|Covid-19|January 1 – Upper Burma is formally annexed to British Burma, following its conquest in the Third Anglo-Burmese War of November 1885.
January 5 – Publication of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
January 16 – A resolution is passed in the German Parliament to condemn the Prussian deportations, the politically motivated mass expulsion of ethnic Poles and Jews from Prussia, initiated by Otto von Bismarck.
January 18 – Modern field hockey is born with the formation of The Hockey Association in England.
January 29 – Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen (built in 1885).
February 14 – The first train load of oranges leaves Los Angeles via the transcontinental railroad.
March 3 – The Treaty of Bucharest ends the Serbo-Bulgarian War in the Balkans.
March 8 – Anti-Chinese sentiments result in riots in Seattle, USA.
March 16 – A law establishing the Kiel Canal is adopted.
March 17 – Carrollton Massacre: 20 African Americans are killed in Mississippi.
March 29 – Wilhelm Steinitz becomes first recognized World Chess Champion.
April 4 – William Ewart Gladstone introduces the First Irish Home Rule Bill in the Parliament of the United Kingdom; it is defeated on June 8.
April 25 – Easter occurs on the latest possible date (the next time is in 1943).
A general strike begins in the United States, which escalates into the Haymarket Riot and eventually wins the eight-hour day for workers.
Emile Berliner starts work that leads to the invention of the gramophone.
May 8 – American pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton invents a carbonated beverage that will be named Coca-Cola.
May 15 – Portugal and France agree to regulate the borders of their colonies in Guinea.
Motherwell Football Club is founded in Scotland.
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations have the same rights as living persons.
May 29 – John Pemberton begins to advertise Coca-Cola (in The Atlanta Journal).
June 2 – U.S. President Grover Cleveland marries Frances Folsom in the White House (Washington, D.C.), becoming the only President of the United States to wed in the executive mansion. She is 27 years his junior.
June 3 – Uganda Martyrs: Charles Lwanga, twelve other Catholic boys and men and nine Anglicans are burned (and another Catholic speared) to death at the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda in Namugongo.
June 10 – The Mount Tarawera volcano erupts in New Zealand, resulting in the deaths of over 150 people and the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces.
June 12 – King Ludwig II of Bavaria is detained as part of a deposition, drowning the following day under mysterious circumstances. Six weeks later his unfinished Neuschwanstein Castle is opened to the public.
June 13 – The Great Vancouver Fire devastates much of Vancouver, British Columbia.
June 30 – The Royal Holloway College for women is opened by Queen Victoria near London in England.
July 3 – Karl Benz officially unveils the Benz Patent Motorwagen.
July 9 – Charles Hall files a patent for his process of turning aluminium oxide into molten aluminium.
July 23 – Steve Brodie fakes a jump from the Brooklyn Bridge.
July 25 – Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (Conservative Party (UK)) becomes Great Britain's 30th Prime Minister.
July 31 – Death of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.
August 13 – Nagasaki Incident.
August 19 – The Christian Union (Church of God) is established.
August 20 – A massive hurricane demolishes the town of Indianola, Texas.
August 31 – The 7.0 Mw Charleston earthquake affects southeastern South Carolina with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). Sixty people were killed and damage is estimated at $5–6 million.
September 1 – Grasshopper Club Zürich is founded as first football club in the city of Zürich.
September 4 – American Indian Wars: After almost 30 years of fighting, Apache leader Geronimo surrenders with his last band of warriors to General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon in Arizona.
September 9 – Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works signed.
September 21 – William Stanley, Jr. patents the first practical alternating current transformer device, the induction coil.
October 7 – Spain abolishes slavery in Cuba.
October 28 – In New York Harbor, U.S. President Grover Cleveland dedicates the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France. The ensuing spontaneous celebration in New York City leads to the first ticker tape parade.
November – The extremely harsh winter of 1886–87 in the United States begins, killing tens of thousands of cattle on the Great Plains of North America.
November 3 – In the British Raj, what will become one of the biggest boys' schools in Pakistan, Aitchison College, Lahore, is founded under the auspices of Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison.
November 11 – Heinrich Hertz verifies at the University of Karlsruhe the existence of electromagnetic waves.
November 30 – The Folies Bergère stages its first revue in Paris.
December 11 – London Association football club Arsenal, founded as Dial Square by workers at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, play their first match (on the Isle of Dogs). The club is renamed Royal Arsenal soon afterwards, supposedly on December 25.
