(Copyright 2004, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.  DO NOT REPRODUCE or distribute without permission.) 

For a more comprehensive list, including a Year by Year timeline, see our Research Guide.

Feb 1st. . .

1552--Sir Edward Coke, English judge who prosecuted Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, born.

1650--Rene Descartes, French philosopher, died.

1787--The first edition of the Botanical Magazine was published in London.

1790--The first meeting of the U.S. Supreme Court took place.

1840--The first dental college opened in Baltimore, Maryland.

1851--Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, English author of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, died.

1859--Victor Herbert, Irish-American composer and conductor, born.

1878--George Cruikshank, English caricaturist and illustrator, died.

1880--The Stage newspaper was published in London.

1884--The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published.

1893--Thomas Alva Edison opened the first film studio in New Jersey.


Feb 2nd. . .

1650--Nell Gwynne, comedy actress and mistress of Charles II, born.

1709--The real Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, was rescued by captain Tomas Dover, having spent five years on the uninhabited island of Mas a Tierra.

1754--Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, French statesman and politician, born.

1801--The first parliament of Great Britain in which Ireland was represented, was assembled.

1848--The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalope Hidalgo.

1850--Jesse Boot, first Lord Trent, English chemist and founder of the Boots the Chemist chain, born.

1852--The first 'Gents' opened in Britain in Fleet Street, followed on the 11 February with the first 'Ladies' at Bedford Street.

1878--Greece declared war on Turkey.

1882--James Joyce, Irish novelist of Ulysses, born.


Feb 3rd. . .

1399--John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and father of King Henry IV, died.

1488--The first European to land on southern Africa soil, Bartholomew Diaz, Portuguese navigator, came ashore at Mossel Bay.

1730--The first stock exchange quotations were published in the Daily Advertiser, London.

1762--Richard Nash, English gambler and dandy, died.

1809--Felix Mendelssohn, German composer, born. ALSO, Illinois was organized as a territory of the U.S.

1821--Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman doctor in the U.S., born in Bristol.

1826--Walter Bagehot, English economist, author and journalist who edited the Economist, born.

1830--Lord Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, statesman and British Prime Minister, born.

1874--Gertrude Stein, U.S. author and critic, born.

1877--'The Celebrated Chop Waltz', better known as 'Chopsticks' was registered at the British Museum.


Feb 4th. . .

211AD--Lucius Septimius Severus, Roman emperor, died in England.

1555--Giambattista della Porta, Italian in ventor of the camera obscura, died.

1740--Tadeusz Kosciusko, Polish patriot, born.

1789--George Washington, American revolutionary leader, was unanimously elected the first president of the United States.

1802--Mark Hopkins, American educator and president of Williams College, born.

1861--The Confederate States of America was formed, an alliance of secessionist states which met at Montgomery, Alabama.

1881--Fernand Leger, French Cubist painter, born.


Feb 5th. . .

1679--Joost van den Vondel, Dutch poet and playwright, died.

1781--Lord George Gordon, organizer of 'The Gordon Riots', was acquitted of treason.

1788--Sir Robert Peel, first commoner to become British Prime Minister, born.

1782--Minorca was captured by the Spanish from British forces.

1798--Luigi Galvani, Italian physiologist, died.

1811--The Prince of Wales was declared Prince Regent.

1816--Rossini's The Barber of Seville was first performed, in Rome.

1840--Sir Hiram Stevens, who perfected the machine gun that bears his name, born.

1840--John Boyd Dunlop, inventor of the pneumatic bicycle tire, born.

1848--Sir John Pritchard, English conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, born.

1881--Thomas Carlyle, English author and historian, died.


Feb 6th. . .

1508--Maximilian I assumed the title Holy Roman Emperor.

1515--Manutius Aldus, Italian editor and printer who invented the first paperbacks and also italics, died.

1664--Christopher Marlowe, English poet and playwright of Dr. Faustus, born.

1665--Queen Anne of Britain and Ireland, last Stuart ruler, born.

1685--Charles II, King of Great Britain and Ireland, died after several days of revelry with his concubines and favorite mistresses.

1783--Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, English landscape gardener, died.

1788--Massachusetts became the 6th State of the Union.

1793--Carlo Goldini, Italian comic playwright of over 250 plays, died.

1804--A locomotive converted from a steam-hammer power source, ran on a line near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. ALSO--Joseph Priestley, English clergyman who discovered oxygen, born.

1865--General Robert E. Lee became the Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies.


Feb 7th. . .

301--Edward of Caernarvon (later King Edward II) became the first Prince of Wales.

1478--Sir Thomas More, English statesman, Lord Chancellor and author of Utopia, born.

