Interpreting Quaker dates in eleventh or twelfth month with only one year?


If I have a Quaker date that only lists one year and is in the eleventh or twelfth month, should I assume it is Julian year and not Gregorian?

For example, see this entry:

Which shows as having these details:

  • Name: John Wright
  • Birth Date: 4 Jan 1716
  • Birth Date on Image: 04 Eleventh 1716
  • Birth Place: Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Father: James Wright
  • Mother: Mary Wright
  • Event Type: Birth
  • Monthly Meeting: New Garden Monthly Meeting
  • Historical Meeting Data: Search for this monthly meeting in the 'Quaker Monthly Meetings Index'
  • Yearly Meeting: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
  • Title: Minutes, 1746-1768
  • Meeting State: Pennsylvania
  • Meeting County: Chester

Source Citation: Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 339.

Source Information: U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data:

  • Swarthmore, Quaker Meeting Records. Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
  • North Carolina Yearly Meeting Minutes. Hege Friends Historical Library, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Indiana Yearly Meeting Minutes. Earlham College Friends Collection & College Archives, Richmond, Indiana.
  • Haverford, Quaker Meeting Records. Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania.

Description: This collection of Quaker meeting and vital records is one of the first of its kind. These records from monthly meetings have been brought together to form the most extensive searchable online database.

That original document has an entry that reads:

John Wright (Son of James Wright & Mary his wife) was born Ye (the) 4th day of the 11th month 1716

So John is born January (eleventh month) 4, 1716 Julian and January 4, 1717 Gregorian, right?


Posted 2014-12-07T23:22:16.630

Reputation: 5 145



The issue of converting dates between Gregorian and Julian including Quaker numbering of months is described in detail here and states in part:

Quaker Month Conversion for Dates Prior to 14 Sept 1752

Quaker Month — Converted Month
   1st month — March
   2nd month — April
   3rd month — May
   4th month — June
   5th month — July
   6th month — August
   7th month — September
   8th month — October
   9th month — November
  10th month — December
  11th month — January
  12th month — February

So, a Quaker born the 12th day, 12th month, 1656, would have been born 12/22
February, 1656/57. Notation for Quaker dates often uses the following
formats: 12/22 xii [February] 1656/57, or 12/22 12 mo. [February] 1656/57.
When converting Quaker dates, convert the month first, then convert to the
Gregorian calendar.

Sample Quaker Date Conversions

               Quaker Date — Gregorian Conversion Date
10th day,  7th month, 1677 — 10/20  7 mo. [September] 1677
21st day,  1st month, 1702 — 21/1   1 mo. [April]     1702
 5th day, 11th month, 1718 —  5/16 11 mo. [January]   1718/19
 7th day,  1st month, 1733 —  7/18  1 mo. [March]     1733/34

So in answer to the example in the question:

John is born 4th day of the Eleventh month 1716 Quaker Julian, which corresopnds to January 4, 1717 in regular Julian and finally January 15, 1717 Gregorian.

If you want to normalize the date for a Quaker to line up with contemporaries that are not Quakers, the regular Julian would be used, so to compare John with his non-Quaker contemporaries and their records, you would use a birth of January 4, 1717.


Posted 2014-12-07T23:22:16.630

Reputation: 5 145


It is always advisable to record what the record actually says with Quaker dates because of the various variables in trying to calculate it to the Gregorian calendar of today. Which leads me to part of your question, in 1716 it was still the Julian calendar. In my genealogy program I put Quaker dates as 1716 11m 4d 1716. If your genealogy software doesn't allow anything other than Gregorian dates... as in it won't save the record until you put in what it wants then I would suggest from my understanding of the change between calandars the 11th month is January as March is the 1st month in 1716. If your genealogy program just alerts you to the date not being the 'normal' format then proceed to use something like I have shown above to indicate the Quaker date. Also advisable to use a note to explain what is in the original record. The main years that create more confusion is the year of change 1752 and the years following where the switch may or may not have been made by those recording the dates.


Posted 2014-12-07T23:22:16.630

Reputation: 111