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.