Births: Catherine of Aragon, first queen of Henry VIII, 1485; John Selden, lawyer and historian, 1584; Elizabeth Carter, scholar, poet and linguist, 1717; Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, military commander, 1742; Jane Austen, novelist, 1775; Mary Russell Mitford, author, 1787; Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 1790; Edward Emerson Barnard, astronomer, 1857; Zoltan Kodaly, composer, 1882; Sir John (Jack) Hobbs, cricketer, 1882; Sir Noel Pierce Coward, playwright, actor and composer, 1889; Dr Margaret Mead, anthropologist, 1901; Edgar Austin Mittelholzer, novelist, 1909.

Deaths: Pepin II, leader of the Franks, 714; Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, reformer and inventor, 1816; Wilhelm Grimm, philologist and folklorist, 1859; William Terriss (William Charles James Lewin), actor, stabbed by a madman (Richard Archer Prince) on entering the Adelphi Theatre, London, 1897; Charles-Camille Saint- Saens, composer, 1921; Gabriel Narutowicz, president of Poland, assassinated 1922; Alton Glenn Miller, dance band leader, lost after an air flight 1944; William Somerset Maugham, novelist, 1965.

On this day: Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, 1653; the 'Boston Tea Party' took place, 1773; Josephine was divorced from Napoleon by Act of the Senate, 1809; at Blood River, the Boers defeated the Zulus, led by Dingaan, 1838; the Charlotte Jane, first immigrant ship for the Canterbury settlement in New Zealand, arrived at Lyttelton, 1850; Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was declared dictator of Mexico, 1853; the South African Republic of Transvaal was organised by Marthinius Pretorius, 1856; the Transvaal Republic in South Africa was proclaimed, 1879; the Manchester Ship Canal was completed, 1893; West Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough were bombarded by German cruisers, 1914; a landslide in the Kansu province of China resulted in 180,000 deaths, 1920; work on constructing the Mersey Tunnel was started, 1925; the first production of the musical show Me and My Girl took place in London, 1937; the French liner Normandie was requisitioned by the US government, 1941; the Battle of the Bulge began when the Germans under von Rundstedt launched a strong attack in the Ardennes, 1944; the power of the House of Lords to veto legislation was reduced, 1949; synthetic diamonds were first produced by Professor HT Hall at the GEC Laboratories, United States, 1954; the new terminal buildings at London Airport were opened, 1955.

Today is the Feast Day of St Adelaide, St Ado, St Albina, Saints Ananiah, Azariah & Mishael (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and St Irenion.

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