Date problems not always wrong

Sometimes the dates listed just do not seem right. Here are two scenarios when the date seemed incorrect but it was correct.

Scenario: Siblings birthdates
If a family had children with birthdates listed as 1 April 1720 and the next child 22 March 1720, you would assume that one of those dates is incorrect, but knowledge of New Year’s Day would show us they are not. The second child born on the 22 March which is just 3 days from the New Year and is 11 months after the first child.

Scenario: Will and Death Date
If your records indicate a man draws a will on October 10, 1686, but the death date is recorded as 21 February 1686. You assume that one of these must be incorrect, but again they might not be.  The death date is what we identify today as 21 February 1687; four months after the will is drawn.

Answer:  March 25 was New Year’s Day!
From 1155 to 1751 New Year’s was March 25, not 1st of January.  January 1, 1752, was the first time in six hundred years, to be New Year’s again. A list of calendar dates before 1752 would look like the following.

     22 November 1686
     20 December 1686
     17 January 1686
     11 March 1686
     24 March 1686
     25 March 1687
       6 April 1687

For the examples above:
The second child would be born on 22 March 1721, not 1720.
The man died 21 February1687 not 86 before he wrote his will.

Double or Dual Dating
To help with the change in the New Year a system called Dual or Double Dating was created.
Example:  1559/1560  
The first year indicates the year under the 25 March New Year. The second-year indicates the year with January 1 as New Years. Other examples are:
               22 January 1720/21

               19 February 1686/87

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