13 May 1568

The forces of Mary, Queen of Scots are defeated at the Battle of Langside (near Glasgow) by troops commanded by the Regent Moray. In the mistaken hope that Elizabeth would support her cause, Mary flees to England.


13 May 1730

Birth near Rotherham of Charles Watson-Wentworth, later the second Marquess of Rockingham. A descendent of Charles I's doomed minister, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, he was twice British prime minister.

13 May 1857

Ronald Ross, discoverer of the malarial parasite in mosquitoes, is born in India.

13 May 1861

Queen Victoria issued a proclamation of British neutrality in the American Civil War.

13 May 1868: Aboriginal cricketers bowl over the British

Australian players cause a stir on their international tour

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On 13 May 1868, the first Australian cricket side to visit Britain arrived in Gravesend. But this was a sporting milestone twice over – because the team comprised only Aboriginal players.

The squad had been assembled by the former Surrey cricketer Charles Lawrence, who calculated that a team of “blacks”, as they were then called, would excite considerable attention. He was right. As soon as the boat docked in Gravesend, the national papers were all over the story.

“No arrival,” said the Sporting Life, “has been anticipated with such curiosity and interest as that of the Black Cricketers from Australia.” The paper went on to emphasise that the players were not “savages … They are perfectly civilised, having been brought up in the bush as assistants to Europeans.” The Telegraph agreed: “Although several of them are native bushmen, and all are as black as night, these Indian fellows are, to all intents and purposes, clothed and in their right minds.”

The visitors performed extremely creditably; of the 47 matches they played, the Australian team won 14, lost 14 and drew the remaining 19. The only real controversy concerned their appearance at Lord’s against a Marylebone Cricket Club XI. The Times considered it a “travestie” on such a hallowed ground. However, the match went ahead, and afterwards the visitors delighted the crowd – though not the traditionalists – with an exhibition of boomerang and spear throwing. “The performance seemed to give general satisfaction,” admitted the MCC report, “and the public would have been much disappointed if the sports had not taken place.” | Written by Dominic Sandbrook

13 May 1912

The Royal Flying Corps was officially formed as part of the British army. Its first commander was Brigadier-General Sir David Henderson.


13 May 1969

Race riots between elements of the Chinese and Malay communities break out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The government will react by declaring a state of national emergency and suspending parliament until 1971.

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