Happy New Year to everyone! Hoping you all have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous new year.
Bringing in a new year reminds me that in genealogy, the years have not always been what they seem. The Julian calendar that was in use several hundred years ago, used March 25th as the beginning of a new year. Because the Julian calendar appeared to be ‘out of sync’ with the seasons, a new Gregorian calendar was put in place. I’ve provided links below that will take you to sites with more history about the various calendars in use over time as I am only addressing the change from Julian to Gregorian Calendar in this post.
This change took place in 1582 by order of Pope Gregory XIII, but wasn’t adopted by England and British North American until 1752. China didn’t conform to the Gregorian calendar until 1949. Alaska did not change from the Julian calendar to the New Style Gregorian calendar until 1867 because up to that point, it was part of Russia.
Prior to 1752 the ecclesiastical calendar recognized March 25 as the first day of the year. After 1752, the present calendar was adopted and the new historical calendar recognized January 1 as the first day. Consequently, dates between January 1st and March 25th of 1752/1753 were often written with both year numbers (i.e. 5 January 1752/53). This is referred to as double dating. Also, if a record says “The 4th day of the 2nd month it could be referring to February or April, depending upon the calendar in use at the time.
England and British North America changed their calendar in September 1752. Although people went to sleep the evening of September 4th, they woke up on September 15th and lost 11 days.. Some people added 11 days to their birth dates, which was not reflected on their birth record. For example, George Washington was born on February 11th, and changed his birth date to February 22nd.
This becomes even more complex as you add in French Republican and other calendars. Here are some links for more in depth information on calendars.
Again, Happy New Year!!!!