On this day: The Great Lafayette killed in Edinburgh

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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 9 May

1671: Colonel Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer better known as Captain Blood, tried to steal the crown jewels.

1788: Britain passed parliamentary motion for abolishing slave trade.

1901: Australia’s first federal parliament met in Melbourne.

1911: The Great Lafayette, illusionist, nine members of his company, a lion and a horse were burned to death on stage at the Empire Palace Theatre, Edinburgh. An illusion went wrong and scenery was set alight, but the safety curtain was lowered and the audience escaped. Doors leading from the stage had been locked on the instructions of the secretive Lafayette.

1918: John MacLean, schoolmaster, labour leader and first Soviet Consul in Britain, was tried in the High Court in Edinburgh for sedition.

1926: Richard Byrd, American explorer, made first flight over North Pole, with his pilot Floyd Bennett.

1927: The Duke of York (later King George VI) opened Australian Parliament House in Canberra, which replaced Melbourne as capital.

1932: Piccadilly Circus, London, was first lit by electricity.

1933: Hitler ordered the burning of more than 25,000 books; “un-German” books were thrown on to a mighty bonfire outside Berlin University.

1936: Italy annexed Ethiopia, and King Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed emperor.

1944: Soviet forces liberated Sevastopol in the Crimea.

1949: Prince Rainier III succeeded his grandfather Prince Louis II as head of state in Monaco.

1955: West Germany was admitted as a member of Nato.

1957: A blaze at Bell’s Brae, Edinburgh, destroyed the three-storey premises of William Mutrie & Sons, one of Britain’s biggest theatrical costumiers; about 90,000 costumes were lost.

1974: Impeachment proceedings began in United States against president Richard Nixon.

1978: The bullet-riddled body of Italy’s former prime minister Aldo Moro was found in parked car in central Rome, 54 days after his abduction.

1992: The first of nine IRA firebombs was found at the MetroCentre shopping complex in Gateshead.

1994: Ian Lang, Scottish secretary, ordered that plans for a National Gallery of Scottish Art in Glasgow be taken back to the drawing board.

1995: The Scottish Rugby Union clamped down on foul play and banned Murrayfield forward Bill Blyth for five years for breaking an opponent’s jaw in two places.

2001: In Ghana 129 football fans died in what became known as the Accra Sports Stadium Disaster. The deaths were caused by a stampede (caused by the firing of tear gas by police personnel at the stadium) that followed a controversial decision by the referee.

2002: The 38-day stand-off in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem came to an end when the Palestinians inside agreed to have 13 suspected terrorists among them deported to several different countries.

2010: Scientists revealed that laboratory mice display human-like facial expressions when they are in pain.

2012: Retailer Clinton Cards was placed in administration.


Alan Bennett, playwright, 81; Richard Adams, author, 95; Candice Bergen, actress, 69; James L Brooks, writer, producer and director, 75; John Corbett, actor, 54; Terry Downes, boxer, 79; Albert Finney, actor, 79; Dave Gahan, singer (Depeche Mode), 53; Paul Heaton, pop singer/guitarist (Beautiful South), 53; Glenda Jackson CBE, actress and former MP, 79; Billy Joel, singer, 66; Matthew Kelly, actor and television presenter, 65; Ruth Kelly, former Labour Cabinet minister and MP, 47; Patrick Ryecart, actor, 63; Marc Sinden, actor, 61; Lord (John) Wheatley, former Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland, 74.


Births: 1800 John Brown, anti-slavery crusader; 1860 Sir James M Barrie, playwright and novelist (Kirriemuir); 1870 Harry Vardon, golfer; 1873 Howard Carter, Egyptologist who discovered tomb of Tutankhamun; 1874 Lilian Baylis, theatre manager; 1928 Pancho Gonzales, tennis player; 1930 Joan Sims, actress; 1932 Geraldine McEwan, actress; 1932 Gavin Lyall, thriller writer.

Deaths: 1492: Lorenzo the Magnificent, Medici ruler of Florence; 1926 Joseph Dent, publisher; 1931 Albert Michelson, first United States winner of Nobel prize for physics; 1977 James Jones, author; 1985 Edmond O’Brien, actor; 1986 Sherpa Tensing Norgay, mountaineer who, on 29 May, 1953 reached the summit of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hilary; 2010 Lena Horne, American singer; 2012 Vidal Sassoon CBE, hairdresser; 2014 Mary Stewart (Lady Stewart), novelist.