Regnal Years in England
Most calendar systems are based on the phases of the moon and the rotation of the Earth. However, significant events were often factors in dating systems. For example, the birth of Christ divides our own calendar into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) (sometimes restated as B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era). Some ancient cultures calculated their dating systems by the rule of a monarch ("In the tenth year of the reign of King ___"). This calendering system is known as "Regnal Years" (from the Latin, regnum or rule/kingdom). Regnal years began the date of the monarch's accession to the throne until the same date in the next calendar year. Thus an event occurring on 15 Dec 1703, would be the second regnal year of Queen Anne who acceded to the throne on March 8, 1702. Regnal years were common in Asian cultures.
In England, Regnal years were not the prominent feature of the calendar system. The United Kingdom, like other European cultures, utilized the Julian Calendar until 1752 and the Gregorian Calendar until present times. However, the reigns of the British monarchs were occasionally noted and used as additional time markers. For example, Acts of Parliament used Regnal Years. Genealogists may also find Regnal Years in older English records. Below are the beginning dates for the regnal years of each of the kings and queens of England:
• William I .....................................25 Dec 1066
• “Bloody” Mary ...................................6 July 1553
Go to England Calendar Changes for a brief discussion of Julian and Gregorian Calendars.
See also:[edit | edit source]
- Julian and Gregorian Calendars
- Gregorian calendar day of the week calculator
- Table of Regnal Years of English Sovereigns -- This PDF document has a chart listing the dates covered by every regnal year from 1066-1962. When a regnal year is known, it is easy to find the historical year.
References[edit | edit source]
- Collins, Lydia, and Mabel Morton. Monumental Inscriptions in the Library of the Society of Genealogists. Part 2: Northern England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Overseas. London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1987. (Family History Library book 942 V33s, part 2.)
2. This list is slightly adapted from Baxter, Angus. In Search of Your British & Irish Roots: A complete guide to tracing your English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish Ancestors. Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., Baltimore, 1986, p. 19. (Family History Library book: 942 D27ba 1999).