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Births: Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, statesman, 1593; Jean-Pierre de Crousaz, philosopher, 1663; Frederick North, second Earl of Guilford, statesman, 1732; Thomas Jefferson, third US President, 1743; Joseph Bramah, locksmith and inventor, 1748; Thomas Beddoes, physician, 1760; Richard Trevithick, engineer and railway pioneer, 1771; George Jacob Holyoake, rationalist, secularist and reformer, 1817; Josephine Elizabeth Butler (ne Grey), social reformer, 1828; Frank Winfield Woolworth, chain- store pioneer, 1852; Gyrgy Lukacs, philosopher, 1885; Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris, wartime chief of Bomber Command, 1892; John Gerard Braine, novelist, 1922.

Deaths: Boris Feodorovich Godunov, Russian Tsar, 1605; Jean de La Fontaine, poet and fabulist, 1695; Richard Garnett, librarian, 1906; Sir William Quiller Orchardson, painter, 1910; James Buchanan Brady ("Diamond Jim"), financier, 1917; Abdul Salam Arif, President of Iraq, killed in a helicopter crash 1966; Travers Christmas Humphreys, judge, 1983.

On this day: the Edict of Nantes, giving Huguenots equal rights with Catholics, was issued by Henry IV of France, 1598; the Royal Military Academy was established at Woolwich, 1741; Handel's Messiah was first performed, Dublin 1742; Warren Hastings was appointed governor of Bengal, 1772; the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed in Britain, 1829; the Anti- Semitic League was founded in Prussia, 1882; the Royal Flying Corps was constituted by Royal Warrant, 1912; the Amritsar Massacre occurred, 1919; the first London production of Funny Girl was presented, 1966; fighting broke out in Beirut, Lebanon, between Moslems and Christians, 1975.

Today is Maundy Thursday and the Feast Day of Saints Agathonice, Carpus, and Papylus, St Guinoch, St Hermenegild, St Martin I, pope and St Martius or Mars.