Births: Leopold I, Holy Roman emperor, 1640; Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, 1672; Andrew Ramsay, writer, 1686; Georg Friedrich Grotefend, classical and cuneiform scholar, 1775; George Stephenson, locomotive designer, 1781; John Howard Payne, actor, playwright and consul, 1791; Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai, conductor and composer, 1810; Gaetano Braga, cellist and composer, 1829; Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, physician, 1836; Anne Isabella Ritchie, author, daughter of WM Thackeray, 1837; Walter Weedon Grossmith, comedian and author, 1853; Sir Henry Hallett Dale, neurophysiologist, 1875; EM Delafield (Edmee Elizabeth Monica de la Pasture), novelist, 1890; Cole Albert Porter, composer and lyricist, 1893; Robert Cummings (Charles Clarence Robert Orville Main Cummings), actor, 1908.

Deaths: Jan van Eyck, painter, buried 1441; William Lilly, astrologer and publisher of almanacs, 1681; Pope Gregory XVI, 1846; George Payne Rainsford James, novelist, 1860; Charles John Huffham Dickens, novelist, 1870; Sir Walter Besant, author and philanthropist, 1901; Edward Moran, artist, 1901; Ugo Betti, playwright and judge, 1953; William Maxwell Aitken, first Baron Beaverbrook, newspaper proprietor, 1964; Dame Sybil Thorndike, actress, 1976.

On this day: the first Book of Common Prayer was issued to all dioceses in the Church of England, 1549; the French defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Montebello Casteggio, 1800; Alsace-Lorraine was annexed to Germany, 1871; James J. Jeffries, the US heavyweight boxer, beat Bob Fitzsimmons (Great Britain), New York 1899; the London Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert, 1904; Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm became the first to pilot an aircraft across the Pacific (California to Brisbane, Australia), 1928; the Norwegian forces surrendered to Germany, 1940; the USS George Washington, the first ballistic-missile submarine, was launched, 1959; in Britain, the proceedings of the House of Commons were broadcast live for the first time, 1975.

Today is the Feast Day of St Columba of Iona, St Ephraem, St Pelagia of Antioch, Saints Primus and Felician, St Richard of Andria and St Vincent of Agen.