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Births: Trajan, Roman emperor, 53; Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, soldier and statesman, 1583; Titus Oates, impostor and fabricator of the 'Popish Plot', 1649; Sophia Dorothea, Electress of Hanover, 1666; James Fenimore Cooper, novelist, 1789; James Tibbitts Willmore, engraver, 1800; Edouard Wolff, pianist and composer, 1816; Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz, Mexican leader, 1830; Henry Sweet, philologist and phonetician, 1845; William Howard Taft, 27th US President, 1857; Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, writer, 1890; Frank Martin, composer, 1890; Jean Renoir, film director, 1894; Margaret Mary Lockwood, actress, 1916.

Deaths: Sir Thomas Overbury, poet, poisoned while in the Tower of London 1613; Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork, 1643; Sidney, first Earl of Godolphin, statesman, 1712; William Huskisson, statesman, run down by the locomotive Rocket 1830; Arthur Henry Hallam, historian, 1833; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer, 1859; John Hanning Speke, explorer, shot by accident 1864; William Seward Burroughs, adding- machine pioneer, 1898; Thomas Clayton Wolfe, novelist, 1938; Anton Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern, composer, 1945; Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Lord Fisher of Canterbury, former archbishop of Canterbury, 1972; Gustaf VI Adolf, King of Sweden, 1973; Willy Messerschmitt, aircraft designer, 1978.

On this day: General Howe took New York, 1776; Guatemala was declared independent, 1821; the world's first railway accident occurred during the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool railway, 1830; Sir George Cayley, aviation pioneer, described his glider, 1852; Jumbo, a famous circus elephant, was hit and killed by a goods train in Ontario, Canada, 1885; tanks were first used in battle by the British Army at the Somme, 1916; in Germany, the Nuremberg laws were passed, outlawing Jews and making the Swastika the official flag of the country, 1935; Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at Berchtesgaden over the Czech crisis, 1938; Konrad Adenauer was elected Chancellor of West Germany, 1949; Nikita Khrushchev began a 12-day visit to the US, 1959; the first traffic wardens went on duty in London, 1960; the Sun newspaper was first published, 1964; industrial action by the National Graphical Association interrupted production, causing a production loss of 25 per cent of newspapers, 1971.

Today is the Feast Day of St Achard or Aichardus, St Catherine of Genoa, St Mirin, St Nicetas the Goth and St Nicomedes.