Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 31 July
432: St Sixtus III began his reign as Catholic pope.
30 BC: Mark Anthony achieved a minor victory over Octavian’s forces in the Battle of Alexandria, but most of his army later deserted, leading to his suicide.
1635: British public inland postal services were established.
1703: Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but he was pelted with flowers.
1786: The first edition of Robert Burns’s poems was published by John Wilson, Kilmarnock, under the title Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.
1849: Benjamin Chambers patented the breech-loading cannon.
1856: Christchurch, New Zealand, gained its charter, establishing it as a city.
1893: Henry Perky patented shredded wheat.
1910: Dr Hawley Crippen and Ethel Le Neve were arrested aboard the SS Montrose for the murder of his wife. He was the first criminal to be captured by the use of wireless telegraphy.
1912: The world’s first film censorship law was passed in the United States – against the interstate transport of films showing prize fights.
1917: Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began.
1919: Germany adopted Weimar Constitution.
1926: Afghanistan signed non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.
1929: The World Boy Scouts’ Jamboree at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, was opened.
1932: Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists won largest number of seats in the Reichstag in German elections.
1942: Oxfam charity was founded at a meeting in the Oxford University Church of St Mary’s.
1942: Driving in Britain for anything other than essential business was outlawed by wartime government.
1954: K2 in the Himalayas was first climbed by an Italian expedition of six climbers.
1956: Britain and West Germany signed ten-year agreement on nuclear co-operation.
1964: US Ranger 7 spacecraft transmitted to Earth first close-up pictures of the Moon.
1965: Cigarette advertising on television in Britain was banned.
1971: US Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin took six-hour ride on Moon in the lunar roving vehicle.
1987: More than 400 people, including 275 Iranian pilgrims, died in clashes with police in Mecca, Saudia Arabia, during Haj.
1991: Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signed a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact in Moscow.
1999: Nasa intentionally crashed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into the Moon, thus ending its mission to detect frozen water on the Moon’s surface.
2006: Fidel Castro handed over power temporarily to brother Raúl.
2007: Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation yet, came to an end.
JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter books, 49; Andrew Marr, broadcaster, 55; Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcaster, 70; Lynne Reid Banks, author, 85; Evonne Goolagong Cawley MBE, Wimbledon tennis champion, 63; Geraldine Chaplin, actress, 70; John Chillas, golfer, 63; Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Baron Selkirk of Douglas), MP 1974-97, 72; Derek Ferguson, footballer, 47; Wesley Snipes, actor, 52; Mark Thompson, director-general, BBC 2007-2012, 57; Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), DJ, 51; Victoria Azarenka, tennis player, 25; Michael Bradley, American World Cup footballer, 27; Emilia Fox, actress, 40; Karl Green guitarist (Herman’s Hermits), 67; Hugh McDowell, cellist (Electric Light Orchestra), 61; Peter Senior, golfer, 55; Jim Corr, musician, singer-songwriter (The Corrs), 50.
Births: 1816 Thomas Jackson Rodman, military inventor – invented the Rodman gun and “shaped” gunpowder; 1886 Fred Quimby, producer of cartoon films (seven Academy Awards for Tom & Jerry); 1912 Professor Milton Friedman, economist and Nobel laureate; 1916 Brian Inglis, broadcaster and author; 1919 Norman Del Marr, conductor and musicologist; 1923 Stephanie Kwolek, US chemist, inventor of Kevlar; 1932 Ted Cassidy, actor (Lurch in The Addams Family); 1947 Richard Griffiths OBE, actor.
Deaths: 1556 St Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish soldier and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); 1886 Franz Liszt, composer; 1875 Andrew Johnson, US president 1865-1869; 1964 Jim Reeves, singer-songwriter; 1992 Lord Cheshire, VC, founder of Cheshire Homes; 2009 Sir Bobby Robson CBE, football manager; 2012 Gore Vidal, US author and screenplay writer; 2012 Mollie Hunter, Longniddry-born writer.