Almanac – October 12

1216 – King John of England loses his crown jewels in The Wash.
According to contemporary reports, John travelled from Spalding in Lincolnshire to Bishop’s Lynn, in Norfolk, was taken ill and decided to return. While he took the longer route by way of Wisbech, he sent his baggage train, including his crown jewels, along the causeway and ford across the mouth of the Wellstream.
 This route was usable only at low tide. The horse-drawn wagons moved too slowly for the incoming tide, and many were lost.The location of the accident is usually supposed to be somewhere near Sutton Bridge, on the River Nene.

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Astronomical study, however, permits a reconstruction of the tide table for the relevant day and it seems most likely, given travel in the usual daylight hours, that the loss would have been incurred in crossing the Welland Estuary at Fosdyke.
There is also a suspicion that John left his jewels in Lynn as security for a loan and arranged for their “loss”.

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1692 – The Salem witch trials were ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.

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Consequently, October 12th is Freethought Day , the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials.

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1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens for ‘Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds’ in Virginia

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1872 – Ralph Vaughan Williams born. English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes, and also influenced several of his own original compositions.

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1875 – Aleister Crowley born.  English occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician, poet and mountaineer, who was responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early 20th century.

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1945 – Desmond Doss became  the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor. He refused to kill, or carry a weapon into combat, because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He thus became a medic, and his Medal of Honor was earned by the risks he took to save the lives of many comrades.

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1954 – Linval Thompson born. Jamaican reggae and dub musician and record producer.

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1964 – The Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew and the first flight without space suits.

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1971 – Gene Vincent died. American Rock & Roll and Rockabilly musician. Died of a ruptured stomach ulcer.

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1979 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams was published.

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1984 – Brighton hotel bombing: The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. Thatcher escaped but the bomb killed five people and wounded 31.

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