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Births: Pierre de Fermat, mathematician, 1601; Nicola Antonio Porpora, composer, 1686; Thomas Stothard, illustrator, 1755; William Carey, Orientalist and missionary, 1761; John Varley, water- colour painter, 1778; Davy Crockett, frontiersman, 1786; Sir Malcolm Morris, dermatologist, 1849; Oliver St John Gogarty, writer, 1878; Mae West, actress, 1892.

Deaths: Robert Blake, admiral, 1657; Frederick II (the Great), King of Prussia, 1786; Honore de Balzac, novelist, 1850; Thomas Faed, painter, 1900; Fernand Leger, cubist painter, 1955; Sir John Hubert Marshall, archaeologist, 1958; Leonard Alfred George Strong, novelist, 1958; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect, 1969; Conrad Potter Aiken, novelist and poet, 1973; Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershvin), lyricist, 1983; Walter Richard Rudolf Hess, Hitler's former deputy, 1987.

On this day: the English defeated the Scots and French at the Battle of Verneuil, 1424; Robert Fulton began operating his Clermont steamboat fron New York to Albany, 1807; the registration of births, deaths and marriages was introduced in Britain under the Registration Act, 1836; on the point of starvation, the Sioux Indian nation rebelled in Minnesota, killing over 800 soldiers and settlers, 1862; the French Panama Canal Company was established, 1879; gold was discovered in the Klondyke, Canada, 1896; a general railway strike started in Britain, 1911; Sicily was completely liberated by the Allies, 1943; Indonesia was proclaimed an independent republic, 1945; building of the wall between East and West Berlin began, 1961; in the Philippines, earthquakes and tidal waves resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 people, 1976.

Today is the Feast Day of St Clare of Montefalco, St Eusebius, pope, St Hyacinth, St Joan Delanoue, St Liberatus of Capua, St Mamas and St Rock or Roch.