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British Subjects

January 04, 2001

One of the most famous men in the world began life as Reginald Kenneth Dwight. But on Jan. 6, 1972, Dwight officially renounced that name and became Elton H. John. You can find the document that made that name change official--plus thousands of other documents much more important to the history of Britain--at a wonderful online archive of the Public Record Office established in 1838 to preserve the records of the United Kingdom.

Also at http://www.pro.gov.uk are William Shakespeare's will (one of only six known documents in his handwriting), a page from the logbook of the HMS Bounty describing the famous mutiny, a letter from Charles Dickens, Jane Austen's will and perhaps most poignant of all, a one-line telegram received in 1912 by a Russian ship from the RMS Titanic that reads: "We are sinking fast passengers being put into boats."

By the way, the "H" in Elton's name stands for Hercules.

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