Originally published by Julia Mosman, 14 May 2014.
In 1752, there was an immense change in the English calendar. The two major changes were these:
1. The New Year was changed from 25 March to 1 January, shortening the year 1751, which started 25 March and ended on 31 December, leaving only 282 days.
2. There was a second change in the calendar in 1752, in which the days between September 2 and 14 were ‘dropped’.
An explanation – In 1752, the Julian Calendar, used by England and her Colonies at that time, was changed to the Gregorian, which had been adopted by Roman Catholic countries after 1582 (to about 1600), and other Protestant countries thereafter. England was the last to adopt the “new” calendar, and chose to do so September, 1752.
Genealogists need to be careful, because this can affect many dates of events.
The year in the Julian calendar (pre 1752) started on 25 March (or Lady’s Day), and ended on 24 March. One must check various transcriptions to ensure the transcribers reflect this by looking at the original records, if possible; I’ve checked LDS transcripts for records I’ve also transcribed, and their entries did not match the original registers, which makes their record dates from 1 January to 25 March, 1582 to 24 March, 1752, incorrect. (Goes to show, every transcription needs to be checked – or elsewise not fully accepted.)
These changes affected records in many ways. Some educated persons, believing the change should have been made in 1582, recorded a ‘double date’ – for instance, 12 February, 1666/67, indicating that while it was officially 1666, they considered it should have been 1667. This ‘double dating’ only applied to the periods of 1 Jan to 25 March, as the rest of the year was not in question. This appeared for the most part in legal documents such as wills and land transfers, but as 1752 approached, double dating appeared more frequently in church registers/records as well.
Some parish registers refer to O.S.= Old Style, and/or N.S.= New Style, especially in the years 1751-1752.
Because clerics and others were inconsistent in the recording of years, it’s essential to understand which dating system was being used for any specific year.
One should also be aware that Quaker dating is unique. For religious reasons, they do not use various common names for months and days of the week. Instead, they would show, for instance, “twelfth day, third month, one thousand seventeen and fifty”. As the first month was March, that would mean the actual date was 12 May, 1750. Sunday was always the first day of the week. This can be quite confusing especially during 1751 and 1752.
A handy date converter is at http://calendarhome.com/converter/
Additionally, one must be very careful to understand how any particular Meeting recorded their dates; I’ve read the Philadelphia meeting differed from the Boston meeting in dating records! i.e., third day, second week, fourth month, one thousand seven hundred and forty. (Tuesday, 6 June, 1740) Use the converter to be sure of the day date.
Another explanation for these dating changes (with charts) can be seen at http://www.adamsonancestry.com/calendar/.