Weights and Measures Acts (UK)

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The informal public imperial measurement standards erected at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London, in the 19th century: 1 British yard, 2 feet, 1 foot, 6 inches, and 3 inches. The inexact monument was designed to permit rods of the correct measure to fit snuggly into its pins at an ambient temperature of 62°F (1623°C).[1][2]
Bronze Yard №11, the official standard of length for the United States between 1855 and 1892, when the Treasury Department formally adopted a metric standard. Bronze Yard №11 was forged to be an exact copy of the British Imperial Standard Yard, which was ruined in 1834 during the Burning of Parliament. Both were line standards: the yard was defined by the distance at 62°F between two fine lines drawn on gold plugs (closeup, top) installed in recesses near each end of the bar.
A helium–neon laser at the Kastler-Brossel Laboratory at Univ. Paris 6. Britain's metric and imperial units of length and volume are now all ultimately derived from measurements of the speed of light in a vacuum.
Britain's units of mass are derived from national standards periodically reverified against the platinum & iridium International Prototype Kilogram stored beneath two bell jars in a basement vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures's headquarters at Pavillon de Breteuil in Paris. A display replica shown at Paris's Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie shown here.

Weights and measures acts are acts of the British Parliament determining the regulation of weights and measures. It also refers to similar royal and parliamentary acts of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland and the medieval Welsh states. The earliest of these were originally untitled but were given descriptive glosses or titles based upon the monarch under whose reign they were promulgated. Several omnibus modern acts are entitled the Weights and Measures Act and are distinguished by the year of their enactment.

There have been many laws concerned with weights and measures in the United Kingdom or parts of it over the last 1000 or so years. The acts may catalogue lawful weights and measures, prescribe the mechanism for inspection and enforcement of the use of such weights and measures and may set out circumstances under which they may be amended. Modern legislation may, in addition to specific requirements, set out circumstances under which the incumbent minister may amend the legislation by means of statutory instruments. Prior to the Weights and Measures Act of 1985, weights and measures acts were only concerned with trade law where the weight or size of the goods being traded was important. The 1985 act, however, had a broader scope, encompassing all aspects covered by the European Economic Community (EEC) European Commission directive 80/181/EEC.

As of 25 April 2012, the current primary legislation in the United Kingdom is the 1985 Act, which was last amended by statutory instrument in 2011.[3] Statutory instruments made under the authority of the Act do not amend the Act per se, but regulate particular areas covered by the Act.[4]

The Act is currently enforced by the 200 Trading Standards Offices managed by local authorities around the country. Definitions of units of measurements and the technical equipment relating to weights and measures are provided by the National Measurement Office, an agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Permitted units of measure[edit]

The Weights and Measures Act of 1897 made the provision that metric units could be used in addition to the traditional imperial units for purposes of trade.[5][6] In practice, the actual choice of units was restricted by price marking orders which listed packaging sizes and pricing structures that might be used in specific circumstances. For example, as of April 2012, wine for consumption on premises may only be sold in 125, 175, and 250 mL glasses while draught beer may only be sold in 13, 12, 23 and one pint glasses. Prior to 1973, when the United Kingdom joined the EEC, such specifications were almost all in imperial units.

As part of its attempt to harmonise units of measure between the member states of its Internal Market, the European Commission (EC) issued directive 80/181/EEC which set out the units of measure that should be used for what it called "economic, public health, public safety, and administrative" purposes. To comply with this directive, the Weights and Measures Act of 1986 extended the scope of Trading Standards responsibilities from just matters related to trade to all aspects of the directive. For example, it was the Trading Standards Office that criticised the use of sub-standard weighing machines in NHS hospitals.[7]

To help ease the EC's desired transition from sole use of imperial units to sole use of metric units, the directive permitted the use of what were termed "supplementary indicators"—the continued use of imperial units alongside the metric units catalogued by the directive (dual labelling). The initial intention was to prohibit dual labelling after the end of 1989, with metric units only being allowed after that date. This deadline was later extended: first to the end of 1999, then to the end of 2009. Finally, in 2007, the European Union (EU, as it had become) and the EC, confirmed that the UK would be permitted to continue indefinitely to use imperial units such as pints, miles, pounds and ounces as at present.[8] The Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards Department confirmed the EU ruling that the previous deadline for ending dual labelling had been abolished.[9]

