May is a crazy month for birthdays, for so many of my good friends from school and my ever increasing acquaintance on social media. On Facebook, I have 6 friends on the 14th, 4 friends on the 15th, 3 friends on the 16th, 2 on the 18th and 4 on the 19th May. What on earth were all of our parents ‘celebrating’ in August?!
Facts about the 17th May
The 17th May is the 137th day of the year or the 138th on a leap year.
1521 The Duke of Stafford is executed
I love the Tudor period and started to research my family history because I wanted to prove, somehow, that I was related to Henry VIII. Even though he is villainised in history, I always like Edward Stafford, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham. So as I far as I’m concerned, he is Welsh, as he was born in Brecon Castle. His heritage gave him a strong claim to the throne, and in 1520 he was suspected of treasonous actions, so he was arrested and placed in the Tower of London before being tried and executed.
1536 Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled
After a long love affair which resulted in Henry VIII changing the religion of England and Wales, the inability to give the king what he wanted (a son) after a series of miscarriages, Henry decided that he had been seduced into the marriage by witchcraft. Accusations of adultery, even an incestuous relationship with her brother George, although the evidence against them was unconvincing, led to Anne’s beheading. On this day, George Boleyn, the 2nd Viscount of Rochford and four other men were also executed for treason.
1682 Bartholomew Roberts, the Welsh pirate was born
Born John Roberts in Pembrokeshire, the pirate raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy and captured over 400 vessels in his career. Known as Black Bart or Barti Ddu in Welsh, this name was never used in his lifetime. He was killed the day after a successful raid and too a grapeshot to the throat when he was stood on deck. His crew weighted his body, wrapped him in the ships sail and threw him overboard. He was never found. His death shocked the pirate world as well as the Royal Navy, as he was thought to be invincible.
1792 The New York Stock Exchange was formed
Twenty four brokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement which set a floor commission rate charged to clients and bound the signers to give preference to the other signers in securities sales. The most dramatic changes came in the 1930’s after the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression, which had rippling effects around the world.
1900 The Wizard of Oz is published
Written by L.Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow was first published in Chicago. Of course, it is now better known for the film and musical adaptations. The first copy that came off the press was assembled by Baum himself, and he presented it to his sister. 10,000 copies were initially printed, and by October it had already sold out of the second edition of 15,000, which was also nearly depleted.
1943 The Dambuster Raids commence
I cannot tell you how many films I watched growing up with my Grandad about the Dambusters. He was in the RAF too and loved watching war films. The Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron later called the Dam Busters used a purpose-built bouncing bomb to damage dams in Mohne and Edersee in Germany which caused catastrophic flooding to the surrounding villages. This included two hydroelectric power stations as well as factories and mines. It is estimated that 1,600 civilians were killed.
1990 Homosexuality is eliminated as a psychiatric disease
The General Assembly of the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases on this date. Being gay was considered a mental illness and was widely considered to be an abomination and against the laws of nature for thousands of years. Thankfully, it is not like that today (aside from a few ignoramuses) and it is widely accepted in most societies.
2004 The first same-sex marriages take place in the USA
I could not see if the date as significant to the fact above or simply how legislation panned out. In the US, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Massachusetts. Marcia Kadish, 56 and Tanya McClosky, 52 of Maiden were the first couple to be legally married in Cambridge City Hall. Over the course of the day, 77 other same-sex couples tied the knot across the state, and hundreds more applied for marriage licenses.
2019 I celebrate my 35th birthday
An unremarkable day, like any other, but before I went to bed last night I cried – I have no idea why and have spent the day, so far, in my PJ’s reading and writing about interesting facts about this day in history. Tonight I will eat Italian food and drink spiced rum – possibly like Barti Ddu did. This time next year, I will be in my own house and hopefully planning a house party in our garden pub which we have already christened The Sunburnt Arms.
Here’s to the 17th of May!