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Births: Simon Bolivar, South American liberator, 1783; Alexandre Dumas pere (Davy de la Pailleterie), author, 1802; Adolphe Charles Adam, composer, 1803; Johann Christoph Lauterbach, violinist, 1832; Raimundo Madrazo y Garreta, painter, 1841; Frank Wedekind, playwright, 1864; Edward Frederic Benson, novelist, 1867; Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany, author, 1878; Ernst Bloch, composer, 1880; Amelia Earhart, aviator, 1898.

Deaths: Jacob van Artevelde, statesman, murdered, 1345; Benedetto Marcello, composer, 1739; George Vertue, engraver, 1756; John Dyer, poet, 1758; John Sell Cotman, landscape painter, 1842; Martin van Buren, eighth President of the US, 1862; George Cattermole, painter and illustrator, 1868; Captain Matthew Webb, cross-Channel swimmer, 1883; Sacha (Alexander) Guitry, actor and playwright, 1957; Constance Bennett, actress, 1965; Alan Rawsthorne, composer, 1971; Sir James Chadwick, physicist, 1974; Peter Sellers, actor, 1980.

On this day: James VI acceded to the Scottish throne, 1567; William III of England was defeated at Steinkirk (Enghein) by the French, 1692; the city of Detroit was founded by the Frenchman Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, 1701; Gibraltar was won from Spain by Admiral Sir George Rooke, 1704; the window tax was abolished in Britain, 1851; Arabi Pasha declared a Holy War in Egypt, 1883; the excursion steamer Eastland capsized in the Chicago river, with the loss of 852 lives, 1915; the first greetings telegram was sent in Britain, 1935; 14 people were named as the first life peers, 1958.

Today is the Feast Day of St Boris or Romanus, St Christina of Bolsena, St Christina the Astonishing, St Declan, St Gleb or David and St Lewinna.


Births: William Burkitt, theologian, 1650; Giacomo Cordella, opera composer, 1786; Karl Liebig, clarinetist and conductor, 1808; Thomas Eakins, sculptor, portrait and figure painter, 1844; Arthur James Balfour, first Earl Balfour, statesman, 1848; David Belasco, playwright, 1859; Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians, 1876; Alfredo Casella, composer, 1883; Walter Brennan, actor, 1894.

Deaths: Flavius Valerius Constantius, Roman emperor, 306; Pope Innocent VIII, 1492; Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1564; Andre-Marie de Chenier, poet, executed, 1794; Charles Dibdin, composer, playwright, actor and manager, 1814; John Emery, painter and actor, 1822; William Sharp, line engraver, 1824; Karl Ernst Christoph Hess, engraver, 1828; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, 1834; Jean-Charles-Leonard Simonde de Sismondi, historian, 1842; Charles Macintosh, waterproof clothing inventor, 1843; Dr James Barry, retired army surgeon, found on death to be a woman, 1865; Henry Mayhew, a founder of Punch and social investigator, 1887; Nathaniel ('Nat') Gould, racing novelist, 1919; Engelbert Dollfuss, statesman, assassinated, 1934; Syrie Gwendoline Maud Barnardo Maugham, interior decorator and former wife of W. Somerset Maugham, 1955; Douglas Stuart Moore, composer, 1969; Leroy Robertson, composer, 1971; Louis Stephen St Laurent, statesman, 1973.

On this day: the Moors were defeated at Ourique by Alfonso I of Portugal, 1139; Mary I of England was married to Philip of Spain at Winchester, 1554; the seven northern provinces of the Netherlands proclaimed their independence from Spain, 1581; the Dutch fleet was totally routed by English at the second naval Battle of the North Foreland, 1666; the Turks were defeated near Aboukir by Napoleon, 1799; Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States, 1898; Louis Bleriot made the first Channel crossing by aircraft, 1909; Mussolini was forced to resign in Italy, 1943; in Britain, bread rationing ended, 1948; the Brussels Treaty on Western Union came into force, 1948; Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth of the US, 1952; the European Steel and Coal Community came into being, 1952; Tunisia became a republic, with Habib Bourguiba as its first president, 1957; Hovercraft SR-N1 made its first Channel crossing in less than two hours, 1959; the first test-tube baby was born in Oldham, Lancashire, 1978.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Christopher, St James the Greater, St Magnericus and Saints Thea, Valentina and Paul.