Regnal Years

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While the ways of expressing dates and the complications caused by the use of the Julian calendar provide multiple opportunities for historical confusion, people in Early Modern England had one other way of puzzling today's reader: regnal years.

Some original documents from the seventeenth century show dates as we would understand them. For example, a letter to Christopher Wase dated 1647 includes a line stating that Newport School ‘was founded by Mr William Adams [...] who died Anno 1661 aged about 70 years’(1).

However, it was still relatively common for dates to be shown as Regnal years. A lease made to William Cowper is described as having been made ‘29 September 2 Charles I’(2) meaning in the second year of the reign of Charles I. Charles was successor to James I who died on 27 March 1625, meaning that the date of accession for Charles I was 27 March 1625. That marks the start of his first regnal year. Therefore the second year of the reign of Charles I ran from 27 March 1626 to 26 March 1627. The date of that lease in modern terms, then, would be 29 September 1626.

In official records, the years of the Commonwealth or Interregnum (depending on your point of view) carry dates as we would now recognise them: the reign of Charles II is officially regarded as having begun on 30 January 1649 in modern terms.

Regnal years for seventeenth century:

Monarch James I Charles I Charles II
Accession date 25 March 1603 27 March 1625 30 January 1649
Regnal Year Dates Dates Dates
1 25/3/1603 to 24/3/1604 27/3/1625 to 26/3/1626 30/1/1649 to 29/1/1650
2 25/3/1604 to 24/3/1605 27/3/1626 to 26/3/1627 30/1/1650 to 29/1/1651
3 25/3/1605 to 24/3/1606 27/3/1627 to 26/3/1628 30/1/1651 to 29/1/1652
4 25/3/1606 to 24/3/1607 27/3/1628 to 26/3/1629 30/1/1652 to 29/1/1653
5 25/3/1607 to 24/3/1608 27/3/1629 to 26/3/1630 30/1/1653 to 29/1/1654
6 25/3/1608 to 24/3/1609 27/3/1630 to 26/3/1631 30/1/1654 to 29/1/1655
7 25/3/1609 to 24/3/1610 27/3/1631 to 26/3/1632 30/1/1655 to 29/1/1656
8 25/3/1610 to 24/3/1611 27/3/1632 to 26/3/1633 30/1/1656 to 29/1/1657
9 25/3/1611 to 24/3/1612 27/3/1633 to 26/3/1634 30/1/1657 to 29/1/1658
10 25/3/1612 to 24/3/1613 27/3/1634 to 26/3/1635 30/1/1658 to 29/1/1659
11 25/3/1613 to 24/3/1614 27/3/1635 to 26/3/1636 30/1/1659 to 29/1/1660
12 25/3/1614 to 24/3/1615 27/3/1636 to 26/3/1637 30/1/1660 to 29/1/1661
13 25/3/1615 to 24/3/1616 27/3/1637 to 26/3/1638 30/1/1661 to 29/1/1662
14 25/3/1616 to 24/3/1617 27/3/1638 to 26/3/1639 30/1/1662 to 29/1/1663
15 25/3/1617 to 24/3/1618 27/3/1639 to 26/3/1640 30/1/1663 to 29/1/1664
16 25/3/1618 to 24/3/1619 27/3/1640 to 26/3/1641 30/1/1664 to 29/1/1665
17 25/3/1619 to 24/3/1620 27/3/1641 to 26/3/1642 30/1/1665 to 29/1/1666
18 25/3/1620 to 24/3/1621 27/3/1642 to 26/3/1643 30/1/1666 to 29/1/1667
19 25/3/1621 to 24/3/1622 27/3/1643 to 26/3/1644 30/1/1667 to 29/1/1668
20 25/3/1622 to 24/3/1623 27/3/1644 to 26/3/1645 30/1/1668 to 29/1/1669
21 25/3/1623 to 24/3/1624 27/3/1645 to 26/3/1646 30/1/1669 to 29/1/1670
22 25/3/1624 to 24/3/1625 27/3/1646 to 26/3/1647 30/1/1670 to 29/1/1671
23 25/3/1625 to 27/3/1625 27/3/1647 to 26/3/1648 30/1/1671 to 29/1/1672
24 27/3/1648 to 30/1/1649 30/1/1672 to 29/1/1673
25 30/1/1673 to 29/1/1674
26 30/1/1674 to 29/1/1675
27 30/1/1675 to 29/1/1676
28 30/1/1676 to 29/1/1677
29 30/1/1677 to 29/1/1678
30 30/1/1678 to 29/1/1679
31 30/1/1679 to 29/1/1680
32 30/1/1680 to 29/1/1681
33 30/1/1681 to 29/1/1682
34 30/1/1682 to 29/1/1683
35 30/1/1683 to 29/1/1684
36 30/1/1684 to 29/1/1685
37 30/1/1685 to 6/2/1685

References:
1 Christopher Wase archive held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, CCC390.2 p145.
2 Izon, John (1974) The Records of King Edward’s School Birmingham A Supplementary Miscellany Vol. VI Dugdale Society (p95).