Echoes of the Old New Year’s Day

As I’m sure many of you realise, the start of the New Year in England was usually taken as 25 March (“Lady Day”), until Great Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, when the official date was moved to 1 January. In fact, many people already regarded 1 January as the start of the New Year, with the result that you can see contemporary usage of “dual dating” such as 1 January 1740/41 (the day after 31 December 1740) in order to clarify which year was which.

There are echoes of the old New Year’s Day. For instance, that’s why the British tax year starts on 6 April – the old New Year’s day of 25 March in the Julian calendar, with the 12 days added to take it to 6 April in the Gregorian calendar.

Also, I’ve just been looking at British Army documentation from 1808 – the Army of that time worked on quarters of the year, each starting on 25 of March, June, September and December. Why start on those dates? Well, I guess that 25 March started that sequence as it was the original New Year’s Day in England – although, unlike the tax authorities, the Army never bothered adding the 12 days in.

About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
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