Born on December 17

1239 Kujō Yoritsugu the fifth shogun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. His father was the 4th Kamakura shogun, Kujō Yoritsune
1267 Emperor Go-Uda the 91st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1274 through 1287
1554 Ernest of Bavaria Prince-elector-archbishop of the Archbishopric of Cologne from 1583 to 1612 as successor of the expelled Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg. He was also bishop of Münster, Hildesheim, Freising and Liège
1556 Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana a poet who lived during the rule of Mughal emperor Akbar. He was one of the nine important ministers in his court, also known as the Navaratnas. Rahim is known for his Hindi couplets and his books on astrology. The village of Khankhana, which is named after him, is located in the Nawanshahr district of the state of Punjab, India
1619 Prince Rupert of the Rhine a noted German soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist during the 17th century. Rupert was a younger son of the German prince Frederick V, Elector Palatine and his wife Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of James I of England. Thus Rupert was the nephew of King Charles I of England, who made him Duke of Cumberland and Earl of Holderness, and the first cousin of King Charles II of England. His sister Electress Sophia was the mother of George I of Great Britain
1630 Kaibara Ekken a Japanese Neo-Confucianist philosopher and botanist.
1632 Anthony Wood an English antiquary.
1638 Anna Sophia II Abbess of Quedlinburg a German noblewoman who reigned as Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg under the name Anna Sophia II.
1642 Francisco Castillo Fajardo Marquis of Villadarias a Spanish general.
1650 Christoph Arnold a German amateur astronomer.
1662 Samuel Wesley (poet) a clergyman of the Church of England, as well as a poet and a writer of controversial prose. He was also the father of John Wesley and Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism
1685 Thomas Tickell a minor English poet and man of letters.
1699 Charles-Louis Mion a French composer of the Baroque era. He was the grand-nephew of Michel Richard Delalande who also taught him music. Between 1710 and 1718 he was a choirboy at the Sainte-Chapelle du Palais. Later in life he became music teacher to his patroness Madame de Pompadour. In 1755 he was appointed master of music to Les Enfants de France. He wrote motets and operas, one of which earned him a royal pension of 2,000 livres
1706 Émilie du Châtelet a French mathematician, physicist, and author during the Age of Enlightenment. Her crowning achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton's work Principia Mathematica. The translation, published posthumously in 1759, is still considered the standard French translation
1707 Ernst Frederick II Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen a duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
1724 Johann Gerhard Reinhard Andreae an Hanoverian natural scientist, chemist, geologist, court pharmacist and alchemist in the Age of Enlightenment. Internationally noted as a polymath, he was known throughout Europe particularly for his extensive natural history collections and for his pioneering and influential scientific work on soil and their uses for modern agriculture. He was a friend of many of the great scientists of the day, such as Benjamin Franklin, Pieter van Musschenbroek and George Shaw. The genus Andreaea, the type genus of the family Andreaeaceae of mosses, was named in his honour by his friend, the botanist Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart. Andreae was also noted as a major philanthropist in Hanover
1733 Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target a French lawyer and politician.
1734 Maria I of Portugal Queen of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. Known as Maria the Pious , or Maria the Mad , she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal. With Napoleon's European conquests, her court, then under the direction of Prince Dom João, the Prince Regent, moved to the then Portuguese colony of Brazil. Later on, Brazil would be elevated from the rank of a colony to that of a Kingdom, with the consequential formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves
1749 Domenico Cimarosa an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school. He wrote more than eighty operas during his lifetime, including his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto
1750 Elizabeth Craven an author, playwright, traveller, and socialite, perhaps best known for her travelogues. She was the third child of the 4th Earl of Berkeley, born near Trafalgar Square in the English City of Westminster
1757 Maria Anna of Savoy Duchess of Chablais a Princess of Savoy by birth, and Duchess of Chablais by marriage.
1772 François-Joseph-Victor Broussais a French physician.
1773 Sylvain Charles Valée a Marshal of France.
1775 Carlo Rossi (architect) an Italian architect, who worked the major portion of his life in Russia. He was the author of many classical buildings and architectural ensembles in Saint Petersburg and its environments. In his lifetime, he built a theater on the Arbat Square and was rewarded with the Order of Vladimir of IV degree
