You can view the document here:

For each birth, it reads something like this example:

Mary Wright (Daughter of James Wright & Mary his wife) was born y? 3rd day of the 6th month 1708

So, when accounting for Quaker dates, Mary Wright was born August 3, 1708 (Gregorian Calendar), but what does the y? stand for before the day of the month?

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    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 23:56

2 Answers 2


More specifically, there used to be a letter named 'thorn' in Old and Middle English, pronounced with a 'th' sound. Over time thorn was drawn more and more like the letter 'y' (though it retained its 'th' sound), and eventually printers started using 'y' in its place to save on letter plates. Thorn had all but disappeared by the 1700s, but earlier texts including the King James Bible used 'y' with a superscripted 'e' as a short form of 'the', so it's likely the highly religious Quakers copied it.

For more information, see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorn_(letter)#Middle_and_Early_Modern_English

  • Welcome to G&FH SE! That's great and very interesting information to know. Thankyou for contributing it.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 2:12
  • So the ye would be pronounced the here, but before the number of the month they used the word the, so that seems inconsistent, any thoughts as to why the is written two different ways here?
    – WilliamKF
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 2:50
  • @WilliamKF On the image you linked for us it has instances of ye day, the day, ye month and the month. I have not done an actual count but it looks to me like it is usually written the with occasional "lapses" to ye.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 3:10
  • @PolyGeo Ah, I was focused on the section for the Wright family which is all Ye day and the month.
    – WilliamKF
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 16:00

I don't think it says just "y", I think it is "ye" with the "e" superscripted.

In other words

Mary Wright (Daughter of James Wright & Mary his wife) was born y? 3rd day of the 6th month 1708


Mary Wright (Daughter of James Wright & Mary his wife) was born ye 3rd day of the 6th month 1708

The recorder seems to have used "the" and "ye" interchangeably even within entries.

This is just an aside but I wonder whether this page captures the period when people schooled in using "ye" were trying to become more modern by using "the" but still had occasional lapses.

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