The First Foot Guards

We are a Revolutionary War reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards



This Date in History: December

Graeme Marsden's collection 
of significantl dates in American and European history,
organized by Month and by Day.

Most references are from the 18th century, and there is a preference for military occurrences, especially those of The First Foot guards.

Check out 'What happened on this day?'




1 December
He is tall and very well made, much darker than I expected to see him, but has a pleasing countenance ... Indeed he seems to shame education, for his manners are so extremely graceful, and he is so polite, attentive and easy, that you would have thought he came from some foreign court.
[Fanny Burney, Diary, 1 December 1774, on Omiah, a native of Otaheite (Tahiti) brought back from Captain Cook's voyages.]

1 December 1135
Henry I of England died and the crown passed to his nephew Stephen of Blois, who reigned disastrously as Stephen I. No subsequent English prince was ever named Stephen.

1 December 1581
Edmund Champion and other Jesuit martyrs were tortured and hanged at Tyburn, in London, for sedition.

1 December 1861
The US gunboat Penguin seized the Confederate blockade runner Albion carrying supplies worth almost $100,000.

1 December 1905
Twenty officers and 230 guards were arrested in St Petersburg, for the revolt at the Winter Palace.


2 December 1697
St Paul's Cathedral, London, was opened, having been rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. The earlier building was a Gothic structure that was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Fifty-one parish churches were rebuilt after the fire under the general direction of Sir Christopher Wren (knighted in 1673). Today there are 23 left intact, with ruins or towers of a further six. Their variety and beauty comes not only from his inventive genius and a close study of classical architecture, but also from pragmatism about the ruins: often the new church had the same outline as the pre-Fire building, or the tower was retained.

2 December 1805
Napoleon (crowned emperor exactly one year earlier) defeated the Austrians and Russians at the Battle of Austerlitz.

2 December 1823
US president James Monroe proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine, warning that any further European colonial ambitions in the western hemisphere would be considered threats to US peace and security.

2 December 1867
On his second visit to America, Charles Dickens gave popular readings of some of his works. A Christmas Carol, received its American premiere reading in Boston at the Tremont temple. When Dickens' barnstorming tour reached NYC on December 2, people waited in mile-long lines to hear him.


3 December 1762
France ceded Upper Louisiana to Spain (all lands west of the Mississippi).

3 December 1810
The British captured Mauritius from the French.
During the Napoleonic wars, the island had become a base from which French corsairs made successful raids on British commercial ships. The raids continued until 1810 when a strong British expedition was sent to capture the island. A preliminary attack was foiled at Grand Port in August 1810, but the main attack launched in December of the same year from Rodrigues, was successful. The British landed in large numbers in the north of the island and rapidly overpowered the French, who capitulated. By the Treaty of Paris in 1814 Mauritius was ceded definitely to Great Britain, together with its dependencies which included Rodrigues and the Seychelles. The island had previously been Dutch (as Mauritius) then French (as Isle de France) then British.
The Patrick O'Brien book "The Mauritius Command" follows closely the historic facts.


4 December 771
With the death of his brother Carloman, Charlemagne became sole ruler of the Frankish Empire.

4 December 1154
The only Englishman to become a pope, Nicholas Breakspear, became Adrian IV.
Nicholas Breakspear was the only Englishman elected to the bishopric of Rome. Born about 1100, he was a Benedictine monk of St Alban's in England, becoming Abbot of St. Rufus near Avignon 1137. He was made Pope in 1154.

4 December 1791
Britain's oldest Sunday paper, the Observer, was first published.

4 December 1808
Napoleon abolished the Inquisition in Spain.

4 December 1829
Under British rule, suttee (whereby a widow is burned to death on her husband's funeral pyre) was made illegal in India.

4 December 1783
General George Washington bade farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City.

4 December1872
One of the most famous maritime mysteries. On this day the US brigantine Mary Celeste was found adrift and deserted with its cargo intact, in the Atlantic Ocean between the Azores and Portugal.
On 7 November 1872 the ship departed New York with Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, young daughter and a crew of eight. The ship was laden with 1700 barrels of raw American alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. The captain, his family and crew were never seen again.

