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Births: Jacques Cartier, explorer and navigator, 1494; Andreas Vesalius, anatomist, 1514; Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, 1720; Charles, Marquess Cornwallis, statesman and soldier, 1738; Pierre-Charles- Jean-Baptiste-Silvestre Villeneuve, Admiral, 1763; Dr Johann Kaspar Spurzheim, co-founder of phrenology, 1776; Basil Hall, naval officer, traveller and writer, 1788; Jacques-Simon Herz, pianist and composer, 1794; Sir Edward Augustus Bond, librarian, British Museum, 1815; Sir William Withey Gull, physician to Queen Victoria, 1816; Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, 1830; Emile-Francois Loubet, statesman, 1838; Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse, painter, 1869; Sidney Strube, political cartoonist, 1891; Ernest John Moeran, composer and violinist, 1894.

Deaths: Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus, Roman emperor, 192; John Wycliffe, Protestant reformer, 1384; Thomas Erastus, physician, 1583; Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, mathematician, 1679; Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, 1705; John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, 1719; William Gifford, editor, author and satirist, 1826; Stephanie-Felicite, Comtesse de Genlis, author, 1830; Gustave Courbet, painter, 1877; Sir Frank Robert Benson, actor-manager, 1939; Edward Keble Chatterton, author of books about ships, 1944; Sir Malcolm Campbell, speedster on land and water, 1948; Charles Koechlin, composer, 1950; Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (Wallach), statesman, 1951; Ray Henderson (Raymond Brost), popular composer, 1970; Cyril Meir Scott, composer, 1970; Sir Gerald Festus Kelly, artist, 1972; Canon Lewis John Collins, peace campaigner, 1982; Rick Nelson, pop singer, killed 1985; Sam Spiegel, film producer, 1985.

On this day: the Honourable East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, 1600; the first Huguenots left France, bound for South Africa, 1687; a window tax was imposed in England, 1695; under the Treaty of Bassein, the Peshwa of Poona surrendered independence to the East India Company, 1802; Napoleon abolished the use of the Revolutionary Calendar, 1805; Ottawa was chosen by Queen Victoria as the capital of Canada, 1857; Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated his incandescent lamp, 1879; the Lyceum Theatre's present building opened, 1904; Dr Sun Yat-sen was declared the President of the Republic of China, 1911; HMS Natal was blown up in port with the loss of 300 lives, 1915; the Allies issued an ultimatum to Greece for the withdrawal of forces from Thessaly, 1916; prohibition came into force in Canada, 1917; the chimes of Big Ben were broadcast for the first time, 1923; the first successful shortwave radio programme was received in Britain from KDKA Pittsburgh, 1923; Crown Prince Carol of Romania renounced the throne in favour of his son Michael, 1925; the British Army abandoned the use of the lance, except for ceremonial use, 1927; in Britain, fire-watching became compulsory, 1940; the Home Guard was disbanded, 1945; the farthing ceased to be legal currency, 1960; the Central African Federation (Rhodesia and Nyasaland) was dissolved, 1963.

Today is Hogmanay in Scotland and the Feast Day of St Columba of Sens, St John-Francis Regis, St Melania the Younger and St Silvester I, pope.