Confusing Dates

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Dates, Genealogy, Parish Registers, Research

Family historians have to be careful of various changes with the system of dates.  I was recently transcribing an early burial register when I came across the date of 29th February 1739 which appeared to be a leap year day but not in an actual leap year.  It made me wonder when leap years were first introduced.  Further research told me it was originally back in the days of Julius Caesar so well before 1739!  Obviously, the minister or churchwarden had made an error when entering the burial information.

But the real dates to be careful with are those around the early 1750s.  Before 1752, the new year began on Lady Day (25th March) and ended 24th March so a date recorded in a register as 1st March 1750 would nowadays be called 1st March 1751. From 1752 onwards, the year began on 1st January.  So 1751 was a very short year.  And even 1752 lost nine days …..  confused?  There is a fuller explanation in the first volume of Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors.