On This Day

Birthdays in History on December 17

  • 1239 Kujō Yoritsugu, 5th shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan (d. 1256)
  • 1267 Emperor Go-Uda, 91st Emperor of Japan (d. 1324)
  • 1554 Ernest of Bavaria, Prince-elector-archbishop of the Archbishopric of Cologne, born in Munich (d. 1612)
  • 1619 Prince Rupert of the Rhine, German soldier, Commander in the English Civil War and first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, born in Prague (d. 1682)
  • 1632 Anthony Wood, English antiquarian, born in Oxford, England (d. 1695)
  • 1685 Thomas Tickell, English writer and poet, born in Bridekirk, Cockermouth, England (d. 1740)
  • 1706 Gabrielle Chôtelet [La belle Emilie], French writer (Voltaire), born in Paris (d. 1749)
  • 1734 William Floyd, American soldier who signed the US Declaration of Independence, born in Brookhaven, Province of New York (d. 1821)
  • 1734 Maria I of Portugal, Queen of Portugal and the Algarves, born in Ribeira Palace, Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal (d. 1816)
  • 1778 Humphry Davy, English chemist, studied electro-chemistry, invented the Davy lamp), born in Penzance, Cornwall, England (d. 1829)
  • 1796 Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Canadian novelist (The Clockmaker; or, The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville), born in Windsor, Canada (d. 1865)
  • 1797 Joseph Henry, American scientist and pioneer of electromagnetism, born in Albany, New York (d. 1878)
  • 1800 Gergely Czuczor, Hungarian-Czech poet and translator (Great Hung dictionary), born in Andód (d. 1866)
  • 1807 John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet (Snow-bound), born in Haverhill, Massachusetts (d. 1892)
  • 1819 Samuel Jones, American Major General (Confederate Army), born in Powhatan County, Virginia (d. 1887)
  • 1820 Frederick Tracy Dent, American General (Union Army), born in St. Louis, Missouri (d. 1892)

  • 1821 Frederick West Lander, American poet and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Salem, Massachusetts (d. 1862)
  • 1824 John Kerr, Scottish physicist and pioneer in the field of electro-optics (electro-visually Kerr-effect), born in Ardrossan, Scotland (d. 1907)
  • 1824 Manning Ferguson Force, American lawyer, judge and Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1899)
  • 1824 Thomas Starr King, NY, Unitarian clergyman (Christianity & Humanity)
  • 1830 Jules de Goncourt, French novelist (Germinie), wrote with his brother Edmond de Goncourt, born in Paris (d. 1870)
  • 1833 James T. Holtzclaw, American Brigadier General (Confederate Army), born in McDonough, Georgia (d. 1893)
  • 1835 Alexander Agassiz, American biologist and geologist, born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland (d. 1910)
  • 1842 Marius Sophus Lie, Norwegian mathematician (continous groups)
  • 1847 Émile Faguet, French writer and critic (d. 1916)
  • 1853 Émile Roux, French physician (d. 1933)
  • 1859 Paul César Helleu, French artist (d. 1927)
  • 1873 Ford Madox Ford, English novelist/editor (Inheritors)

Person of interestMackenzie King

1874 Mackenzie King, 10th Prime Minister of Canada (1921-30, and 1935-48), born in Berlin, Ontario (d. 1950)

10th Prime Minister of Canada Mackenzie King
10th Prime Minister of Canada
Mackenzie King
  • 1881 Johannes CB "Jan" Sluyters, Dutch painter
  • 1887 Josef Lada, Czech painter (d. 1957)
  • 1887 Hermine Reuss, Empress of Germany and Duchess of Bohemia (d. 1947)
  • 1893 Erwin Piscator, German stage director (Der Stellvertreter)
  • 1894 Hans Henny Jahnn, writer
  • 1894 Hans [Henry] Kramers, Dutch theoretical physicist (quantum mechanics)
  • 1894 Willem Schermerhorn, Neth premier (1945-46)

