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New Year's Eve Born on this day: Jacques Cartier, explorer and navigator, 1494; Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, 1720; Pierre-Charles Jean-Baptiste Silvestre Villeneuve, admiral, 1763; Sir Edward Augustus Bond, librarian of the British Museum,1815; Sir Will iam Withey Gull, physician to Queen Victoria, 1816; Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, 1830; Henri-Emile Benoit Matisse, painter, 1869; Caradoc Evans, novelist, 1878; George Catlett Marshall, general, 1880; Sidney Strube, political cartoonist, 1891; Ernest John Moeran, composer and violinist, 1894; Jule Styne (Julius Kerwin Stein), songwriter and composer, 1905.

Died on this day: Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus, Roman emperor, 192; John Wycliffe, Protestant reformer, 1384; Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, 1705; John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, 1719; William Gifford, editor, author and satirist, 1826; Gustave Courbet, painter, 1877; Sir Malcolm Campbell, land and water speed record breaker, 1948; Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (Wallach), Soviet statesman, 1951; Canon Lewis John Collins, peace campaigner, 1982; 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; the first Huguenots left France, bound for South Africa, 1687; a window tax was imposed in England, 1695; an American attack on Quebec failed, 1775; under the Treatyof Bassein, the Peshwa of Poona surrendered independence to the East India Company, 1802; Ottawa was chosen by Queen Victoria as the capital of Canada, 1857; Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated his incandescent lamp, 1879; HMS Natal was blown up in port with the loss of 300 lives, 1915; the Allies issued an ultimatum to Greece for the withdrawal of forces from Thessaly, 1916; prohibition came into force in Canada, 1917; the chimes of Big Ben were broadcast for the first time, 1923; the British army abandoned the use of the lance, except for ceremonial use, 1927; the Home Guard was disbanded, 1945; the farthing ceased to be legal currency, 1960.

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.

New Year's Day Born on this day: Lorenzo de Medici, statesman, 1449; Joseph-Francois Dupleix, administrator, 1697; Paul Revere, silversmith and American hero, 1735; Maria Edgeworth, novelist, 1767; Francis Egerton, Earl of Ellesmere, statesman and poet, 1800; Arthur Hu gh Clough, poet, 1819; Sandor Petofi, poet, 1823; Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramee), novelist, 1839; Baron Pierre de Coubertin, educator and sportsman, 1863; William Fox (Wilhelm Fried), movie mogul, 1879; Edward Morgan Forster, novelist, 1879; Martin Nie moller, anti-Nazi priest, 1892; John Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, 1895; Dana Andrews (Carver Daniel Andrews), actor, 1909; Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby, former Foreign Office official and defector, 1912; Joe Orton (John Kingsley Orton), playw right, 1933.

Died on this day: Louis XII, King of France, 1515; Pope Innocent X, 1655; William Wycherley, playwright, 1716; James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, 1766; Louis-Auguste Blanqui, revolutionary, 1881; Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, physicist, 1894; Ignatius Donnelly, novelist and social reformer, 1901; "Rita" (Mrs Eliza Margaret (Desmond) Humphreys), novelist, 1938; Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, architect, 1944; Maurice Chevalier, entertainer and actor, 1972; Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (L. Ron Hubbard), sc ience-fiction writer and propounder of Scientology, 1986; Cesar Romero (Caesar Julius Romero), actor, 1994.

On this day: the Portuguese captain Concalves entered the bay of Rio de Janeiro, 1502; Charles II was crowned King of Scots at Scone, 1651; the first issue of the Daily Universal Register (later the Times) appeared, 1785; the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland came into being, 1801; Haiti declared her independence of France, 1804; the importation of slaves into the United States was forbidden, 1808; Sierra Leone became a British Crown Colony, 1808; Britain proclaimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, 1833; the name of Van Diemen's Land was changed to Tasmania, 1856; London was divided into 10 postal districts, 1858; Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, 1877; the first postal orders were issued in Great Britain, 1881; the electric chair was adopted in New York for capital punishment, 1889; the Manchester Ship Canal opened, 1894; the Commonwealth of Australia was set up, 1901; people of 70 and over in Britain became eligible for old age pensions, 1909; l abour exchanges came into operation, 1910; the British telephone service passed into the control of the Post Office, 1912; the British Board of Film Censors was giv