Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy febuary!

Bartholomew Hunt, 1718, Little Compton, RI
Here lyeth Mr
Hunt, who Dyed
febuary ye 20th.
1717/8 in the 64th
year of his


Nick said...

Gorgeous, and so well preserved.

Does anyone know why the year is written as 1717/8, with the latter two numbers half-sized? At first I read it as "171 7/8," and then I thought they did that because he died as the year was changing, but it was already February.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

The Old Style/New Style dating has to do with the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. England made the switch in 1752 (rather late for Western Europe).

At the same time, they changed the first of the year. Under the old style, the year began on March 25, but the new style moved the beginning of the year to Jan 1. You will often see Jan, Feb, and March dates from the late 17th and early 18th centuries expressed in this way.

If you live in New England, you may have noticed that your annual town meeting is held on the first Monday in March. That made a lot of sense before the calendar shift – you held the meeting in early March to appoint town officers for the new year. It doesn't make much sense when the year starts Jan 1, but it is a holdover from the old March 25 start date.