Historic April

by Ben Johnson

Among many other events, April saw English naval explorer James Cook (pictured above) arrive in Botany Bay, Australia, the first European to do so.

1 April. 1662 British King Charles II grants royal patronage to a group of scientists and academics founding the Royal Society of London.
2 April. 1801 Admiral Horatio Nelson, aboard HMS Elephant, defiantly ignores orders from his commander-in-chief to withdraw his forces and proceeds to sink the pro French Danish fleet off its home port of Copenhagen.
3 April. 1721 Robert Walpole became the first Prime Minister of Britain.
4 April. 1964 The Beatles fill the first five places in the US singles chart with “Please Please Me”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, “Twist and Shout” and “Can’t Buy Me Love”.
5 April. 1649 Death of Englishman John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company.
6 April. 1199 Richard I (the Lion-Heart) of England dies from an infected wound while besieging Chalus Castle.
7 April. 1739 Travellers throughout England breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that the most notorious of highwaymen Dick Turpin, was hanged today in York.
8 April. 1838 Brunel’s new steamship Great Western left Bristol today on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Boston.
9 April. 1806 Birthday of English engineer and inventor Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Perhaps the greatest of the 19th-century engineers, he designed railways, bridges, tunnels, viaducts and ships.
10 April. 1633 Bananas, never seen before in England, went on sale in a London shop.
11 April. 1689 The joint coronation of William III, Prince of Orange and champion of Protestantism, and his wife Mary II took place in London.
12 April. 1606 The Union Flag becomes the official flag of Britain.
13 April. 1919 British troops fired into a crowd of 10,000 Sikhs that had gathered to protest at the arrest of two Indian Congress Party leaders, 379 people were killed and 1,200 wounded in the Holy City of Amritsar, India.
14 April. 1983 The first cordless telephone went on sale in Britain.
15 April. 1755 English lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson published his Dictionary; he had taken nine years to compile it.
16 April. 1746 Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was defeated at the Battle of Culloden Moor in Scotland by an English Army under the the command of William, Duke of Cumberland. Stuart fled the battlefield.
17 April. 1969 The age at which a person is eligible to vote in Britain was lowered from 21 to 18.
18 April. 1775 At the start of the War of American Independence, US patriot Paul Revere rode from Charleston to Lexington, warning people that British troops were advancing.
19 April. 1775 The first battle in the War of American Independence took place at Lexington, Massachusetts (Britain1 – Colonists 0).
20 April. 1912 The Irish-born writer Bram Stoker, author of Count Dracula, died at his London home. He was 65.
21 April. 1509 Henry VIII becomes King of England, following the death of his father Henry VII.
22 April. 1838 The first steamship to cross the Atlantic, the British ship Sirius, arrived at New York; it made the crossing in 18 days.
23 April. 1616 Death of William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, aged 52. He leaves behind a wife, Anne, two daughters, Judith and Susanna as well as a wealth of literary treasures.

Feast day of St George, Patron Saint of England.

24 April. 1858 At the second attempt, the biggest bell in the world, Big Ben, is finally ready for hanging in the clock tower of Westminster Palace, London.
25 April. 1915 In World War I, over 70,000 Australian, New Zealand and British troops met fierce resistance from Turkish forces as they landed at Gallipoli.
26 April. 1923 The Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, were married in Westminster Abbey, London.
27 April. 1828 The Zoological Society of London opened a zoological gardens in Regent’s Park. Lady visitors were politely requested to refrain from poking the beasts through the bars of the cages.
28 April. 1770 English naval explorer James Cook arrived in Botany Bay, Australia, the first European to do so.
29 April. 1884 Oxford University agreed to admit female students to examinations. However, woman are not to be awarded degrees.
30 April. 1945 In his hideaway bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler shoots himself . His wife of 48 hours and former mistress, Eva Braun, took a cyanide capsule. In accordance with Hitler’s instructions both bodies were then burnt.

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