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Births: Claudius, Roman Emperor, 10 BC; Sigismund II Augustus, King of Poland, 1520; Benedetto Marcello, composer and author, 1686; Richard Wilson, landscape painter, 1714; Charles, third Earl Stanhope, reformer and inventor, 1753; Ignaz Anton Franz Xaver Ladurner, pianist and composer, 1766; Sir Jeffry Wyatville, architect, 1766; William Clark, soldier and explorer, 1770; Francis Scott Key, poet and attorney; author of 'The Star Spangled Banner', 1779; Richard Henry Dana, novelist and lawyer, 1815; Herman Melville, sailor, novelist and poet, 1819; Guido Papini, violinist and composer, 1847; Montague Rhodes James, scholar, author and editor, 1862.

Deaths: Queen Anne, last of the Stuart sovereigns, 1714; Elizabeth Inchbald (Simpson), actress and author, 1821; Robert Morrison, missionary in China, and translator of the Bible into Chinese, 1834; Walter Geikie, painter, 1837; Charles Turner, engraver, 1857; Henry Clarence Kendall, poet, 1882; Karl Wilhelm Dindorf, classical scholar, 1883; Ludwig Beckmann, painter, 1902; Theodore Roethke, poet, 1963; Walter Ulbricht, East German leader, 1973.

On this day: Christopher Columbus landed on Terra Firma (mainland America), and believing it to be an insignificant island, named it Isla Santa, 1498; the watermen's race on the Thames for Doggett's Coat and Badge was first rowed, 1716; the foundation stone of the Bank of England was laid, 1732; the new London Bridge was opened, 1831; slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire, 1834; the Rotherhithe Thames Tunnel was opened, 1842; a papyrus was offered to the British Museum for pounds 10,000 purporting to give a variant account of the Israelites in the wilderness; - it later proved to be a forgery, 1883; the Post Office began an inland parcel post in Britain, 1883; the 11th Olympic Games opened in Berlin, 1936.

Today is Swiss Independence Day and the Feast Day of St Almedha or Aled, St Alphonse Liguori, St Ethelwold of Winchester, The Holy Machabees, St Peter Julian Eymard and Saints Pistis, Elpis and Agape (Faith, Hope and Charity).


Births: Samuel Dircksz van Hoogstraten, painter, 1627; Nicholas Patrick Stephen Wiseman, cardinal, first Archbishop of Westminster, 1802; Henry Steel Olcott, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, 1832; Elisha Gray, an inventor of the telephone, 1835; Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss, composer, 1891; Leslie Lincoln Henson, actor-manager, 1891.

Deaths: King William II (William Rufus), shot in the New Forest, 1100; Thomas Gainsborough, painter, 1788; Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, balloonist, 1799; Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, 1849; 'Wild Bill' Hickok (James Butler), marshal, shot dead, 1876; Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke, author, 1881; Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, 1922; Warren Gamaliel Harding, 29th president of the United States, 1923; Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, soldier and statesman, 1934; Louis Bleriot, aviator, 1936; Oliver Hazard Perry La Farge, author, 1963; Fritz Lang, film director, 1976; Carlos Chavez, Mexican composer, 1978.

On this day: the Duke of Marlborough was victorious over the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim, 1704; Napoleon was declared 'Consul for life', 1802; the government of India was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown, 1858; British Columbia became a Crown Colony, 1858; Iraqi tanks and infantry invaded and occupied Kuwait, 1990.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Eusebius of Vercelli, St Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, St Sidwell or Sativola, St Stephen I, Pope, St Syagrius of Autun and St Theodota and her Three Sons.