Month

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MONTH. A space of time variously computed, as it is applied to astronomical, civil or solar, or lunar months.
     2. The astronomical month contains one-twelfth part of the time employed by the sun in going through the zodiac. In law, when a month simply is mentioned, it is never understood to mean an astronomical month.
     3. The civil or solar month is that which agrees with the Gregorian calendar, and these months are known by the names of January, February, March, &c. They are composed of unequal portions of time. There are seven of thirty-one days each, four of thirty, and one which is sometimes composed of twenty-eight days, and in leap years, of twenty-nine.
     4. The lunar mouth is composed of twenty-eight days only. When a law is passed or contract made, and the month is expressly stated to be solar or civil, which is expressed by the term calendar month, or when it is expressed to be a lunar month, no difficulty can arise; but when time is given for the performance of an act, and the word month simply is used, so that the intention of the parties cannot be ascertained then the question arises, how shall the month be computed? By the law of England a month means ordinarily, in common contracts, as, in leases, a lunar month; a contract, therefore, made for a lease of land for twelve months, would mean a lease for forty-eight weeks only. 2 Bl. Com. 141; 6 Co. R. 62; 6 T. R. 224. A distinction has been made between "twelve months," and "a twelve-month;" the latter has been held to mean a year. 6 Co. R. 61.
     5. Among the Greeks and Romans the months were lunar, and probably the mode of computation adopted in the English law has been adopted from the codes of these countries. Clef des Lois Rom. mot Mois.
     6. But in mercantile contracts, a month simply signifies a calendar month; a promissory note to pay money in twelve months, would therefore mean a promise to pay in one year, or twelve calendar months. Chit. on Bills, 406; 1 John. Cas. 99; 3 B. & B. 187; 1 M. & S. 111; Story on Bills, Sec. 143; Story, P. N. Sec. 213; Bayl. on Bills, c. 7; 4 Kent, Comm. Sect. 56; 2 Mass. 170; 4 Mass. 460; 6 Watts. & Serg. 179.
     7. In general, when a statute Speaks of a month, without adding "calendar," or other words showing a clear intention, it shall be intended a lunar month. Com. Dig. Ann. B; 4 Wend. 512; 15 John. R. 358. See 2 Cowen, R. 518; Id. 605. In all legal proceedings, as in commitments, pleadings, &c. a month means four weeks. 3 Burr. R. 1455; 1 Bl. Rep. 450; Dougl. R. 446 463.
     8. In Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and perhaps some other states, 1 Hill. Ab. 118, n., a month mentioned generally in a statute, has been construed to mean a calendar month. 2 Dall. R. 302; 4 Dall. Rep. 143; 4 Mass. R. 461; 4 Bibb. R. 105. In England, in the ecclesiastical law, months are computed by the calendar. 3 Burr. R. 1455; 1 M. & S. 111.
     9. In New York, it is enacted that whenever the term "month," or "months," is or shall be used in any statute, act, deed, verbal or written contract, or any public or private instrument whatever, it shall be construed to mean a calendar, and not a lunar month; unless otherwise expressed. Rev. Stat. part 1, c. 19, tit. 1, Sec. 4. Vide, generally, 2 Sim. & Stu. 476; 2 A. K. Marsh. Rep. 245; 3 John. Ch. Rep. 74; 2 Campb. 294; 1 Esp. R. 146; 6 T. R. 224; 1 M. & S. 111; 3 East, R. 407; 4 Moore, 465; 1 Bl. Rep. 150; 1 Bing. 307; S. C. 8 Eng. C. L. R. 328;. 1 M. & S. 111; 1 Str. 652; 6 M. & S. 227; 3 Brod. & B. 187; S. C. 7 Eng. C. L. R. 404.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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