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1772 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1772nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 772nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 72nd year of the 18th century, and the 3rd year of the 1770s decade. As of the start of 1772, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- January 17 – Johann Friedrich Struensee and Queen Caroline Matilda are arrested, leading to his execution and her banishment from Denmark.
- February 12
- February 17 – The first partition of Poland is agreed to by Russia and Prussia, later including Austria.
- May – The Watauga Association is formed in East Tennessee.
- June 9 – Gaspee Affair: In an act of defiance against the British Navigation Acts, American patriots, led by Abraham Whipple, attack and burn the British customs schooner HMS Gaspee off of Rhode Island.
- June 10 – The Credit crisis of 1772 is triggered when, following the flight of their partner Alexander Fordyce to France, the London banking house of Neal, James, Fordyce and Down (which has been speculating in East India Company stock) suspends payment. The resultant panic causes other banks, particularly in Scotland, to fail, extends to Amsterdam and the Thirteen Colonies of British North America, and threatens the East India Company with bankruptcy.
- June 22 – Somersett's Case: Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, delivers the decision that leads to the end of slavery in England.
- January 20 – Angélique Brûlon, French soldier, first female Knight of the French Legion of Honour (d. 1859)
- January 30 – Godfrey Higgins, British archaeologist (d. 1833)
- February 24 – William H. Crawford, American politician, judge (d. 1834)
- March 10 – Friedrich von Schlegel, German poet (d. 1829)
- March 15 – József Ficzkó, Burgenland Croatian writer (d. 1843)
- April 5 – Domenico Puccini, Italian composer (d. 1815)
- April 7 – Charles Fourier, French philosopher (d. 1837)
- April 18 – David Ricardo, British economist (d. 1823)
- April 30 – Karl Gustav Himly, German surgeon, ophthalmologist (d. 1837)
- May 2 – Novalis, German poet (d. 1801)
- May 20 – William Congreve, British rocket pioneer (d. 1828)
- May 22 – Ram Mohan Roy, Hindu religious and social reformer (d. 1833)
- June 7 – Aurora Liljenroth, Swedish scholar (d. 1836)
- July 11 – John Rodgers, American naval officer (d. 1838)
- August 2 – Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien (d. 1804)
- August 15 – Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, German inventor (d. 1838)
- August 24 – King William I of the Netherlands (d. 1843)
- September 27 – Martha Jefferson Randolph, Acting First Lady of the United States (1801-1809) (d. 1836)
- October 6 – Anna Maria Rüttimann-Meyer von Schauensee, politically active Swiss salonist (d. 1856)
- October 21 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet, philosopher (d. 1834)
- October 25 – Géraud Duroc, French general (d. 1813)
- November 8 – William Wirt, 9th United States Attorney General (d. 1834)
- November 18 – Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, German prince (d. 1806)
- date unknown – Tuanku Imam Bonjol, Indonesian religious and military leader (d. 1864)
- February 8 – Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Princess of Wales (b. 1719)
- February 18 – Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff, Danish statesman (b. 1712)
- February 20 – Princess Maria Theresia of Liechtenstein (b. 1694)
- March 21 – Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, French cartographer (b. 1703)
- March 22 – John Canton, English physicist (b. 1718)
- March 26 – Charles Pinot Duclos, French writer (b. 1704)
- March 29 – Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedish philosopher and mathematician (b. 1688)
- May 1 – Gottfried Achenwall, German statistician (b. 1719)
- May 22 – Durastante Natalucci, Italian historian (b. 1687)
- June 15 – Louis-Claude Daquin, French composer (b. 1694)
- June 18
- August 31 – William Borlase, English naturalist (b. 1695)
- September 30 – James Brindley, British canal builder (b. 1716)
- October 7 – John Woolman, American Quaker preacher, abolitionist (b. 1720)
- October 8 – Jean-Joseph de Mondonville, French violinist, composer (b. 1711)
- October 16 – Ahmad Shah Durrani, Afghan founder of the Durrani Empire (cancer) (b. 1724)
- October 19 – Andrea Belli, Maltese architect, businessman (b. 1703)
- November 10 – Pedro Antonio Joaquim Correa da Serra Garção, Portuguese poet (b. 1724)
- November 18 – Madhavrao I, ruler of India (b. 1745)
- November 19 – William Nelson, American colonial governor of Virginia (b. 1711)
- December 7 – Martín Sarmiento, Spanish writer, scholar (b. 1695)
- Date unknown – Panna Cinka, Hungarian violinist (b. 1711)
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