Historical Anecdotes Story Of London

Historical Anecdotes: D

Historical Anecdotes: D
by Anthony Waldstock

This is a series of articles that has grown out of the daily listings of what happened “On This Day”. Many of the events, particularly those related to science, seemed to us to need some more information than is possible in the daily listing format. Still others had amusing or informative anecdotes associated with them that we felt were worth sharing with our readers. The series is designed for browsing and dipping into and we have therefore set up a comprehensive system of links to make this as easy and as enjoyable as possible.

Historical Anecdotes: D

by Anthony Waldstock

This series of articles will present occasional anecdotal, amusing and factual notes behind the people and events on the This Day in History digests. Entries are determined by the daily posting of events in history with the first entries appearing for March 12th and are arranged alphabetically. With the steady increase of material, each letter of the alphabet now (April 17th 2002) has its own page. People are indexed according to their family or surnames whereas kings, popes, emperors etc. are listed according to their regnal names– e.g. Charles Boycott would be found under B, Pope Gregory under G and Queen Mary Tudor under M. Other items are indexed by the most significant word in the title, for example Artificial Ice will be found under I but Sad Iron will be found under S.

Links back to the monthly digests for “This Day in History” can be found at the bottom of the introductory page but each of the entries on the other pages will have a link to take you back to the specific date with which it is associated. Note that if you have come here from the Background Briefings link on the Home page, you can go back there by clicking on the site Masthead above. When appropriate, there are additional links back to other referring pages on the site such as the People of London page.

Within the series there are two sets of links. At the top of each page there will be a table of links to the other indexing letters to allow browsing by individual pages. At the bottom of each page you will also find a set of links which will allow you to scroll backward (Previous) and forward (next) through the pages. The pages are looped so the “Previous” link from A will be to Z and the “Next” link from Z will be to A. There will also be a central link back to this introduction page whose main content is an alphabetic list of the complete set of entries. From there, you will be able to browse the titles of the individual entries and jump directly to those that interest you. By definition, the number of entries will augment on a daily basis so it is worth checking back there frequently.

Links to Entries by Index Letter


‘s first report In 1827, Charles Darwin, aged 18, submitted his first report of an original scientific discovery to the Plinian Society in Edinburgh. He had investigated the biology of tiny marine organisms found along the Scottish coast and made a number of significant discoveries.Return to This Day in History

Louis de Broglie

In 1924 de Broglie suggested that a moving particle would have a wave associated with it. He based his suggestion on the fact tha, at the quantum level, electromagnetic waves could be treated as particles (photons) in some circumstances and that, therefore, particles should be expected, in certain circumstances, to exhibit wave behaviour. This was proven by the phenomenon of electron diffraction. This wave-particle duality is known as complimentarity and the de Broglie wave, as it was called, provided the basis for the science of wave mechanics.Return to This Day in History

Declaration of Indulgence

This was a Royal declaration used as a political bargaining chip by Charles II who issued three in all. The first came on March 15th in 1672 and offered to suspend penal legislation against religious nonconformity. Protestant Dissenters would be allowed to worship in licensed meeting-houses and English Catholics in private. The Penal Code was particularly harsh against Catholics, especially in Ireland where the political, social, educational, economic and religious rights of the non-Protestant inhabitants were, to all intents and purposes, non-existent. Parliament refused to endorse the 1672 Declaration.Return to This Day in History


Andrew Ellicott Douglass was an American astronomer and archaeologist who established the principles of dendrochronology – the system of dating the past by the analysis of tree rings. He coined the name when, while working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona between 1894 and 1901, he began to collect tree specimens, believing that variations in the width of tree rings would show a correlation between sunspot activity and the terrestrial climate and vegetation. The technique is now well established and a practically complete world chronology has been built up using the rings of the north American Bristlecone pine and oaks from Irish bogs.Return to This Day in History


John Theophile Desaguliers was born in La Rochelle of Huguenots parents on March 12th 1683. He was educated at Oxford and became experimental assistant to Sir Isaac Newton. He went on to lecture, write and perform experiments to popularise Newton’s theories and their practical applications. As curator at the Royal Society, his experimental lectures in mechanical philosophy and electricity attracted a wide audience. In electricity, he first used the terms conductor and insulator and he repeated and extended the work of Stephen Gray in that area. He proposed a scheme for heating vessels such as salt-boilers by steam instead of fire. He also made inventions of his own, such as a planetarium, and suggested improvements to machines, such as Thomas Savery’s steam engine (to which he added a safety valve, and used an internal water jet to condense the steam in the displacement chambers) and a ventilator at the House of Commons. He also found time to be a prolific author and translator.Return to This Day in History


