Births: Jean Baptiste van Helmont, chemist, 1580; Giuseppe Ribera, painter, 1588; Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, educational reformer, 1746; Arabella Goddard, pianist, 1836; Adolph Jensen, pianist and composer, 1837; Joseph-Jacques-Cesaire Joffre, marshal, 1852; John Singer Sargent, painter, 1856; Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, historian, 1860; John Griffith (Jack) London, novelist, 1876; Ferenc Molnar, playwright, 1878; Curbastro Gregorio Ricci, mathematician, 1883; Hermann Goring, Nazi leader, 1893; Paul Muller, chemist, producer of DDT, 1899; Igor Vasilevich Kurchatov, Soviet physicist, 1903; Tex Ritter (Woodward Maurice Ritter), film star of Westerns, 1907; Morton Feldman, composer, 1926.

Deaths: Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1519; Lorenzo di Credi, painter, 1537; Pierre de Fermat, mathematician, 1665; Henry Stafford Northcote, first Earl of Iddesleigh, 1887; Sir Isaac Pitman, printer and publisher, 1897; Jean- Leon Gerome, painter, 1904; Nevil Shute (Norway), novelist, 1960; Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, author, 1976.

On this day: in the General Election, there was a Liberal landslide, 1906; the New Zealand parliament was opened by Queen Elizabeth II, 1954; following a rebellion in Zanzibar, the Sultan was banished and a republic declared, 1964; after the Biafran army surrendered, the civil war in Nigeria ended, 1970; a Boeing 747 touched down at Heathrow after its first transatlantic flight from New York, 1970.

Today is the Feast Day of St Arcadius, St Benedict or Benet Biscop, St Caesaria, St Eutropius, St Margaret Bourgeoys, St Tatiana and St Victorian.