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Births: James II, King of Scotland, 1430; Victor Albrecht von Haller, biologist and poet, 1708; Valentine Green, engraver, 1739; Noah Webster, lexicographer, 1758; Robert Stephenson, civil engineer, 1803; Arnold Bocklin, painter, 1827; Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, playwright and author, 1854; Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, statesman, 1863; David Ben Gurion, Israeli statesman, 1886; Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, playwright, 1888; Michael Collins, Irish leader, 1890; Enver Hoxha, Albanian prime minister, 1908.

Deaths: Luca Signorelli, painter, 1523; Lucas Cranach the Elder, painter, 1553; Hugh Latimer, bishop and Protestant martyr, burnt at the stake 1555; Nicholas Ridley, bishop and Protestant martyr, burnt at the stake 1555; Robert Fergusson, Scottish vernacular poet, 1774; John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist, 1793; Marie Antoinette (Josephe-Jeanne-Marie-Antoinette), Queen of France, executed 1793; Sir Granville Bantock, composer, 1946; George Catlett Marshall, general and statesman, 1959; Moshe Dayan, general, 1981.

On this day: the New York Gazette was issued for the first time in New York City, 1725; the Eddystone Lighthouse, built by John Smeaton, was officially opened, 1759; the Houses of Parliament were almost completely destroyed by fire, 1834; the first public demonstration of the use of ether as an anaesthetic was made at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, 1846; Girton College, Cambridge, was opened (in Hitchin, Hertfordshire), 1869; the first detention centre was opened at Borstal, Rochester, Kent, 1902; the first aircraft flight was made in Britain by 'Colonel' Samuel F. Cody, showman and inventor, at Farnborough, 1908; the price of a 4lb loaf in London reached 10 old pence (4p), 1916; the Simplon II railway tunnel was completed, 1922; Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher, Nazi war criminals, were executed by hanging 1946; a nuclear device was exploded in China, 1964; Harold Wilson became Prime Minister, 1964.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anastasius of Cluny, St Bercharius, St Bertrand of Comminges, St Gall, St Gerard Majella, St Hedwig, St Lull, St Margaret-Mary, Saints Martinian and Maxima and St Mommolinus.


Births: Nathan Field, actor and playwright, baptised 1587; John Wilkes, political reformer and journalist, 1727; Claude-Henri, Comte de Saint-Simon, economist and social reformer, 1760; Baroness Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), author, 1885; Rita Hayworth (Margarita Carmen Cansino), actress, 1918.

Deaths: Rene-Antoine-Ferchault de Reaumur, scientist, 1757; Edward, first Baron Hawke, Admiral of the Fleet, 1781; John Brown, physician and medical reformer, 1788; George Colman (the younger), playwright, 1836; Frederic-Francois Chopin (Fryderyk Franciszek), composer, 1849; Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, physicist, 1887; Charles Wellington Furse, painter, 1904; Julia Ward Howe, author of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic', 1910; Ludwig III, ex-King of Bavaria, 1921; Karl Kautsky, moderate Marxist theorist, 1938; Sir William Jackson Pope, chemist, 1939; Ellsworth Huntington, geographer, 1947; Sidney Joseph Perelman, humorist, 1979 .

On this day: David II of Scotland was defeated and captured at the Battle of Neville's Cross in Durham, 1346; under the Treaty of Dunkirk, the city was sold by Charles II to the French, 1662; Charles II escaped from Cromwell's army across the English Channel, 1651; during the American War of Independence, the British General Burgoyne surrendered to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, 1777; Napoleon was exiled and arrived on the island of St Helena, 1815; British and French forces began the Siege of Sebastopol, 1854; a steel-making process was patented by Sir Henry Bessemer, 1855; British troops defeated the Boers at Glencoe, 1899; Turkey declared war on Bulgaria and Serbia, 1912; the republics of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were formally established, 1918; in the United States, Al Capone, bootlegger, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for income-tax evasion, 1931; the first nuclear power station in the world was opened at Calder Hall, 1956; the De Beers diamond firm in South Africa announced that synthetic diamonds had been made, 1959.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Anstrudis or Austrude, Saints Ethelbert and Ethelred, St Ignatius of Antioch, St John the Dwarf, St Nothelm, St Rule, St Seraphino and the Ursuline Martyrs of Valenciennes.