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Calendar Reform in England

Calendar Reform in England

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Published by sereuty

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Published by: sereuty on Feb 18, 2009
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06/16/2009

 
Calendar Reform in England,1752
It is widely known that in September 1752, Great Britainswitched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Inorder to achieve the change, 11 days were 'omitted' from thecalendar - i.e. the day after 2 September 1752 was 14 September 1752.This change was as a result of an Act of Parliament - the"Calendar Act"of 1751
 An Act for Regulating theCommencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use.
 What isn't so widely known is a second change which the Actintroduced - as named in the first part of the Act's title. The Actchanged the first day of the year (or, if you want to impress your friends with a new word, the Supputation of the Year).Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (LadyDay). Lady Day is one of the Quarter Days, which are still used
 
in legal circles. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters(hence the name :-), and the Quarter Days are: Lady Day (25March), Midsummers Day (24 June), Michaelmas Day (29September), and Christmas Day (25 December).So, in England, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a shortyear - it ran only from 25 March to 31 December.To throw some more confusion on the issue, Scotland hadchanged the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 (in 1600,Scotland was a separate kingdom). When King James VI of Scotland became also King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been very large.Historians have to be on their toes with dates prior to 1752. For example, in The Tower of London there is some graffitiscratched into a cell wall by someone imprisoned in January1642 for his role in the Battle of Edgehill (which took place on23 October 1642).
 
Some unanswered questions
There is considerable evidence of contemporary dual dating. For example,some essentially contemporary paintings of the execution of King CharlesI on Tuesday 30 January 1648 have a title bearing the date
30 January1648/9
. Samuel Pepys's diary begins on New Years Day (1 January) 1660,ut it is clear that this is actually the year 1659/60. So was the Calendar ct in 1751 merely formalising common usage, or was it a radicalchange ? The preface to one modern book of Samuel Pepys's diary stateshat using 1 January as the start of the year was common practice at thatime - i.e. 1660.I've seen a pamphlet at Broughton Castle which refers to a speech made onThursday 27 January 1658 - and the pamphlet states it was printed in 1659.In order for the day to be a Thursday, this must be referring to 27 January1658/9 (i.e. the pamphlet was printed some months after the speech),owever the year is specified as 1658 - and not as 1658/9.So the year was commencing on 25 March in 1658, but on 1 January in1660 ?Perhaps the answer is connected with the coronation of King Charles II
in

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