1928: 195 men were killed when an accumulation of firedamp (gas that consists chiefly of methane) exploded in a coal mine in Mather, Pennsylvania.
1879: Nancy Witcher Langhorne was born. In 1919, as Viscountess Astor, she became the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.
1312: Piers Gaveston, the favourite of King Edward II, surrendered to a group of barons at Scarborough. Despite their promises to guarantee his safety, Gaveston was taken to Warwick, condemned to death and executed near Kenilworth.
1991: Helen Sharman, a 27-year-old former chemist for the Mars confectioners, became the first Briton in space, visiting the Soviet Mir space station aboard Soyuz TM-12. She was chosen from among 13,000 applicants after answering a radio announcement.
1643: A French army under the 21-year-old Duc d’Enghien defeated a Spanish army under Fransisco de Melo at the battle of Rocroi in north-eastern France. It was one of the few defeats suffered by a Spanish army in a hundred years.