A British Board of Inquiry in Gibraltar gathered evidence and testimony from the boarding party that had discovered the drifting derelict. Lack of evidence of violence ruled out piracy or foul play, but no conclusions as to the fate of the mortals aboard was forthcoming.
The real mystery began 1884 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (writing under a pseudonym) published a story about a derelict ship called "Marie Celeste". This tale recounted the actual events of the Mary Celeste with enough added fictional and provocative detail to capture the public interest. Since then no two accounts of the story have been the same.


5 December 1484
Pope Innocent VIII issued a Papal Bull in which he declared that all Pagan practices, including witchcraft and devil-worship, are heretical and thus punishable by death. His writings marked the beginning of the witch-hunting hysteria that eventually gripped Christendom, and even led to the (Protestant) Salem witch trials.

5 December 1933
After the repeal of Prohibition on 5 December 1933, President Franklin D Roosevelt was heard to remark, " I think now would be a good time for a beer." Amen to that.

5 December 1776
The first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg VA. The original Phi Beta Kappa Society had an active life of only four years, ending when the approach of the British army under Cornwallis forced the college to close its doors.

5 December 1791
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna.

5 December 1921
The United Kingdom reached an accord with the Irish revolutionary group Sinn Fein in which Ireland became a republic.

5 December 1936
Edward VIII abdicated (announced Dec 10) – popular carol that Christmas: "Hark the Herald Angels sing, Mrs Simpson's got our King"



6 December 1492
Columbus discovered Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

6 December 1774
Austria became the first nation to introduce a state education system.

6 December 1921
Irish Free State and Northern Ireland were formed.


7 December 43 BC
Cicero, one of the greatest sons of Rome, was assassinated on the orders of Marcus Antonius.

7 December 1431
In Paris, Henry VI of England was crowned King of France.

7 December 1732
The original Covent Garden Theatre Royal (now the Royal Opera House) was opened. The area became known through the end of the century for entertainment, gambling and pleasures of the flesh that it offered. An easy walk from Wellington Barracks, it may be that enlisted men (gadzooks, even officers) of The First Foot Guards availed themselves of its robust delights… maybe, even the opera. The mordant pen of artist William Hogarth caricatured the goings-on there.

7-8 December 1703
Violent storms caused vast damage across southern England. About a third of Britain's merchant fleet was lost, and Eddystone lighthouse destroyed. The next Eddystone light was constructed with of interlocking rings of stones forming each course. This pattern was followed for Minot's Light in Boston Harbor off Cohasset.

7 December 1787
Delaware became the first of the United States

7 December 1808
James Madison was elected president in succession to Thomas Jefferson.

7 December 1941
A day that will live in infamy.


8 December 1660
The first actress played in London (Margaret Hughes as Desdemona)

8 December 1776
George Washington's retreating army crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

8 December 1914
The German cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Nurnberg, and Liepzig were sunk by a British force in the Battle of the Falkland Islands. A new 'Schlachtschiff Scharnhorst' was to cause much grief to the British in WWII.


9 December 1775
Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, burned Norfolk (then called Great Bridge) to the ground after he lost it to an American detachment. It was a poor decision since his tactics swayed many conservative colonists to begin supporting the Revolution.

9 December 1783
The first executions at the new Newgate Prison took place, the gallows having been moved from Tyburn. Every Monday morning large crowds would assemble outside Newgate Prison to watch the men and women executed. A seat at one of the windows overlooking the gallows could cost up to £10.
Newgate prison had had to be rebuilt after it was destroyed in the Gordon Riots of 1780 (in which the First Foot Guards fired on the mob). The 'New Gate' was originally the entrance through the city wall where (Roman) Watling Street reached London (along the route of the present day Oxford Street and Holborn). It was not one of the original four gates: hence its name (it has been 'new' since it was built about the year 1110 !) It was used as a prison since at least 1188. It was rebuilt in 1420.
In the first half of the 19th century Newgate Prison was London's chief prison and was where prisoners were held before execution. Public executions were abolished in 1868 and until 1901 prisoners were hanged inside Newgate.
Newgate prison was finally destroyed in 1902, part of the site being occupied by the new Central Criminal Court "The Old Bailey".

