Michaelmas, 29 September, marks the feast of St Michael the Archangel. Before the Julian calendar was introduced in 1752 the year began on Lady Day, 25 March and subsequent quarter days were Midsummer (24 June), Michaelmas (29 September) and Christmas (25 December). In rural communities, labour was hired by the year to begin at Lady Day or Michaelmas:
‘Higham Ferrers Michaelmas Fair will be held on the eleventh day of October this year and for the future’ (1803)
‘Wanted at Michaelmas next, a Farming Steward to a gentleman for a man of about 40 years of age, that has been brought up in the farming line from his youth, has a wife that perfectly understands dairy work and can be well recommended for his sobriety, honesty and due attention to business’ (1794)
This led to large numbers of people moving between farms with their families to take up new lodgings, and it was also a convenient date on which to let property.
‘To be let at Michaelmas next, a farm at Stoke in the hundred of Hoo’ (1780)
‘Michaelmas Removals are essentially the work of experts. Anyone – your coal dealer, greengrocer, or other odd man – may pose as a furniture remover but those who can discriminate know the difference between the best service and second or third rate work’ (1909)
Before the county court system was introduced in the late 19th century magistrates held courts on the quarter days which were known as the Quarter Sessions.
‘County of Rutland Michaelmas Quarter Sessions September 23rd 1952 including appointment of justices’ (1952)
There are Michaelmas myths:
‘The custom of eating goose on Michaelmas day is said to be attributed to Queen Elizabeth receiving news of the dispersal of the Spanish Armada while dining on goose and in commemoration of the event, she ever after dined on goose on Michaelmas day’ (1844)
‘Superstition says that the October blackberry is not good to eat. In some parts the saying is that the devil spits on it at the beginning of the month’ (1939)
‘At Nottingham Goose Fair as many as 15 or 20,000 geese might be seen the market place, each flock attended by a gooseherd with a crook, which he dexterously threw round the neck of any goose, and bright it out for inspection by the customer’ (1879)
And Michaelmas daisies:
‘Have you visits the nurseries? Why not? Pass a pleasant hour looking at the flowers. The Michaelmas daisies are now just making a fine show and many other interesting things are flowering’ (1928)This entry was posted in Blog, Historical records and tagged documentary records, house detective, house history, learning, old documents, old newspapers, record offices, research