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Births: Gaius Julius Caesar, soldier, 100 BC; Josiah Wedgwood, potter, 1730; Thomas Guthrie, founder of "Ragged Schools", 1803; Henry David Thoreau, writer and naturalist, 1817; Sir William Osler, physician, 1849; George Eastman, photographic pioneer, 1854; Frederick Edwin Smith, first Earl of Birkenhead, statesman, 1872; Amedeo Modigliani, painter and sculptor, 1884; Oscar Hammerstein II, lyricist and writer, 1895; Pablo Neruda (Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto), poet and diplomat, 1904; Yul Brynner (Youl Bryner), actor, 1915.

Deaths: Desiderius Erasmus, scholar, 1536; Jean Picard, astronomer, 1682; Titus Oates, impostor and conspirator, 1705; Robert Stevenson, lighthouse engineer, 1850; The Hon Charles Stewart Rolls, aviator and automobile manufacturer, killed 1910; Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, traveller and archaeologist, 1926; Ferguson Wright Hume (Fergus Hume), novelist, 1932; Douglas Hyde, poet, historian and first President of the Irish Republic, 1949; Joseph Jongen, composer, 1953; Mazo de la Roche, novelist, 1961; Kenneth More, actor, 1982.

On this day: William I (The Lion) of Scotland was defeated at Alnwick, Northumberland, 1174; the Crusaders took Acre, 1191; Henry VIII married Catherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace, 1543; the Armada set sail from Spain, 1588; the Battle of Aughrim was fought in Ireland by William of Orange, 1691; the Confederation of the Rhine was formed, 1806; Crimea was evacuated, 1856; Victoria Embankment, London, was opened by the Prince of Wales, 1870; Britain took possession of Cyprus, 1878; Alfred Dreyfus was pardoned, 1906; the Anglo-Soviet agreement was signed in Moscow, 1941; Thor Heyerdahl and a crew of seven crossed the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados in 57 days, using a papyrus boat, 1970; Sao Tome and Principe became independent, 1975; Reed International agreed to sell the Mirror Group newspapers to Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Press, 1984.

Today is the Feast Day of St Felix, Saints Hermagoras and Fortunatus, St Jason, St John Gualbert, St John Jones, St John the Iberian and St Veronica.