Quaker Julian dates

+1 vote

I've been working on the belief that in Quaker documents prior to 1752, 1 maps to March, 2 to April, etc.

However, I'm confused by what I see here:

|caption=U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935

where, for example, John Garrigues on the 4th line is given as 1-22-1742.3 and Samuel Garrigues on the 7th line is given as 1-22-1747.8.

To me, this indicates that the month must be January since January and February are the only months that made the year problematic.

What's going on here? I realize that many of these Quaker records were transcribed at a later time, but I wouldn't think they'd translate the months while doing so.

in The Tree House by Chris Garrigues G2G2 (2.6k points)
edited by Ellen Smith

4 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
In fact March was the most problematic month since the year changed on March 27. The day after March 26 1700 was therefore March 27 1701. This means that in Quaker notation 1st 1 month 1700 was the day after 28th 12m 1700. People found this very confusing at the time, so would often write 1m 1700/1 for all dates in March.

by Alan Watson G2G2 (2.2k points)
selected by Chris Garrigues
March 27? I thought the first day of the new year was March 25.
For non-quakers, the day after 24 March 1700 was 25 March 1701. So for quakers I would have guessed that day 24 month 1 in 1700 was followed by day 25 month 1 in 1701 (March being Month 1). But I know nothing about quaker conventions for dates.

25th March (Lady Day)  was the first day of the legal year for everyone not just Quakers ( in England and the colonies.)Quakers differed because they didn't want to use names for days and months derived from pagan religions.

But apparently there may be  inconsistencies about whether March 1-24  was considered as the last month or the first month of the year  see Guide from Society of Friends 

So definitely something to be aware of.

Normally in English Quaker records before the change of calendar in the mid-18th century, the first month of the year started on 1 March. I have looked at hundreds of images of original records and I have yet to see an instance of anything different. What people did in correspondence may occasionally have been different. 12th month in Quaker records was always February until the calendar changed.

Transcriptions and books often get Quaker dates wrong.

I'm going to pick this as the best answer because it make me realize that March was a problematic month as well and combined with Bob pointing out in a comment on the other thread that there's an 11-17-1750/51 in the same document clearly indicating that the pre-1753 dates are March based, I now get that these dates are as I put in the table in that thread.

Thanks to everyone who commented, but particularly Alan and Bob!

(and Ancestry.com's attempt to parse the dates should just be ignored)

Note that the Guide from Society of Friends has some errors. e.g. they say that Scotland used the Gregorian calendar from 1600, but in fact they used the Julian Calendar with January 1st as the first day of the year. And they say that by 1752 the Julian calendar was twelve days behind the Gregorian one, when in fact it was 11 days. (The correction made in 1752 was that 2 September was followed by 14 September, i.e. what would have been 3 September became 14 September, by adding on 11 days).

I'm reviewing what I wrote a year ago about dates on Mary (Ralph) Garrigues (abt.1724-1788)'s profile and realized that I had already thought through the March problem, but just got myself confused again.

I will also have to update what I put on her profile because I now have a better source for her birthdate.

+1 vote
You will find the double year listed in a lot of transcribed records, which at least doesn't make the reader guess which year it was. Meaning, the researcher would be left wondering if it was 1-22-1741/42 or 1-22-1742/43.
by Dina Grozev G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
I get that, but the issue is that supposedly the quakers numbered their months starting in March, which means the slashed dates should be on months 11 and 12, not 1 and 2.
+1 vote
It seems to me that the author of that particular document (Garrigues-22-9.jpg) must have renumbered the months for the pre-1752 dates. I wonder if there might be another document giving dates of some of the same events?
by Bob Howlett G2G6 (7.6k points)

Well....I also have a transcription from a family Bible with exactly the same dates, but (a) I don't have an image of the original bible and (b) the Bible appears to date from the early 1800s, so that doesn't help. I suppose the Bible entries may have been copied from this document.


Well, a different document on ancestry at https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2189/images/31906_284137-00040?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=aa5ba1eb48fa551ac650a71ce7eb2100&usePUB=true&_phsrc=XgX5&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.32176123.411540014.1629410201-1534466054.1614009715&pId=1850959

also shows the same dates and Ancestry cleverly takes what is written on the document as 1-22-1742/3 and translates that to 

Birth Date
22 Mar 1742
Birth Date on Image
22 1742 First

thereby indicating that dates on Ancestry can't be trusted any more than I can.

At least I've been consistent with Ancestry.

I'm going to keep looking for a document that I'm certain is pre-1753 with one of these dates on it.

Good luck!
I think I should retract my original comment. Before 1752 March was month number 1, but the first 24 days of it were in one year and the last 6 days of it were in the next year. It makes sense to use double dating for 22 March 1742/1743. By modern reckoning the year would be 1743, but at the time people called it 1742.
Further to what I just wrote, observe that double dating is used for the first date in the document Garrigues-22-9.jpg: Jacob Garrigues 11-17-1750/51. This is January 17 in old style year 1750, new style year 1751.

That's an interesting point. So this one document has:

  • 11-17-1750/1
  • 1-22-1742/3
  • 1-22-1747/8
So the first entry certainly indicates that the month number in this document is March based, so 11-17-1750/1 would be Jan 17 1751 (ns) which means 1-22-1742/3 must be March 22 1743 (ns).
Since the year changed on March 25, I think this should technically be 13-22-1742/3, but I don't believe anyone ever wrote it that way.

or...doing the full translation

These dates under the Gregorian calendar would be:

11-17-1750/1 28 Jan 1751
1-22-1742/3 2 Apr 1743
1-22-1747/8 2 Apr 1748

+1 vote
Until 1752, March 25 was the new year's day in England and Wales. but the year started on the 1st January in Scotland from 1600 onwards, so records may be influenced by the scribe's nationality.
by Chris Little G2G6 Mach 3 (37.0k points)

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