1668: John Dryden was appointed the first Poet Laureate and remained so for 31 years.
1741: The Royal Military Academy was established at Woolwich. It is now at Sandhurst.
1742: First performance of Handel’s Messiah, which he wrote in three weeks, in Dublin.
1829: The Catholic Emancipation Act was passed in Britain.
1868: British forces, under Sir Robert Napier, took Magdala, Abyssinia.
1891: Chilean vessel Blanco Encalada became the first warship to be sunk by a torpedo.
1912: The Royal Flying Corps was instituted by Royal Charter.
1919: The Amritsar massacre took place in the Punjab, in which Brig-Gen Reginald Dyer’s troops shot 380 demonstrators and wounded more than 1,200.
1935: The London to Australia airline service was inaugurated by Imperial Airways and Qantas. It cost £195 for the 12-day journey to Brisbane.
1936: In his debut for Luton Town against Bristol Rovers, Joe Payne scored ten goals.
1937: British aircraft carrier Ark Royal was launched from Birkenhead.
1951: The Stone of Destiny, removed from beneath the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey on the previous Christmas Eve by Scottish nationalists, was returned to Westminster after being found at Arbroath Abbey.
1970: An explosion blew a faulty oxygen tank on Apollo 13 on a Moon mission, leaving the crew short of air and fuel and 205,000 miles from base. They transferred to the tiny lunar module and had just enough power to get back to Earth’s atmosphere.
1980: Severiano Ballesteros became the youngest winner of the Masters, in Augusta, United States, four days after his 23rd birthday.
1992: The Great Chicago Flood occurred.
1997: Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters tournament.
2009: Record producer Phil Spector was found guilty of second degree murder over the 2003 shooting of Lana Clarkson in his home in California.
2011: It was revealed that actress Catherine Zeta-Jones had been treated for manic depression over the stress of her husband Michael Douglas’s battle against cancer.
2014: The seaside city of Valparaiso in Chile was declared a catastrophe zone and 10,000 people were evacuated after a raging hilltop fire, which rained hot ash over entire neighbourhoods, killed at least 16 people and destroyed more than 500 homes.