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The baptism record of my 3rd great grandfather Thomas Hitchcox (son of Thomas and Hannah) at Lapley, Staffordshire, England, appears to clearly state the date of that event as being 29 Feb 1797 (see image excerpt below; image copyright Staffordshire County Council; accessed via FindMyPast).

The entry before it seems to be clearly dated 4 Jan and the one after is clearly dated March (22 or 11, I think).

However, 1797 was not a leap year as far as I know, so there should not have been a Feb 29 in it.

Is there some nuance of the calendar in use at that time and place that might make such a date legitimate?

Assuming that it is not a valid date then any thoughts on whether 28 Feb or 1 Mar would be a better assumption are also welcome.

enter image description here


Although it could be read as baptisms on Jan 1st, 4 Feb and then two on 29 Mar (second indicated by " for ditto), I do not think that this is the case, because on the following and preceding pages (which appear to be in the same handwriting) all other entries have month first, and then day, with month being omitted when the previous entry was in the same month.

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    Probably just a mistake by the person who made the entry. IMHO you should record the date as that listed in the source record and maybe make a comment in the Notes field. – Colin Sep 21 '14 at 6:12
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    If we were able to look at the original (that is, the actual register book), it might be more clear (different inks, etc.) whether or not all the writing was in the same hand and/or written at the same time. – Jan Murphy Sep 22 '14 at 20:27
  • @JanMurphy I won't post more here but images of the register book are available via FindMyPast. – PolyGeo Sep 22 '14 at 23:08
  • I was referring to the difficulty of working off a digital image instead of the physical register book. Or for records where color images are available rather than black and white, it can be easier to see differences in ink. – Jan Murphy Sep 23 '14 at 5:00
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    I thought it might have something to do with the change of New Year's Day from Mar 25 to Jan 1, but (a) that change happened in 1752, substantially before this document and (b) the numbers don't fit anyway. (1796 was a leap year.) – Keith Thompson Oct 17 '14 at 1:02
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This is probably just a mistake by the person who made the entry. IMHO you should record the date as that listed in the source record and maybe make a comment in the Notes field.

Others coming after you checking your work will see your thinking with the note.

One of the tenets of transcription is record what you see NOT what you think you see.

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A possible explanation is that Robert Price was baptised on 4 Feb and that Thomas Hitchcox was baptised on 29 March (that is, the placing of the months is the problem).

  • +1 I think your theory has some merit. It could be read as baptisms on Jan 1st, 4 Feb and then two on 29 Mar (second indicated by " for ditto). However, I have gone back and looked at the following and preceding pages which appear to be in the same handwriting and they very consistently have month first, and then day, with month being omitted when the previous entry was in the same month. – PolyGeo Sep 21 '14 at 23:39

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