EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries on 31 December
1687: The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, to escape religious persecution. They took with them vines and created the South African wine industry.
1695: The window tax was imposed, which resulted in many being bricked up.
1857: Queen Victoria named Ottawa as the capital of Canada.
1879: American inventor Thomas A Edison gave the first demonstration of his electric incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1904: The steamer Stromboli, outward bound, collided with the Glasgow steamer Kathleen, loaded with iron ore, at Garvel Point, Greenock. Both sank and two of the Kathleen’s engineers drowned.
1911: Marie Curie received her second Nobel prize, unprecedented in the history of the award.
1915: Armoured cruiser Natal blew up and sank at her moorings in the Cromarty Firth. About 350 officers and men died along with 13 civilians, including children attending a Hogmanay party on board.
1917: Britain’s first-ever food rationing began. It was for sugar and the allowance was 8oz per week.
1923: Chimes of London’s Big Ben were first broadcast.
1927: The use of the lance was abandoned in the British Army except for ceremonial occasions.
1929: Seventy children, aged between five and 14, were crushed, trampled or suffocated to death when panic broke out at a matinee in the Glen Cinema, in Paisley.
1931: Sergei Rachmaninov’s music was banned in the Soviet Union as decadent.
1935: Charles Darrow patented his board game Monopoly, which he had first invented in 1933.
1940: Fire-watching (for incendiary bombs) became compulsory in Britain.
1945: The Home Guard defence force was disbanded.
1946: End of Second World War was proclaimed officially by American president Harry S Truman.
1948: A report entitled Sexual Behaviour Of The Human Male, by Professor Alfred Kinsey, stated that 56 per cent of American men were unfaithful to their wives.
1956: President Sukarno proclaimed state of siege in Sumatra, Indonesia.
1960: Last day of National Service call-up in United Kingdom.
1960: The farthing ceased to be legal tender.
1966: United States said it would halt bombing of North Vietnam when Hanoi agreed to discuss peace terms.
1973: Cuba’s premier, Fidel Castro, told troops that Cuba still faced danger of military aggression from United States.
1973: Three-day working week introduced in Britain as a measure to save fuel during miners’ strike.
1990: The old 5p piece ceased to be legal tender.
1991: Soviet Union formally ceased to exist at midnight.
1996: A safety review of Edinburgh’s giant Hogmanay party was ordered after 600 people were treated in hospital when crash barriers collapsed. The 350,000 revellers left behind 100 tons of rubbish.
Sir Michael Bonallack OBE, golfer, secretary, R&A Golf Club 1983-99, 80; Stephen Cleobury CBE, conductor and organist, 66; Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, football manager, 73; Roy Greenslade, Professor of Journalism at City University London, 68; Sir Anthony Hopkins CBE, actor, 77; Tess Jaray, British artist and designer, 77; Val Kilmer, actor, 55; Sir Ben Kingsley CBE (born Krishna Bhanji), actor, 71; Sarah Miles, British actress, 73; Trevor Phillips OBE, former chairman of Commission for Equality and Human Rights, 61; Jean-Pierre Rives, French rugby player, 62; Alex Salmond, MP, Scotland’s First Minister 2007 to 2014, 60; Andy Summers, British rock guitarist (The Police), 72.
Births: 1491 Jacques Cartier, navigator and explorer of North American coast; 1720 Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), in Rome; 1763 Admiral de Villeneuve, naval officer; 1779 Doctor Peter Roget, lexicographer; 1860 John Taliaferro Thompson, inventor of the tommy-gun; 1869 Henri Matisse, painter and sculptor; 1880, George Marshall, American statesman who originated post-war Marshall Aid Plan; 1905 Jule Styne, British-born composer of songs for American stage and screen; 1908 Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi-hunter; 1935 Jeff Torrington, Gorbals-born writer (Swing, Hammer, Swing; 1943 John Denver, singer and songwriter; 1948 Donna Summer, singer.
Deaths: 1719 John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, for whom Charles II built the Greenwich Observatory; 1877 Gustave Courbet, artist; 1939 Sir Frank Benson, actor-manager; 1985 Ricky Nelson, singer (air crash).