On this day: Martin Luther King murderer confesses
1624: England declared war on Spain.
1801: First British Census.
1814: Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to withdraw at Battle of Laon, France.
1831: French Foreign Legion founded, based in Algiers.
1862: Britain and France recognised independence of Zanzibar.
1863: Edward, Prince of Wales, married Alexandra of Denmark. The previous day, Queen Victoria took Edward and his bride to Prince Albert’s mausoleum, where she solemnly announced: “He gives you his blessing.”
1886: Cruft’s Dog Show, organised by Charles Cruft, general manager of a dog biscuit firm, moved to London. All 600 entries were terriers. The first show was in Newcastle in 1859.
1891: A patent was issued in the United States for a hearing aid hat. It was a topper with a built-in ear trumpet.
1900: Britain signed treaty with Uganda to regulate government, with British commissioner as adviser.
1906: Bakerloo Line on London’s Underground opened.
1910: The first film made in Hollywood was released, DW Griffiths’s In Old California.
1915: The Battle of Neuve Chapelle began.
1919: Nationalists rioted in Cairo following deportation from Egypt of Said Zaghul Pasha.
1922: Strikes broke out in Johannesburg, South Africa, and martial law was declared.
1935: Hitler renounced the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and ordered conscription in Germany.
1942: Rangoon, Burma, fell to Japanese forces.
1952: Soviet Union proposed four-power conference on unification and disarmament of Germany.
1961: Bradshaw Monthly Railway Guide was published for the last time. It had existed since 1839.
1969: James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to murdering American civil rights leader Martin Luther King and was jailed for 99 years.
1972: Cambodia’s premier, Lon Nol, took over complete control of Cambodian government.
1977: The rings of the planet Uranus were seen for the first time as it passed in front of a star.
1988: The Prince of Wales narrowly escaped death in an avalanche at Klosters, Switzerland. Major Hugh Lindsay, a former equerry to the Queen, was killed and Mrs Patty Palmer-Tomkinson was seriously injured.
1989: About 100,000 workers moved into Iraq’s war-battered southern port of Basra to hasten reconstruction of what once was called the “Venice of the East”.
1990: Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft was sentenced to death in Iraq as an alleged spy. He was executed five days later.
1991: 500,000 people rallied in Moscow in support of the Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.
1995: The Scottish Labour Party conference backed Tony Blair’s proposal to scrap Clause 4 on common ownership.
2006: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at Mars.
2008: A Met Office expert claimed that Scotland would be hit by an increase in flash floods due to climate change.
2009: The Prince of Wales was accused of “exploiting people” with a detox product in his “Duchy” range by a leading academic.
2010: It was revealed that sales of Buckfast tonic wine had soared by 40 per cent in a year in England due to youths copying hard-drinking Scottish teenagers.
Sharon Stone, actress, 57; Edie Brickell, singer and songwriter, 49; Tina Charles, British singer, 61; Neneh Cherry, singer, 51; Garth Crooks, footballer and broadcaster, 57; Lady Falkender CBE, former private and political secretary to Harold Wilson, 83; Walter Kidd, Scottish footballer, 57; Jimmie Macgregor, Scottish folk musician and broadcaster, 85; Colin Murray, British radio DJ, 38; Chuck Norris, American actor, 75; Andrew Parrott, British conductor and musicologist, 68; Rita Simons, actress (EastEnders) 38; Henry Smith, footballer, 59; Chris Sutton, footballer, 42; Fou Ts’ong, Chinese concert pianist, 81; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, 51; Olivia Wilde, American actress, 31.
Births: 1748 John Playfair, Benvie-born mathematician; 1810 Sir Samuel Ferguson, poet; 1848 Wyatt Earp, legendary marshal of Tombstone, Arizona; 1854 Sir Thomas Mackenzie (in Edinburgh), New Zealand statesman; 1867 Leonard Raven-Hill, cartoonist and illustrator; 1903 Bix Beiderbecke, American cornet-player and composer;
Deaths: 1615 St John Ogilvie, Banffshire-born Jesuit priest (hanged for refusing to renounce the supremacy of the Pope; canonised in 1976); 1895 Charles Frederick Worth, founder of Parisian haute couture; 1940 Mikhail Bulgakov, dramatist and novelist; 1993 Cyril Northcote Parkinson, historian and author of Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.