Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What are Quarter Days?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
The Severe Steward
Loretta reports:

In my book Lord of Scoundrels, Lord Dain refers to an event occurring on Lady-Day.  He does not mean the singer Billie Holiday.

He’s referring to a Quarter Day, as do characters in many books.  These are important dates in the British calendar, as the following page illustrates.  It’s from a little instruction manual, The Guide to General Information on Common Things (1868).

Quarter Days
According to Hone’s Every-day Book, Vol 1,  “Lady Day is a holiday at the Public Offices, except the Excise, Stamp, and Custom.”  He describes various religious festivals associated with the day, then goes on to note:  “In England, Lady Day is only remembered as the first quarter-day of the year, and is therefore only kept by tenants who truly pay rent to their landlords.”

However, servants were customarily paid on quarter days as well.  Though we tend not to use religious holidays as the marking points nowadays, we do continue to to divide the year into quarters for various financial transactions, e.g. quarterly reports.

Image: William Redmore Bigg,The Severe Steward, or Unfortunate Tenant (1800-01), courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will allow you to read at the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

4 comments:

Regencyresearcher said...

For some time, March 25 was the beginning of the new year as well. Makes dating things difficult for modern scholars and people are always wondering if the date is OS or NS.Bills such as the Hardwicke act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriags were passed in 1753 but took effect on Lady's day 1754.
Terms for school and law courts were also based on quarter days.

Mark King said...

Celebrate ' New Year ' on my guided walk (with pubs ) tomorrow evening in London. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk /myevent? Eid=15769172018

Mark King said...

Celebrate ' New Year ' on my guided walk (with pubs ) tomorrow evening in London. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk /myevent? Eid=15769172018

Michael Tierney said...

The Quarter Days also correspond to what we celebrate as the first days of the seasons--the beginning of summer (summer solstice--Midsummer) and the beginning of winter (Winter solstice) and the beginning of spring and fall at the equinoxes.

 
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