Births: Lorenzo de Medici, statesman, 1449; Joseph-Francois Dupleix, administrator, 1697; Paul Revere, silversmith and American hero, 1735; Maria Edgeworth, novelist, 1767; Francis Egerton, Earl of Ellesmere, statesman and poet, 1800; Arthur Hugh Clough, poet, 1819; Sandor Petofi, poet, 1823; Joseph Pasquale Goldberg, singing teacher and composer, 1825; Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramee), novelist, 1839; Sir James George Frazer, anthropologist, 1854; Baron Pierre de Coubertin, educator and sportsman, 1863; William Fox (Wilhelm Fried), movie mogul, 1879; Edward Morgan Forster, novelist, 1879; Alfred Ernest Jones, psychoanalyst, 1879; Charles Bickford, actor, 1889; Martin Niemoller, anti-Nazi priest, 1892; John Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, 1895; Harold Adrian Russell 'Kim' Philby, former Foreign Office official and defector, 1912; Joe Orton (John Kingsley Orton), playwright, 1933.

Deaths: Louis XII, King of France, 1515; Pope Innocent X, 1655; William Wycherley, playwright, 1716; Johann Bernoulli, mathematician, 1748; James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, 1766; Johann Christian Bach, composer, 1782; Martin Heinrich Klaproth, chemist, 1817; Francis Place, radical reformer, 1854; Louis-Auguste Blanqui, French revolutionary, 1881; Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, physicist, 1894; Ignatius Donnelly, novelist and social reformer, 1901; Sir Francis Carruthers Gould, cartoonist, 1925; Jakob Wasserman, novelist, 1934; 'Rita' (Mrs Eliza Margaret (Desmond) Humphreys), novelist, 1938; Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, architect, 1944; Maurice Chevalier, entertainer and actor, 1972; Frank Soskice (Lord Stow Hill), statesman, 1979; Hephzibah Menuhin, pianist, 1981; Lord David Cecil, author, 1986; Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (L. Ron Hubbard), science-fiction writer and propounder of Scientology, 1986.

On this day: Captain Concalves entered the bay of Rio de Janeiro, 1502; the Gregorian calendar was introduced into Switzerland and German states, 1583; Charles II was crowned King of Scots at Scone, 1651; the first issue of the Daily Universal Register (later the Times) appeared, 1785; the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland came into being, 1801; Haiti declared her independence of France, 1804; the importation of slaves into the United States was forbidden, 1808; Sierra Leone became a British Crown Colony, 1808; Britain proclaimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, 1833; British forces in Afghanistan capitulated and withdrew to India, 1842; the name of Van Diemen's Land was changed to Tasmania, 1856; London was divided into ten postal districts, 1858; Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, 1877; the first postal orders were issued in Great Britain, 1881; the electric chair was adopted in New York for capital punishment, 1889; old age pensions were introduced in Germany, 1891; the Manchester Ship Canal opened, 1894; the Commonwealth of Australia was set up, 1901; Helmuth von Moltke became chief of the German general staff, 1906; in Britain, people of 70 and over became eligible for old age pensions, 1909; labour exchanges came into operation, 1910; the British telephone service passed into the control of the Post Office, 1912; the British Board of Film Censors was given powers to operate, 1913; a strike of London taxi drivers began, 1913; the first scheduled passenger airline began operating at St Petersburg, Florida, United States, 1914; HMS Formidable was sunk in the English Channel with the loss of 500 lives, 1915; the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established, 1923; the capital of Norway, known as Christiania, resumed the name of Oslo, 1925; a nationalist government was set up in China, 1926; coal mines in Britain were nationalised, 1947; British railways were nationalised, 1948; Sudan became an independent democratic republic, 1956; the European Economic Community came into being, 1958; the Cameroons became independent, 1960; the Foreign and Commonwealth offices were amalgamated to form the Diplomatic Service, 1965; Great Britain, the Irish Republic and Denmark joined the EEC, 1973; UK fishing limits were extended to 200 miles around the British coast, 1977.

Today is New Year's Day and the Feast Day of St Almachius or Telemachus, St Clarus, St Concordius of Spoleto, St Eugendus or Oyend, St Euphrosyne, St Felix of Bourges, St Fulgentius of Ruspe, St Mochua or Cuan, St Odilo, St Peter of Atroa and St William of Saint Benignus.


Births: Nathaniel Bacon, American colonial leader, 1647; John Manners, Marquis of Granby, military commander, 1721; James Wolfe, general, 1727; Philip Morin Freneau, sailor and 'poet of the Revolution', 1752; Karl Wilhelm Dindorf, classical scholar, 1802; Friedrich Wilhelm Jahns, singing teacher and writer, 1809; Oswald Achenbach, landscape painter, 1827; Otakar Hostinsky, critic and librettist, 1847; George Gilbert Aime Murray, classical scholar, 1866; Jimmy Nervo (James Holloway), comedian, 1897; Isaac Azimov, biochemist and science-fiction writer, 1920.

Deaths: Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), poet, 17; Philip V, King of France, 1322; Martin Schongauer or Schon, engraver and painter, 1491; Alexander Wedderburn, First Earl of Rosslyn, Lord Chancellor, 1805; Dr John Mason Good, physician and author, 1827; Barthold Georg Niebuhr, historian, 1831; Fabian Gottlieb Bellingshausen, polar explorer, 1852; Dr Andrew Ure, chemist, 1857; Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, 1861; Alexander William Kinglake, author, 1891; Sir George Biddell Airy, astronomer royal, 1892; Sir Edward Augustus Bond, librarian of the British Museum, 1898; Leon-Philippe Teisserenc de Bort, meteorologist, 1913; Carl Goldmark, composer, 1915; Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, anthropologist, 1917; Sabine Baring-Gould, clergyman and author, 1924; Eleanor Rathbone, social reformer, 1946; Sir Thomas Galloway Dunlop Galbraith MP, 1982; Dick Emery, comedian, 1983.

On this day: the Spanish army recaptured Granada from the Moors, 1492; the Academie Francaise was established by Cardinal Richelieu, 1635; Georgia became the fourth of the United States, 1788; Britain joined the alliance with Russia and Turkey, 1799; Louis Daguerre took the first photograph of the Moon, 1839; Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman was first produced, Dresden, 1843; Sir Robert Napier led a British expedition to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to release the imprisoned British Consul, 1868; the first municipal crematorium was opened at Hull, 1901; Port Arthur, Manchuria, was captured by the Japanese, 1905; the present building of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, opened, 1905; the Japanese, occupying Manchuria, proclaimed it to be the puppet Republic of Manchukuo, 1932; a rising of anarchists and syndicalists took place in Barcelona, 1933; Britain and Italy (under Mussolini) signed an agreement on the status of Mediterranean countries, 1937; King Zog of Albania, absent from his country, was deposed, 1946; cupro-nickel coins were issued in the UK to replace silver, 1947; the first rocket to pass near the Moon - the unmanned Russian Luna I - was launched, 1959; 66 people died after a barrier collapsed at Ibrox Park football ground, Glasgow, 1971.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Adalhard or Adelard, St Basil, St Caspar del Bufalo, St Gregory Nazianzen, St Macarius of Alexandria, St Munchin, St Seraphim of Sarov, St Vincentian and The Holy Name of Jesus.