Christmas Eve

Birthdays: Mr Alistair Baillie, diplomat, 60; Mrs Mair Barnes, managing director, Woolworths, 48; Mr John Barron, actor, 72; Mr Colin Cowdrey, consultant, Barclays Bank, and former cricketer, 60; Brigadier Dame Barbara Cozens, 86; Mr Greg Edwards, disc jockey, 45; Sir Gerald Elliot, former chairman, Christian Salvesen, 69; Sir Nicholas Fairbairn QC MP, 59; Mr Ernest Fernyhough, former MP, 84; Mr Jeremy Hindley, horse-racing trainer, 49; Dame Joan Kelleher, former director, WRAC, 77; Sir Ivan Lawrence QC MP, 56; Dr John Marek MP, 52; Sir Noel Moynihan, physician, surgeon and former chairman, Save the Children Fund, 76; Miss Thea Porter, fashion designer, 65; Mr Norman Rossington, actor, 64; Mr John D. Taylor MP, 55; Viscount Thurso, Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness, 70; Mr Philip Ziegler, author and editor, 63.

Born this day: John Lackland, King of England, 1167; St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, 1491; George Crabbe, poet, 1754; Matthew Arnold, poet and critic, 1822; Howard Robard Hughes, millionaire and recluse, 1905; Ava Lavinia Gardner (Lucy Johnson), actress, 1922.

Died this day: Jean de Joinville, crusader and historian, 1317; Vasco da Gama, explorer and navigator, 1524; William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist, 1863; Frances Mary Buss, educationist, 1894; Alban Maria Johannes Berg, composer, 1935; Peter Lawford, actor, 1984.

On this day: Britain's first self-propelled vehicle was tested by Richard Trevithick, 1801; the Apollo 8 spacecraft orbited the moon and sent back a Christmas message, 1968.

Today is the Feast Day of St Adela, St Delphinus, St Gregory of Spoleto, St Irmina, St Sharbel Makhlouf and Saints Tharsilla and Emiliana.