Calendar (New Style) Act 1750

Last updated
Calendar (New Style) Act 1750
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
Long title An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use
Citation 24 Geo. 2 c. 23
Introduced by Lord Chesterfield
Territorial extent"In and throughout all his Majesty's dominions and countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America"
Territorial extent of (original) subsequent repeals (to (i.e., after) the Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859): England and Wales, Scotland
Dates
Royal assent 27 May 1751
Commencement 1 January 1752
Other legislation
Amended byCalendar Act 1752, Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859, Statute Law Revision Act 1948, Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1971, Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1986
Status: Spent
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk

The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 (c.23) (also known as Chesterfield's Act after Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The Act had two parts: first, it reformed the calendar of England [lower-alpha 1] and the British Dominions so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); and, second, Great Britain and its Dominions adopted (in effect) [lower-alpha 2] the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe.

Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield 18th-century British statesman and man of letters

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was a British statesman, diplomat, man of letters, and an acclaimed wit of his time. He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, and known as Lord Stanhope until the death of his father, in 1726. Following the death of his mother in 1708, Stanhope was raised mainly by his grandmother, the Marchioness of Halifax. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he left just over a year into his studies, after focusing on languages and oration. He subsequently embarked on the Grand Tour of the Continent, to complete his education as a nobleman, by exposure to the cultural legacies of Classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to become acquainted with his aristocratic counterparts and the polite society of Continental Europe.

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.

Parliament of Great Britain parliament from 1714 to 1800

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

Contents

Chesterfield introduced the Bill into Parliament on 25 February 1751 (1750 Old Style). It was passed by the Commons on 13 May and received royal assent on 27 May 1751. [1]

Royal assent formal approval of a proposed law in monarchies

Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others that is a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality; even in those nations which still, in theory, permit the monarch to withhold assent to laws, the monarch almost never does so, save in a dire political emergency or upon the advice of their government. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised often by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been very rare since the eighteenth century.

Reasons for change

The Parliament held that the Julian calendar then in use, and the start of the year on 25 March, were

The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 45 BC, by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was refined and gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

attended with divers inconveniences, not only as it differs from the usage of neighbouring nations, but also from the legal method of computation in Scotland, and from the common usage throughout the whole kingdom, and thereby frequent mistakes are occasioned in the dates of deeds and other writings, and disputes arise therefrom. [2]

Great Britain and the British Colonies

In England and Wales, the legal year 1751 was a short year of 282 days, running from 25 March to 31 December. 1752 began on 1 January. To align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and the calendar was advanced by 11 days: Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. [lower-alpha 3] The year 1752 was thus a short year (355 days) as well.

As well as adopting the Gregorian rule for leap years, Pope Gregory's rules for the date of Easter were also adopted. However, with religious strife still on their minds, the British could not bring themselves to adopt the Catholic system explicitly: the Annexe to the Act established a computation for the date of Easter that achieved the same result as Gregory's rules, without actually referring to him. [3] The algorithm, set out in the Book of Common Prayer as required by the Act, includes calculation of the Golden Number and the Sunday Letter, which (in the Easter section of the Book) were presumed to be already known. The Annexe to the Act includes the definition: "Easter-day (on which the rest depend) is always the first Sunday after the Full Moon, which happens upon, or next after the Twenty-first Day of March. And if the Full Moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after." The Annexe subsequently uses the terms "Paschal Full Moon" and "Ecclesiastical Full Moon", making it clear that they only approximate to the real Full Moon. [4]

Computus is a calculation that determines the calendar date of Easter. Because the date is based on a calendar-dependent equinox rather than the astronomical one, there are differences between calculations done according to the Julian calendar and the modern Gregorian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was considered the most important computation of the age.

Algorithm an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks.

<i>Book of Common Prayer</i> Prayer book used in most Anglican churches

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by other Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism. The original book, published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion and also the occasional services in full: the orders for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, "prayers to be said with the sick", and a funeral service. It also set out in full the "propers" : the introits, collects, and epistle and gospel readings for the Sunday service of Holy Communion. Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were specified in tabular format as were the Psalms; and canticles, mostly biblical, that were provided to be said or sung between the readings.

Scotland

Scotland had already partly made the change: its calendar year had begun on 1 January since 1600. [5] The remainder of the act applied equally to Scotland, a part of the Kingdom of Great Britain since the Acts of Union 1707.

Ireland

At the time, the Kingdom of Ireland was a semi-autonomous kingdom in a personal union with the Kingdom of Great Britain. So that the calendar in Ireland would remain harmonised with that of Great Britain, the Parliament of Ireland passed similarly worded legislation as the "Calendar (New Style) Act, 1750". [6]

Reaction and effect

The "calendar riot" myth

An Election Entertainment (c. 1755), a painting by William Hogarth, which is the main source for "Give us our Eleven Days". William Hogarth 028.jpg
An Election Entertainment (c. 1755), a painting by William Hogarth, which is the main source for "Give us our Eleven Days".

