Julian and Gregorian Dating

Imagine that it is September 2nd. Now imagine that the government  has ordered that tomorrow be September 14th. Oh, and for good measure, the government has decided that Jan 1st will no longer be New Years Day– the New Year will take place on the Spring Solstice. How would you feel? Would you really notice? It’s a bit like Day Light Savings time: annoying but you get used to it fairly quickly– in fact, it might be less annoying than Day Light Savings Time because the change will not interfere with your biologic clock.  Though, I suppose, one might be a little put out if a favorite holiday or anniversary fell between the 3rd and 13th of September that year.  

Julian Calendar

From the twelveth century until 1752, the English followed the Julian Calender. The year began on May 25th (Annunciation Day) and ran through May 24th. During the sixteenth century, other countries (in particular, Catholic countries) adopted the Gregorian Calendar. However England (and its colonies) took its sweet time, finally changing to the new dating system at midnight September 2nd, 1752 and the next eleven days were surfeit. The next day was September 14th, 1752. Just imagine the bad jokes around the coffee houses on the evening of September 2nd, “… in bed for eleven days…”. Today, most of the world still uses the Gregorian calendar. 

Due to the lack of leap year in the Julian Calendar, eleven days were skipped when they shifted to the Gregorian calendar. Some (very few) historians take the difference in the days between each calendar and “correct” the dates, for example, Charles I is recorded as being executed on January 30th, 1648 under the Julian calendar, the “corrected” date using the Gregorian calendar would be February 9th, 1649. There are online calculators  to help you get your pre-1752 English dates correct, for example, this one hosted by Albion College.

Old Style

Generally, only the year is noted by indicating old or new style. You may have seen a date recorded as 1645/6, denoting the Old Style and New Style date; the date may also be recorded as 1645 (o.s.) denoting that it’s the year in the old style of dating.

Charter Six

All of the indentures and the insert of William Fernihaugh’s Last Will were written well before the English switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. I simply transcribe what was written in the indentures, without the need to calculate old style or new style dates. However, many of the indentures write out the date with regards to how many years the King has ruled, for example, “the second day of June in the ____ yeare of the rainge of Charles”.

King Charles I succeeded to the throne on March 27th, 1624/5,  which is 1624 in the Old Style–without computing for the leap year difference in days, because ain’t nobody got time for that.

An Example:

“the twelveth day of April in the fourth yeare of the rainge of Charles”

  • 12th April
  • Charles became King in 1624 (o.s.)
  • 1624 + 4 = 1628
  • 12th April, 1628 (o.s)
  • New Years Day: May 25th.

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