Births: Desiderius Erasmus (Gerhard Gerhards), scholar and humanist, 1466; John Jenkins, composer, 1592; Captain James Cook, naval officer and explorer, 1728; James Macpherson, Gaelic scholar and fraudster, 1736; August Wilhelm Anton Neithardt, Graf von Gneisenau, soldier, 1760; Niccolo Paganini, violinist and composer, 1782; Dr Andrew Combe, physiologist and surgeon, 1797; Isaac Merritt Singer, developer of the sewing machine, 1811; Antoine de Kontski, pianist, 1817; Stafford Henry Northcote, first Earl of Iddesleigh, politician, 1818; Pierre-Eugene-Marcelin Berthelot, organic chemist, 1827; George Alfred Gibson, violinist, 1849; Sir William Alexander Smith, founder of the Boys' Brigade, 1854; Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president, 1858; Enid Bagnold (Lady Jones), novelist, 1889; Dylan Marlais Thomas, poet, 1914; Sylvia Plath, poet, 1932.

Deaths: Ivan III (the Great), Tsar of Russia, 1505; Michael Servetus, theologian, burnt at Geneva on the orders of Calvin 1553; Vavasor Powell, preacher, 1670; George Morland, painter, 1804; The Rev John Thomson, painter, 1840; Edward Lyon Berthon, inventor of the screw propeller, 1899; Alfred-Philippe Roll, painter, 1919; Lascelles Abercrombie, writer, 1938; Sydney Horler, writer, 1954; Lise Meitner, nuclear physicist, 1968; Rex Todhunter Stout, novelist, 1975; James Mallahan Cain, novelist, 1977.

On this day: the Cavaliers eluded the Roundheads in the Battle of Newbury, 1644; the US Navy was established, 1775; the Treaty of San Lorenzo was signed between Spain and the US, settling the Florida boundary, 1795; the French captured Berlin, 1806; Garibaldi began his march upon Rome, 1867; the French army surrendered Metz to the Germans, 1870; the Liverpool Echo was first published, 1879; the New York Subway was opened, 1904; troops from the US entered the war in France, 1917; the headquarters of the League of Nations was moved from London to Geneva, 1920; the Pall Mall Gazette was last issued, 1923; Winston Churchill again became prime minister of Britain, 1951; in central Yugoslavia, many people were killed when an earthquake destroyed Banja Luka, 1969; the name of the Republic of the Congo was changed to Zaire, 1971.

Today is the Feast Day of St Frumentius of Ethiopia and St Otteran or Odhran of Iona.

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