Some history books say that some people rioted after the calendar change, asking that their "eleven days" be returned. However this is very likely a myth, based on only two primary sources: The World, a satirical journal of Lord Chesterfield; and a painting by William Hogarth. [7]

Chesterfield was behind the Act. He wrote to his son, "Every numerous assembly is a mob, let the individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere sense is never to be talked to a mob; their passions, their sentiments, their senses and their seeming interests alone are to be applied to. Understanding have they collectively none." Here, he was boasting of his skill in having the Bill passed through the Lords; the 'mob' in question was his fellow peers.[ citation needed ]

When the son of the Earl of Macclesfield (who had been influential in passing the Act) stood for Parliament in Oxfordshire as a Whig in 1754, dissatisfaction with the calendar reform was one of a number of issues raised by his Tory opponents. In 1755, William Hogarth produced a painting (and an engraved print from the painting) loosely based on these elections, entitled An Election Entertainment , which shows a placard carrying the slogan "Give us our Eleven Days" (on floor at lower right). An example of the resulting incorrect history is by Ronald Paulson, author of Hogarth, His Life, Art and Times, who wrote that "the Oxfordshire people … are specifically rioting, as historically the London crowd did, to preserve the 'Eleven Days' the government stole from them in September 1752 by changing the calendar". [7]

Thus the "calendar riot" fiction was born. The election campaign depicted concluded in 1754, after a very lengthy contest between Court Whigs and Jacobite Tories. Every issue between the two factions was brought up, including the question of calendar reform. The Tories attacked the Whigs for every deviation, including their alleged favouritism towards foreign Jews and the "Popish" calendar. Hogarth's placard, part of a satire on the character of the debate, was not an observation of actual crowd behaviour. [7]

Legitimate concerns

There were, however, legitimate concerns lest tax and other payments arise any earlier under the new calendar than they would otherwise have done. Consequently, Provision 6 (Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities) of the Act stipulated that monthly or yearly payments would not become due until the dates that they originally would have done had the Julian calendar continued or, in the words of the Act, "[Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities] at and upon the same respective natural days and times as the same should and ought to have been payable or made or would have happened in case this Act had not been made". [2]

Other effects

Several theories have been proposed for the odd beginning of the British tax year on 6 April. [8] One is that from 1753 until 1799, the tax year began on 5 April, which corresponded to 25 March Old Style. After the twelfth skipped Julian leap day in 1800, it was changed to 6 April, which still corresponded to 25 March Old Style. However it was not changed when a thirteenth Julian leap day was skipped in 1900, so the tax year in the United Kingdom still begins on 6 April. [9] [10] However Poole thought that quarter days, such as Lady Day on 25 March, marked the end of the quarters of the financial year. [11] Thus, although 25 March Old Style marked the beginning of the civil year, the next day, 26 March Old Style was until 1752 the beginning of the tax year. After removing eleven days in 1752, this corresponded to 6 April New Style, where it remains today. Although Poole's theory is supported by one dictionary, [12] the Oxford English Dictionary as well as other sources state that quarter days mark the beginning of their respective quarters. [lower-alpha 4] [13]

Religious dissent

In Appalachia, some Scots-Irish settlers resisted the changeover mandated by the Calendar Act by continuing to celebrate Christmas on January 6 (N.S.), referring to the day as Old Christmas. [14]

See also

Notes

  1. Scotland had changed to a 1 January start in 1600.
  2. The Act makes no reference to Gregory, since to do so might imply recognition of Papal primacy. It acknowledges the inconvenience of having a differing system from neighbouring countries and recognises the error in the Julian calendar. It defined a calendar identical to the Gregorian system, from first principles.
  3. "An unusual calendar is printed for September 1752. That is the month 11 days were skipped to make up for lack of leap year adjustments" (Solaris manual and Cal (Unix)#Features).
  4. "Each of the four days fixed by custom as marking off the quarters of the year, ... the payment of rent and other quarterly charges fall due, ... In England ... the quarter days are traditionally Lady Day (March 25), ..." Oxford English Dictionary quarter day, n.
  1. Dagnall, H. (1991). Give us back our eleven days. Edgware: author. p. 19. ISBN   0-9515497-2-3.
  2. 1 2 Text of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk
  3. 24 Geo. II Ch. 23, § 3.
  4. 24 Geo. II Ch. 23, Annexe.
  5. Bond 1875, See footnote on pages xvii–xviii: original text of the Scottish decree.
  6. Parliament of Ireland 1750.
  7. 1 2 3 Poole 1995; Steel 2000 , p. 249
  8. HMRC 2008.
  9. Philip 1921, p. 24.
  10. Legislation.gov.uk 2017.
  11. Poole 1995, note 77.
  12. Webster's Dictionary 1913.
  13. Frecknall-Hughes 2016.
  14. Blair 2013.

Related Research Articles

Easter Festival

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

New Year first day of a calendar year, in particular, January 1 in the Julian and Gregorian calendar

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one.

