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Births: Catherine of Aragon, first queen of Henry VIII, 1485; George Whitefield, evangelist, 1714; Elizabeth Carter, scholar, poet and linguist, 1717; Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, Prussian military commander, 1742; Jane Austen, novelist, 1775; Mary Russell Mitford, writer, 1787; Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 1790; Edward Emerson Barnard, astronomer, 1857; Zoltn Kodly, composer, 1882; Sir John (Jack) Hobbs, cricketer, 1882; Sir Noel Pierce Coward, playwright, actor and composer, 1889; Dr Margaret Mead, anthropologist, 1901; Edgar Austin Mittelholzer, novelist, 1909.

Deaths: Pepin II, leader of the Franks, 714; Sir William Petty, economist, 1687; James Grainger, army surgeon and poet, 1766; Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, reformer and inventor, 1816; Richard Bright, physician, 1858; Wilhelm Grimm, philologist and folklorist, 1859; William Terriss (William Charles James Lewin) actor, stabbed by a madman (Richard Archer Prince) on entering the Adelphi Theatre, London, 1897; Charles-Camille Saint-Saens, composer, 1921; Gabriel Narutowicz, president of Poland, assassinated 1922; Robert William Chambers, novelist and artist, 1933; Alton Glenn Miller, dance-band leader, lost after an air flight 1944; William Somerset Maugham, novelist, 1965.

On this day: Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, 1653; the "Boston Tea Party" took place, 1773; the Charlotte Jane, the first immigrant ship for the Canterbury settlement in New Zealand, arrived at Lyttelton, 1850; the Manchester Ship Canal was completed, 1893; West Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough were bombarded by German cruisers, 1914; the first production of the musical show Me and My Girl took place in London, 1937; the Battle of the Bulge began when the Germans under von Rundstedt launched a strong attack in the Ardennes, 1944; the power of the House of Lords to veto legislation was reduced, 1949.

Today is the Feast Day of St Adelaide, St Ado, St Albina, Saints Ananiah, Azariah & Mishael (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and St Irenion.