OLD STYLE CALENDAR DATING
System used by the English in Early Colonial America
For inquiries contact Libby Klekowski
The Julian Calendar which was introduced in Rome in 46 B.C.
established the 12 month year of 365 days with each fourth year
having 366 days and each month had 30 or 31 days except February
which had 28 or, every leap year, 29 days. The problem with this
calendar was that after nearly 1600 years it was no longer
synchronized with the seasons.
The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory
XIII to correct a slight error in the Julian calendar, but the
new calendar was not adopted by Great Britain or the American
colonies until approximately 1752.
When reading about colonial times, one often comes across a date
designated as Old Style or simply a date such as 1675/76. I
always wondered what that double date meant. I found the answer
to this question quite by accident as I was reading A History
of Hatfield Massachusetts by D. W. Wells and R. F. Wells.
These two chroniclers were writing about a will made by a
gentleman on January 29, 1659-60 and explained it as follows.
"In the old style reckoning [Julian calendar], March 25 was the
beginning of the year. After the adoption of the new style, or
Gregorian calendar, January 1 was taken as the beginning of
theyear and double dates are often used to indicate the time
Jan. 1 and Mar. 25. (pp. 22-23)
Therefore, Mary Rowlandson was captured on February 10, 1675
according to the OS (Julian) calendar which would have been the
calendar she used. Once the Gregorian calendar replaced the
Julian, the date would have fallen in that January 1 through
March 25 range. So subsequent historians would designate the
event as happening in 1675/76.
Reference: Wells, D. W. and R. F. Wells. 1910. A History of
F.C.H. Gibbons, Springfield,