This Day (Off with Her Head Edition)

Published:February 8, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

The Encyclopedia Virginia staff has gone fishing to Mount Vernon today. In our absence, here’s a roundup of this day in Virginia history:

  • On this day in 1587, after being tried and convicted of plotting the death of Queen Elizabeth of England, Mary Stuart was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.
  • In 1693, a royal charter was granted for the College of William and Mary, in part through the efforts of the irascible James Blair.
  • In 1817, Richard S. Ewell—the future “Old Bald Head”—was born in Georgetown, near Washington, D.C.
  • In 1862, Union general Ambrose E. Burnside captured the historically significant Roanoke Island and Virginia enacted a military draft.
  • In 1864, Union officers incarcerated at Libby Prison in Richmond, after several weeks of digging, tunneled their way to a tobacco shed outside the prison. They attempted escape the next day.
  • In 1901, Virginius Dabney—future journalist, writer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer—was born at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
  • In 1955, John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (May his birthday bring victory for the ‘Hoos over Wake!)
  • And in 1964, Howard W. Smith introduced an amendment to the civil rights bill that would add “sex” to the list of categories protected from employment discrimination. The decision both facilitated the bill’s passage and enhanced its impact.

IMAGES: Top: Mary, Queen of Scots; bottom: detail from painting of James Blair, probably by Charles Bridges, ca. 1735–1743 (Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary); a map of Libby Prison that includes a written account of the February 1864 escape, by Robert Knox Sneden (Virginia Historical Society)