We missed our recent 284th birthday.
Or, more accurately, I missed it! Because I was the person who should have remembered, having serialising the earliest surviving editions.
During that series, I concluded that the (missing) first edition of this, the world’s oldest English language daily newspaper, had been printed on September 6 1737, and not September 1, according to legend.
September 6 in the then Julian calendar is equivalent to September 17 in the modern Gregorian calendar we use today (see link below on last year’s story about the anniversary).
Date conversions get complicated, because there is an 11 day lag between then and now, but only a 10 day lag between 1690 and 2021, thus the Battle of the Boyne, fought on July 1 that year, is July 11 in our modern date (despite being commemorated on the 12th).
Confusion on the calendars helps explain why in 1838 News Letter itself got the date of the centenary of the earliest surviving 1738 edition wrong (due to an even more complicated aspect of the calendar change so that a March 1738 edition of the paper is actually wrongly thought to be our oldest surviving copy when in fact it is an October 1738 one).
The calendar was changed in 1752, so barely anyone alive in 1838 remembered the old system, in which March was actually at the end of the year.
That is my excuse for missing our latest anniversary ...
• Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter acting editor
• Ben Lowry 2020: The Belfast News Letter is 283 years old today
Other articles by Ben Lowry below, and beneath that information on how to subscribe to the News Letter:
• Ben Lowry September 25: Colum Eastwood is right to say that vaccine passports allow us to open up
• Ben Lowry Sep 25: A sunny autumn day in Co Down banishes some of my equinox gloom
• Ben Lowry Sep 4: Drivers are now well paid ... which reminds me of a job idea
• Ben Lowry Aug 28: Lagan Valley shows the challenges facing both unionism and Alliance
• Ben Lowry Aug 21: Unionists are more vulnerable to the fall of Stormont than republicans
• Ben Lowry Aug 21: Bigwigs should realise that there is no holiday before retirement
• Ben Lowry Aug 14: The collapse of Kabul to the Taliban will be seen as a sign of western weakness
• Ben Lowry Aug 7: Covid has been a bewildering and humbling pandemic
• Ben Lowry Aug 7: Now I understand those older people who want cooler summer weather
• Ben Lowry Aug 2: Three points to keep in mind when arguing against the NI Protocol
• Ben Lowry July 31: The last NI housing boom was disaster, and we need to beware a repeat
• Ben Lowry July 24: Hot weather ought to be welcome in NI but this is extreme
• Ben Lowry July 17: UK has tipped into an amnesty after a long approach to IRA that lacked bite
• Ben Lowry July 15: We should be honest as to how we have arrived at a Troubles amnesty
• Ben Lowry July 10: We will find soon if UK is for once going to criticise Ireland
• Ben Lowry July 10: I once always wanted England to lose, now I want them to win
• Ben Lowry July 3: The mild DUP response to the protocol will cause Boris little concern
• Ben Lowry June 26: Neither Dublin nor IRA have been put under any pressure on legacy
• Ben Lowry June 26: A slight sense of sadness as the days again begin to shorten
• Ben Lowry June 19: Somehow the appeasement of Sinn Fein got worse
• Ben Lowry May 22: Instead of ‘moving on’ from IRA funeral, we still need proper answers
• Ben Lowry May 22: If Joel Keys, 19, wants to help unionism he should get a law degree
• Ben Lowry May 15: Edwin Poots and Doug Beattie will offer two distinct shades of unionism
• Ben Lowry May 8: Formal UK ideas for an amnesty are almost exactly 20 years old
• Ben Lowry May 8: Let us hope that the brilliant Eoghan Harris keeps on writing
• Ben Lowry May 1: Unionism can’t just be about managing long-term defeat
• Ben Lowry April 17: DUP still has to choose between managing this disaster or total rejection of it
• Ben Lowry April 10: His enduring marriage to the Queen was key to our understanding of Prince Philip
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: We have made it through the worst of the dark, dreaded winter lockdown
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: MLAs lost control of abortion by rejecting modest law reform
• Ben Lowry Mar 13: Scotland tunnel isn’t fantasy, but something kids of today might see
• Ben Lowry Mar 6: The cost of victims’ pension has ballooned without explanation as to why
• Ben Lowry Feb 20: We still lack answers as to why IRA funeral got special treatment at Roselawn
• Ben Lowry Feb 13: Peter Robinson has long experience of what is and is not politically feasible
• Ben Lowry Jan 30: At last, clear reason for UK and unionists to stop being weak towards Ireland/EU
• Ben Lowry Jan 16: The Irish Sea border was imposed because UK knew unionists would take it
• Ben Lowry in 2020: Last night unionists celebrated a move towards Irish unity
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