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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; William Smith Rockstro (Rackstraw), organist and composer, 1823; Khristo Botev, poet and revolutionary, 1848; King Camp Gillette, safety-razor inventor, 1855; Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson, painter and engraver, 1872; Joseph Erlanger, neuro-physiologist, 1874; Konrad Adenauer, statesman, 1876; Humbert Wolfe, poet, 1885; 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; 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; Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, explorer, 1922; John Calvin Coolidge, 30th US president, 1933; Amy Johnson (Mollison), aviator, 1941; George Washington Carver, scientist, 1943; Roberto Gerhard, composer, 1970.

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 their fellow-swindler William Weare, 1824; Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Princess Ida was first performed, London 1884; the first demonstration of X-rays was given by 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 United States, 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 United States by Major Edwin H. Armstrong, 1940; Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I met in Jerusalem, this being the first meeting between leaders of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches for over 500 years, 1964; President Giscard d'Estaing promulgated a law making the use of French compulsory in advertising, instructions on consumer goods and on other items, 1976.

Today is Wassail Eve (and tonight 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.