The Year was Not 174 and 2/3

The will of Peter Rucker from the Orange County, Virginia, record book appears to contain his mark–an apparent “R” instead of an “X.” The “R” serves to remind us that all marks are not the letter “x” and that what is in a record copy is usually the clerk’s transcription and not the actual record or signature.

Rucker’s will is dated January 1742/3. This was during that time when the start of the new year was somewhat in flux and generally still considered to be in March. January of 1742 would have been the old style and January of 1743 would have been the new style–which we use today. Under the old style, December of 1742 would have been followed by January of 1742, February of 1742 and then March of 1742 until the 25th of March which was actually the start of the new year.

The double dating was to reduce confusion at the time, but it has served to confuse genealogists ever since.

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