Is time real - or just a notation used by Homo sapien?  Well whatever - we are certainly fond of changing the point of reference.  Presently twice yearly (daylight saving) - and back in 1752 - eleven days disappeared.

Whilst on the subject of dates and confusion - but not related - is date formats.   Researchers should be aware that in the UK we write dates - Day Month Year - rather than - Month Day Year as used in US - and by some Canadians. Whilst this is obvious once the twelfth day is passed in any month - or for non numeric month records. It should be watched out for - and to avoid this type of confusion on this site - I use non-numeric months.


Julian to Gregorian Calendar

Until 1751 England and Wales used the Julian calendar - whereby the year started on  25th March  (Ladyday) - and ended the following year on  24th March. 

Changing years - part way through a month appears very strange to us now - but this was apparently the norm until Lord Chesterfield's Act of 1751-52.  This stated that the year 1752 would begin on 1st January and end on 31st December.    In addition for 1752 only - the calendar omitted eleven days between the 2nd and 14th September.  i.e. the  2nd September was followed by 14th September 1752. 

Adding to the confusion (past and present) - I believe Scotland applied the new calendar in two stages (can anyone confirm or deny this with certainty?). The story goes - that in 1600 the new year was put back to 1st January and then in September 1752 the 11 day adjustment was made - synchronizing Great Britain and its colonies to the Gregorian calendar.

This new Gregorian calendar was named after Pope Gregory XIII who enacted it on 24th February 1582 to be implimented on 4th October 1582 which would be immediately be followed by 15th - thus omitting 10 days.   By 1752 the Gregorian calendar was already adopted by the countries of continental Europe.   Many, in 1582 and the immediate years following. With the Protestant countries dragging their feet.  

The following table illustrates this change over.
The years of the change
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
->|<-----1751---(282_days)-----> <----------1752-----(355_days)------------>


From then on was the calendar we use today
Present Day Gregorian Calendar
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
<--------------1753  onwards -------------->

Typically for dates prior to 1752 - researchers and historians - date by both calendars - when that date falls between 1st January and 24th March inclusive. 

Thus - a birth on 31st January 1735/36 shows the event occurred in 1735 under the Julian calendar but by today's Gregorian calendar - it would be recognized as occurring in 1736. 

The following table illustrates this overlap -- and maybe why mistakes can easily be made - and compounded by September 1752  being short by 11 days. 

The Julian Calendar
with Gregorian correlation
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar

NOTE:   It is not unusual to find errors in transcription due to the confusion of this calendar change.   Transcribed dates from before 1752 have many errors due to this - and errors have also occurred in books by authors who should have known better.

If experts can get it wrong then this should serve as a general warning as it is a minefield - and you really need to know which of the many variants of calendar was used for whatever you are transcribing.

I believe I've read somewhere that IGI dates are pre-translated to Gregorian - so be careful!

I have done further research since putting this page together in 1999. As a direct result of this the following was appended February 2004.

Prior to the calendar adjustment it was common practise to use dual dating using os ns - ('new style' 'old style') identifiers when trading with countries already using the Gregorian Calendar - so for the trading comunity it would have been an easy transition.

Lord Chesterfield's Act foresaw and legislated for a number of possible side effects. These included such things as - not being required to pay wages or interest for the 11 days lost - persons coming-of-age had to add 11 days to their anniversary dates. I assume it would have also required those born between 1st Janary and 14th March prior to 1751 to add add 1 year to their birthdate in addition to the 11 days.

e.g. Somone born in beween 1st January and 24th March 1750 or earlier - would find the year had incremented by 2 - as their as next birthday occurs in 1752!

The same applied to indentured apprentices & servants - army and prisoner discharges etc. - and also applied to all following years for those born - enlisted - sentenced etc. - before the change. The change also resulted in a number of riots around the country.

Other objections came from the City of London bankers who refused to pay their taxes until 5th April 1753 instead of the 25th March which until then had been the first day of the new year. The 5th April as the start of the tax year has endured to this day.

"I grit my teeth, but my mind is always eleven days ahead or eleven days behind: it keeps muttering in my ears:
'The adjustment concerns those not yet born'
- Montaigne, 1558.
A possible namesake of mine

Out of interest - the Julian Calendar was enacted in 45 BC by Julius Caesar - hence its name and the Month July. Throughout the life of the Julian Calendar - several 'adjustments' were made. Some being required but others just plain tinkering - including - month length and name changes - but generally keeping the same length years.

It is my understanding that leap years occured every four years without exception - there being no century adjustments. This would result in three additional leapdays being added every 400 years - which just about accounts for the need to loose eleven days.

NOTE:   I am having problems reconciling the year being incremented part way through a month and the Julian Calendar which started the new year  Kalendae of March  (1st March)! So when did the new year shift to 25th March?


BST (British Standard Time) 

(originally known as British Summer Time)

Quaintly referred to by our colonial cousins as Daylight Saving   - but how you can save daylight is a complete mystery to me. "Moonbeams in a jar"?
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UK now

Starts last Sunday in March at 1 a.m. GMT - clocks forward by one hour - darker mornings - lighter evenings.

Last BST start : 29th March 2009
Next BST start : 28th March 2010

Ends last Sunday in October at 1 a.m. GMT - clocks backward by one hour - lighter mornings - darker evenings.

Last BST end : 26th October 2008
Next BST end : 25th October 2009

Well hadn't you wondered how your PC knew when to adjust the clocks - or do you believe in magic?

This is provisional as the government of the day may override this.  Now this is programmed into PC's - it would be a very un-popular move - it is also now synchronised with Europe 

During the years of world war two - double summer time was introduced whereby the clocks were moved forward two hours in two one hour stages.  This was purported to help farmers with their harvest by giving longer evenings - but I suspect it was psycological resulting in the nightly bombing starting later together with the blackout - and therefore appearing to be shorter.

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