William Withering was an English physician who made a classic study of the medicinal use of digitalis. Through his interest in botany, he investigated the folk remedies which were herbal based. He found that the leaf extract of the foxglove was efficacious for certain cases of “dropsy” (an oedema, caused by heart failure). He determined a safe dosage, and published a detailed report of his findings in An Account of the Foxglove (1785). His report gave complete case histories, including failures as well as successes. Digitalis is still used today as a medication to steady and strengthen the action of the heart. He was also a mineralogist, and Witherite (barium carbonate) is named after him.Return to This Day in History


In 1889, the first dishwashing machine was marketed in Chicago on April 1st. It had been designed over a number of years by Josephine Cochrane. Born Josephine Garis, she had married a merchant and politician named William Cochran and tried to live the uptown life of a wealthy socialite. She didn’t share her husband’s populist thinking and embellished her married name by adding an ‘e’ to his surname. In 1883 she noticed that her fine china tableware was chipping. It had been in the family since the 17th century, and it was clear to her that the servants were being careless with it. So she took to washing her own dishes but chafed at the indignity of it and decided that there had to be a better alternative to the servants. She came up with the idea of water jets aimed at the china held firmly in some sort of rack. Her husband died and left her with a scant fifteen hundred dollars and much more than that in debts. She also lost the influence he would’ve provided in pushing her invention so set out to manufacture and market it herself.

She started out in a shed behind her house. The machine was cumbersome. The wash cycle began when the rack was lowered by levers into the machine, and soapy water was hand-pumped onto the dishes. The drying cycle consisted of raising the racks and pouring boiling water from a tea kettle onto the dishes, then allowing them to air dry. Four years later, she was advertising the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Machine Company in periodicals. Her big break came when the 1893 Columbian Exposition used her new machines in its vast kitchens and an award at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago quickly followed. The company grew under her dominance until she died of nervous exhaustion in 1913, aged 74. The company was purchased in the 1920’s by the Hobart Corporation and passed through a number of other companies until in 1949 it became the Kitchen Aid part of the Whirlpool Corporation.Return to This Day in History

Bryan Donkin

Donkin was an English mechanical engineer and inventor. In 1802, the Fourdrinier brothers in France developed a new machine which made paper in continuous lengths. Donkin came to hear about it and helped them to establish a factory in England in 1804. By 1808, he had acquired the works and manufactured the paper-making machines under license. He was also involved in the development of printing machinery and inventor of the composition roller used in printing. By 1850 he had built almost 200 automatic paper-making machines and thus brought about a revolution in the industry. Donkin took out patents relating to gearing, steel pens, paper-making and railway wheels. Another of his major innovations was the preservation of food in sealed tins instead of glass containers, which enabled him to build a factory to supply the Royal Navy with canned meat and vegetables. He also developed a means of counting the revolutions of turning devices and improved accurate screw threads for graduating mathematical scales.Return to This Day in History

Driving tests

Britain was one of the last countries in Europe to bring in the driving test, the first had been France in 1893. On March 13th 1935 driving tests came into effect in Britain on a voluntary basis, became official on April 1st and compulsory from June 1st. Everybody who had taken out a driving licence after April 1st 1934 were obliged to take the test, at a fee of 7s 6d. After the first year of operation it was found that the Driving Test Organisation had made an unintended profit of £16,000 and the cost of the test was reduced by a half-crown to 5s.

There were more than 34,000 applicants for the first posts of examiners for the test. Of these only 200 were appointed, including the 16 supervisors for the different Traffic areas. Women were appointed from the beginning. The first was Miss Muriel Gillham, from Sydney, Australia who was based at the Dartford Driving Test Centre in the Metropolitan Traffic Area.Return to This Day in History

Duryea automobile

On April 19th 1892, the first Duryea automobile was demonstrated by the pioneer manufacturer Charles E. Duryea. He had been building it since August 1891 at his shop, 47 Taylor St., Springfield, Massachusetts. It went on to become the model for the first automobile regularly made for sale in the U.S. The business was named the Duryea Motor Wagon Company.Return to This Day in History


The Bohemian Composer Jan Ladislav Dussek died on March 20th 1812. Who could possibly improve on the following obituary by P. Scholes in The Oxford Companion to Music ?He took too little exercise, became stout, found motion tiresome, took to lying in bed, felt bored, drank and died.Return to This Day in History