Best April day in history


The Leith-built Sirius was the first ship to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam, reaching New York on 22 April, 1838, a day before Brunel's Great Western. Shortage of fuel led to spars and furniture being burned towards the end of the 19-day voyage. She was ship-wrecked near Dublin in 1847. The figurehead, a Newfoundland dog holding the Dog Star (Sirius) under its forepaws was salvaged in 1904 and is in Hull Maritime Museum.


The first dated book printed in Scotland was The Complaint of the Black Knight, an allegorical romance by prolific, though uncelebrated, English poet John Lydgate. The National Library of Scotland holds the only known copy of the 29-page, 680-line work, published in Edinburgh's Cowgate on 4 April, 1508. It has been digitised: google "'Scottish books Lydgate".


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At Mount Hope Cemetery, near New York, a stone is simply inscribed, "Lena Sheehy, Died 12 April, 1928". She was 93 and had been, until his death in 1910, married for 49 years to London artist George Wardle. Under her maiden name, the 22-year-old Madeleine Smith was found not proven of poisoning lover Pierre l'Angelier at Scotland's trial of the century at the High Court in Edinburgh in 1857. Few since then have doubted her guilt.


On 5 April, 1603, James – VI of Scotland, I of Britain after the death of Elizabeth I of England – left Edinburgh for London, promising to return every three years. His journey took a month as he set free prisoners and sold honours for cash. The king returned only once to Scotland before his death in 1625. He was too busy, spending most of his time hunting, writing A Counter-Blaste to Tobacco and avoiding loud noises.


The Highland organisation was founded on 30 April, 1891, to promote Gaelic language and culture. It is most associated with running the Mod, now the Royal National Mod, first held in Oban in 1892. Now Scotland's second-biggest cultural festival, it will be back in Oban next year – Mod No106.