  • 1894 David Butler, American director (April in Paris, Calamity Jane), born in San Francisco, California
  • 1900 Mary Cartwright, English mathematician, born in Aynho, United Kingdom (d. 1998)
  • 1902 Albert Drach, Austrian-Jewish writer, born in Vienna (d. 1995)
  • 1903 Erskine Caldwell, American novelist (Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre), born in Moreland, Georgia (d. 1987)
  • 1904 Paul Cadmus, etcher/painter (Sailors & Floozies), born in NYC, New York
  • 1905 Simo Häyhä, Finnish sniper (d. 2002)
  • 1905 Érico Lopes Veríssimo, Brazilian writer (d. 1975)
  • 1908 Willard Libby, American chemist who developed radiocarbon dating (Nobel 1960), born in Grand Valley, Colorado (d. 1980)
  • 1916 Antoine G T "Toon" Hermans, Dutch entertainer/poet (Kolderliedjes)
  • 1916 Penelope Fitzgerald, English writer (d. 2000)
  • 1920 Kenneth E. Iverson, Canadian computer scientist (d. 2004)
  • 1922 Alan Voorhees, American engineer and urban planner (d. 2005)
  • 1923 Jaroslav Pelikan, American historian (d. 2006)
  • 1926 Jeremy Brooks, English writer (Jampot Smith), born in Southampton (d. 1994)
  • 1928 Marilyn Beck, newspaper columnist
  • 1928 Eli Beeding, Sherman, TX, Air Force Captain and rocket test pilot, (d. 2013)

Person of interestWilliam Safire

1929 William Safire, American political columnist (NY Times) and speech writer (Nixon), born in NYC, New York (d. 2009)

Political Columnist and Presidential Speechwriter William Safire
Political Columnist and Presidential Speechwriter
William Safire

Person of interestBob Guccione

1930 Bob Guccione, American publisher (Penthouse, Omni), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2010)

Publisher Bob Guccione
Bob Guccione
  • 1931 Yvonne Keuls [Bamberg], Dutch writer (Jan Rap & Co)
  • 1933 Paul Snoek [Edm Schietekat], Belgian poet

  • 1936 Frank Martinus Arion [F Efraim M], Antilles, writer (Double Play)

Person of interestPope Francis

1936 Pope Francis [Jorge Mario Bergoglio], Catholic Pope (2013-) 1st Jesuit pope, 1st from the Americas and 1st non-European pope since Syrian Gregory III in 741, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • 1937 Kerry Packer, Australian businessman (d. 2005)
  • 1937 John Kennedy Toole, American novelist (d. 1969)
  • 1937 Calvin Waller, US Army general (d. 1996)
  • 1939 Charles V. Bush, African-American pioneer (1st African-American US Air Force Academy Graduate and US Supreme Court Page), (d. 2012)
  • 1940 Kåre Valebrokk, Norwegian journalist

Person of interestMuhammadu Buhari

1942 Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian military leader and politician (President of Nigeria 2015-), born in Daura, Katsina State

President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari
President of Nigeria
Muhammadu Buhari
  • 1944 Jack L[aurence] Chalker, American sci-fi author (Saga of Well World)
  • 1945 Chris Matthews, American journalist
  • 1945 Jacqueline Wilson, English author
  • 1946 Simon Bates, British disk jockey and radio presenter (BBC Radio 1, Classic FM), born in Birmingham, England
  • 1947 Marilyn Hassett, LA Ca
  • 1950 Laurence F. Johnson, American educator
  • 1952 Hans Alders, Dutch minister of environment (PvdA)
  • 1956 Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Mexican drug lord (Juárez Cartel), born in Guamuchilito, Mexico (d. 1997)
  • 1966 Kristiina Ojuland, Estonian politician
  • 1966 Christopher A. Wray, American lawyer, F.B.I. Director (2017-), born in NYC, New York
  • 1968 Andrey Golovatiuk, Russian politician
  • 1969 Chuck Liddell, American mixed martial artist
  • 1970 Benedictine, A St. Bernard dog who grew to become the heaviest known dog (137 kg)
  • 1970 DJ Homicide [Craig Anthony bullock], American DJ (Sugar Ray), born in Pasadena, California
  • 1980 Eli Pariser, American political activist (MoveOn.org)
  • 1982 Craig Kielburger, Canadian labour activist
  • 1982 Ryan Moats, National Football League runningback
  • 1985 Ryuichi Ogata, member of Japanese boy band w-inds.
  • 1987 Chelsea [born Bradley] Manning, US soldier who released WikiLeaks, born in Crescent, Oklahoma
  • 2007 James Windsor, Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex