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Births: Dr Benjamin Rush, politician, 1745; Jean- Baptiste Say, political economist, 1767; Stephen Decatur, naval commander, 1779; John Burke, genealogist, founder of Burke's Peerage, 1787; Kaspar Ett, organist and composer, 1788; Thomas Pringle, poet, 1789; Thomas Creswick, painter, 1811; William Smith Rockstro (Rackstraw), organist and composer, 1823; Khristo Botev, poet and revolutionary, 1848; King Camp Gillette, inventor of the safety-razor, 1855; Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson, painter and engraver, 1872; Joseph Erlanger, neuro-physiologist, 1874; Konrad Adenauer, statesman, 1876; Nikolai Karlovich Medtner, composer, 1880; Humbert Wolfe, poet, 1885; Clifford Grey, actor, writer and lyricist, 1887; Stella Dorothea Gibbons (Mrs Allan Bourne Webb), poet and novelist, 1902; Kathleen Mary Kenyon, archaeologist, 1906; Jack Lovelock, athlete and surgeon, 1910.

Deaths: St Edward the Confessor, 1066; Giambattista Moroni, portrait painter, 1578; Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, 1589; Isaac Reed, Shakespearian scholar and editor, 1807; Sir George Prevost, soldier and statesman, 1816; Sir William Hillary, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, 1847; Joseph Gillott, steel pen manufacturer, 1873; Anton Mauve, landscape painter, 1888; John Westland Marston, dramatic poet, 1890; Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, explorer, 1922; John Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, 1933; Humbert Wolfe, poet, 1940; Amy Johnson (Mollison), aviator, 1941; George Washington Carver, scientist, 1943; Roberto Gerhard, composer, 1970; Brian Alexander Johnston, broadcaster and cricket commentator, 1994.

On this day: Charles the Bold of France was killed by the Swiss at the Battle of Nancy, 1477; an attempt was made on the life of Louis XV of France by Robert-Francois Damiens, 1757; Britain and Turkey concluded the Treaty of the Dardanelles, 1809; John Thurtell and Joseph Hunt were tried for the murder of fellow-swindler William Weare, Hunt turning King's evidence, 1824; Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Princess Ida was first performed, London, 1884; the first demonstration of X-rays was given by Wilhelm Konrad Rontgen, 1896; the National Socialist Party was formed in Munich by Anton Drexler, 1919; the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) was established, 1919; in the US, the first woman governor, Mrs Nellie Tayloe Ross, was elected, 1925; King Alexander of Yugoslavia established himself as a dictator, 1929; FM radio was first demonstrated in the US by Major Edwin H. Armstrong, 1940; Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I met in Jerusalem, the first meeting between leaders of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches for over 500 years, 1964; President Valery Giscard d'Estaing promulgated a law making the use of French compulsory in advertising, instructions on consumer goods, etc, in France, 1976.

Today is Wassail Eve (tonight is Twelfth Night) and the Feast Day of St Apollinaris, St Convoyon, St Dorotheus the Younger, St Gerlac, St John Nepomucene Neumann, St Simeon Stylites and St Syncletica.