Check whether anyone of your last name was incarcerated there at Click
There's also a link to those who received capital punishment.

9 December 1854
Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," was published in England. It details the heroic, but mistaken charge of 600 valiant cavalrymen into the Russian artillery, in the Crimean War.

9 December 1917
British forces captured Jerusalem


10 December 1768
The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in London by George III, with Joshua Reynolds as its first president. Reynolds, (later Sir Joshua Reynolds) was a prolific portrait painter, responsible, inter alia, for the splendid painting of Col George Coussmaker, First Foot Guards.

10 December 1282
Llewellyn, the last native Prince of Wales, was killed. Subsequently, the heir apparent to the throne of England would be styled "The Prince of Wales". This is true to this day, with Prince Charles carrying the title. On the death of the present monarch, he will succeed as King Charles III.


11 December 1688
James II abdicated the throne due to the 'Glorious Revolution' in which William of Orange landed in England. William and Mary assumed the throne.

11 December 1769
Edward Beran of London patented venetian blinds.

11 December 1844
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, was first used for a tooth extraction.

11 December 1861
A raging fire swept the business district of Charleston SC.

11 December 1882
Boston's Bijou theater became the first American playhouse to be lit by incandescent lamps. Thrilled audience saw a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe.

11 December 1936
King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry American Wallis Warfield Simpson.


12 December 1753
George Washington, the adjutant of Virginia, delivered an ultimatum to the French forces at Fort Le Boeuf, south of Lake Erie, reiterating the British claim to the entire Ohio River valley.

12 December 1770
The British soldiers involved in the "Boston Massacre" were acquitted on murder charges.

12 December 1804
Spain declared war on Britain

12 December 1813
War against France 1803-1814

Operations on the Nive
In memory of the officers who died in battle:
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Coote Martin, First Foot Guards
Captain Charles William Thompson, First Foot Guards
Captain Carey LeMarchant, First Foot Guards
Ensign James Oliver Lautour, First Foot Guards

12 December 1901
Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio transmission, from Cornwall in England to St. John's Newfoundland.


13 December 1474
Isabella and her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon, were proclaimed as Queen and King of Castile, thus uniting the Spanish throne. Their daughter, Catherine of Aragon, was later to marry England's Prince of Wales, and then his brother, King Henry VIII. The daughter of Catherine and Henry became Queen Mary of England ("Bloody Mary").

13 December 1577
Francis Drake began his journey from Plymouth in the Golden Hind and four other ships in a three-year journey that was to take him around the world.

13 December 1769
Dartmouth College NH received its charter.


14 December 1782
The British evacuated Charleston SC.

14 December 1799
George Washington died on his Mount Vernon estate.

14 December 1861
Albert, the Prince Consort, died. Queen Victoria was inconsolable, and remained out of public view for many years.


15 December 1654
A meteorological office established in Tuscany began recording daily temperature readings.

15 December 1791
The Bill of Rights' ten amendments became part of the US Constitution.


16 December 1653
Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, marking the start of The Commonwealth (or to royalists, The Interregnum). The country now had an entirely new flag and a coat of arms that did not bear the mottoes Dieu et mon droit (God, and my [divine] right), and Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame be to him who thinks evil of it). The new motto was Pax Quaeritur Bello (Peace sought by war).

16 December 1773
The Boston Tea Party took place at Griffin's Wharf in Boston harbor.

16 December 1809
Napoleon divorced his wife Josephine, because she had not produced children.

16 December 1838
The Zulu chief Dingaan was defeated by a small force of Boers at Blood River, celebrated in South Africa as 'Dingaan's Day'.


18 December 1865
The USA officially abolished slavery with the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

18 December 1118
In a major blow to Muslim Spain, Alfonso the Battler, King of Aragon, captured Saragossa.

18 December 1378
Charles V of France denounced the treachery of John IV of Brittany and confiscated his duchy.

18 December 1915
In a single night, about 20,000 Australian and New Zealand troops withdrew from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, undetected by the Turks defending the peninsula.

