Births: James VI and I, king, 1566; Thomas Fuller, preacher and scholar, 1608; Blaise Pascal, mathematician and philosopher, 1623; Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois, French revolutionary, 1749; Hugues-Felicite-Robert de Lamennais, church reformer, 1782; John Gibson, sculptor, 1790; Ferdinand David, violinist and composer, 1810; Charles Haddon Sir George Alexander (George Samson), actor-manager, 1858; Douglas Haig, first Earl Haig, soldier, 1861; Bessie Wallis Warfield, Duchess of Windsor, 1896; Walter Reginald Hammond, cricketer, 1903; Sir Ernst Boris Chain, bacteriologist and pioneer of penicillin, 1906.

Deaths: Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, court favourite, beheaded 1312; Matthew Merian the Elder, engraver and bookseller, 1650; John Brown, scholar and theologian, 1787; Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist and explorer, 1820; John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton, historian, 1902; Sir James Matthew Barrie, author and playwright, 1937; Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, US spies for the Soviet Union, executed 1953; Jean Arthur (Gladys Georgianna Greene), actress, 1991.

On this day: King Louis XI of France created a (private) Royal Mail service, 1464; Curwen's Act, limiting the power of a British Government to manipulate seats in Parliament, was passed, 1809; an Act was passed founding the Metropolitan Police, 1829; the Earl of Rosse announced his discovery of spiral nebulae, 1850; the first Zeppelin dirigible airship, the Deutschland, was launched, 1910; a republic was proclaimed in Portugal, 1911; all German titles and names were renounced by the British Royal Family, who adopted the name Windsor, 1917; King George V conferred peerages on members of the Teck and Battenberg families, 1917; a census was taken in Great Britain, 1921; the Battle of the Philippine Sea began, 1944; Kuwait became independent, 1961.

Today is the Feast Day of St Bruno-Boniface, St Deodatus or Die, Saints Gervase and Protase, St Juliana Falconieri, St Odo of Cambrai and St Romuald.


Births: John Cleveland, poet, baptised 1613; Salvatore Rosa, painter, poet and musician, 1615; Dr George Hickes, theologian, 1642; Dr Adam Ferguson, philosopher, 1723; Anna Letitia Barbauld (Aikin), poetess, teacher and hymn- writer, 1743; Jacques Offenbach (Jakob Levy Eberst), composer, 1819; George Edmund Street, architect, 1824; Leon-Joseph-Florentin Bonnat, painter, 1833; Johannes Schreyer, musician and writer, 1856; Medardo Rosso, sculptor, 1858; Kurt Schwitters, artist and poet, 1887; Errol Flynn, actor, 1909.

Deaths: Willem Barents, explorer, in the Arctic, 1597; Carl Friedrich Abel, viola player and composer, 1787; Emmanuel- Joseph Sieyes, French revolutionary leader, 1836; King William IV 1837; James Clarence Mangan, poet, 1849; Jules-Alfred Huot de Goncourt, writer, 1870; Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, painter, 1904; Bernard Mannes Baruch, financier, 1965; Gustaf Allan Petterssen, composer, 1980.

On this day: 147 people were confined in the cell later called the Black Hole of Calcutta, from which only 23 came out alive, 1756; the Oath of the Tennis Court (French Revolution) was made by the French National Assembly, 1789; the paddle-wheel steamer Savannah arrived at Liverpool under sail, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, 1819; on the death of her uncle, William IV, Queen Victoria ascended the throne, 1837; West Virginia became the 35th of the United States, 1863; Italy declared war on Austria, 1866; a new Tay Railway Bridge was opened for public traffic, 1887; the Kiel Canal was formally opened, 1895; the first trolley-bus service in Britain was opened in Leeds, 1911; greyhound racing was commenced at the White City, London, 1927; the Battle of the Philippine Sea ended, 1944; the Soviet Union and the US agreed to institute a 'hot line' between the White House and the Kremlin, 1963; Sheila Scott arrived at London Airport after being the first Briton to make a round-the-world solo flight, 1966.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Adalbert of Magdeburg, St Alban of Verulam, St Bain or Bagnus, St Goban, Saints John Fenwick and John Gavan, St Silverius, Pope.