1537 – The Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior, is formed.
The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII and is considered one of the oldest military organisations in the world. Today it is a registered charity whose purpose is to attend to the “better defence of the realm”, this purpose is primarily achieved by the support of the HAC Regiment and a detachment of Special Constabulary to the City of London Police. The word “artillery” in “Honourable Artillery Company” does not have the current meaning that is generally associated with it, but dates from a time when in the English language that word meant any projectile, including for example arrows shot from a bow. The equivalent form of words in modern English would be either “Honourable Infantry Company” or “Honourable Military Company.”
In the 17th century its members played a significant part in the formation of both the Royal Marines and the Grenadier Guards whilst more recently regiments, battalions and batteries of the Company fought with distinction in both World Wars and its current Regiment, which forms part of the Army Reserve, is the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior in the Army Reserve.[note 2] Members of the Regiment and Specials are drawn, for the most part, from young men and women working in and around the City and Greater London. Those leaving the active units may become Veteran Members and remain within the fraternity of the Company.
The HAC can trace its history back as far as 1087, but it received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII on 25 August 1537, when Letters Patent were received by the Overseers of the Fraternity or Guild of St George authorising them to establish a perpetual corporation for the defence of the realm to be known as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handgonnes. This body was known by a variety of names until 1656, when it was first referred to as the Artillery Company. It was first referred to as the Honourable Artillery Company in 1685 and officially received the name from Queen Victoria in 1860. However, the Archers’ Company of the Honourable Artillery Company was retained into the late 19th century, though as a private club. Founded in 1781 by Sir Ashton Lever, it met at Archers’ Hall, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London. The Archers’ Company remained a part of the regiment operated from 1784 to the late 1790s, along with Matross, Grenadier (established on 11 August 1686) and Light Infantry companies/divisions, with a Rifle or Jaeger Company introduced around 1803.
The regiment has the rare distinction of having fought on the side of both Parliament and the Royalists during the English Civil War 1642 to 1649.
From its formation, the company trained at a site it had occupied at the Old Artillery Ground in Spitalfields and at The Merchant Taylors’ Company Hall. In 1622, the company built its first Armoury House at the site of the Old Artillery Gardens.
In 1638, Sir Maurice Abbot granted the company use of lands at its current site south of Bunhill Fields Burial Ground on City Road, which in 1649 consisted of twelve acres enclosed by a brick wall and pale. In 1657, it sold its old Armoury House in Spitalfield to Master Gunner Richard Woolaston for £300.
In 1656 the Grenadier Guards were formed from gentlemen of the Honourable Artillery Company who had taken the then heir to the throne, Prince Charles (later Charles II), to Europe for his safety during the English Civil War.
In 28 October 1664 in the New Artillery Gardens the body of men that would become the Royal Marines was first formed with an initial strength of 1,200 infantrymen recruited from the Trained Bands of London as part of the mobilisation for the Second Anglo-Dutch War. James (later King James VII & II), the Duke of York and Albany, Lord High Admiral and brother of King Charles II, was Captain-General of the Honourable Artillery Company, the unit that trained the Trained Bands.
Until 1780, captains of the HAC trained the officers of the London Trained Bands.
The Company served in Broadgate during the Gordon Riots of 1780 and in gratitude for its role in restoring order to the City, the Corporation of London presented “two brass field-pieces”, which led to the creation of an HAC Artillery Division. (These guns are on display in the entrance hall of Armoury House.)
In 1860, control of the Company moved from the Home Office to the War Office and in 1889, a Royal Warrant gave the Secretary of State for War control of the Company’s military affairs. In 1883, Queen Victoria decreed that the HAC took precedence next after the Regular Forces and therefore before the Militia and Yeomanry in consideration of its antiquity.
1916 – Frederick Chapman Robbins, American pediatrician and virologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2003)
Frederick Chapman Robbins (August 25, 1916 – August 4, 2003) was an American pediatrician and virologist.
He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954 along with John Franklin Enders and Thomas Huckle Weller, making Robbins the only Nobel laureate born in Alabama. The award was for his breakthrough work in isolation and growth of the polio virus, paving the way for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, etc. He attended school at the University of Missouri and Harvard University.
In 1952, he was appointed as professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University. Robbins was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1962. From 1966 onwards, Robbins was dean of the School of Medicine at Case Western. He led the medical school until 1980, when he assumed the presidency of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. Five years later, in 1985, Robbins returned to Case Western Reserve as dean emeritus and distinguished University professor Emeritus. He continued to be a fixture at the medical school until his death in 2003. The medical school’s “Frederick C. Robbins Society” is named in his honor.
Robbins received the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society in 1999. He was an atheist.
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