Forty Years to Deliver a Horse?

The image accompanying this post is from a deed of gift of a horse from Lewis Demoss to James Poteet. That’s really not the point of this post.

Before Lewis’ signature, the document reads (in part):

Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this 22d Day of January in the year one thousand Seven hundred thirty Six seven.


After the signature of Lewis and the witnesses, it says:

On the back of which foregoing Deed of gift is there written Viz Memdum that on the 22d day of January 1767 [??] [??] was Delivered by the …

The 7 is really above the 6 and in fact the last “digit” of the year looks like the fraction 7/6.

Of course it’s not 7/6. The year is not meant to be 1776 or 1767 either.

The first date is 22 January 1736/7. That’s because during the time this document was written, the start of the new year was on 25 March–not on 1 January. 22 January would have been in the latter part of 1736 according to those who used 25 March as the start of the new year (for them 1737 would have started in March). 22 January would have been early in 1737 for those who used 1 January as the start of the new year.

As for the delivery date of 22 January 17 “7/6.”

That date appears to be incorrect, but not in the way one might think. It appears that the “3” in the year was omitted. That would make the date of delivery the same as the date the document was executed, which makes the most logical sense. The date can’t be 1776 as delivering a horse forty years after the date of the document seems a little bit improbable.

Sometimes what looks like errors are not errors.

And sometimes what looks like errors are errors.

We just have to think and contemplate so that we can discern the difference.



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