English Calendar Dates prior to 1752
I recently obtained a Family Bible for an English family of the early 1700's
in this time period it was not uncommon to refer to months in their numerical cardinal order (1st month, 2nd month, 3rd month etc)
BUT Prior to 1752 England (and much of Colonial America ?) considered March to be the 1st month of the year instead of January.
so in this bible example:
"13th day of 9th Month of the year 1691" - I assume means 13, Nov 1691.
During the 1700's it was not uncommon to refer to dates as "Old style" and "New Style"
and not uncommon to see dates like 1Feb 1731/32 to indicate day in the old methodology and the new.
Anyone have any differing or confirming comments to share?
There was even inconsistency (in English registers) at that time in how record these dates, with some registers starting the year at 1 January, rather than on "Lady Day" (25 March). The "9th month" (etc.) example has led to a lot of confusion among inexperienced researchers, in believing September was being referenced (instead of November).
More confusing, however, is how these dates have been treated in more recent indexing projects. Even with FamilySearch records (and the general project instruction of "index it as you see it") that date you give as an example will sometimes appear as 1 Feb 1731 and other times as 1 Feb 1732. (You notice this when there has been multiple indexing of the same registers.) Due to the need to index the year with four digits, I don't think I have seen a record indexed as (say) 1 Feb 1731/32 on FamilySearch - even though dates do actually appear like this (on occasions) in the original registers. However, one website I use (FreeREG) does show the date in this format.
Interestingly, if one inputs the dual-date in Family Tree, then clicks on this date in the drop-down, it is standardized as 1 February 1732, but the display date of 1 February 1731/32 is retained.
Recently, I contacted a distant relative who had changed a number of my entries to (using this example) "1 February 1731". He responded that he had done this as he likes the date to appear in Family Tree as written in the original register. Fair enough I suppose, but I prefer there to be no ambiguity as to whether that date really was in the year ending 24 March 1731, or whether someone has just indexed it as 1731 - or perhaps as 1732!
One report that did shock me recently was that, for a certain batch, the FamilySearch indexing instructions had been to convert the date of the Julian calendar to the corresponding Gregorian date - a date convertor was even provided to indexers to assist them in this task! That to me is completely wrong practice and I sincerely hope it will be abandoned, or definitely not repeated for future projects. I have never encountered this before and hope not to hear of it again. Imagine the confusion in finding two totally different dates for the same event - because one has been indexed in one manner and the other in an alternative one.
Yes, Dennis, you have brought up an interesting topic here - not least because the calendar changed (from Julian to Gregorian) over an extended period of time, depending on the country concerned. I, for one, have concentrated too much on how this has played out with records concerning England, rather than the far wider, international issues.2
THANKS for your feedback.
so based on your experience - do you think there is anything in that bible record that helps me clarify what the exact date really was ??0
I would guess that this is based on the "1st month" being March, but I think you would really need access to the original documents (or microfilm copies thereof) to be 100% sure. Maybe quite feasible if events were recorded in a parish register, but difficult to establish if just appearing in a handwritten, personal document, of course.1
The way the question is posed it has a simple answer and you know what it is: until 1752 English law held that March 25 was the first day of the year. Thus Dec = 10th month, Jan = 11th month, and Feb = 12th month. I think you would be warranted to assume this in all cases unless there is clear evidence in the context of a publication that January was being used as the first month of the year.
There's a bigger problem: you seem to conflate the concept of a Bible record with the concept of someone's much later typed notes which were extracted from a Bible record. You indicate you have obtained a Family Bible but you link to typed page which purports to have information extracted from a Bible.
Here's what you wrote: "I recently obtained a Family Bible for an English family of the early 1700's" see: https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/151642943?cid=mem_copy
How should you describe or cite this data? If you have only this typed transcription (edit: a transcription is an exact or nearly exact copy -- this might be extracted material leaving out some details) you should describe what you have as a transcription and cite the transcription as your source for the information. Obviously you hope that the transcription accurately presents data derived from the Bible but unless you have access to the Bible itself in some way you don't know anything about the accuracy of the transcription. Your citation should look something like this:
Mable Wood Smith, Typed Transcription of Hawdan Birth and Death Records as Recorded in Hawdan Family Bible in Mable Wood Smiths papers at Westchester County, New York Historical Society Library.
BTW, there's a typo in the note on the page you link to:
"Use caution in reviewing the dates in this bible record. Prior to 1752 England considered MARCH to be the 1st month of the year. Thus, for example, the 13th day of the 9th month of the year 1691 would actually be 9 November 1691."
The 13 day, 9th Month 1991 = 13 Nov 1691 not 9 Nov 1691. Simple typing error but it might confuse some people.0
yes I assume the transcription was a verbatim exact transcription of an original - but you are right - maybe it wasn't
also thanks for letting me know of the typo..0
I didnt know about the prior dates for england. thank you.0