Happy Birthday, George!


Happy Birthday, George!

George Washington was born on February 11, 1731. But wait, you say, “I always thought his birthday was February 22.” Well, after 1752, it was. When George was born in the Colony of Virginia in 1731, Great Britain still used the Julian calendar. The Julian Calendar had to be replaced because “it did not accurately reflect the time it takes the Earth to circle around the sun.”[2] By 1752, September had only 11 days. In 1752 Great Britain and its colonies adopted the Gregorian Calendar, which added 11 days to the months of January through March, and started the new year on January 1, rather than March 25. This changed George’s birthday to February 22, 1732! George did not seem to care. There are records of him celebrating his birthday on February 11, some years, and on February 22, in other years.

Double Dating in Genealogy

When you get back to the eighteenth century in your genealogical research, you may begin to encounter double dating. For instance, the day after 11 February 1731 would be expressed as 12 February 1731/2. It depends upon whether the year started on January 1 or March 25. Thankfully, most of my pre-1752 ancestors were born in April or later.

Not all countries adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, as did Great Britain and the Colonies. For instance, Denmark-Norway made the change in 1700, Russia did not make the change until 1918. If you are researching outside the British Empire, check one of the handy charts available on the internet or the FamilySearch Wiki for specific information regarding the country or province in which you are researching.


Quaker Dating 

If you have Quaker ancestors, you may encounter odd-looking dates when researching in Colonial America.
Some of the months in our current calendar are named after Roman gods. Quakers do not believe that Christians should use those names, therefore they use only numbers for months, and days of the week.

“Because of these beliefs, Quaker dating looks much different from what we are used to. For example, they may write a date for a birth, death or marriage as 18th da 10th mo 1731, or as 10mo 18da 1731.

If you know the numbers of each month, you should be able to figure it out pretty easily. Naturally, 10mo means October, because October is the 10th month of the year. At least, it is with the Gregorian calendar. If you are using dates during the time the Julian calendar was being used, 10mo would be January. These are things you must take into consideration carefully whenever dating something using standard or Quaker dating styles that took place between 1751 and 1753, as some of the dates in parts of these years might be affected by the calendar change that took place in 1752.

. . . Quaker dating is something you need to be careful about transcribing and translating correctly regardless of the calendar, as it is done in a way with which most of us are not familiar.”

It is also important to verify Quaker dates, even in recorded sources. That is because people who transcribe those dates for published works, such as books about genealogy or history, may have misinterpreted them and transcribed them incorrectly.[4]

It Depends . . .

As with anything else in genealogy, it depends . . . Especially when you are researching outside of Great Britain or the Colonies, be sure to check references for the specific area. In dating, as with anything else, it is dangerous to generalize.
Enjoy unraveling the mysteries!

Leadership Opportunity

The important position of Director of Education remains vacant, Please consider whether this is a way you can serve the Society. If you would like to know what is expected of the person in this position, please contact me at president@skcgs.org.

Barbara Mattoon 


South King County Genealogical Society

[1] Image courtesy SnappyGoat.com

[2] Konstantoin Bikos and Apama Kher, Change From Julian to Gregorian Calendar (timenaddate.com/calendar/julian-gregorian-switch.html : accessed 8 February 2021).

[3] Image courtesy of learnreligions.com

[4] Double Dating in Genealogy (http://ancestories.com : accessed 10 February 2021).


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