December 1: on this day in history

Julian Humphrys rounds off small birthdays

December 1, 1581

English Jesuit priest Edmund Campion and two of his companions were executed for treason at Tyburn. Campion had been tortured several times since his arrest in July. He was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1970.

December 1, 1662

Columnist John Evelyn recorded watching people skate in front of King Charles II and his wife, Catherine of Braganza, on the frozen ice of St James’s Park.

December 1, 1783

Observed by a huge crowd in the Tuileries Garden in Paris, French physicist Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles and designer Marie-Noël Robert achieve the world’s first unattached ascent in a hydrogen balloon.

December 1, 1860

More than 140 men and boys and 28 pit ponies were killed in an explosion at the notoriously gaseous Black Vein coal mine at Risca in Gwent, south Wales.

December 1, 1919

As the MP for Plymouth Sutton, Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. She had won the by-election after sitting MP her husband Waldorf Astor lost the seat following her succession as second Viscount Astor. The first woman to be elected to the House of Commons was Constance Markievicz in 1918, but as a member of Sinn Fein she disqualified herself from sitting by refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the crown.

December 1, 1967

Tony O’Connor becomes Britain’s first black principal at Warley School in Worcestershire.

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