1751 Year

1751 (MDCCLI) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1751st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 751st year of the 2nd millennium, the 51st year of the 18th century, and the 2nd year of the 1750s decade. As of the start of 1751, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923. In Britain and its colonies, 1751 only had 282 days due to the Calendar Act of 1750.

In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes.

Lady Day

In the western liturgical year, Lady Day is the traditional name in some English-speaking countries of the Feast of the Annunciation, known in the 1549 Prayer Book of Edward VI and the 1667 Book of Common Prayer as "The Annunciation of the (Blessed) Virgin Mary" but more accurately termed "The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary". It is the first of the four traditional English quarter days. The "(Our) Lady" is the Virgin Mary. The term derives from Middle English, when some nouns lost their genitive inflections. "Lady" would later gain an -s genitive ending, and therefore the name means "(Our) Lady's day". The day commemorates the tradition of archangel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Christ.

Swedish calendar used in Sweden and Finland between 1700 and 1712

The Swedish calendar or Swedish style was a calendar in use in Sweden and its possessions from 1 March 1700 until 30 February 1712. It was one day ahead of the Julian calendar and ten days behind the Gregorian calendar. Easter was calculated nominally astronomically from 1740 to 1844.

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar liturgical calendar used within Eastern Orthodox churches

The Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Passages of Holy Scripture, saints and events for commemoration are associated with each date, as are many times special rules for fasting or feasting that correspond to the day of the week or time of year in relationship to the major feast days.

Fiscal year 1 year term for government and business financial reporting

A fiscal year is the period used by governments for accounting and budget purposes, which varies between countries. It is also used for financial reporting by business and other organizations. Laws in many jurisdictions require company financial reports to be prepared and published on an annual basis, but generally do not require the reporting period to align with the calendar year. Taxation laws generally require accounting records to be maintained and taxes calculated on an annual basis, which usually corresponds to the fiscal year used for government purposes. The calculation of tax on an annual basis is especially relevant for direct taxation, such as income tax. Many annual government fees—such as Council rates, licence fees, etc.—are also levied on a fiscal year basis, while others are charged on an anniversary basis.

Correspondence with James the Pretender (High Treason) Act 1701

The Correspondence with James the Pretender Act 1701 was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of England passed in 1701. The long title of the Act is "An Act for the Attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales of High Treason". After the death of the exiled James II of England in September 1701, his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, declared himself to be King James III of England and Ireland and VIII of Scotland, in order to assert the Jacobite claim to the English and Scottish thrones.

Events from the year 1751 in Great Britain.

Events from the year 1752 in Great Britain.

Events from the year 1752 in Ireland.

Dual dating

Dual dating is the practice, in historical materials, to indicate some dates with what appears to be duplicate, or excessive digits, sometimes separated by a hyphen or a slash. This is also often referred to as double dating. The need for double dating arose from the transition from an older calendar to a newer one. For example, in "10/21 February 1750/51", the dual day of the month is due to the correction for excess leap years in the Julian calendar by the Gregorian calendar, and the dual year is due to some countries beginning their numbered year on 1 January while others were still using another date.

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used civil calendar in the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

The following is a list of the official regnal years of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom from 1066. The regnal calendar is used in many official British government and legal documents of historical interest, notably parliamentary statutes.

This is the calendar for Old Style 1751, which began on Monday, 25 March, in England. The Old Style year 1751 ended on 31 December, unlike England's typical Old Style calendar, which ended with the following March, on 24 March. Hence, 1751 was the final year to begin on 25 March, and Old Style 1752 began on 1 January (Wednesday), in England, Wales, Ireland, or the American colonies (etc.), as a transition year to the New Style (N.S.) Gregorian calendar. However, both calendars had been in dual use in some regions, for many years.

This is the calendar for Old Style 1752, a leap year which began on 1 January, and dropped 3–13 September to transition to the Gregorian calendar. Previously, the Old Style calendar in England had begun on 25 March and ended with the following March, on 24 March. Because the Gregorian calendar did not have leap day in 1700, the original 10-day difference in calendars had expanded to an 11-day difference, and to compensate, 2 September was followed by 14 September, as skipping 11 days beyond 3 September. Year 1753, in England followed the full Gregorian calendar. Note, below, the shortened length of September.

Adoption of the Gregorian calendar

The adoption of the Gregorian Calendar was an event in the modern history of most nations and societies, marking a change from their traditional dating system to the modern dating system that is widely used around the world today. Some countries adopted the new calendar from 1582, some did not do so before the early twentieth century, and others did so at various dates between; however a number continue to use a different civil calendar. For many the new style calendar is only used for civil purposes and the old style calendar remains used in religious contexts. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world's most widely used civil calendar. During – and for some time after – the change between systems, it has been common to use the terms Old Style and New Style when giving dates, to indicate which calendar was used to reckon them.

References

Primary sources

Further reading