Month: February 2015

1752 and all that

Just something for the amateur genealogist to remember.

1752, the year Britain and Ireland finally adopted the Gregorian calendar, started on March 25th and ended on December 31st. Not only was the year a short one, officially, but it also “contains” the famous missing eleven days as September 3rd was immediately followed by September 14th.

It’s something to bear in mind when checking those parish registers as prior to 1752 the year effectively ran from April to March and the old records will still show the old way. As an example, someone born in February 1741 to our mind would themselves say they were born in 1740. This can lead to confusion when researching so it is useful to be clear and record these dates as either (in this instance) February 1740 (O.S.) [old style], February 1741 (N.S.) [new style], or double date it thus: February 1740/1 to show we acknowledge the difference for any ancestors born January to March prior to 1753.

In Scotland, although the Julian calendar was still used up until 1752, the New Year changed to January 1st in 1600. Catholic European countries had made the change to the Gregorian calendar as far back as 1582.

Cape Police

At the start of the war there were some 750 members of the Cape Police. According to, a force so ubiquitous, and its services throughout the whole war so varied, that to give a connected account of its work is impossible. This is the unit that Philip Joseph Robinson joined in September 1900 and so must be* among the 14 men pictured in this old photograph of a Cape Police unit at Mafeking.

unit of soldiers

It shows their uniform though and the almost compulsory moustache wearing.

*won’t be

A little more light

Philip Joseph Robinson it seems did not serve with the Imperial Light Horse, despite saying that he had when completing his Kimberley Horse attestation papers in May 1902. This entry from the nominal rolls has the telling addition of “no trace” above the initials ILH (left hand side).


But it does at least add to the sum of knowledge so far.

Clearing up anomolies

To mix a metaphor, much of the last few days has been spent chasing a red herring over hill and dale. The report of a will mentioned in this post has to be examined and explained. And now it has been. The will in question refers not to Philip Joseph Robinson of Kimberley but to plain old Philip Robinson of Middleburg.

This is another example of someone taking some shared speculation and passing it on as fact, even embellishing it with middle names and a spouse. Somehow this original communication:

Philip [b4c3] left only tools of trade (£15) and a bicycle (£3) and stated in his Will that should Sir JB Robinson make any bequest to him, it to be equally divided between his son Philip [b4c3d1] and daughter Margaret Elizabeth Botha [born Robinson married to Zeiler Botha], and his grandson Philip Robinson [b4c3d1e1] and all his cattle to his grandson. Sir J.B. Robinson was the uncle of Philip [b4c3] and the brother of Philip [b4].

became this:

He (Philip Robinson) left a will in South Africa; He left only tools of trade (15 Pounds) and a bicycle (3 Pounds) and stated in his Will that should Sir JB Robinson make any bequest to him, it to be equally divided between his son Philip, married to Louisa Anderson, and daughter Margaret Elizabeth, married to Zeiler Botha, and his grandson Philip Benjamin Robinson, and all his cattle to his grandson. Sir JB was his uncle.

As you know if you’ve read the “Where it all began” section, I had made the mistake of thinking that this Philip was my ancestor when he turned out to be a great grand uncle so I suspect I share a portion of the blame for passing on the will and wondering out loud if it did refer to my great grandfather.

What’s the first rule of genealogy? Accept nothing as fact without proof!