1775 François Marius Granet a French painter.
1778 Humphry Davy a Cornish chemist and inventor. He is best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. Berzelius called Davy's 1806 Bakerian Lecture On Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity "one of the best memoirs which has ever enriched the theory of chemistry." He was a 1st Baronet, President of the Royal Society , Member of the Royal Irish Academy , and Fellow of the Geological Society
1785 Dorothea Lieven a Baltic German noblewoman and wife of Prince Khristofor Andreyevich Lieven, Russian ambassador to London, 1812 to 1834. She was also an influential figure among many of the diplomatic, political, and social circles of 19th-century Europe
1787 Jan Evangelista Purkyně a Czech anatomist and physiologist. He was one of the best known scientists of his time. In 1839, he coined the term 'protoplasm' for the fluid substance of a cell. His son was the painter Karel Purkyně. Such was his fame that when people from outside Europe wrote letters to him, all that they needed to put as the address was "Purkyně, Europe"
1791 Samuel Amsler born at Schinznach, in the canton of Aargau. He studied his art under Johan Heinrich Lips and Karl Ernst Hess, at Munich, and from 1816 pursued it in Italy, and chiefly at Rome, till in 1829 he succeeded his former master Hess as professor of engraving in the Munich academy. The works he designed and engraved are remarkable for the grace of the figures, and for the wonderful skill with which he retains and expresses the characteristics of the original paintings and statues. He was a passionate admirer of Raphael, and had great success in reproducing his works. Amsler's principal engravings are: The Triumphal March of Alexander the Great, and a full-length Christ, after the sculptures of Thorwaldsen and Dannecker; the Entombment of Christ, and two Madonnas after Raphael; and the Union between Religion and the Arts, after Overbeck, his last work, on which he spent six years
1792 George Hayter a notable English painter, specialising in portraits and large works involving in some cases several hundred individual portraits. Queen Victoria appreciated his merits and appointed Hayter her Principal Painter in Ordinary and also awarded him a Knighthood 1841
1796 Thomas Chandler Haliburton a politician, judge, and author who lived in the British Colony of Nova Scotia. He was the first international best-selling author from what is now Canada and played a significant role in the history of Nova Scotia prior to its entry into Confederation
1797 Joseph Henry an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as a founding member of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, , though Faraday was the first to publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. He invented a precursor to the electric doorbell and electric relay. The SI unit of inductance, the henry, is named in his honor. Henry's work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph, invented by Samuel B. Morse, , and Sir Charles Wheatstone, , separately
1799 Gottlieb August Wilhelm Herrich-Schäffer a German entomologist and physician. He was born, and died, in Regensburg. Herrich-Schäffer studied and collected particularly butterflies and moths. He was chairman of the Regensburg Botanical Society from 1861 to 1871, and was awarded an honorary citizenship of Regensburg in 1871
1800 Bernhard II Duke of Saxe-Meiningen a Duke of Saxe-Meiningen.
1802 Archduke Franz Karl of Austria father of two emperors as well as the grandfather of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination sparked the hostilities that led to the outbreak of World War I, and the great-grandfather of the last Habsburg emperor Karl I.
1807 John Greenleaf Whittier an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets. Whittier was strongly influenced by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Highly regarded in his lifetime and for a period thereafter, he is now remembered for his poem Snow-Bound, and the words of the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, from his poem "The Brewing of Soma", frequently sung to the tune "Repton" by Hubert Parry
1809 Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen a German geologist.
1810 Francisco Serrano 1st Duke of la Torre a Spanish marshal and statesman. He was Prime Minister of Spain and regent in 1868-1869
1820 Heinrich Müller (physiologist) a German anatomist and professor at the University of Würzburg. He is best known for his work in comparative anatomy and his studies involving the eye
1824 John Kerr (physicist) a Scottish physicist and a pioneer in the field of electro-optics. He is best known for the discovery of what is now called the Kerr effect
1824 Thomas Starr King an American Unitarian minister, influential in California politics during the American Civil War, and Freemason. Starr King spoke zealously in favor of the Union and was credited by Abraham Lincoln with preventing California from becoming a separate republic. He is sometimes referred to as "the orator who saved the nation."
1825 Thomas Woolner an English sculptor and poet who was one of the founder-members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was the only sculptor among the original members
1825 Karl Theodor Keim a German Protestant theologian.
1827 Alexander Wassilko von Serecki an Austro-Hungarian-born ethnic Romanian statesman, Governor of the Duchy of Bucovina and member of the Herrenhaus, the Upper House of the Imperial Council of Austria.
1830 Jules de Goncourt a French writer, who published books together with his brother Edmond. Jules was born and died in Paris. His death at the age of 39 was at Auteuil-Neuilly-Passy of a stroke brought on by syphilis
1835 Alexander Emanuel Agassiz an American scientist and engineer.
1840 Nozu Michitsura a Japanese field marshal and leading figure in the early Imperial Japanese Army. His wife was the younger sister of fellow general Takashima Tomonosuke
1842 Ernest Lavisse a French historian.
1842 Sophus Lie a Norwegian mathematician. He largely created the theory of continuous symmetry and applied it to the study of geometry and differential equations
1844 William Gilson Farlow an American botanist, born in Boston, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard , where, after several years of European study, he became adjunct professor of botany in 1874 and professor of cryptogamic botany in 1879.