As of 24 April 2012, there are still a few cases where imperial units are required to be used and where metric units are optional within the scope of the Weights and Measures Act. These are: the pint for the sale of draught beer and cider and of milk in returnable containers; miles, yards, feet and inches for road signs and distances; and troy ounces for the sale of precious metals. In addition, British law specifies which non-metric units may be used with dual labelling (for example the imperial gallon, but not the US gallon).[10]

England[edit]

Acts of the Witenagemot[edit]

Numerous acts of the Saxon kings are known to have been lost. Those that have survived include:

10th century[edit]

  • 2 Edgar c. 8 (959 x 963)[11]
be mynetum and ᵹemetum. of money and measures.
And ᵹanᵹe án mẏnet ofer ealne þæs cẏniᵹes anƿeald⋅ ⁊ þone nan man ne forsace⋅ ⁊ ᵹanᵹe án ᵹemet ⁊ án ᵹeƿihte⋅ sƿilce man on Lunden-bẏriᵹ ⁊ on Ƿintan-ceastre healde⋅ ⁊ ᵹa seo ƿæᵹe ƿulle to ⋅cxx⋅ p̃. ⁊ nan man hiᵹ undeoror ne sẏlle⋅ ⁊ ᵹif hƿa hi þonne undeoror sẏlle⋅ oþþe eaƿunᵹa oþþe dearnunᵹa⋅ ᵹilde æᵹðer þam cẏnᵹe ⋅xl⋅ scillinᵹá. ᵹe seþe hi sẏlle ᵹe seþe hi bẏcᵹe:⋅ And let one money pass throughout the king's dominion; and that let no man refuse: and let one measure and one weight pass; such as is observed at London and at Winchester; and let the wey of wool go for 120 pence; and let no man sell it cheaper; and if any one sell it cheaper, either publicly or privately, let each pay 40 shillings to the king, both him who sells it, and him who buys it.
The statute also survives in a few other Old English and Latin copies, some which omit mention of London and describe "the measure held at Westchester", an indication that a standard ell or yard was nominally in use:[12][13]
de moneta, et mensura, et pondere. on money, and measure, and weight.
Et sit una moneta per totum regis imperium, et nemo sonet eam; et mensura, sicut apud Wincestriam habetur. Et eat pondus lane pro dimidia libra, et nemo carius vendat eam. And let there be one money through all the king's dominion; and let no man refuse it; and [one] measure, as is held at Winchester. And let the weight of wool go for a half-pound, and no one sell it more dearly.
John Quincy Adams's 1821 report on the history of English weights and measures notes of this act that "it was never observed".[14]

Acts of the Royal Council[edit]

See also: Royal Council

11th century[edit]

De mensuris et ponderibus On measures and weights
Et quod habeant per universum regnum mensuras fidelissimas, & signatas, & pondera fidelissima & signata, sicut boni Praedecessores statuerunt.[15][16] We ordain and command that the weights and measures, throughout our realm, be as our worthy predecessors have established.[18]

12th century[edit]

Assize of Measures
"It is established that woollen cloths, wherever they be made, be made of the same width, to wit, of two ells within the lists [selvages], and of the same good quality in the middle and at the sides. Also the ell shall be the same in the whole realm and of the same length and the ell shall be of iron."

Acts of Parliament[edit]

Statutes of uncertain date[edit]

The statutes of uncertain date (Latin: Statuta temporis incerti) are generally dated to the mid-to-late 13th century.[20]

  • Statutum de Pistoribus, et cetera[22]
The Statute concerning Bakers, et cetera

  • Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris[23]
Also known as the Tractatus de Ponderibus, Compositio de Ponderibus ("The Composition of Weights"), Assisa de Ponderibus et Mensuris ("Assize of Weights and Measures"). It is important to note when reading it that, in the Latin and English text, "hundred" (and the Latin numeral c.) is used for four separate concepts: the Germanic long hundred of 120, the short hundred of 100, several units of either value, and a separate unit (the hundredweight) of 108 pounds.
The form in which it appears in Cotton MS Claudius D2 (where it is dated to 31 Edw. I) is:
Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris.