1700--Philippe Buache, French geographer and cartographer, born.

1779--William Boyce, English organist and composer, died.

1812--Charles Dickens, English journalist and novelist of Oliver Twist, born.

1845--The Portland Vase, a cameo-glass Roman vase dating from 25BC, was broken by William Lloyd, a drunken visitor to the British Museum.

1863--The HMS Orpheus was wrecked on the New Zealand coast with the loss of 185 lives.

1885--Sinclair Lewis, U.S. novelist of Main Street and Nobel Prize winner, born.

1886--Gold was discovered in the Transvaal, South Africa when Englishman George Walker was building a cottage for a prospector.


Feb 8th. . .

1587--Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, where she had been imprisoned for 19 years following her attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I.

1725--Catherine the Great became Empress of Russia in succession to Peter the Great.

1740--The Great Frost of London, which started Christmas Eve 1739, came to an end.

1750--This day in London was unseasonably hot and London experienced an minor earthquake.

1819--John Ruskin, English writer and art critic, born.

1820--William Sherman, Union general during the U.S. Civil War, born.

1828--Jules Verne, pioneer French science-fiction writer who wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, born.

1834--Ivanovich Mendeleyev, Russian chemist who formulated the periodic table, born.

1886--A peaceful demonstration by unemployed people in Trafalgar Square turned into a riot with looting in Oxford Street and Pall Mall.

1894--R.M. Ballantyne, author of boys' adventure stories, died.


Feb 9th. . .

1540--The first recorded race meeting in England was held at Roodee Fields, Chester.

1649--The funeral of King Charles I took place.

1700--Daniel Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician, born.

1773--William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. president, born.

1801--The Holy Roman Empire came to an end with the signing of the Peace of Luneville between France and Austria.

1811--Nevil Maskelyne, English astronomer royal, died.

1830--Explorer Charles Sturt discovered the termination of the Murray, Australia's longest river.

1849--Rome was proclaimed a republic by Giuseppe Mazzini.

1863--Anthony Hope, English novelist of The Prisoner of Zenda, born.

1865--General Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate Army in the U.S. Civil War.

1881--Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist of Crime and Punishment, died.


Feb 10th. . .

1354--Oxford University students clashed with townspeople in a three-day street battle.

1567--Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary Queen of Scots and father of James I, was murdered near Edinburgh.

1670--William Congreve, English Restoration comedy playwright, was baptized.

1763--Following the Seven Years War, the Treaty of Paris was signed, with France ceding Canada to Britain.

1774--Andrew Becker demonstrated his practical diving suit in the Thames.

1775--Charles Lamb, English writer and essayist, born.

1824--Samuel Plimsoll, English reformer of the mercantile navy, born.

1840--Upper and Lower Canada were united.  ALSO--Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

1868--Sir David Brewster, Scottish physicist and inventor of the kaleidoscope, died.

1890--Boris Pasternak, Russian author of Dr. Zhivago, born.


Feb 11th. . .

1765--English wig makers petitioned George III seeking financial relief as the male fashion of wearing wigs came to an end.

1800--Henry Fox Talbot, English photographic pioneer, born.

1810--Napoleon, having divorced Josephine, married Marie-Louise of Austria.

1821--Auguste Mariette, French Egyptologist who excavated the Sphinx, born.

1826--London University was granted a charter.

1839--Josiah Willard Gibbs, U.S. physicist, born.

1847--Thomas Alva Edison. U.S. inventor who registered over 1000 patents, born.

1858--Bernadette Soubirous, a young asthmatic French girl, saw a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.  ALSO--Benito Juarez was declared Constitutional President of Mexico.

1861--Troops suppressed a riot in Chatham, Kent, when convicts broke out of a prison.

1878--The first weekly weather report was published by the meteorological office.


Feb 12th. . .

1553--Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for nine days, was executed at Tower Hill for treason.

1588--John Winthrop, first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company, born.

1567--Thomas Campion, English composer and lawyer, born.

1688--The Prince of Orange and Princess Mary were declared King and Queen of England to end the 'Glorious Revolution'.

1663--Cotton Mather, American writer and Puritan, born.

1804--Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, died.

1809--Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President, born.  ALSO--Charles Darwin, naturalist and author of The Origin of the Species, born.

1818--Chile's independence was proclaimed in Santiago.

1828--George Meredith, English novelist, poet and critic, born.

1831--Rubber galoshes were first marketed by J.W. Goodrich, Boston.

1851--A discovery at Summerhill Creek in New South Wales, Australia, set off a gold rush.

1861--The first inter-club football match was held at Sheffield between Sheffield and Hallam.


