In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of twenty two years in the month of April last past ..."
Since this was written in June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?
} In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it } states: "... saith that he was of the age of twenty two years in the } month of April last past ..."
}
} Since this was written in June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 } years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

That's the way I'd take it. There's also something like "22 years old and more" on the date of a document, which I'd take similarly.

I'd class it as a contrapedantic (q.g.) with locutions like "I could care less ; ".

Approximates AmE "twenty two and a half".

R. J. Valentine
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In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

It's an unnecessary and undesirable redundancy. "April last" means "last April" and "April past" means a former April and not one coming this year or next. Put them together, and you've got "the last past April". Typical legal gobbledygook from two centuries last past.

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In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

Whatever he meant by it, you should take account of the probability that, like most people at that time, he had only the vaguest idea of his age, and, when asked for it, would just guess.

Don Aitken
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In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

Yes.
If you cut all the waffle of the lawyers who are paid by the word, it means that he said he was 22 last April.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
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In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

It sounds as if the writer was interpreting "past" as more of a participle than an adjective: the April that had passed most recently at the time of writing. As everybody has said, it's no help to comprehension these days. CDB
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In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it ... old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

It's an unnecessary and undesirable redundancy. "April last" means "last April" and "April past" means a former April and not one coming this year or next. Put them together, and you've got "the last past April". Typical legal gobbledygook from two centuries last past.

I disagree, Franke. 'of April last' sounds odd; it also might be interpreted as being the last day in April, by some people. 'April past' is awful; 'April last past' is both pretty and gets the meaning across. Then again, I often enjoy redundancy, I do.
Charles Riggs
In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

A logical interpretation of "in the month of April last past" is that it refers to a fully completed, i.e. "past" April, rather than a present, incomplete, April. If the petition is being made during April, say April 1840, then "in the month of April last past" logically refers to April 1839.

Peter Duncanson
UK (posting from a.u.e)
In my greatgreat-grandfather's petition to become a US citizen it states: "... saith that he was of the age of ... June 1840, does this mean that he was 22 years old in April of 1840 and was born in 1818?

I would take it to mean that.
It seems to me the collocation "last past" is a non-idiom. That is, the meaning of the phrase can be correctly inferred from the meanings of the individual words.
The New Shorter Oxford has a run-on entry for "last past", calling it obsolete and defining it to mean the same as one sense of "last" (3b):
Of a period, season, etc.: occurring next before the time of writing or speaking.
But it seems wrong to call it obsolete. Just as we can say about a train that the station last passed was Sunnyville, we should be able to say of a month that it was the last past, whether or not someone has previously used the phrase.

("Past" as a past participle is tagged obsolete, but it still seems understandable when used that way.)
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