10 April 491
After the death of Eastern Roman emperor Zeno on 9 April, crowds swarm Constantinople chanting for a successor with more orthodox beliefs. A few days later, Zeno’s widow chooses administrator Anastasius as her husband and new emperor.
10 April 1633
Bananas are said to have gone on sale for the first time in Britain when they were displayed in the shop window of Thomas Johnson, a london herbalist.
10 April 1710
The UK's first copyright law came into force. "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by vesting the copies of printed books in the authors or purchasers of such copies, during the times therein mentioned" granted authors and their publishers an exclusive term of 14 years. Late in the process of legislation an extra section was tacked on, allowing authors to renew their copyright for a further 14 years. In order to receive copyright protection, all books had to be registered at Stationers' Hall, London, the livery hall of the guild of printers.
10 April 1827
Lew Wallace, American Civil War general and author of Ben Hur is born in Brookville, Indiana.
10 April 1821
Blamed by Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II for not doing enough to help suppress the Greek uprising, Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople was hanged from the gates of his patriarchate.
10 April 1858
Big Ben, the 13-ton great bell in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, is cast by George Mears at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London. It replaces an earlier bell which had cracked during tests in Palace Yard. Big Ben officially goes into service in July 1859 but after two months of ringing the hours it also develops a crack. However, rather than being replaced, it is simply fitted with a lighter hammer and given a quarter turn so that the hammer misses the crack.
10 April 1909
Poet Algernon Charles Swinburne dies of pneumonia in Putney, aged 72. As a young man his dissipated lifestyle and his poetry – with its themes of sexuality, sadism and paganism – had outraged many Victorians. By 1880 Swinburne was an alcoholic and would probably have died had he not moved in with a friend, the novelist and critic Theodore Watts-Dunton, who exercised a restraining influence upon him for the remaining 30 years of his life. Swinburne is buried at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight. His family partially ignored his request for a non-Christian funeral.
10 April 1912
RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton at midday. Her first port of call was Cherbourg where more passengers joined the ship, though 24 disembarked.