Feb 13th. . .

1542--Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife was executed on Tower Green after being accused of adultery.

1668--Portugal's independence was recognized by Spain.

1689--William III and Mary II ascended to the British throne.

1692--The massacre of the Macdonalds at Glencoe in Scotland was carried out by English forces led by the Earl of Breadalbane.

1728--John Hunter, Scottish physiologist and surgeon, born. ALSO--Cotton Mather, American writer and Puritan, died.

1793--Britain, Prussia, Austria, Holland, Spain and Sardinia formed an alliance against France.

1832--The first cases of Asiatic influenza were reported in Limehouse and Rotherhithe in London.

1854--Britain's first public school for girls, the Cheltenham Ladies College, was opened.

1866--The James-Younger gang carried out their first bank robbery in Liberty, Missouri. Jesse James was only 19 years old.

1883--Richard Wagner, German composer, died.


Feb 14th. . .

1400--Richard II, deposed English king, starved himself to death on or about this day.

1477--Margery Brews sent a letter to John Paston in Norfolk, addressed 'To my right welbelovyd Voluntyne', probably the world's first known Valentine.

1525--Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, Italian painter, died.

1766--Thomas Robert Malthus, English economist and author, born.

1779--Captain James Cook, British explorer, murdered by natives in Owyhee (Hawaii).

1797--The Spanish fleet were defeated off Cape St. Vincent by Admiral John Jarvis and Captain Horatio Nelson.

1819--Christopher Latham Scholes, U.S. inventor of the modern typewriter, born.

1852--London's famous children's hospital in Great Ormond Street accepted its first patient, Eliza Armstrong.

1891--William Sherman, Union general and U.S. Civil War military commander, died.

1894--The U.S annexed Hawaii.


Feb 15th. . .

1519--Pedro Menedez de Aviles, Spanish explorer of Florida, born.

1564--Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer and mathematician, born.

1710--Louis XV, King of France, born.

1744--John Hadley, English inventor of the sextant, died.

1748--Jeremy Bentham, English philosopher and founder of utilitarianism, born.

1809--Cyrus Hall McCormick, U.S. engineer and inventor of the first practical mechanical harvester, born.

1812--Charles Lewis Tiffany, U.S. jeweler, born.

1845--Elihu Root, U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel Peace prize winner, born.

1882--The first cargo of frozen meat left New Zealand bound for Britain on the SS Dunedin.

1898--The U.S. sent their battleship Maine to Havana on a goodwill mission, but she struck a mine in the harbor and sank, sparking the Spanish-American War.


Feb 16th. . .

1519--Gaspard de Coligny, French soldier and statesman, and leader of the Huguenots, born.

1659--The first British cheque was written by Nicholas Vanacker.

1740--Giambattista Bodini, Italian printer, born.

1754--Richard Mead, English doctor and physician to George II, who promoted inoculation for smallpox, died.

1801--Pitt (the Younger) resigned as British Prime Minister when George III rejected his plans for the emancipation of Irish Catholics.

1834--Lionel Lukin, English inventor of the modern lifeboat, died.

1838--Henry Adams, American intellectual and historian, born.

1840--Henry Watterson, American journalist, born.

1876--George Maccaulay Trevelyan, English historian, born.

1887--To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 25,000 prisoners in India were set free.


Feb 17th. . .

1405--Tamerlane (Timur) the Great, Mongol leader, died.

1673--Moliere, French playwright and actor, died.

1740--Horace Benedict de Saussure, Swiss traveler who was the first to promote the idea of climbing Mont Blanc, born.

1781--Rene Laennec, French army doctor and inventor of the stethoscope, born.

1818--Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun patented the Draisine, the forerunner of the bicycle.

1856--Frederick Eugene Ives, U.S. inventor of the half-tome printing process, born.  ALSO--Johann Heinrich Heine, German poet, died.

1864--The U.S. corvette Houstanic was sunk in Charleston Harbor by the Confederate submarine Hunley.

1880--A bomb exploded in an attempt to assassinate the Tsar of Russia, Alexander II, in his Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.

1883--Mr. A. Ashwell of Herne Hill, south London, patented Vacant/Engaged signs for toilet doors.


Feb 18th. . .

1455--Fra Angelico, Italian painter, died.

1478--George, Duke of Clarence, was murdered in the Tower of London on the orders of his older brother, Richard.

1517--Mary I, 'Bloody Mary', Queen of England, born.

1535--Heinrich Agrippa, German scholar and astrologer, died.

1546--Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, died.

1564--Michelangelo, Italian painter, sculptor and architect, died.

1678--Pilgrim's Progress was published.