18 December 1916
The Battle of Verdun ended with the French and Germans each having suffered more than 330,000 killed and wounded in 10 months


19 December 1154
Henry II became King of England.

19 December 1562
The Battle of Dreux was fought between the Huguenots and the Catholics, beginning the French Wars of Religion.

19 December 1777
General George Washington led his army of about eleven-thousand men to Valley Forge PA, to camp for the winter.

19 December 1842
Hawaii's independence was recognized by the USA.

19 December 1732
Benjamin Franklin began publishing "Poor Richard's Almanac."

19 December 1776
Thomas Paine published his first "American Crisis" essay.



20 December 1649
Under the Commonwealth, theatres (and much else!) were banned. They were not to be restored until… the Restoration in 1660.

20 December 1790
The first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Samuel Slater (1768-1835) was born in Derbyshire, England, becoming apprenticed at the age of 14 to the British inventor of cotton-spinning machinery, Sir Richard Arkwright. He learned all about the high-tech new equipment, and memorized information on textile techniques and machine specifications. Britain banned such artisans from leaving the country, but the US offered bounties for such valuable textile information. Slater emigrated in disguise, and in Providence RI he began to build and operate Arkwright cotton machinery, opening his first spinning mill in Pawtucket RI on this day in 1790. He established the first machine tool building factory adjacent to the mill and the Sunday school he established in 1796 for his workers was one of the first such programs in the US.
Slater's Mill, downtown Pawtucket, can be visited today. It is one of the most important historical sites in the country.
It was largely the basis for David Macaulay's entertaining picture book 'Mill'.

20 December 1802
The United States purchased the Louisiana territory from France.

20 December 1861
British transports loaded with 8,000 troops set sail for Canada for a possible attack on the US, in case the "Trent Affair" was not settled. In this incident, Union forces boarded a British steamer, and arrested two Confederate diplomats. The ambassadors, Mason and Slidell, were imprisoned on George's Island in Boston harbor, only to be released, putting an end to the Trent Affair.

20 December 1924
Adolf Hitler was released from prison after serving less than one year of a five-year sentence for treason.

20 December 1933
The German government announced that 400,000 citizens were to be sterilized because of hereditary defects.


21 December 1620
The Pilgrim Fathers, aboard the Mayflower, landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.

21 December 1708
French forces seized control of the eastern shore of Newfoundland after winning a victory at St. John's.

21 December 1944
German troops surrounded the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne in Belgium.

21 December 1945
Controversial General George S Patton died at the age of 60 after being injured in a car accident.


22 December 1135
Stephen of Blois was crowned the king of England, as Stephen I.

22 December 1775
Esek Hopkins took command of the Continental Navy, a total of seven ships.

22 December 1715
James Stuart, the 'Old Pretender', landed at Petershead after his exile in France.

22 December 1894
Alfred Dreyfus, the French officer who was falsely convicted for selling military secrets, was sent to Devil's Island.

22 December 1829
The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad opened the first passenger railway line in America.


23 December 1783
George Washington retired from command of the army.

23 December 1834
English architect Joseph Hansom patented his 'safety cab', better known as the Hansom cab. This distinctive two-wheeled carriage had forward-facing doors for the passenger, and the cabbie rode on a seat behind this, largely counterbalancing the weight of the passenger. As any Sherlock Holmes buff knows, the Hansom lasted in popularity in London until the coming of the 'horseless carriage'.

23 December 1861
Lord Lyons, The British minister to America, presented a formal complaint to Secretary of State, William Seward, regarding the Trent Affair.


24 December 1515
Thomas Wolsey was appointed Lord Chancellor of England.

24 December 1708
War against France 1702-1713
Siege of Ghent 1708
In memory of the officer who died in battle:
Colonel Charles Gorsuch, First Foot Guards, December 24th.

24 December 1814
The War of 1812 between the USA and Britain was brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
The news did not reach the United States until two weeks later (after Jackson's decisive American victory at New Orleans).


25 December 
Christmas Day was one of the four Quarter Days on which rents became due in Britain. (Lady Day, Midsummer's Day, Michaelmas Day, Christmas Day).

