Index

Discussion on area, money, volume and length


Area
Money
Volume
Length
Weight

Area

There are several references to land grants to my ancestor, Robert Deeble in the Dorchester town records, and elsewhere. These use units such as acres, goads and rods.

An acre (or 'aker') is 4840 square yards, or 1 furlong x 1 chain. It was the conventional way to measure land in Britain until recently.

I have not met a goad before, but I think it is a rood. This is 1210 square yards. There are 4 roods to an acre. The measurements in the third land grant to Robert Deeble which shows akers, goads and rodes has numbers in the goad column of 3 or less.

The rod (or 'rode') mentioned in the same grant is a square rod. (A rod is really a linear measurement, of 5.5 yards.) It is 30.25 square yards. There are 40 square rods to the rood. This confirms the meaning of 'goad' as the rods column in the land grant does not have numbers larger than 35.

For more on British units of area, see Imperial Measures of Area.


Money

There are several references to money concerning the school in the Dorchester town records, and elsewhere. These are in pounds sterling, shillings and pence.

This system of money was used in Britain until 1971. I remember it from my childhood. It was replaced with decimalisation, where the pounds were kept the same, the shilling abolished, and there were 'new' pence, with a hundred pennies to the pound.

In the old system, there were 12 pennies to the shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound. Accounts wrote the money in three coloumns, with the pounds, then shillings, then pence.

The symbol for pound was (and is) , but in the records, they sometimes write then as an abbreviation (small) 'ls'. The name 'pound' comes from the time when a pound of silver represented this amount of money, and the Latin for pound is libra. is in fact an elaborate version of L.

Amounts of money in the records could be written as three numbers with dashes between, as in 1-15-9. A more modern convention would be to use slashes and specify the , as in 1/15/9. This means one pound, fifteen shillings and nine pence. I sometimes use this convention when giving a modern interpretation of the records.

For more on pre-decomal British money, see Pre-decimal Sterling.


Volume

There are some references to bushels in Rev. Frederick Dibblee's Diary. A bushel is the same volume as 8 gallons or 64 pints, although it is used as a dry measure, such as for wheat. It is 1.28 cubic feet. The equivalent metric is over 36 litres, or about 36370 cc. However, that is the UK definition of bushel. I know that US units of volume are different to UK units, and units often change over time, anyway, so I'm not sure whether these amounts are the same that Rev. Frederick Dibblee was using. But a bushel was usually a basket or similar measure (hence "hide your light under a bushel"), so it may have been a fairly rough and ready measure anyway.

For more on British units of volume, see Imperial Measures of Volume.


Length

Rev. Frederick Dibblee's Diary also mentions some lengths. As I have mentioned, a rod is a linear measurement, of 5.5 yards or 5.03 metres (although it is sometimes loosely used as an area). When he talks of 4" of snow, he means four inches of snow, around ten centimetres. A single quote means feet, so 3' means three feet or a yard (roughly a metre).

For more on British units of length, see Imperial Measures of Length.


Weight

Rev. Frederick Dibblee's Diary mentions weights. A 'lb' is a pound (weight, as opposed to money), about 450 gms. He also talks about 'wt', such as 500 wt. This may be related to hundredweight. There are two types of hundredweight, a long hundredweight of 112 pounds (about 50 kilo) or a short hundredweight of a hundred pounds. Since Frederick talks about 23 wt., it sounds as if he is using wt. to mean lb.

For more on British units of weight, see Imperial Measures of Weight.