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This Day in History - 8th September


1157 King Richard I (the Lion Heart) was born.

1560 Amy Robsart, wife of the Earl of Leicester, died from a fall. It was suspected that she was pushed, for soon after, the earl became an active suitor to Queen Elizabeth I.


1664 The Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was surrendered to the British, who, in 1669, renamed it New York after the Duke of York.


1727 A barn fire during a puppet show in the village of Burwell, Cambridgeshire, killed 78 people (51 of them children). The doors had been nailed shut to prevent further people getting in, a simple act which was key to the tragedy which resulted. On 8th September 2005, a plaque was unveiled at the site of the barn in memorial of the fire.


1760 British troops under Jeffrey Amherst defeated the French in the Battle of Montreal. After the loss, the French surrendered their arms throughout Canada.


1888 Annie Chapman was found disembowelled in an East London street, the second victim of 'Jack the Ripper'.


1888 The first English Football League matches were played.


1914 World War I: Private Thomas Highgate became the first British soldier of the war to be executed for desertion. He was undefended and called no witnesses in his defence, as all his comrades had been shot and killed. Highgate claimed that he was a 'straggler' trying to find his way back to rejoin his regiment after having been separated from his comrades. His execution was almost as hasty as his trial, as senior officers insisted that he be executed 'At once, as publicly as possible'. Posthumous pardons for over 300 such soldiers were announced in August 2006, including Highgate.


1921 Sir Harry Secombe, entertainer and singer was born.


1925 Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian was born.


1944 The first German V2 flying bombs fell on Britain, exploding at Chiswick in London, killing 3 people.


1960 Publishers Penguin Books were charged with public obscenity for publishing D.H. Lawrence's controversial book - 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.


1966 Queen Elizabeth II officially opened The Severn Bridge linking south Wales with south west England.


1968 British tennis player Virginia Wade beat American Billie Jean King to win the US Open.


2000 Protests about high fuel costs that had been crippling France the previous week reached Britain, with actions across the country.


2007 Portuguese police named both parents of missing schoolgirl Madeleine McCann (who disappeared on 3rd May) as formal suspects. Gerry McCann was officially given "arguido" status as was his wife Kate after they had been questioned separately for more than 24 hours.


2011 The first repatriation ceremony was held at RAF Brize Norton, after repatriations ended through Wootton Bassett. Sergeant Barry Weston, killed in Afghanistan on 30th August, was the first to be repatriated.