Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Dates for the Price of One

Debbie asks:
Can you explain double dating to me? I just don't get it.

In a nutshell, we changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 but it wasn't officially adopted by England (and its colonies) until 1752. The problem with this is the Julian Calendar used March 25th as the first day of the year and the Gregorian Calendar uses January 1st.

The problem dates are January 1st through March 24th. If you are looking at one of these dates between the years 1582 and 1752 you need to double date them.

04 Feb 1740 under the old calendar would be 04 Feb 1741 under the new calendar. Why? Under the old calendar the year 1740 didn't end until March 24th but under the new calendar the new year started on January 1st. You would write it as 04 Feb 1740/1. The reason this is important is when you are looking at the chronology of documents and dates you might get things out of order.

There is one other slight problem with the change over. There was an 11 day discrepancy. In the first year of the change, 1752, they dropped 11 days off of September to get things back right.

For further information, please read The 1752 Calendar Change put out by the Connecticut State Library.

Quakers and dates...
All of the above applies to the Quakers too but they didn't use the names of the days or months because they were named after Roman/Greek gods. They used numbers. Sometimes they used Arabic numbers and sometimes they used Roman numerals. As long as you can read Roman numerals there is no problem because you will recognize them immediately.

If you see 2nd day of the 11th month of 1750 in a Quaker record, this would be 02 Jan 1750 on the old calendar and 02 Jan 1751 on the new calendar. January was the 11th month on the Julian Calendar. Double dated it would be 02 Jan 1750/1.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that info. I have come across double dating once and had wondered why had been dated like that.