Per Ordinacionem tocius regni Anglie fuit mensura Domini Regis composita videlicet quod denarius qui vocatur sterlingus rotundus & sine tonsura ponderabit triginta duo grana frumenti in medio Spice.

Et uncia ponderabit viginti denarios. Et duodecim uncie faciunt libram London. Et duodecim libre & dimid’ faciunt petram London. Et octo libre frumenti faciunt galonem. Libra continet viginti solidos. Et octo galones faciunt bussellum London. Saccus lane debet ponderare viginti & octo petras & solebat ponderare unam summam frumenti & ponderat sextam partem unius carri de plumbo. sexies viginti petre faciunt carrum plumbi scilicet magnum carrum London’ set carrus del Peek est multo minus.

Item carrus plumbi constat ex triginta fotmallis & quodlibet fotmal continet sex petras duabus libris minus. Et quelibet petra habet duodecim libras & quelibet libra constat ex viginti quinque solidis in pondere. summa librarum in le fotmal lxx. summa petrarum in le Carre viii. xx. & xv. petre & probetur per sexies triginta que sunt novies viginti set in quolibet fotmal subtrahuntur due libre a predicta multiplicacione qe sunt lx. libre constituentes quinque petras. Ita sunt in le Carre viii. xx. xv. petre. secundum vero quosdam alios le Carre consistit ex xii. Weyes & hoc secundum troni ponderacionem. Weya enim tam plumbi quam lane lini sepi casei ponderabunt xiiii. petras.

Et duo Weye lane faciunt saccum. Et xii. sacci faciunt le last. Last vero allecis continet decem miliaria. Et quodlibet miliare continet x.c. Et quodlibet c. continet vi. xx.

Item last coriorum constat ex viginti dacris & quodlibet dacre constat ex decem coriis.

Item dacre Cirotecarum constat ex decem paribus dacre vero ferrorum equorum constat ex viginti ferris.

Item duodena cirotecarum pergameni & alute continet in suo genere xii. pelles vel xii. paria cirotecarum.

Item centena cere zucarii piperis cumini amigdalarum & alome continet xiii. petras & dimid’ & quelibet petra continet viii. li. summa librarum in centena cviii. libre. Et constat centem ex v. xx. Et quelibet libra ex viginti quinque solidis. Et sciend’ quod quelibet libra de denariis & speciebus utpote in electuariis consistit solummodo ex pondere xx. s. Libra vero omnium aliarum rerum consistit ex viginti quinque solidis. Uncia vero in electuariis consistit ex viginti denariis. Et libra continet xii. uncias. In aliis vero rebus libra continet quindecim uncias. uncia est hinc inde in pondere viginti denariorum. Centena lini & Canabi & linee tele consistit ex cent’ ulnis. Et quelibet Centena consistit ex vi. xx. Centena vero ferri & solidorum constat ex v. xx. Garba asseris constat ex triginta peciis. Duodena ferri ex sex peciis Item seem vitri constat ex xxiiii. petris & quelibet petra constat ex quinque libris. Et ita continet le seem vi. xx. libras.

