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This Day in History - 19th October


1216 King John died of dysentery at Newark-on-Trent , during a Civil War which was the result of his refusal to recognize the Magna Carta signed the previous year. He was known as John Lackland for losing so much territory to France and was succeeded by his nine-year-old son Henry.

1649 New Ross town, in County Wexford, Ireland, surrendered to Oliver Cromwell during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

1688 The birth of William Cheselden who was influential in establishing surgery as a scientific medical profession.

1745 Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, died aged 77.

1781 The American War of Independence came to an end when British commander Lord Cornwallis surrendered his 8,000 troops to George Washington at Yorktown, in Virginia, after a three week siege.

1914 World War I - The start of the First Battle of Ypres. It saw the British and French defeat repeated German attempts to break their lines in an attempt to capture the channel ports.

1914 Wartime licensing laws came into operation, premises having to close at 10 p.m.

1933 Germany withdrew from the League of Nations, an intergovernmental organization, founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. I

1954 The first day of the public inquiry into the crashes of two Comet airliners within months of each other heard that metal fatigue was the most likely cause. The Comet's certificate of airworthiness was withdrawn after the second crash.

1970 British Petroleum announced the first major discovery of oil under the British sector of the North Sea.

1978 For the first time in Britain, the International Motor Show was held outside London, its new home being the newly-completed National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham.

1987 Black Monday. Millions of pounds were wiped off the value of shares and other financial markets around the world. Wall Street ended the day down 22%, a greater fall than the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

1989 The 'Guildford Four' had their convictions quashed after wrongly serving 14 years in prison for the IRA bombings at Guildford and Woolwich.

1991 London's Royal Opera House had to cancel its performance, as orchestra members, pursuing an industrial dispute, refused to wear dinner jackets and turned up in jeans.

2001 It was announced that a 'serious error' was made by researchers who wasted five years testing the wrong animal brains for BSE!

2001 Dennis Yates (aged 58), a Second World War memorabilia dealer, was jailed for 10 months for handling a wartime Enigma encoding machine. It was stolen from a display cabinet at Bletchley Park (codenamed Station X) on 1st April 2000 during an open day at the former top secret site. A separate charge, of blackmailing Christine Large, the director of Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, where the Abwehr Enigma G312 machine was kept, was ordered to lie on file. Following months of ransom demands, the machine, one of only three left in the world, was returned via BBC Two's Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.

2011 After a 10 year legal battle, police and bailiffs began clearing the illegal part of the UK's largest travellers' site, at Dale Farm, Basildon, Essex.

2012 Trenton Oldfield, aged 36, who disrupted the 2012 University Boat Race by swimming between the boat race crews was jailed for six months for causing a public nuisance. Oldfield said that he was demonstrating against government cuts.

2012 Andrew Mitchell, the government chief whip, resigned after criticism for making rude remarks to police officers at the gates of Downing Street. It was alleged that he called police officers 'plebs'and that he had said to the officers - 'I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us'. In 2014 Mitchell lost a libel cases against both the Sun and PC Rowland and became liable for both parties' costs, which were estimated at £2m.

2013 The violin that was apparently played to calm passengers on the Titanic as it sank was sold for £900,000 in just 10 minutes at auction in Wiltshire. Bidding started at £50 and the violin had a guide price of £300,000. The bandleader Wallace Hartley aged 33, was from Colne in Lancashire and is buried in Colne cemetery. 

2014 The death (at the age of 66) of the British actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham. The actress was best known for her long-running role as a mother in the 1980s Oxo TV adverts.