This Day in December
Here is a snapshot of historical events which took place in the month of December, with links to pages with further information, where available on the Web.
December 1 1768
The first volume of Encyclopedia Britannica was published in Edinburgh, edited by William Smellie.
December 1 1787
First lighthouse in Scotland opened (at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh). It was built by Thomas Smith and Robert Stevenson.
December 2 1848
Mary Slessor, missionary to West Africa, born in Aberdeen.
December 3 1894
Robert Louis Stevenson> died in Samoa.
December 3 1906
His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen opened and soon became the city’s leading theatre.
December 3 1965
The Beatles launched their last concert tour of Britain in Glasgow.
December 4 1214
King William I (Lion)> died at Stirling and was succeeded by his son Alexander II.
December 4 1423
Treaty of London, releasing James I> from his 18 years captivity in England.
December 4 1795
Essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle>, best known for his "French Revolution" born in Ecclefechan.
December 4 1937
Cartoon character Desperate Dan first appeared in the "Dandy" comic.
December 5 1560
King Francis II> of France, husband of Mary Queen of Scots>, died.
December 5 1973
Death of Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the Brechin-born inventor of radar.
December 6 1214
King Alexander II crowned at Scone>.
December 6 1745
Charles Edward Stewart's> entry into Derby.
December 7 521
Day on which St. Columba was reputedly born in Donegal, Ireland. After being banished to Scotland, following battles over monastic possessions, he established a monastery on Iona. Columba is credited with converting King Bridei, the leader of the Picts in Scotland, to Christianity.
December 8 1542
Mary, Queen of Scots>, born Linlithgow Palace. Her father, on his deathbed said "It cam wi' ane lass; it will pas wi' ane lass" - a reference to the Stuart line starting when Marjorie Bruce, daughter of King Robert the Bruce, married Walter, High Steward of Scotland.
December 9 1165
King Malcolm IV died at Jedburgh Castle
December 10 1616
Ordinance published by the Scottish Privy Council for the establishment of parish schools in Scotland. The same document commended the abolition of Gaelic.
December 10 1868
Artist, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh> born.
December 10 1824
Novelist and poet George MacDonald>, born.
December 10 1936
King Edward VIII abdicated and King George VI acceded to the throne.
December 11 1781
David Brewster>, inventor of the kaleidoscope born.
December 11 1928
Charles Rennie Mackintosh> died.
December 12 1574
Anne of Denmark, wife of King James VI, born.
December 13 1585
William Drummond, poet, born.
December 14 1542
James V> died at Falkland Palace>. Mary Queen of Scots succeeded him.
December 14 1896
Glasgow District Underground opened, powered by electricity.
December 14 1947
Will Fyfe, comedian, died.
December 14 1967
University of Stirling instituted by Royal charter.
December 15 1936
Zoological Society of Glasgow founded. A zoo at Calderpark opened, after the Second World War, in 9 July 1947. The zoo closed in August 2003.
December 16 1653
Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
December 17 1502
Marriage contract between James IV> and Margaret Tudor signed by King James.
December 17 1907
Lord Kelvin, scientist and inventor, died.
December 17 1956
Petrol rationing was imposed following the Suez crisis and the closure of the canal.
December 18 1661
Many Scottish historical records were lost when the ship Elizabeth of Burntisland sank off the English coast. The records had been taken to London by Oliver Cromwell and were being returned to Edinburgh.
December 18 1780
Society of Antiquaries founded.
December 18 1870
Birth of Hector Munro. He wrote short stories under the pseudonym "Saki".
December 18 1969
Death penalty for murder was formally abolished in Britain.
December 19 1904
The "Scotsman" newspaper moves to new offices at North Bridge in Edinburgh, remaining there until 1999.
December 20 1560
First General Assembly of the Church of Scotland>.
December 21 1846
Robert Liston, who was born in Linlithgow in 1794, performed the first operation in a British hospital using anaesthetic (ether).
December 21 1988
Pan Am 747 blew up and crashed at Lockerbie, Dumfries, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 Lockerbie residents.
December 22 1715
James Stuart, the Old Pretender, arrived at Peterhead. He stayed for only a few weeks.
December 22 1930
Author Neil Munro> died in Helensburgh.
December 22 1965
Maximum speed limit of 70mph was imposed on all roads unless a lower limit was in place.
December 22 2000
Pop mega-star Madonna married movie-producer Guy Ritchie at Skibo Castle, putting Dornoch into the media spotlight.
December 23 1812
Samuel Smiles, writer and author of "Self Help" and "Lives of Engineers", born.
December 23 1831
Major outbreak of cholera in Scotland.
December 24 1165
King William I (Lion)> crowned at Scone.
December 24 1650
Edinburgh castle surrendered to Oliver Cromwell.
December 24 1724
General George Wade was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British army in Scotland after he had reported on the need for military roads in the country.
December 24 1856
Writer and geologist Hugh Miller> died.
December 25 1950
Stone of Destiny> removed from Westminster Abbey.
December 27 1647
King Charles I, imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle, reached an agreement with the Scots who offered military aid in exchange for a promise to establish Presbyterianism in England (but only for three years).
December 27 1904
Premiere of J M Barrie's> play "Peter Pan" at the Duke of York Theatre, London. Barrie was born in Kirriemuir in 1860.
December 28 1734
Rob Roy McGregor> died.
December 28 1879
Tay Bridge disaster.
December 28 1906
Rail disaster at Elliott Junction, nerar Arbroath, killing 22. Snow had caused a signal to droop, indicating the line was clear and a southbound express train, travelling tender-first, ran into a derailed goods train.
December 29 1766
Charles Macintosh, who patented waterproof fabric, born.
December 29 1809
William Ewart Gladstone>, UK Prime Minister on four occasions, born 1809
December 30 1899
Albion Motor Company established to build lorries.
December 30 1899
Rangers' first match at their new Ibrox stadium. It was a 3-1 victory over Hearts in the Inter-City League.
December 30 1915
Cruiser "Natal" exploded in Cromarty harbour, killing 405.
December 31 1720
Charles Edward Stewart> born in Rome.
December 31 1954
Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party, born.
December 31 1929
72 killed at Glen Cinema Fire, Paisley.
December 31 1960
The farthing coin (a quarter of an old penny) ceased to be legal tender.
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