On this day: William Burke hanged | Challenger

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 28 January

The skeleton of William Burke, hanged on this day in 1829. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The skeleton of William Burke, hanged on this day in 1829. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The skeleton of William Burke, hanged on this day in 1829. Picture: Ian Rutherford

1580: King James VI signed the Confession of Faith, later incorporated into the National Covenant of 1638.

1807: London’s Pall Mall was the first street in any city to be illuminated by gaslight.

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1829: William Burke, Irish body-snatcher, who joined William Hare in Scotland in selling bodies for research, and eventually murdering to supplement their stock, was hanged for his crimes. Hare escaped the gallows by turning king’s evidence.

1884: The first Ireland versus Scotland football international took place in Belfast. Scotland won 5-0.

1896: The first speeding fine was handed out to a British motorist, Walter Arnold of Kent, for exceeding 2mph in a built-up area. He was doing 8mph.

1902: Carnegie Institution was established in Washington DC.

1909: US control in Cuba ended.

1926: Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, fell from his horse and broke his collar bone. Later that year he fell again, causing MPs to complain about risks taken by the man “who will one day be king”.

1932: Japanese troops occupied Shanghai in China.

1935: Iceland passed a law legalising abortion on medical/social grounds, the first country to introduce such legislation.

1953: Derek Bentley, 19, was hanged at Wandsworth Prison, despite much public protest. He and Christopher Craig, 16, had been found guilty of murdering a policeman, but Craig escaped the gallows because of his age.

1959: Two women passengers and the driver died when a Glasgow tram caught fire after collision with a lorry.

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1986: The space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after lift-off from Cape Canaveral, killing the crew of seven including Christa McAuliffe, a woman schoolteacher selected as the first to fly in the “citizen in space” programme.

1990: Mr Justice Taylor’s report into Hillsborough disaster called for all-seater stadia by 1999 and tagging of football hooligans.

1997: Members of a Blairite group were accused of mounting a “sinister conspiracy” to take over the Scottish Labour Party.

2004: Gavyn Davies resigned as chairman of the BBC governors after the corporation was criticised and the government cleared by the Hutton report of “sexing up” a dossier on Iraq weapons of mass destruction. The BBC’s director-general, Greg Dyke, quit the next day.


Dave McPherson, Scottish footballer, 50; Alan Alda, actor and director, 78; Bobby Ball, comedian, 70; Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet dancer and actor, 66; Acker Bilk MBE, jazz clarinettist, 85; John Edmonds, trade unionist, 70; Lord (Bill) Jordan CBE, trade unionist and economist, 78; Nick Price, golfer, 57; Robert Wyatt, musician, 69; Nicolas Sarkozy, former French president, 59; Elijah Wood, actor, 33.


Births: 1457 King Henry VII, founder of Tudor dynasty; 1582 John Barclay, Scottish satirist; 1706 John Baskerville, typographer and printer; 1841 Sir Henry Stanley, journalist and explorer; 1884 Auguste Piccard, deep-sea explorer and balloonist; 1933 Sacha Distel, singer; 1944 Prof Sir John Tavener, composer.

Deaths: 1547 King Henry VIII; 1596 Sir Francis Drake, voyager and pirate; 1613 Sir Thomas Bodley, scholar and founder of Bodleian Library, Oxford; 1725 Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia; 1939 WB Yeats, poet and playwright; 1974 HE Bates, novelist.