Historic December

by Ben Johnson

Among many other events, December saw the birth of John Milton, the abdication of Edward VIII and the Boston Tea Party (pictured above)…

1 Dec. 1135 England’s King Henry I died. He had fallen ill seven days earlier after eating too many lampreys. He was 66, and had ruled for 35 years.
2 Dec. 1697 Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral is opened in London.
3 Dec. 1989 The Cold War ended after 52 years of superpower rivalry. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George Bush ended their shipboard summit meeting off Malta.
4 Dec. 1872 Crew from the British brigantine Die Gratia boarded a deserted ship drifting mid Atlantic. The captain’s table was set for a meal aboard the US ship Marie Celeste but the Captain, crew and passengers were all missing.
5 Dec. 1905 The roof of Charing Cross Railway Station in London collapsed, killing five people .
6 Dec. 1921 Ireland’s 26 southern states were granted independence from Britain, becoming the Irish Free State. Ulster in the north remains part of the UK.
7 Dec. 1783 William Pitt became British Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer at the tender age of 24.
8 Dec. 1980 Forty-year-old ex-Beatle John Lennon was murdered in New York.
9 Dec. 1608 Birthday of John Milton, English poet whose works included Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes.
10 Dec. 1901 The first Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded worth $30,000 each. Nobel, a Swedish chemist, had died five years earlier leaving the fortune he had amassed from his invention dynamite, to the awarding foundation.
11 Dec. 1936 Britain’s King Edward VIII renounces the throne in a radio broadcast to the nation. After the broadcast he boards a ship to join the twice-divorced Mrs Wallis Simpson in France.
12 Dec. 1955 British engineer Christopher Cockerell patented a new kind of vehicle. Half-ship and half-aircraft, his “hovercraft” floats on an air cushion.
13 Dec. 1989 In South Africa, ANC leader Nelson Mandela meets President F. W. de Klerk for the first time.
14 Dec. 1895 Birthday of King George VI, who succeeded to the throne when his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated.
15 Dec. 1791 The Bill of Rights becomes part of the United States Constitution providing protection for the basic rights of the individual to free expression and justice.
16 Dec. 1773 Unruly American colonists boarded three ships in Boston harbour and emptied 342 chests of tea into the sea.
17 Dec. 1778 Birthday of Sir Humphrey Davy, English inventor of the safety lamp for miners, who also discovered sodium, magnesium, calcium, barium and strontium
18 Dec. 1946 Clement Atlee’s Labour government won the vote on state ownership which lead to the nationalizing of the railways, ports, mines, etc.
19 Dec. 1848 Emily Bronte, English author of Wuthering Heights, dies of tuberculosis at the tender age of 30.
20 Dec. 1803 The United States doubles in size when it acquires 88831,321 square miles of land from France for $15 million – The Louisiana Purchase.
21 Dec. 1988 A Pan American jumbo jet bound for New York is blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb and crashes onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing all 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground.
22 Dec. 1715 James Edward Stuart, son of James II, the deposed Catholic King of England, lands in north-east Scotland to lead a Jacobite rebellion.
23 Dec. 1922 The world’s first regular entertainment radio broadcasts are transmitted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
24 Dec. 1508 London houses receive piped water again, for the first time in over a thousand years, since the Romans left town!
25 Dec. 440 Church leaders agree to fix the date of the birth of Christ. Previously some people had celebrated it in May, others in January.
26 Dec. 1943 In World War II, a Royal Navy convoy including the battleship Duke of York and cruiser Jamaica attack and sink the mighty German battlecruiser Scharnhorst.
27 Dec. 1831 The Royal Navy vessel HMS Beagle sets sail from Devonport, the official naturalist onboard is recent BA graduate Charles Darwin.
28 Dec. 1918 The results of the first General Election in Britain in which women have been allowed to vote, confirmed David Lloyd George as Prime Minister.
29 Dec. 1170 Four of King Henry II’s knights murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, in Canterbury Cathedral.
30 Dec. 1879 First performance of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, at the Royal Bijou Theatre, Paignton, Devon.
31 Dec 1720 Birthday of Charles Edward Stuart, Scottish royal better know as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, son of James, the Old Pretender.

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