I was working on a Quaker family history in the Irish Registry of Deeds. So when I found a deed that read 15th Day of the 5th Month (commonly called May) 1810, I had to do a double take. No! Well, maybe, but should not be! The no reaction was because Quakers used the Julian Calendar for most of its history; rather than the Gregorian Calendar, which we use today. The maybe reaction was because Quakers abhorred using the names of the months as found in the Western Calendar. However, in this case, I believe the answer lay with the Julian Calendar explanation.
What Day is the New Year?
The Gregorian Calendar was a correction of the Julian Calendar, which by 1752 was 11 days behind the solar year. So under the Gregorian Calendar, 11 days were omitted to bring the calendar back in line with the solar year. So the day after Wednesday 2 September 1752 became Thursday 14 September 1752. Also, the 1st of January was used as the first of the year; rather than the Julian Calendar, where New Year was counted from the 25th of March.
Two Calendars in Use at the Same Time
As both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars were used at the same time, this lead to a “double year” between January and March. So 3 February 1770 (Julian), was 3 February 1771 (Gregorian). Prior to 1752 it would have been written 3 February 1770/1.
Clerks do Make Innocent Mistakes
Now what about my Irish deeds? I reasoned the Registry of Deeds was housed in Dublin and transactions from though out Ireland were registered there but not necessarily immediately. The clerk in Dublin didn’t realize the transaction he registered was dated under the Julian Calendar. So the 15th Day of the 5th Month 1810 was seen as 15 May 1810; when it should have been 15 July 1810. For Quakers, the 1st Month was March not January.
These are genealogy quirks which could lead your research astray if not careful. The clerk, who registered the deed, made an assumption. However, if I did not already know this deed was for a Quaker family, then I too may have made the same erroneous assumption.
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