The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

Some Customary English Weights and Measures

The most comprehensive site for definitions, that I've come across so far, is found HERE. This is the introductory page on it and well-worth reading first.
To look up specific definitions on the site the alphabetical links list is found HERE.

Many of the terms used in Rowbottom are familiar to those of us who were schooled in the days of imperial weights and measures, but I've included definitions and some rough equivalents in our decimal system (in use since early 1971). For the more obscure measures used by Rowbottom, in his diary, I've based my definitions on the above site.

This is a unit of volume, used for dry goods, and is equal to 8 Imperial gallons, in volume.

"a traditional unit of length for yarn in Scotland and northern England. One cut equals 1/12 hank, a unit varying with the material. A cut of cotton yarn is 70 yards; a cut of wool is 46 2/3 yards."
extracted from website above

dozen (doz)
Numerically equal to 12 items (traditionally, a 'Baker's dozen' was 13 items)

A measure of length for yarn. The length of yarn in a hank varied, for eg, a hank of cotton yarn would be 840 yards of yarn, but a hank of wool yarn was 560 yards. For both cotton and wool, the hanks were equal to 7 leas (which also vary according to the yarn - wool, cotton or silk) and sometimes referred to as a skein, or to 12 cuts.
See website above for more details

horse load
= 2 baskets according to an entry in Rowbottom's diary.

hundredweight (cwt)
The British hundredweight (cwt) is equal to 112 pounds (lbs). There were 20 cwt in an imperial ton.

In Britain this was a traditional, and variable, unit of volume, varying with the type of goods being carried. On average it could be 40 bushels (320 imperial gallons in volume)

this is a unit of volume, originally used for both liquids and solids but now more usually for dry goods such as grains, berries, and fruits. A peck is 2 gallons, 8 quarts, or 1/4 of a bushel.

pound (lb)
A unit of weight equalling 16oz ( ounces).

quart (qt)
A unit of volume, which exactly equals 1/4 of a gallon. It was used for measuring both liquid and dry goods. A quart is the equivalent of 2 pints of liquid.

Numerically equal to 20 items.

stone (st)
A unit of weight. Originally the stone varied in size, according to place and the type of item being weighed. "A stone of sugar was traditionally 8 pounds, while a stone of wool could be as much as 24 pounds. Eventually the stone was standardized at 14 pounds."
extracted from website above

This unit of volume, varied but was usually about 2 bushels.
Rowbottom tells us in his diary that 8 strikes at the market equalled 1 load.

Rowbottom tells us in his diary that there were 24 sheaves in a thrave.
The sheaves would each be about 30 inches (approx 76 cms) in circumference.

The British imperial ton is equal to 20cwt (or 2240 lbs).

A measurement of weight, usually equal to 4 stone (or 56lbs). The truss was mainly used for measuring hay. In 1795, Parliament ruled that a truss of old hay should equal 56lbs, one of new hay should weigh 60lbs.
Rowbottom mentions a truss weighing 3 and a half stone

Some rough equivalents

money equivalents with abbreviations:
farthing = a quarter of a penny; 1/4d
halfpenny (h'penny) = 2 farthings; 1/2d
1 penny (d.)
12 pence = 1 shilling; 1/- (equivalent in decimal currency 5p)
20 shillings = 1 pound; £1
21 shillings = 1 guinea = £1/1/- ; (£1 1s. 0d.
a florin = 2 shillings; 2/- (equivalent in decimal currency 10p)
half a crown = 2 shillings and 6 pence, 2/6, 2s 6d. (equivalent in decimal currency 12 and a 1/2p
a crown = 5 shillings; 5/- (equivalent in decimal currency 25p)

weight equivalents with abbreviations:
16oz (ounces) = 1lb ( pound); approx 454 grams. (just under 1/2 a kg.)
14lb = 1 stone
8 stone = 1 cwt (hundredweight)
20 cwt = 1 ton (imperial)

length equivalents with abbreviations:
12 inches (12") = 1 foot (1ft.) = approx. 30 cms.
36 inches or 3 feet = 1 yard (yd); (39 inches = 1 metre approx. )
1,760 yards = 1 mile (5/8 mile = approx. 1km)

Volume equivalents with abbreviations:
pint = 1pt (slightly over 1/2 a litre)
quart = 2pts (approx. 1136ml)
4 pints = 2272ml
gallon = 8 pints or 4 quarts

Return to Commodities Page

Peterloo project Menu Page
Peterloo project
Peterloo Project Pages
on our companion website,