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Births: James Kent, organist and composer, 1700; Dr Joseph Priestley, scientist and clergyman, 1733; Charles Grey, second Earl Grey, former prime minister, 1764; Daniel Lambert, who weighed over 52 stones (330kg), 1770; Thomas Henry Tizard, oceanographer, 1839; Percival Lowell, astronomer, 1855; Henry Hathaway, film director, 1898.

Deaths: Richard Burbage, actor, 1619; Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux, poet and critic, 1711; Sophia Lee, novelist and playwright, 1824; Felice Orsini, politician and assassin, executed 1858; Tsar Alexander II of Russia, assassinated 1881; Clarence Seward Darrow, lawyer, 1938; Lucien Lvy-Bruhl, philosopher, 1939; Angela Brazil, writer, 1947; John Middleton Murry, author, 1957.

On this day: the Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Stamford, 1470; as predicted by Halley in 1682, Halley's Comet came to its perihelion, 1758; the planet Uranus was discovered by Sir William Herschel, 1781; standard time was established in the United States, 1884; General Roberts captured Bloemfontein, South Africa, 1900; the St Francis dam near Los Angeles burst, flooding the countryside, and drowning 450 people, 1928; Austria was declared to be part of the German Reich (the Anschluss), and was renamed Ostmark, 1938; in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Congress voted to abolish the political monopoly of the Communist Party, 1990.

Today is Commonwealth Day and the Feast Day of St Ansovinus, St Euphrasia or Eupraxia, St Gerald of Mayo, St Heldrad, St Mochoemoc, St Nicephorus of Constantinople and Saints Roderic and Salomon.