Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Give Us Back Our Eleven Days

by Katherine Pym

Last January I did a post on the Julian/Gregorian Calendars, and how in 1752, England went to the Gregorian almost two hundred years after Catholic Europe adopted it.  In my post, I explained how very difficult it must have been for an Englishman to travel on the Continent prior to this time.  If you were born to English parents in France (Gregorian) on July 8, 1660, but returning to England, your birthdate would actually be June 28 or 29, 1660 (Julian), depending on who is counting. 

If I were that child, I'd be confused. 

Then I explained in my post that when England had succumbed to the Gregorian in September 1752, England lost days.  How many, even the experts aren't certain.  It ranges from 10-12 days.

Well, now I've proof it was eleven days (or is it twelve?).  Glancing through my library the other day, I ran across a little booklet titled: Murders Myths and Monuments of North Staffordshire, by W.M. Jamieson.  This booklet is a compilation of stories based in the county.  He entitled a short piece: 'Give us back our eleven days'.  He should know, and so here it goes, the eleven (twleve?) missing days, and what a good Staffordshire fellow did about it:

"William Willett was born in the early seventeen hundreds and lived in Endon where, according to local mythology he was something of a character... always fond of a gag or wager. 

"During the year 1752, ...the Government ordered that the days September 3rd to September 13th would not exist and people going to bed on the evening of the 2nd would wake up on the morning of the 14th; the next day."  See below NOTE. 

"...this appeared to be a government trick to rob the people of eleven days of their life and there were demonstrations outside Parliament demanding that the people were given back their eleven days."

"William Willet of Endon saw the possibility of a great joke and a profitable one, and also a chance to leave his indelible mark on Endon's history. He wagered that he would dance nonstop for twleve days and twleve nights and eagerly took bets from many of the villagers. On the evening of September 2nd, 1752, William Willett started to jig around the village of Endon. Next morning, September 14th, he stopped dancing and started to claim his bets."

Good William Willet was pretty clever, don't you think?  Hopefully, he made lots of money.
BUT I'm still confused on the missing days.  Based on this story, England lost eleven days, when it seems to everyone, including W.M. Jamieson, that it was twelve days.  This will be my last post on the matter, since I don’t think this will ever be solved. 

You are at the below NOTE: Does anyone remember the musical 'Brigadoon'? The premise is this little hamlet disappears for quite awhile, more than 11-12 days.  Do you suppose the Calendar Act of 1750 wherein days were lost was the spark that fed this lovely musical?

To read more interesting historical facts of England, please see my historical novels: Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage, London 1660, TWINS, London 1661, and newly released Of Carrion Feathers, London 1662.

You can find them at wings-press.com, amazon.com, or the NOOK.


  1. Isn't the belief that days were taken from people down to the idea that the day of your death was pre-ordained?

    I have wondered what happened to rent and rental incomes in that period. If rent was paid on a day outside of those 11/12 days did you get a rebate and what happened if your rent day fell within those 11/12 days?

    The calendar shift is also blamed for the fact that today the hawthorn aka the May tree, usually blossoms in April in southern parts of the UK.

    1. Love your thoughts on the subject. I haven't read anything on the date change and pre-ordained death. I'm sure the landlords wouldn't prorate the rent, since the tenant paid on a 6 month basis. AND finally, very cool on the May tree.

  2. I can explain the 11 or 12 day question. 14-2=12, but the 14th was the 12th day, so you lost 11. Count on your fingers 3-13 and you get 11 days that were lost. The 2nd and the 14th happened.

    1. I understand the count. It's that most of the researchers of this event had numbers all over the place. :D

  3. This is such an interesting subject. I have just sold a time travel story which hinged on a synchronicity in dates between 1645 and 1995. I agonised over the calendar change and in the end decided it was too complicated to try and explain it within the context of the story so just let the dates go through...with a suitable apology and explanation in the Author's note!

    1. You did the right thing. All my novels are during the 1660's. To explain the dates would have sent my readership running!

  4. The year-end was treated as being 24th March (i.e. the Quarter Day) until the calendar change which decreed that it was to be 31st December. Up until then the tax year therefore ended on the Quarter Day. Come the change and the one set of people who took no notice were the Inland Revenue - they added back the "missing" eleven days and made the year-end 5th April. That is still our otherwise illogical tax year-end nearly 250 years later!


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