I'm transcribing and tabulating some inscriptions from our local churchyard. Some are easy: "... who departed this life on the 8 of June 1801 Aged 72 Years". That means, I think, that she died on or after her 72nd birthday, and before her 73rd birthday.

Others give me pause for thought. "She Departed this Life June ye 4th 1743 in ye 22nd year of her Age". Should I understand that to mean that she died on or after her 21st birthday, and before her 22nd birthday, so she was 21 when she died? Given that someone who died "in the first year of her life" would die before her first birthday?

I'm aware that these ages are often wrong anyway, but I'd like to do something consistent with other people's work.

  • 1
    If you can follow this link to The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 84, Page 576, it makes interesting reading and gives one 1798 view of the term: books.google.com.au/…
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 7, 2017 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


This is not a complete answer to your question but may provide another data point for you to consider. It is one where the same phrase is used and where the birth date seems to be known.

My 3rd great grandfather Thomas Hitchcox was baptised on the impossible date of 29 Feb 1797 at Lapley, Staffordshire, England.

On 3 Feb 1873 at Fullarton, South Australia, he wrote in his diary:

This is the 76th year of my age

I have interpreted this to mean that 3 Feb was his birthday, and that he was baptised about four weeks later, probably on 28 Feb or 1 Mar 1873.

To me it seems likely that he was born 3 Feb 1797, and that on 3 Feb 1873 he turned 76, so by "76th year of my age" I think he was meaning the year between his 76th and 77th birthdays.

I suspect that "X years old" is the same as "the Xth year of someone's age" and one less than "the Yth year of someone's life".

The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 84, Page 576 makes interesting reading because it gives one 1798 English view of the terms in your question. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to read, and too lengthy for me to transcribe here.

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