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Births: Claudius, Roman Emperor, 10 BC; Richard Wilson, landscape painter, 1714; Jean-Baptiste Pierre-Antoine Monnet, Chevalier de Lamarck, zoologist, 1744; Charles, third Earl Stanhope, reformer and inventor, 1753; Ignaz Anton Franz Xaver Ladurner, pianist and composer, 1766; Sir Jeffry Wyatville, architect, 1766; Francis Scott Key, poet and attorney (author of 'The Star Spangled Banner'), 1779; Richard Henry Dana, novelist and lawyer, 1815; Herman Melville, sailor, novelist and poet, 1819; Guido Papini, violinist and composer, 1847; Montague Rhodes James, scholar, author and editor, 1862; Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay, author, 1881; Ivan Mestrovic, sculptor, 1883.

Deaths: Justin I, Byzantine emperor, 527; Louis VI, King of France, 1137; Queen Anne, last of the Stuart sovereigns, 1714; Richard Savage, poet, 1743; Elizabeth Inchbald (Simpson), actress and author, 1821; Robert Morrison, missionary in China, and translator of the Bible into Chinese, 1834; Walter Geikie, painter, 1837; Charles Turner, engraver, 1857; Henry Clarence Kendall, poet, 1882; Karl Wilhelm Dindorf, classical scholar, 1883; Sir William Robert Grove, scientist and lawyer, 1896; Ludwig Beckmann, painter, 1902; Edwin Austin Abbey, painter, 1911; Theodore Roethke, poet, 1963; Walter Ulbricht, East German leader, 1973.

On this day: Christopher Columbus landed on Terra Firma (mainland America) and, believing it to be an insignificant island, named it Isla Santa, 1498; George Louis, Elector of Hanover, was proclaimed King George I of Great Britain, 1714; the watermen's race on the Thames for Doggett's Coat and Badge was first rowed, 1716; the foundation stone of the Bank of England was laid, 1732; the French were defeated by the British and Hanoverians at the Battle of Minden, 1759; Sir Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen, 1774; the new London Bridge was opened, 1831; slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire, 1834; the Rotherhithe Thames Tunnel was opened, 1842; Colorado became the 38th of the United States, 1876; a papyrus was offered to the British Museum for pounds 10,000 purporting to give a variant account of the Israelites in the wilderness (it later proved to be a forgery), 1883; the Post Office began an Inland parcel post in Britain, 1883; Louis Riel, leader of a revolt in Canada, was found guilty and sentenced to death, 1885; the Kermadec Islands near New Zealand were annexed by Britain, 1886; the Central Powers declared war on Russia, 1914; the XIth Olympic Games opened in Berlin, 1936; the first postcodes were introduced in Germany, 1944; in Warsaw, the people under 'General Bor' rose against the Germans, 1944; Dahomey became independent, 1960.

Today is Swiss Independence Day and the Feast Day of St Almedha or Aled, St Alphonse Liguori, St Ethelwold of Winchester, the Holy Machabees, St Peter Julian Eymard and Saints Pistis, Elpis and Agape (Faith, Hope and Charity).