December 17 – English adventurer Thomas Stevens concludes the first circumnavigation by bicycle in Yokohama, having set out on his penny-farthing from San Francisco in 1884.
Scotch whisky distiller William Grant & Sons is founded.
Yorkshire Tea is established in Harrogate, UK.
The village of Skorenovac is founded, mostly by Székely Hungarians.
An inexpensive method for refining aluminum, the Hall–Héroult process, is discovered.
Father Augustine Tolton, the first Roman Catholic priest from the United States to proclaim himself African American, is ordained in Rome.
Addis Ababa is founded in the Ethiopian Empire.
Horse-drawn streetcars of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany and Great Britain are carrying c. 900 million riders per year.
Emily Ruete publishes her landmark memoir, Memoirs of an Arabian Princess: An Autobiography.
Bedford Rugby Club is formed in England.
January 2 –Florence Lawrence, Canadian-born actress (d. 1938)
January 5 –Markus Reiner, Israeli scientist (d. 1976)
January 7 –Amedeo Maiuri, Neapolitan archaeologist (d. 1963)
January 11 –Chester Conklin, American actor (d. 1971)
January 14 –Hugh Lofting, English-born author (d. 1947)
January 17 –Joe Masseria, Italian-born American gangster (d. 1931)
January 18 –Clara Nordström, German writer and translator (d. 1962)
January 25 –Wilhelm Furtwängler, German conductor (d. 1954)
January 27 – Frank Nitti, Italian-born American gangster (d. 1943)
Hidetsugu Yagi, Japanese electrical engineer (d. 1976)
Sam McDaniel, African-American actor (d. 1962)
January 31 – Alfonso López Pumarejo, 14th and 16th President of Colombia (d. 1959)
February 2 –Frank Lloyd, English-born film director, scriptwriter and producer (d. 1960)
February 4 –Edward Sheldon, American playwright, (d. 1946)
February 7 –Yehezkel Abramsky, eminent Russian-born rabbi, head of the London Beth Din for 17 years (d. 1976)
February 8 –Charles Ruggles, American actor (d. 1970)
February 12 – Margarita Fischer, American silent film actress (d. 1975)
February 19 – José Abad Santos, Filipino jurist and lawyer (d. 1942)
February 27 –Hugo Black, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (d. 1971)
March 1 –Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian artist and poet (d. 1980)
Willis O'Brien, American stop motion animator (d. 1962)
Vittorio Pozzo, Italian football player and manager (d. 1968)
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg, German general (d. 1974)
March 3 –Tore Ørjasæter, Norwegian poet (d. 1968)
March 6 –Ola Solberg, Norwegian newspaper editor and politician (d. 1977)
Virginia Pearson, American silent film actress (d. 1958)
Jacques Majorelle, French painter (d. 1962)
March 8 –Edward Calvin Kendall, American chemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1972)
March 9 –Robert L. Eichelberger, American general (d. 1961)
March 11 –Edward Rydz-Śmigły, Polish politician, Marshal of Poland (d. 1941)
March 15 –Sergey Kirov, Soviet revolutionary (d. 1934)
Edward Everett Horton, American actor (d. 1970)
Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière, German U-boat ace (d. 1941)
March 19 –Giuseppe Bellanca, Italian-born American airplane designer and manufacturer (d. 1960)
March 20 –Grace Brown, American murder victim whose story became a famous court case, (d. 1906)
March 24 –Edward Weston, American photographer (d. 1958)
March 25 –Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople (d. 1972)
March 27 –Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German architect (d. 1969)
Wladimir Burliuk, Ukrainian artist (d. 1917)
April 2 – Reginald Barker, American film director (d. 1945)
April 4 –William R. Munroe, American admiral (d. 1966)
April 8 –Margaret Ayer Barnes, American playwright, novelist, and short-story writer (d. 1967)
April 5 – Gustavo Jiménez, President of Peru (d. 1933)
April 14 –Ernst Robert Curtius, Alsatian philologist (d. 1956)
April 15 –Tadeusz Kutrzeba, Polish general (d. 1947)
April 16 –Ernst Thälmann, German Communist Leader (d. 1944)
April 25 –Marie Brémont, the last surviving person documented as born in 1886 (d. 2001)
April 26 –Ma Rainey, American singer (d. 1939)
April 30 –Dick Elliott, American actor (d. 1961)
May 2 –Gottfried Benn, German poet (d. 1956)
May 3 –Marcel Dupré, French composer (d. 1971)
