Today in Orlando
This is a small sample drawn from within and beyond the lives and careers of writers. Look again tomorrow! Read more about The Orlando Project chronology.
18 December 1640
William Laud, Charles I’s unpopular High Church Archbishop of Canterbury, was arrested and charged with high treason. He was sent to the Tower of London in spring 1641.
In March 1644 he was tried at the Bar of the House of Lords, and on 10 January 1645 he was executed. Some had wanted him hanged, drawn and quartered.
18 December 1660
The Royal Adventurers (later the Royal African Company) was founded under the personal patronage of Charles II and James II; this represented Britain’s active engagement with the slave trade.
It received a charter in 1663, merged with the English Guinea Company in 1672 (forming the Royal African Company), and maintained a monopoly on the slave trade until 1698.
18 December 1660
Dorothy White published a pamphlet entitled (in short form) A Lamentation unto this Nation; and also, a Warning to All People of this Present Age and Generation; with the Voyce of Thunder.
18 December 1679
John Dryden was beaten up in a Covent Garden alley, near the London theatres, probably to punish him for a verse lampoon on people in high places, An Essay upon Satire, which was very likely not written by him at all.
18 December 1688
William of Orange entered London (the same day that James II finally left it) and held court at St James’s Palace.
He refused, however, to claim the crown by right of conquest.
18 December 1714
A new theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (built by Christopher Rich) opened under his son, John.
It opened with a revival of Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer.
18 December 1724
Only four days after she and Montagu had both written poems together on the death of a young bride, Mary Astell wrote the bulk of her verse and prose preface to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Embassy Letters.
18 December 1789
Mary Whateley Darwall’s husband died; the next day his church salary was sequestered.
18 December 1792
Thomas Paine, put on trial in London for sedition (in his absence, since he was sitting as an elected member of the French National Assembly in Paris at the time), was found guilty.
18 December 1792
Eliza Parsons applied for help to the recently founded Literary Fund (later the Royal Literary Fund), detailing the various financial accidents and reverses that had so far befallen her.
18 December 1794
Frances Burney’s son Alexander, her only child, was born.
18 December 1795
The Two Acts or Gagging Acts (the Treasonable Practices Bill and Seditious Meetings Bill) were passed by parliament, to remain in force for extended periods.
Since their introduction to parliament in early November, the London Corresponding Society had held protest meetings; 130,000 people signed ninety-four petitions against the bills. The Treasonable Practices Act extended the law of treason to anyone who “compassed or devised” harm to the king or aid to foreign invaders, anyone attempting to alter royal decisions, or intimidate either house of parliament, or criticise the constitution. The Seditious Meetings Act made it illegal to hold a public meeting of fifty persons about either grievances or petitions without prior notice given by at least seven householders. Meetings were subject to the power of magistrates; resistance to their orders to disperse was punishable by death.
18 December 1819
Walter Scott, as the author of Waverley, published his English historical novel Ivanhoe, with 1820 on its title-page.
18 December 1830
Elizabeth Fenton wrote the last entry in her extant journal at the estate her family had established, Fenton Forest in Van Diemen’s Land (later known as Tasmania).
18 December 1838
Annabella Plumptre died in her late seventies at Rennes in France, having outlived her sister by twenty years.
18 December 1865
The 13th Constitutional Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
18 December 1873
Celia Moss died at 59 Summer Hill, Birmingham, after a long, painful illness.
18 December 1878
Joseph Swan demonstrated his incandescent carbon-filament lamp at a Newcastle upon Tyne Chemical Society meeting.
The lamp was first invented, though not patented, in 1860; it was modified thereafter. A basic feature of Swan’s incandescent lamp was a carbon filament in an evacuated glass bulb.
18 December 1879
Emmeline Goulden married Dr Richard Marsden Pankhurst, a lawyer more than twenty years her senior; their marriage took place in Eccles (now part of Salford), very quietly because of his mother’s sudden death.
18 December 1890
London’s City and South London line became the world’s first electric underground railway and the first to supply electricity to locomotives by means of a third rail.
The line was opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) on 4 November 1890.
18 December 1890
Emma Robinson died at Norwood , the London County Lunatic Asylum, at the age of seventy-six.
18 December 1897
Edith J. Simcox’s mother, who had been living with her in Sussex for a decade, died.
18 December 1902
Balfour’s Education Act was passed; it dissolved the School Boards and replaced them with Local Education Authorities, which were empowered to provide secondary education.
The Act came into effect in the spring of 1903.
This Act’s achievements were the creation of a wider reading public and the broadly civilizing effect of elementary schools. Subsidies were granted to church schools from local taxation. To remain eligible for the Board of Education grant under the terms of this Act, the Girls’ Public Day School Company changed its organization to become the Girls’ Public Day School Trust.
Although many women supported the new LEAs for the positive role they could play in education administration, the loss of women’s right to be elected to school boards was a setback. Women could serve on the LEAs only if appointed as specialist members.
18 December 1914
The British protectorate over Egypt was proclaimed.
18 December 1915
Edith Somerville made a drawing of Martin Ross three days before she died, “in a most profound trance of peace.”
18 December 1925
Vita Sackville-West’s growing romance with Virginia Woolf, which had lasted for three years, produced a significant “moment of intimacy” during a visit by Woolf to Long Barn.
18 December 1933
Newfoundland’s Constitution was suspended owing to bankruptcy.
UK Commissioners of Government governed from hotel rooms in St John’s. Newfoundland lost its dominion status and reverted to the status of a crown colony on 21 December 1933.
18 December 1935
The Hoare-Laval Pact (appeasement of recent territorial aggression by Mussolini’s Italy) was sealed. It enraged Britons to such an extent that Samuel Hoare was compelled to retire from politics.
The pact was agreed to by Hoare and Pierre Laval in Paris on Hoare’s way to Switzerland for a holiday. With rare unanimity of public opinion, people in Britain were angry at the extent of the territorial concessions made to Italy, and thus to Fascism after Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia. When none but ineffective sanctions were applied, many people felt disillusioned.
18 December 1941
Military conscription for women was introduced in Britain when the National Service (Number 2) Act completed its rapid passage through parliament.
Conscripted women could choose either to serve in the Women’s Auxiliary Forces or in civil defence or specified industry. The conscription applied to unmarried women between the ages of twenty-one and thirty, who had no children under the age of fourteen. No conscripted woman could be compelled to use lethal weapons. The first women conscripts were called up on 23 April 1942.
18 December 1941
Sir Hugh Clifford, Elizabeth De la Pasture’s second husband, died.
18 December 2010
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy introduced a selection of commissioned Christmas carols for the year, commissioned from publishing poets.