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Births: Richard Baxter, Puritan minister, scholar and writer, 1615; Edward Vernon ("Old Grog"), Admiral, 1684; Jacques-Alexandre Cesar Charles, physicist and inventor, 1746; Gerhard Johann von Scharnhorst, Prussian soldier, 1755; Mrs Amelia Opie (Amelia Alderson), novelist, 1769; Martin Gustav Nottebohm, writer on music, 1817; Gustav Adolf Merkel, organist and composer, 1827; Alexander Porfirievich Borodin, composer, 1833; Francois- Auguste Rodin, sculptor, 1840; John William Strutt, third Baron Rayleigh, physicist, 1842; Sun Yat-sen, first president of China, 1866; Richard A. Whiting, popular composer, 1891; Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Patricia Kelly), 1929.

Deaths: Pope Boniface III, 607; Canute (the Great), King of England and Denmark, 1035; Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, 1555; Sir John Hawkins, naval commander and navigator, 1595; Thomas Fairfax, third Baron Fairfax of Cameron, Parliamentary army Commander-in-Chief, 1671; Jean- Sylvan Bailly, astronomer and first mayor of Paris, guillotined 1793; Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur, writer, 1813; William Hayley, poet and biographer, 1820; Jean Baptiste Regnault, painter, 1829; Charles Kemble, actor, 1854; Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, novelist, 1865; Johann Friedrich Overbeck, painter, 1869; Gottfried Kinkel, poet, 1882; Percival Lowell, astronomer, 1916; George David Birkhoff, mathematician, 1944; Emma Magdalena Rosalia Marie Josepha Barbara, Baroness Orczy, novelist, 1947; Umberto Giordano, composer, 1948; Charles Rudolf Friml, composer, 1972; Walter Hamor Piston, composer, 1976; John Innes Mackintosh Stewart ("Michael Innes"), literary scholar and writer, 1994.

On this day: John Bunyan, writer, was arrested for preaching without a licence, 1660; the Battle of Sheriffmuir was fought between Jacobites and Royalists, 1715; the River Liffey rose, causing floods and damage to Dublin, 1787; Wolfe Tone, Irish politician, was tried and sentenced to be hanged (but he committed suicide, dying 19 November), 1798; the first Jewish newspaper in Britain, the Jewish Chronicle, was published, 1841; Sir James Young Simpson was the first to use chloroform as an anaesthetic in Britain, 1847; the first flying-trapeze act was performed by Jules Leotard at the Cirque Napoleon, Paris, 1859; a great eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurred, 1867; Enrico Caruso recorded Vesti la Giubba, producing the first gramophone record to sell a million copies, 1902; the remains of Captain Scott and his companions were found in Antarctica, 1912; King Ludwig III (formerly Regent), acceded to the throne of Bavaria, 1913; at the request of the islanders, Britain annexed the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, 1915; the Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary abdicated, and Austria became a republic, 1918; the first automatic telephone service was inaugurated in London, 1927; in new elections in Germany, the Nazis received 92 per cent of the votes, 1933; the German battleship Tirpitz was sunk, 1944.

Today is the Feast Day of St Astrik or Anastasius, St Benedict of Benevento, St Cadwalader, St Cumian the Tall, St Cunibert, St Emilian Cucullatus, St Josaphat of Polotsk, St Lebuin or Liafwine, St Livinus, St Machar or Mochumma and St Nilus the Elder.