Karl Barth, Swiss Protestant theologian (d. 1968)
Felix Ysagun Manalo, first Executive Minister (Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan) of the Iglesia ni Cristo (d. 1963)
Olaf Stapledon, British author and philosopher (d. 1950)
May 17 –King Alfonso XIII of Spain (d. 1941)
May 18 –Ture Nerman, Swedish communist leader (d. 1969)
May 20 –John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever, British businessman (d. 1971)
May 26 –Al Jolson, American entertainer (d. 1950)
Benjamin McCandlish, Governor of Guam (d. 1975)
Archibald Hill, English physiologist (d. 1977)
June 6 –William A. Glassford, American admiral (d. 1958)
June 7 –Henri Coandă, Romanian aerodynamics pioneer (d. 1972)
June 9 –Kosaku Yamada, Japanese composer and conductor (d. 1965)
June 18 –George Mallory, English climber (d. 1924)
June 23 –Olaf M. Hustvedt, American admiral (d. 1978)
June 24 –George Shiels, Northern Irish dramatist (d. 1949)
June 25 –Henry "Hap" Arnold, American general and aviation pioneer (d. 1950)
June 27 – Carroll McComas, American actress (d. 1962)
June 28 – Hitoshi Imamura, Japanese general (d. 1968)
Robert C. Giffen, American admiral (d. 1962)
Robert Schuman, German-French politician, a founding father of the European Union (d. 1963)
Giovanni Battista Caproni, Italian aeronautical, civil, and electrical engineer, aircraft designer, and industrialist (d. 1957)
Raymond A. Spruance, American admiral and ambassador (d. 1969)
July 5 –Willem Drees, Dutch politician, prime minister, and centenarian (d. 1988)
July 12 –Jean Hersholt, Danish-born actor (d. 1956)
Arthur L. Bristol, American admiral (d. 1942)
William Edmunds, Italian stage and screen character actor (d. 1981)
July 18 –Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., American general (d. 1945)
July 19 –Michael Fekete, Hungarian-born Israeli mathematician (d. 1957)
July 23 –Walter H. Schottky, German physicist (d. 1976)
July 24 –Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Japanese writer (d. 1965)
July 25 –Bror von Blixen-Finecke, Danish big-game hunter (d. 1946)
July 31 –Fred Quimby, American film producer (d. 1965)
August 2 –John A.D. McCurdy, aviation pioneer & Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia (d. 1961)
August 12 –Campbell Tait, Governor of Southern Rhodesia (d. 1946)
August 6 –Inez Milholland, Suffragist, labor lawyer, World War I correspondent and public speaker (d. 1916)
August 20 –Paul Tillich, German American Christian existentialist philosopher and theologian (d. 1965)
Nicolette Bruining, Dutch theologian and humanitarian (d. 1963)
Rebecca Helferich Clarke, English composer and violist (d. 1979)
Eric Coates, English composer (d. 1957)
August 28 –Andrew Higgins, American boatbuilder and industrialist (d. 1952)
September 1 –Othmar Schoeck, Swiss composer (d. 1957)
September 4 –Albert Orsborn, the 6th General of The Salvation Army (d. 1967)
September 5 –Nell Brinkley, American illustrator and comic artist (d. 1944)
September 8 –Siegfried Sassoon, British poet (d. 1967)
September 11 –John H. Hester, American general (d. 1976)
September 13 –Robert Robinson, British chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1975)
September 14 –Jan Masaryk, Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia (d. 1948)
September 16 –Jean Arp, Alsatian sculptor, painter, and poet (d. 1966)
September 20 –Charles Williams, British author (d. 1945)
Roberto María Ortiz, President of Argentina (d. 1942)
Edward Bach, English metaphysician and homeopath (d. 1936)
September 25 –Nobutake Kondō, Japanese admiral (d. 1953)
September 26 –Archibald Vivian Hill, English physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1977)
September 28 –Alice Hollister, American silent film actress (d. 1973)
October 2 –Jisaburō Ozawa, Japanese admiral (d. 1966)
October 3 –Henri Alban-Fournier, French author of Le Grand Meaulnes (d. 1914)
October 6 –Edwin Fischer, Swiss pianist and conductor (d. 1960)
October 11 –Conrad Helfrich, Dutch admiral (d. 1962)
October 15 –Jonas H. Ingram, American admiral (d. 1952)
October 16 –David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel (d. 1973)
October 17 –Andrej Bicenko, Russian fresco painter and muralist (d. 1985)
October 22 –Oscar Griswold, American general (d. 1959)
October 30 –Zoë Akins, American playwright, poet, and author (d. 1958)
