Okay so I know there theoretical, but if time machines existed which time period would you go to? Would it be a particular period of history or would it be 2019 when things were so much better?
My thoughts on this began years ago when I read Timeline by Michael Crichton. In this book a group of historians go back in time to the middle ages in France. It made me think which events and times of history I would like to go.
First off I’d love to go back millions of years to see the dinosaurs. I have to confess to having read/watched Jurassic Park far too many times. I’d love to tell the T Rex to stop being so grump (although if my arms were that short I’d be grumpy. Think about all the things you couldn’t do) and tell the Velociraptor’s to calm down and lighten up.
What other periods would I like to go to? Perhaps to when the Roman’s first landed in Britain in 55BC. Or maybe to the 14th October 1066 to see what really happened at the Battle of Hastings (at Battle). Or perhaps the 100 year war (which was 116 years long from 1337 to 1453) and was between the English and the French. You could choose the Battle of Crecy on the 26th August 1346 or even the Battle of Agincourt on the 25th October 1415. You could watch the archers in action to see how formable they were and see if the famous gesture did come from them. Or would you go to a time more relevant to your ancestors?
There are so many times I would like to go back to that relate to my ancestors. I’d love to go to all my however many back grandparents weddings to see them on their big day and see which family members were there so I could put faces to names. Also to anytime when my Grandma was alive so I could meet her. I’d also love to have seen the house I grew up in being built in the late 1880’s so I could see what my bedroom looked like new before I painted it yellow and purple and what the original feature were before everything was taken out in the 1950’s. Or how about the day the first teddy bear was made.
Just think about what you could learn. If your ancestor was a mason working on a great Cathedral or a castle you could see which parts they built and perhaps some beautiful carvings they did. If your family were farmers you can see what life was really like for them and how that compares to how we believe it was.
You could also be present for the great events in your ancestor’s life. If you have gaps in your family tree you could go back to the time to try and find out what happened, and just imagine the blanks you could fill in by solving the illegitimacy questions. You could share the good times and the bad times with your ancestors. Be there for births and deaths, new jobs and new adventures.
But would it have to have been a personal date to your ancestors or an event that shaped their lives? What about the signing of the Magna Carter in 1215 or the peasants revolt of 1381? A coronation of a monarch or how about the opening of a building where you live.
I suppose it’s all pie in the sky as I don’t think you’ll ever be able to do it, but as a historian you can dream. Or perhaps it already exists and we don’t know. Perhaps Michael Crichton new something we didn’t and Timeline was true all along. If it is though I’m not going in one as knowing my luck I’d get stuck somewhere nasty or end up in the middle of the sea!
Happy New Year!
Now genealogists will have come across dates in their research that appear to make no sense. How many of us have seen this 2nd January 1700/1701. But what does this really mean. Well a bit of a history lesson is required.
The exact date of New Year’s Day has moved throughout the years, and it was not the same in different countries. For example now the west celebrates on a different date from China, but in the Tudor era the protestant countries celebrated on a different day from the catholic countries.
At some periods in history the New Year was celebrated on the 25th of December to celebrate the birth of Christ were as others celebrated this day but because they felt it was the winter solstice.
Up until the 6th century New Year was celebrated on the 1st January but the catholic church deemed it should be moved to the 25th March each year. This was because it was Lady Day or the feast of the annunciation. In other words the day Gabriel was supposed to have told Mary she was with child in the bible. So the church decided the New Year should begin on this day to honour this.
New Year was still celebrated on the 1st January despite the actual date being the 25th March. There is evidence of King Henry VIII exchanging New Year gifts on the 1st January in 1534.
In the 1580’s the Pope declared that the Gregorian calendar to be the correct one and declared the New Year was to be January 1st. This was because of changes made to the calendar to set dates rather than them moving with the changing date of the equinox. So 10 days were removed from the calendar and dates were standardised. It’s just in Britain we didn’t go with that as the Pope had no influence over us as Queen Elizabeth was the head of the church. We did use the Gregorian calendar though but we would continue to celebrate New Year in March until 1752 when we adopted the changes to the calendar and set the New Year as January 1st.
Now this is where the confusion comes for genealogist. Before 1752 your ancestors could very well have been born in between New Year and Lady Day. This would mean that they had their birth registered in 2 years thus leading to the year being given as 1700/1701 as in the example above. So if they were born on the 2nd January 1701 under the current calendar then this was their date of birth but because it hadn’t been adopted yet then their date of birth was 2nd January 1700. So to avoid confusion genealogists and transcribers have to write the date as the 2nd January 1700/1701. This way the person viewing the record knows their ancestor was technically born in 1700 but under the modern calendar it was 1701.
Life became much easier in 1752 when we adopted the current system as a result of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. It was done to bring us in line with the rest of Europe under the rule of King George II. The year 1751 ran from the 25th March to the 31st of December and days were removed. Also in 1752 the year was shortened as well. So if you birthday was between Wednesday 2 September 1752 and Thursday 14 September then you didn’t age that year as you had no birthday.
It should be noted that in Scottish genealogy they had set the 1st January as the start of the New Year in the 1600’s but it became official in 1752 in line with the rest of Britain.
So New Year has moved but the result is the same. You ancestors were born and lived and thus we do to.
Happy New Year to you all.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!