25 December 800
In Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor.

25 December 1066
William the Conqueror was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey.

Christmastide 1714
The great English Christmas Pudding was reintroduced. A traditional favorite, this delicacy had been banned (along with the celebration of Christmas) by the English Puritans. On the accession of King George 1 in 1714, Christmas Pudding was served to the new monarch, who expressed his pleasure on tasting this dish. It has been served (in Britain at Christmas) ever since.

25 December 1776
Washington crossed the Delaware in the Ten Crucial Days, and made a surprise attack the next day on the Hessian garrison in Trenton. Nobody thought there would be an attack at Christmas. The same mistake was made much later in the Vietnam War in the season of Tet.

25 December 1845
Sikh Wars, India 1845-49
Battle of Ferozeshah
In memory of the officer who died in battle:
Captain Arthur William FitzRoy Somerset, First Foot or Grenadier Guards

25 December 1914
During World War I, British and German troops observed an unofficial truce, even playing soccer together on the Western Front's 'no man's land'.


26 December 1776
Trenton, New Jersey
With his army dwindling and patriot morale at an all-time low, Washington risked everything by attacking the Hessian camp at Trenton. His victory shocked the British and helped grow support for the patriot cause


27 December 1703
The Methuen Treaty was signed between Portugal and England, giving preference to the import of Portuguese wines into England, and solidifying the place of the fortified wine, port, as a tipple worthy of English gentlemen.

27 December 1831
Charles Darwin set sail from Plymouth on his epic voyage of scientific discovery, aboard the HMS Beagle. They eventually visited the Galapagos Islands where Darwin formed his theories on evolution.

27 December 1913
Charles Moyer, president of the Miners Union, was shot in the back and dragged through the streets of Chicago.


28 December 1065
Westminster Abbey was consecrated under Edward the Confessor. Edward was a pious man, who was later made (by the Pope) into a 'Confessor' - or the next step up to a Saint. He was succeeded to England's throne by the ill-starred but valiant Harold I who had to put down two major invasions at the same time, succumbing to the Normans under William the Conqueror, aka William the Bastard … and there's no need to explain both those sobriquets.

28 December 1694
Queen Mary II of England died after five years of joint rule with her husband, King William III (the William & Mary period). She died of smallpox, which was a serious threat to populations of the 17th and 18th centuries. William had previously died of complications suffered after a fall from his horse. Both were causes of death that would be unlikely to occur in this day...even to a commoner. It is said that William's horse stumbled on a mole hole, leading Catholics to raise their glasses in a toast, "To the gentleman in a velvet coat!"

28 December 1778
Crown Forces took Savannah, GA.

28 December 1836

Spain recognized Mexico's independence.


29 December 1170
Saint Thomas à Becket, the 40th Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights acting on the orders (or at least, the wishes) of King Henry II. TS Eliot immortalized the occurrence in his play "Murder in the Cathedral".

29 December 1813
War of 1812: Crown Forces burned Buffalo, NY.

29 December 1851
The first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized, in Boston.


30 December 1460
At the Battle of Wakefield, in England's Wars of the Roses, the Duke of York was defeated and killed by the Lancastrians.

30 December 1803
The US took possession of the Louisiana area from France at New Orleans with a simple ceremony, the simultaneous lowering and raising of the national flags


31 December 1687
The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.

31 December 1695
The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up, some of which survive to this day. It was not the only wealth tax to be attempted in Britain. Others were the Chimney Tax, the Clock Tax, and (everyone's favorite) the Stamp Act.

31 December 1711
The Duke of Marlborough, despite his phenomenal martial accomplishments, was dismissed as commander-in-chief. Sic transit gloria mundi!

31 December 1775
General Richard Montgomery led American troops in the capture of Montreal on 13 November 1775. This American presence in Canada proved short-lived. Along with the attack on Montréal, Washington decided to send Generals Benedict Arnold and Montgomery to conquer Quebec in the hopes that a two-pronged attack would win all of Canada. After joining Arnold, who had led American troops through the Maine wilderness to Canada, Montgomery attacked the city of Quebec on 31 December. The city proved too strong, and the British victory at Quebec removed all hopes of a Canadian conquest. American troops were forced to make a hasty retreat to New York, with Arnold retreating to the safety of Fort Ticonderoga.


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