November 1 –Hermann Broch, Austrian author (d. 1951)
November 6 –André Marty, French Communist Party leader (d. 1956)
November 9 –Ed Wynn, American actor (d. 1966)
November 10 –Walden L. "Pug" Ainsworth, American admiral (d. 1960)
November 12 –Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón, Spanish prince and military aviator (d. 1975)
November 15 –René Guénon, French-Egyptian author (d. 1951)
November 17 –Walter Terence Stace, British philosopher (d. 1967)
November 20 –Karl von Frisch, Austrian zoologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1982)
November 26 –Margaret Caroline Anderson, American publisher, editor (d. 1973)
December 3 –Manne Siegbahn, Swedish physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1978)
December 5 –Rose Wilder Lane, American author (d. 1968)
December 8 –Diego Rivera, Mexican painter (d. 1957)
December 10 –Victor McLaglen, English actor and boxer (d. 1959)
December 12 –Owen Moore, Irish actor (d. 1939)
Heisuke Abe, Japanese general (d. 1943)
Ty Cobb, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1961)
December 19 –Charles M. Cooke, Jr., American admiral (d. 1970)
December 25 –Kid Ory, American jazz musician (d. 1973)
December 30 –Austin Osman Spare, English artist and magician (d. 1956)
January 17 –Amilcare Ponchielli, Italian composer (b. 1834)
January 18 –Baldassare Verazzi, Italian painter (b. 1819)
January 25 –Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, Chilean historian (b. 1831)
January 26 –David Rice Atchison, American politician (b. 1807)
February 8 –Winfield Scott Hancock, American general (b. 1824)
February 10 – Laura Don, American actress (b. 1852)
February 12 – Horatio Seymour, 18th Governor of New York, 1868 Democratic Party Presidential Nominee (b. 1810)
February 18 –Dave Rudabaugh, American outlaw and gunfighter (b. 1854)
February 24 –Hugh Stowell Brown, Manx preacher (b. 1823)
March 17 –Pierre-Jules Hetzel, French editor and publisher (b. 1814)
April 27 –Henry Hobson Richardson, prominent American architect (b. 1838)
May 9 –Facundo Bacardí, Cuban rum manufacturer (b. 1814)
May 15 –Emily Dickinson, American poet (b. 1830)
May 17 –John Deere, American inventor (b. 1804)
June 13 –King Ludwig II of Bavaria (b. 1845)
June 21 – Daniel Dunglas Home, Scottish medium (b. 1833)
July 1 – Otto Wilhelm Hermann von Abich, German geologist (b. 1806)
Poundmaker, Aboriginal Canadian leader (b. c. 1842)
Prince Arisugawa Takahito, Japanese Prince (b. 1813)
July 25 – Eliza Lynch, First Lady of Paraguay (b. 1833)
July 31 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist and composer (b. 1811)
August 4 – Samuel J. Tilden, 25th Governor of New York, 1876 Democratic Party Presidential Nominee (b. 1814)
August 9 – Samuel Ferguson, Northern Irish poet and artist (b. 1810)
August 11 – Lydia Koidula, Estonian poet (b. 1843)
August 16 – Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Indian spiritual figure (b. 1836)
August 30 – Ferris Jacobs, Jr., American politician (b. 1836)
September 3 – William W. Snow, American politician (b. 1812)
September 4 – Benjamin F. Cheatham, Confederate general (b. 1820)
September 14 – Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, American land speculator (b. 1802)
October 8 – Austin F. Pike, American politician from New Hampshire (b. 1819)
November 18 – Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States (b. 1829)
November 20 – William Bliss Baker, American painter (b. 1859)
November 21 – Charles Francis Adams Sr., American historical editor, politician and diplomat (b. 1807)
Isaac Lea, American conchologist, geologist, and publisher (b. 1792)
William Fraser Tolmie, Scottish-Canadian scientist and politician (b. 1812)
December 26 – John A. Logan, American soldier and political leader (b. 1826)
Andrew Nicholl, Northern Irish painter (b. 1804)
1886 (MDCCCLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (dominical letter C) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Wednesday (dominical letter E) of the Julian calendar, the 1886th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 886th year of the 2nd millennium, the 86th year of the 19th century, and the 7th year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1886, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.