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Births: Catherine of Aragon, first queen of Henry VIII, 1485; John Selden, lawyer and historian, 1584; George Whitefield, evangelist, 1714; Elizabeth Carter, scholar, poet and linguist, 1717; Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, Prussian military commander, 1742; Jane Austen, novelist, 1775; Mary Russell Mitford, author, 1787; Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 1790; Charles Edward Horsley, composer, 1822; Edward Emerson Barnard, astronomer, 1857; Zoltan Kodaly, composer, 1882; Sir John (Jack) Hobbs, cricketer, 1882; Sir Noel Pierce Coward, playwright, actor and composer, 1889; Dr Margaret Mead, anthropologist, 1901; Edgar Austin Mittelholzer, novelist, 1909.

Deaths: Pepin II, leader of the Franks, 714; Sir William Petty, economist, 1687; James Grainger, army surgeon and poet, 1766; Thomas Pennant, traveller and naturalist, 1798; Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy, chemist, 1809; Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, reformer and inventor, 1816; Richard Bright, physician, 1858; Wilhelm Grimm, philologist and folklorist, 1859; William Terriss (William Charles James Lewin), actor, stabbed by a madman (Richard Archer Prince) on entering the Adelphi Theatre, London 1897; Charles-Camille Saint-Saens, composer, 1921; Gabriel Narutowicz, president of Poland, assassinated 1922; Robert William Chambers, novelist and artist, 1933; Alton Glenn Miller, dance band leader, lost after an air flight 1944; William Somerset Maugham, novelist, 1965.

On this day: Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, 1653; the 'Boston Tea Party' took place, 1773; Josephine was divorced from Napoleon by Act of the Senate, 1809; the Boers defeated the Zulus, led by Dingaan, at Blood River 1838; the Charlotte Jane, first immigrant ship for the Canterbury settlement in New Zealand, arrived at Lyttelton, 1850; Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was declared dictator of Mexico, 1853; Marthinius Pretorius organised the South African Republic of Transvaal, 1856; the Transvaal Republic in South Africa was proclaimed, 1879; the Manchester Ship Canal was completed, 1893; German cruisers bombarded West Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough, 1914; a landslide in the Kansu province of China resulted in 180,000 deaths, 1920; work on constructing the Mersey Tunnel was started, 1925; the first production of the musical show Me and My Girl took place in London, 1937; the US government requisitioned the French liner Normandie, 1941; the Battle of the Bulge began when the Germans under von Rundstedt launched a strong attack in the Ardennes, 1944; the power of the House of Lords to veto legislation was reduced, 1949; synthetic diamonds were first produced by Professor HT Hall at the GEC Laboratories, US 1954; the new terminal buildings at London Airport were opened, 1955; the musical Make Me an Offer was first produced, London 1959.

Today is the Feast Day of St Adelaide, St Ado, St Albina, Saints Ananiah, Azariah and Mishael (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and St Irenion.