Manuscripts and Special Collections

Further reading

The following list includes a commentary for each of the items, indicating what they include and how they may be used in terms of dating documents:

  • C.R. Cheyney and M. Jones, A Handbook of Dates; Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks No. 4 (Cambridge, 2000)
    Effectively the 'bible' for dating documents. Includes explanations of the reckonings of time, lists of the regnal years of rulers, a list of popes, a list of saints' days and other festivals used in dating, explanation of legal chronology, calendars for every year (listed as calendars for all possible dates of Easter), the British Calendar for 1752 (when ten days were lost in order to accommodate the Gregorian Calendar) and a chronological table of Easter days. When deciphering regnal years or dates reckoned according to feast days, this is essential reading.
  • L.M. Munby, Dates and Time: a handbook for local historians (Salisbury, 1997)
    Another invaluable source, which provides a comprehensive overview of the way historical documents are dated. C. Waters, Dictionary of Saints Days, Fasts, Feasts and Festivals (2003)
  • E.B. Fryde, D.E. Greenway, S. Porter and I. Roy (eds), Handbook of British Chronology; Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks No. 2 (London, 1986)
    Another indispensable source. This includes lists of rulers, lists of officers of state (e.g. chancellors, prime ministers, secretaries of state), lists of archbishops and bishops, lists of peers, lists of parliaments and lists of councils of the Church of England. Invaluable for dating undated documents by reference to office holders, parliaments or councils.
  • B. Grun, Timetables of History (New York, 1991)
    Provides the dates of historical events from 5,000BC to 1990. Entries are divided into categories: history and politics; literature and theatre; religion, philosophy and learning; visual arts; music; science, technology and growth; and daily life. Accompanied by extensive indexing. Useful for dating undated documents from reference in the content to particular events.
  • D.A. Pickrill, Ministers of the Crown (London, 1981)
    List of names of individuals who have held ministerial posts, senior and junior. Effectively organised by government department, e.g. War Office, Defence, Trade and Industry, Education and Science and so on. Useful for dating undated documents from a reference to an office holder.

The volumes listed below are all part of a series. Generally, these include details of monarchs, a chronology of main events, details of governmental administrations and lists of public office holders, information on parliaments, details of election results, information on religious developments, lists of major treaties, details of campaigns of the armed forces, details of events in British colonies, details of major developments in law and order, society, economy and finance and local government. These volumes are also invaluable for dating undated documents according to references in the content to people or events:

  • K. Powell and C. Cook, English Historical Facts 1485-1603 (London, 1977)
  • C. Cook and J. Wroughton, English Historical Facts 1603-1688 (London, 1980)
  • C. Cook and J. Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1688-1760 (Basingstoke, 1988)
  • C. Cook and J. Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1760-1830 (London, 1980)
  • C. Cook and B. Keith, British Historical Facts 1830-1900 (London, 1975)
  • D. Butler and G. Butler, British Political Facts 1900-1985 (London, 1986)

Finally, the volumes listed below are useful for finding information about individuals who may be mentioned in documents, from which reference it is then possible to assign a date:

  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage - various editions
  • G.E. Cockayne, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom: extant, extinct or dormant, 14 vols. (London, 1910-1959)
  • Dictionaries of National Biography - for various countries

Of course, there are also numerous resources available online which may assist with dating. These should be reasonably accessible using standard search engines and so are not listed here. However, users should exercise a note of caution when assessing the validity of such sites, and ensure that they are both accurate and authentic.


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

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