September 10, 1752

Tuesday, 5 May 2009, 14:28 | Category : History
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One of the bits of folklore surrounding the events of July 1776 in the American colonies is that King George III wrote in his diary “nothing of importance happened today”. It’s a nice story, one that is marred only by the fact that it didn’t happen. King George III, we have been assured by Arnold Hunt, curator of historical manuscripts at the British Library, never kept a diary.

On September 10, 1572, however, we can assert with confidence that “nothing of importance happened today”. In fact, nothing happened at all. Not that day, not the day before, not the day after. Nobody was born, nobody died, nobody quoted bad poetry on London Bridge. In fact, nothing at all happened between September 2, 1572 and September 14, 1752, for the simple reason that September 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 never existed. On what would have been September 3, 1752, Britain converted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which was 11 days ahead. So the day following September 2 suddenly became September 14. Which, of course, almost certainly didn’t stop the Royal Cable Company from charging for a full month.