1754--Count Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist who gave his name to the measure of the power of electricity, born.

1784--Nicolo Paganini, Italian violin virtuoso, born.

1833--Richard Wagner, German composer, died.

1838--Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist who researched airflow, born.

1855--Nicholas I, Tsar of Russia, died.

1876--A direct telegraph line was established between Britain and New Zealand.


Feb 19th. . .

1473--Nicolas Copernicus, Polish astronomer, born.

1717--David Garrick, English actor, manager and dramatist, born.

1800--Napoleon established himself as first Consul after overthrowing the French government.

1803--Ohio became the 17th state of the Union.

1807--Aaron Burr, former U.S. vice-president, was arrested in Alabama on charges of treason.

1837--George Buchner, German poet and playwright of Danton's Death, died.

1843--Adelina Patti, Italian soprano, born in Spain.

1847--A relief party finally reached the Donner Party in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, finding only about half the original pioneers still alive.

1855--Bread riots took place in Liverpool.

1878--Thomas Alva Edison patented the phonograph two months after he demonstrated the model.

1897--Charles Blondin, French tight rope walker, died.


Feb 20th. . .

1437--James I, King of Scotland, was assassinated by a group of dissident nobles led by Sir Robert Graham.

1653--Admiral Blake defeated the Dutch Fleet off Portsmouth.

1694--Voltaire, French poet, playwright, and historian, born.

1707--Aurangzeb, the last Mogul emperor of India, died.

1745--Henry James Pye, English Poet Laureate, born.

1784--Adam Black, Scottish publisher and founder of A & C Black, the publishers of the original Who's Who, born.

1791--Karl Czerny, Austrian pianist and composer, born.

1808--Honore Daumier, French painter, born. (Or Feb. 26--exact date unknown)

1811--Austria informed the world she was bankrupt.

1817--Junius Booth, failing to impress the audience at Drury Lane Theatre, retreated to the U.S., where his son, John Wilkes Booth became an actor, and also Lincoln's assassinator.

1861--Violent storms hit England.  The Crystal Palace was damaged and the steeple was blown off Chichester Cathedral.


Feb 21st. . .

1595--Robert Southwell, English poet and Jesuit martyr, hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn after three years of imprisonment and torture.

1728--Peter III, Tsar of Russia who married Catherine the Great, born.

1741--Jethro Tull, English agricultural pioneer, died.

1764--John Wilkes MP was expelled from the House of Commons for reprinting and publishing The Essay on Women, an 'impious libel'.

1794--Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexican revolutionary and President, born.

1801--John Henry, Cardinal Newman, English Roman Catholic, born.

1836--Leo Delibes, French composer of Coppelia, born.

1852--Nikolai Gogol, Russian short story writer and novelist, died.

1858--The first electric burglar alarm was installed by Edwin T. Holmes of Boston, Massachusetts.

1885--The 555ft high George Washington Memorial obelisk was inaugurated in Washington, D.C.


Feb 22nd. . .

1512--Amerigo Vespucci, Italian navigator, died.

1732--George Washington, American General and first U.S. president, born.

1797--The French landed in Britain at Fishguard, but were captured and no other foreign force has managed to invade Britain since.

1819--Spain ceded Florida to the U.S.

1847--The Mexicans were defeated at the Battle of Buena Vista by the American forces under General Taylor.

1857--Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, German physicist who discovered radio waves, born.  ALSO--Sir Robert Baden-Powell, English hero of the siege of Mafeking and founder of the Boy Scouts, born.

1862--Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.

1872--Eric Gill, English artist, born.

1879--Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first 'five and ten cent' store in Utica, New York.

1886--The Times ran the first ever classified personal column.


Feb 23rd. . .

1468--Johannes Gutenberg, German inventor of printing using movable type, died.

1633--Samuel Pepys, English civil servant whose diary was written in a form of shorthand, born.

1685--George Frederick Handel, German composer of Rinaldo, born.

1732--Handel's Oratorio was performed for the first time at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, London.

1743--Meyer Amschel Rothschild, German founder of the banking dynasty, born.

1792--Sir Joshua Reynolds, English painter and first President of the Royal Academy, died.

1820--The Cato Street conspiracy to assassinate the British cabinet and Prime Minister Castlereagh was uncovered.

1821--John Keats, English poet, died of consumption in Rome at 25 years of age.

1836--The siege of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas began.

1848--John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. president, died.

1863--Captains Speke and Grant announced the discovery of the source of the Nile.


Feb 24th. . .

303AD--The persecution of the Christians officially began in Rome with the issuing of an edict by Galerius Valerius Maximianus.

