberforce, English bishop (d. 1907)
- January 23 - Ernst Abbe, German physicist (d. 1905)
- January 26 - John Clayton Adams, British landscape artist (d. 1906)
- February 4 - Hiram Stevens Maxim, American firearms inventor (d. 1916)
- February 5 - John Boyd Dunlop, Scottish inventor (d. 1921)
- February 21 - Murad V, Ottoman Sultan (d. 1904)
- February 22 - August Bebel, German politician (d. 1913)
- February 23 - Carl Menger, Austrian economist (d. 1921)
- February 29 - John Philip Holland, Irish inventor (d. 1914)
- March 28 - Emin Pasha, German doctor and African administrator (d. 1892)
- April 2 - Emile Zola, French writer (d. 1902)
- April 22 - Odilon Redon, French painter (d. 1916)
- April 27 - Edward Whymper, English mountaineer (d. 1911)
- May 7 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer (d. 1893)
- May 13 - Alphonse Daudet, French writer (d. 1897)
- June 2 - Thomas Hardy, English writer (d. 1928)
July - December
- August 4 - Richard von Krafft-Ebing, German sexologist (d. 1902)
- October 9 - Simeon Solomon, British artist (d. 1905)
- October 16 - Kuroda Kiyotaka, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1900)
- November 12 - Auguste Rodin, French sculptor (d. 1917)
- November 14 - Claude Monet, French painter (d. 1926)
- November 21 - Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom and Empress of Germany (d. 1901)
- November 29 - Rhoda Broughton, Welsh writer (d. 1920)
January - June
- January 6 - Fanny Burney, English novelist (b. 1752)
- January 22 - Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, German anthropologist (b. 1752)
- February 13 - Nicolas Joseph Maison, French marshal and Minister of War (b. 1770)
- April 25 - Siméon-Denis Poisson, French mathematician, geometer, and physicist (b. 1781)
- May 1 - Joseph Williamson, philanthropist and builder of Williamson's tunnels (b. 1769)
- May 6 - Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, Russian aristocrat and priest (b. 1770)
- May 7 - Caspar David Friedrich, German artist (b. 1774)
- May 11 - Thomas Cooper, American political philosopher (b. 1759)
- May 26 - Sidney Smith, British admiral (b. 1764)
- May 27 - Nicolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer (b. 1782)
- June 7 - King Frederick William III of Prussia (b. 1770)
July - December
- July 7 - Nikolai Stankevich, philosopher and poet (b. 1813)
- August 25 - Karl Leberecht Immermann, novelist and dramatist (b. 1796)
- September 11 - Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, Catholic missionary and martyr in China
- September 18 - Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, polymath (b. 1783)
- September 20 - José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, first leader of independent Paraguay (b. 1766)
- November 2 - Józef Kossakowski (colonel), Polish-Lithuanian statesman (b. 1771)