1649 – The Rump Parliament appoints a High Court to try the King

The Rump Parliament was what remained of the British Parliament after Colonel Pride had purged it a month earlier, leaving only those parliamentarians who supported the army.

On January 6, 1649, the Parliament appointed a total of 135 men to constitute a High Court for the trial of King Charles I for tyranny. A quorum was declated to be twenty of these appointees.

The trial of Charles I commenced shortly thereafter, and duly returned the guilty verdict it was intended to.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1839 – The Wreck of the Hesperus is inspired

“The Wreck of the Hesperus” is a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which is based on the twenty ships that were lost in the Great Blizzard of 1839, which hit the New England coast of America on January 6 of that year. In particular, Longfellow is believed to have been inspired by the sinking of a ship named Favorite on that day.

In the poem, the Hesperus is wrecked when it dashed on a reef named Norman’s Woe, an actual reef on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, USA, much like the Favorite was.

Referenced in:
Lydia the Tattooed Lady – Groucho Marx

1977 – Andrew ‘The Snowman’ Lee is arrested

Andrew Lee was an average enough twenty-five year old Californian male of the mid-Seventies, except for two things: his drug use had crossed the line into dealing (chiefly cocaine, but later heroin) and his best friend, Christopher Boyce, was engaged in espionage against the United States. Boyce was an employee of a defence contractor who was horrified by the information he saw regarding the CIA’s dealings in other nations (some of them allies of the USA). When he decided to sell this information to the Soviets or Chinese, he reached out to Lee, recruiting him as a courier and intermediary in 1976.

Unfortunately, coke-addicted drug dealers often come to the attention of the authorities: after several successful trips, Lee was arrested outside the Soviet consulate in Mexico City on suspicion of having murdered a cop there. While he was not guilty of the murder, he confessed to the spying when tortured by the Mexicans, and was extradited back the USA, where he and Boyce were charged with espionage and quickly convicted. Lee’s sentence was a life one (Boyce was sentenced to only 40 years imprisonment – the disparity is most likely due to Lee’s drug dealing), and as of this writing, he remains in the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.

Referenced in:
This Is Not America — David Bowie and the Pat Methany Group

1994 – Skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by a jealous rival

Nancy Kerrigan, a skater who was training as a member of the US Olympic team, was attacked at practice by Shane Stant. Stant was in the pay of two men, Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt. Her injuries forced her to withdraw from competition, and rival skater Tonya Harding won handily.

However, Gillooly was the ex-husband of Harding, and when brought up on criminal charges in the matter, incriminated her in the conspiracy also. Harding only ever admitted to helping cover up the attack, not to any prior knowledge or approval of it. Even so, the resulting scandal effectively ended her career as a skater.

Referenced in:
Headline News – Weird Al Yankovic
Tonya’s Twirls – Loudon Wainwright III