1777 The Battle of Princeton, in New Jersey, ended with George Washington’s defeat of the British, led by Cornwallis.
1795 The death of Josiah Wedgwood, English potter and grandfather of the naturalist Charles Darwin.The pottery that Wedgewood founded became one of the most famous in the world. In 2009 Wedgwood was placed into administration and eventually became part of a group of companies known as WWRD, an initialism for ‘Wedgwood Waterford Royal Doulton’.
1883 The birth of Clement (Richard) Attlee, Labour politician who served as Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He was also the first person to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister under Winston Churchill, in the wartime coalition government. He then led the Labour Party to a landslide election victory over Churchill’s Conservative Party in 1945. He was the first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full Parliamentary term, and the first to command a Labour majority in Parliament. His government undertook the nationalisation of major industries and public utilities as well as the creation of the National Health Service. His government also presided over the decolonisation of a large part of the British Empire when India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon and Jordan were granted independence.
1911 Police, with the army in attendance, stormed a house in London’s East End where it was thought a gang of wanted anarchists were hiding. Newspapers dubbed the incident ‘The Siege of Sidney Street’. When the fugitives shot at police, the Scots Guards were summoned from the Tower of London, and Winston Churchill, who was then Home Secretary, arrived on the scene to find the house in flames. No firefighters were sent in to put out the blaze, and the house eventually collapsed, burning the anarchists to death.
1940 Unity Mitford, a member of the aristocratic Mitford family, returned to England after an unsuccessful suicide attempt in Munich. She had been greatly attracted to Fascism and idolized Hitler. When Britain declared war she was so distraught that she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled pistol, given to her for protection by Hitler himself. She eventually died in Oban, in 1948, of meningitis caused by the cerebral swelling around the bullet.
1946 William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) was hanged for treason, in London. The Irishman had broadcast propaganda from Nazi Germany during the Second World War to both Britain and the United States. The broadcasts started on 18th September 1939 and continued until 30th April 1945, when Hamburg was overrun by the British Army.