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Births: Charles-Joseph Messier, astronomer, 1730; George Morland, painter, 1763; William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin, physicist and inventor, 1824; Willy Messerschmitt, aircraft designer, 1898; Peter Lorre (Laszlo Loewenstein), actor, 1904.

Deaths: Julian the Apostate, Roman Emperor, died of wounds 363; Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of Peru, assassinated 1541; Sir Richard Fanshawe, diplomat, translator and poet, 1666; The Rev Gilbert White, naturalist and cleric, 1793; Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, balloonist, 1810; Samuel Crompton, spinning mule inventor, 1827; George IV, King, 1830; Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, author and composer of the 'Marseillaise', 1836; Ford Madox Ford, novelist and poet, 1939; Reinhold Moritzovich Gliere, composer, 1956; Inia Te Wiata, opera singer, 1971; Sir Charles Clore, financier, 1979; Andre Tchaikowsky, pianist and composer, 1982; Carl Foreman, film producer, 1984; George Horace Gallup, poll organiser, 1984.

On this day: Christ's Hospital (the Bluecoat School) was granted its charter, 1553; William IV ascended the British throne, 1830; the Corn Laws were repealed, 1846; the Massacre took place at Cawnpore, 1857; Victoria Crosses were awarded to 62 men of the Army and Navy by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park, 1857; the Battle of the Chickahominy River (American Civil War) began, 1862; Wagner's opera The Valkyrie was first performed, Munich 1870; the Order of Merit was instituted by King Edward VII, 1902; the new Victoria and Albert Museum was opened, 1909; the first Queen Alexandra Day was held, 1912; a great fire at Salem, Massachusetts rendered 10,000 people homeless, 1914; the American Expeditionary Force arrived in France, 1917; Finland entered the war on the German side in a 'defensive capacity', 1941; the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, 1945; the St Lawrence Seaway was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and President Eisenhower, 1959; Madagascar proclaimed its independence as the Malagasy Republic, 1960; the first London production of the musical show Grease was presented, 1973.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anthelmus, bishop, St John of the Goths, St Maxentius, St Pelagius of Cordova, Saints Salvius or Sauve and Superius and St Vigilius of Trent.


Births: Louis XII, King of France, 1462; Charles IX, King of France, 1550; Charles Stewart Parnell, Irish nationalist leader, 1846; Ivan Vazov, poet and writer, 1850; Paul Lawrence Dunbar, poet, 1872; Guilhermina Suggia, cellist, 1888; Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier, historian, 1888; Sidney Coe Howard, playwright, 1891.

Deaths: Giorgio Vasari, painter and art historian, 1574; Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt, painter, 1641; William Dodd, forger, hanged 1777; James Lewis Macie Smithson, scientist and founder of the Smithsonian Institution, 1829; Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), murdered in prison 1844; Francois Forster, engraver, 1872; Christian Gottfried Ehrenburg, naturalist, founder of protozoology, 1876; Harriet Martineau, novelist and economist, 1876; Sir Arthur David Waley, orientalist, 1966; Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, former Shah of Iran, 1980.

On this day: Jack Cade defeated Henry VI's forces under Stafford at Sevenoaks, 1450; the first woman's magazine was issued, the Ladies' Mercury 1693; Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as a maid, escaped to Skye, 1746; the Battle of Quebec began, 1759; British forces defeated the French, and Cairo was entered, 1801; British soldiers and others were massacred at Cawnpore, India, 1857; General Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein defeated the Hanoverians at the Battle of Langensalza, 1866; Joshua Slocum completed the first solo voyage around the world, 1898; the Central London Electric Railway was opened, running between Shepherd's Bush and the Bank, 1900; the Battle of Chateau Thierry was fought, 1918; the musical show The Co-Optimists was first produced, London, 1921; Cherbourg was taken by the Allies, 1944; President Truman ordered the US Air Force and Navy to Korea, 1950; the first nuclear power station was opened at Obninsk, near Moscow, 1954; a French airbus with 216 passengers was hijacked to Libya by the PLO, 1976; the independence of the Djibouti republic was proclaimed, 1977.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Cyril of Alexandria, St George Mtasmindeli, St John of Chinon, St Ladislas, king of Hungary, St Samson of Constantinople, The Martyrs of Arras and St Zoilus of Cordova.