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Births: Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), poet, 65 BC; Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, 1542; Queen Christina of Sweden, 1626; Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1708; Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, 1765; Charles Wentworth Dilke, editor and critic, 1789; Rochus von Liliencron, theologian, philologist and musicologist, 1820; Bjornstjerne Bjornson, poet and playwright, 1832; George Alfred Henty, author of boys' books, 1832; Georges Melies, cinema pioneer, 1861; Georges-Leon-Jules-Marie Feydeau, playwright, 1862; Jean Julius Christian Sibelius, composer, 1865; Padraic Colum, poet, 1881; Bohuslav Martinu, composer, 1890; James Grover Thurber, wit and cartoonist, 1894; Lee J. Cobb (Leo Jacob), actor, 1911.

Deaths: Sigismund, King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor, 1437; Adriaan Willaert, composer and choralist, 1562; Sir John Davies, lawyer and poet, 1626; John Pym, politician, 1643; Gerard Terborch, painter, 1681; Thomas Corneille, playwright, 1709; Thomas De Quincey, author, 1859; George Augustus Henry Sala, journalist, 1895; Herbert Spencer, writer and philosopher, 1903; Alphonse Legros, painter and etcher, 1911; Gertrude Jekyll, landscape architect, 1932; Golda Meir (Goldie Mabovitch), prime minister of Israel, 1978; John Winston Lennon, former member of the Beatles, shot in New York 1980.

On this day: Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII) became Prince of Wales, 1841; Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, 1854; the first world heavyweight boxing championship, between the Englishman Tom King and the American John Heenan, took place, 1863; Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, was opened, 1864; the first traffic lights were erected in Westminster, London, 1868; the Echo newspaper was first published, 1868; in the heavyweight boxing contest in London, Georges Carpentier knocked out Bombardier Billy Wells in the first round, 1913; the German fleet was sunk in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 1914; the London to Australia airmail service was begun, 1934; at Kiel, Germany launched her first aircraft-carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, 1938; Great Britain, Australia and the United States declared war on Japan, 1941; the Chinese Nationalist government transferred its capital from mainland China to Taipeh, on Taiwan island, 1949; Mr Arthur Scargill was elected President of the National Union of Mineworkers, 1981; President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed an agreement eliminating all ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles, 1987.

Today is the Feast Day of The Immaculate Conception, St Eucharius, St Patapius, St Romaric and Sophronius of Cyprus.