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The use of "last" when referring to dates

 
 
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2016 02:26 pm
I am researching my family tree and my ancestor's gravestone says he was born on 2nd February 1841.

However a newspaper from April 1842 states:

"At Cape Town, Cape of Good Hood, on the 2d February last, the Lady of Dr John Forrest, etc...."

Now in this context does "February last" mean February not from the current year but from the previous year? Or does it mean the February just gone?

He was christened on 25th March 1842 So if born in 1841 it took his parents over a year to announce his birth and have him christened?

Either that or he was actually born on the 2nd Feb 1842 and his gravestone is incorrect.

Any help much appreciated!
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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 658 • Replies: 10
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2016 02:35 pm
@gilesforrest,
From my personal and family history I'd say there's no use in using the christening date as any kind of reference point. Sometimes christenings didn't happen for quite a while as the right religious authorities weren't always available.
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gilesforrest
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2016 02:51 pm
Sorry I meant to say that there are two newspaper announcements (different papers).

One in April 1842 announcing a birth in "February last"

And another also in April 1842 in a different newspaper announcing a christening in March 1842.

It just seems odd having an announcement in the "Births" section for a year old baby. Having said that, it was a Scottish newspaper whereas the birth was in Cape Town..maybe news took time to travel? Or maybe the christening triggered the report?
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PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2016 06:53 pm
Last February, the child was born. Then baptized the following March or April.

That's how I see it.
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gilesforrest
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jun, 2016 11:21 pm
But my question is, which year is "last February"?

It's currently April 1842 so does "last February" (or "February last") refer to the February just gone (February 1842) or the February of the previous year (February 1841).

Logically the last February we have had would is the one in 1842...but I'm not sure it's used in that way.

Giles
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gilesforrest
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2016 11:11 am
Anyone know?
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Tes yeux noirs
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2016 12:08 pm
It does appear from publications of the period that "February last" means the most recent February.

http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p29/badoit/01Capture_zpsxtp21ri1.jpg

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gilesforrest
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jun, 2016 02:46 pm
Thanks for that - so his death certificate and gravestone must be incorrect - maybe his son (who registered the death and perhaps commissioned the gravestone) knew his birthday but not his age or birth-date!
nacredambition
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2016 12:37 am
@gilesforrest,
Quote:
so his death certificate and gravestone must be incorrect - maybe his son (who registered the death and perhaps commissioned the gravestone) knew his birthday but not his age or birth-date!


Perhaps. Why not check the births register. There's no doubt what last February or February last means, however I'd bet money that the newspaper did NOT report:

"At Cape Town, Cape of Good Hood, on the 2d February last, the Lady of Dr John Forrest"
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gilesforrest
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2016 02:17 am
Hi - the "Hood" was my typo -should be "Hope", but "2d" is the old school way of saying 2nd.

It's quite hard finding formal registers in South Africa at that time (either don't exist or parish records which capture christening dates), so I have to put a number of sources together:
1) Newspaper report April 1842 stated birth 2nd February "last" which I now assume to be 1842 (would have been submitted by parents)
2) Newspaper report April 1842 stating christening 25th March 1842 (would have been submitted by parents)
3) Census records from 1851, 1881, 1891, and 1901 indicating his birth year would be "about 1842" based on his age of completion (would have been completed by himself but sometimes this isn't that accurate)
4) Death record indicating his birth year would be "about 1841" (completed by his son)
5) Gravestone stating his birth as 2nd February 1841 (would have been completed by one of his relatives perhaps same son)

Now I've just had a thought and checked the birth date of his older sister which was 1840.. and it's 7th August 1840, so that's only 6 months before Feb 1841 so the birth date must be 2nd Feb 1842...

Giles

nacredambition
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2016 07:16 am
@gilesforrest,
Well done Detective Forrest.

Back in the good old days infant mortality was such that you didn't hang about waiting to have the sacraments conferred.
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