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Births: Pierre de Fermat, mathematician, 1601; John III, King of Poland, 1629; 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; Richard Lalor Sheil, playwright and politician, 1791; Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, diplomat, poet and traveller, 1840; Sir Malcolm Morris, dermatologist, 1849; Franz Ponitz, harpist and composer, 1850; 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; Jose Francisco de San Martin, Argentinian revolutionary, 1850; Fernand Leger, cubist painter, 1955; Sir John Florent Schmitt, composer, 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; Cromwell's army was victorious at the Battle of Preston, 1648; 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; a general railway strike started in Britain, 1911; the first London performance of the musical play Waltzes from Vienna was staged, 1931; Sicily was completely liberated by the Allies, 1943; the RAF raided the German rocket base at Peenemunde, Rostock, 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.