Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 15 November
1492: Christopher Columbus noted in his journal the use of tobacco among Indians – the first recorded reference to tobacco, which was brought to Europe by a French ambassador, Jacques Nicot, hence nicotine.
1577: Francis Drake left on his voyage round the world. He returned on 30 November, 1580.
1824: Edinburgh’s Great Fire began, lasting for two days. It destroyed the High Street, Parliament Square and the Tron Kirk. Between 300 and 400 families lost their homes.
1875: London flooded when River Thames rose by more than 28 feet.
1899: The steamship St Paul became the first ship to receive radio messages, transmitted from the Needles wireless station off the Isle of Wight.
1908: The last of the Manchu emperors, Pu Yi, came to power aged 2. After the takeover of Mao Tsetung and the Communist Party, he ended up as an odd-job man at the botanical gardens in Peking.
1923: A loaf of bread in Berlin cost more than 200 billion marks and building construction workers were paid three trillion marks a day. The Reichbank issued a new mark worth a trillion existing marks and pegged at the 1914 level of 4.2 to the dollar.
1928: Seventeen members of the crew of the lifeboat Mary Stanford of Rye died when the boat capsized during an SOS call in a hurricane.
1968: ATV (Midland) screened the first colour television commercial in Britain, for Birds-Eye peas. It cost £23 for the off-peak 30-second slot.
1968: The liner Queen Elizabeth ended her last passenger voyage.
1972: Kidney donor card scheme started in Britain.
1976: Syrian army took full control of Beirut, in effect ending 18-month civil war in Lebanon.
1983: Northern Cyprus was unilaterally declared independent.
1983: The Greenham Common women’s group mounted their first protest as Cruise missiles arrived at the American air base in Berkshire.
1996: A 25-mile long column of Hutu refugees began leaving Zaire for their homes in neighbouring Rwanda.
2005: Boeing formally launched the stretched Boeing 747-8 variant.
2010: More than 40 people were killed when a fire engulfed a high-rise building under renovation in a Shanghai business centre.
Johnny Lee Miller, actor, 41; Gemma Atkinson, actress, 29; Daniel Barenboim KBE, pianist and conductor, 71; Petula Clark CBE, singer, 81; Beverly D’Angelo, actress, 62; Tibor Fischer, author, 54; Frida Lyngstad, singer (Abba), 68; Alexander O’Neal, R&B and soul singer, 60; Tim Pears, writer, 57; Peter Phillips, son of Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, 36; Kenneth Rose, biographer, 89; Sam Waterston, actor, 73.
Births: 1708 William Pitt the Elder, statesman and orator; 1738 Sir William Herschel, astronomer, discoverer of planet Uranus; 1794 John Witherspoon, Gifford-born signatory of the American Declaration of Independence; 1891 Erwin Rommel, German field marshal; 1897 Aneurin Bevan, Labour Party leader; 1930 JG Ballard, novelist.
Deaths: 1922 Marcel Proust, novelist; 1958 Tyrone Power, actor; 1976 Jean Gabin, actor; 1978 Dr Margaret Mead, anthropologist; 1981 Enid Markey, Tarzan’s screen Jane; 1983 John Le Mesurier, actor; 2002 Myra Hindley, moors murderer.