1563--Francis, Duc de Guise, French military commander, was killed by a Huguenot while besieging Orleans.

1582--Pope Gregory XIII announced the introduction of the new Gregorian calendar. It took Britain almost 200 years to follow suit.

1786--Wilhelm Karl Grimm, German philologist and collector, with his brother Jacob, of fairytales.

1810--Henry Cavendish, English physicist, died.

1815--Robert Fulton, U.S. engineer and inventor of the steam boat, died.

1825--Thomas Bowdler, expurgator of the 'naughty bits' in the works of Shakespeare, who gave English the word 'bowdlerized', died.

1852--George Moore, Irish novelist, playwright and critic, born.

1887--The first two cities to be linked by telephone were Paris and Brussels.


Feb 25th. . .

1308--Edward II of England was crowned.

1570--Queen Elizabeth I was excommunicated by Pope Pius V who declared her a usurper.

1601--Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, English soldier, was executed for high treason after trying to raise the City of London against Queen Elizabeth's councillors.

1707--Carlo Goldini, Italian playwright of over 200 plays, born.

1723--Sir Christopher Wren, English architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, died.

1778--Jose de San Martin, Argentinian revolutionary, born.

1841--Pierre Auguste Renoir, French Impressionist painter, born. ALSO--Edward John Eyre set off to explore the Great Australian Bight.

1862--'Greenbacks' (green paper dollars) were introduced by Abraham Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War.

1868--President Andrew Johnson was impeached because of his policy of reconciliation with the defeated South.  He was acquitted in May.


Feb 26th. . .

1531--Severe earthquakes caused the death of 20,000 people in Lisbon, Portugal.

1564--Christopher Marlowe, English poet and dramatist, baptized.

1797--The Bank of England issued the first one-pound note.

1802--Victor Hugo, French novelist of Les Miserables, born.

1815--Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from the island of Elba.

1834--Aloys Senefelder, Bavarian author and inventor of lithography, died.

1839--The first Grand National Steeplechase (known as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase until 1847) was run at Aintree near Liverpool.

1846--'Buffalo Bill' Cody, American frontiersman and showman, born.

1848--The Second French Republic was proclaimed.

1852--The British troopship, Birkenhead, sank off Simon's Bay near Cape Town, South Africa, with the loss of 485 lives.

1857--Emile Coue, French psychologist who wrote Suggestion and Autosuggestion, died.


Feb 27th. . .

274--Constantine the Great, Roman emperor, born.

1558--A trade mission from Russia reached London, one year to the day after opening the first Russian embassy.

1706--John Evelyn, English writer, died.

1735--John Abuthnot, English satirist and creator of 'John Bull', the character symbolizing Britain, died.

1776--Pitt the Younger resigned his commission in the army rather than fight America.

1795--Francis Marion, American revolutionary commander, died.

1807--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, U.S. poet of 'Hiawatha', born.

1847--Dame Ellen Terry, English actress, born.

1848--Sir Hubert Parry, English composer who wrote the processional music for the coronations of Edward VII and George V, born.

1879--Saccharin had been discovered at John Hopkins University, it was reported this day.

1897--Paris saw the first couple to leave their wedding in a decorated motor car.


Feb 28th. . .

1533--Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne, French philosopher and essayist, born.

1683--Rene Reaumur, French naturalist, writer and inventor of the thermometer scale, born.

1712--Marquis de Montcalm Gezan de Saint Veran, Commander of the French forces in Canada, born.

1784--John Wesley signed the 'deed of declaration' of the Wesleyan faith.

1789--Big Heart Eclipse, the most successful racehorse of its day, died.

1797--Mary Lyon, pioneer advocate of education for women, and founder of Mount Holyoke Seminary, born.

1820--Sir John Tenniel, artist, Punch cartoonist and illustrator, born.

1824--Charles Blondin, legendary French tightrope walker, born.

1874--Arthur Orton, who claimed to be the heir to the Tichborne estate, was found guilty of perjury after 260 days, the longest trial in England.


Feb 29th. . .

468--St. Hilarius, the 46th pope, died.

992--St. Oswald, who established Christianity in Northumbria, was slain in battle.

1528--Patrick Hamilton, Scottish Protestant and martyr, was burnt at the stake.

1712--Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm, French general and commander of the forces at the Battle of Quebec, born.

1736--Ann Lee, the illiterate daughter of a blacksmith who founded the American Society of Shakers, born in Manchester, England.

1792--Gioacchnio Rossini, Italian composer of The Barber of Seville, born.

1840--John Philip Holland, U.S. developer of the modern submarine, born in Ireland.

1880--The St. Gotthard tunnel linking Switzerland and Italy was completed.