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Anniversaries: New Year's Eve

Born this day: Jacques Cartier, explorer and navigator, 1494; Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, 1720; Charles, Marquess Cornwallis, statesman and soldier, 1738; Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste- Silvestre Villeneuve, admiral, 1763; Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse, painter, 1869; Caradoc Evans, novelist, 1878.

Died this day: John Wycliffe, Protestant reformer, 1384; Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, 1705; John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, 1719; Gustave Courbet, painter, 1877; Sir Malcolm Campbell, speedster on land and water, 1948; Rick Nelson, pop singer, killed 1985; Sam Spiegel, film producer, 1985.

On this day: the Honourable East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, 1600; Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated his incandescent lamp, 1879; the Home Guard was disbanded, 1945; the farthing ceased to be legal currency, 1960; the Central African Federation (Rhodesia and Nyasaland) was dissolved, 1963.

Today is Hogmanay in Scotland and the Feast Day of St Columba of Sens, St John-Francis Regis, St Melania the Younger and St Silvester I, pope.