Item binda anguillarum constat ex decem stiks. Et quelibet stik ex viginti quinque anguillis Binda pellium continet xxxii. timbr’ senellio cuniculorum & grisi continet quadraginta pelles. Cheef de fustiano constat ex tresdecim ulnis Caput sindonis ex decem ulnis Le rees allecium continet quindecim glenes. Et quodlibet glene continet viginti quinque capita. Item centene Mulvellorum & durorum piscium constat ex viii. xx.[23]

By Consent of the whole Realm the King’s Measure was made, so that an English Penny, which is called the Sterling, round without clipping, shall weigh Thirty-two Grains of Wheat dry in the midst of the Ear; Twenty-pence make an Ounce; and Twelve Ounces make a Pound and Eight Pounds make a Gallon [of Wine]; and Eight Gallons [of Wine] make a Bushel of London[; which is the Eighth Part of a Quarter]. A Sack of Wool ought to weigh Twenty-eight Stone, [that is Three hundred and fifty Pounds, and in some parts Thirty Stone, that is Three hundred and seventy-five Pounds, and they are the same according to the greater or lesser Pound]. Six times Twenty Stone, [that is fifteen hundred Pound,] make a Load of Lead, to wit the great Load of London, but the Load of the Peak is much less.

The Load of Lead doth consist of Thirty Formels, and every Formel containeth Six Stone, except Two Pound; and every Stone doth consist of Twelve Pound, and every Pound consisteth of the Weight of 25 Shillings, whereby the Sum in the Formel is Seventy Pound. But the Sum of the Stones in the Load is Eight Times Twenty and Fifteen, and it is proved by Six Times Thirty which is Nine Times Twenty. But of every Formel there are abated Two Pound in the foresaid Multiplication, which are Sixty, which make Five Stone. And so there are in the Load Eight Times Twenty and Fifteen as is aforesaid. According to some other, it consisteth of Twelve Weights, [and this is after Troy Weight]. [And the Sum of Stones in the Load is Eight Times Twenty and Eight Stones, and is proved by Twelve Times Fourteen.] There is a Weight, as well of Lead as of Wool, Tallow, and Cheese, and weigheth Fourteen Stone.

And Two Weights of Wool make a Sack, and Twelve Sacks make a Last. But a Last of [Red-]Herrings containeth ten thousand, and every Thousand containeth Ten hundred, and every Hundred six score. [Also a Last of White Herrings at London is sold for ten thousand, and each thousand consists of twelve hundred, and each hundred of five score. And this is the contrary of Red-Herrings, as is aforesaid.]

A Last of Leather doth consist of Twenty Diker, and every Diker consisteth of Ten Skins.

And a Diker of Gloves consisteth of Ten Pair of Gloves. Item—a Diker of Horse-shoes doth consist of Ten Shoes.

Item—a Dozen of Gloves, Parchment, and Vellum in their Kinds contain Twelve Skins, and Twelve Pair of Gloves.

Item—a Hundred of Wax, Sugar, Pepper, [Cinnamon, Nutmegs,] and Allum, containeth Thirteen Stone and a Half, and every Stone Eight Pound. The Sum of Pounds in a Hundred One hundred and eight Pounds, and the Hundred consisteth of Five Times Twenty, and every Pound of Twenty-five Shillings. Item—it is to be known, that the Pound of Pence, Spices, Confections, as of Electuaries, consisteth in weight of Twenty Shillings. But the Pound of all other Things weigheth Twenty-five Shillings. But in Electuaries the Ounce consisteth of twenty-pence, and the Pound contains twelve Ounces: but in other things the Pound contains 15 Ounces: but the Ounce in either case is in weight twenty-pence. Item—a Hundred of Canvass, and Linen Cloth consisteth of One hundred Ells and every hundred containeth Six Score. But the hundred of Iron and Shillings consisteth but of Five Score. The Sheaf of [Steel] consisteth of thirty pieces. The Seeme of Glass containeth Twenty-four Stone, and every Stone Five Pound. And so the Seeme containeth Six score Pound. The Dozen of Iron consisteth of Six Pieces.

A Bind of Eels consisteth of Ten Stikes, and every Stike Twenty-five Eels. But the Bind of Skins consisteth of Thirty-three Skins. A Timber of Coney-Skins and Grayes consisteth of Forty Skins. A Chef of Fustian consisteth of Fourteen Ells. A Chef of Sindon containeth Ten Ells. A Hundred of [Garlike] consisteth of fifteen Ropes, and every Rope containeth fifteen Heads. Also a Hundred of Mulvells and Hard Fish consists of six Score Fish[, and in some and many places of nine score; and this is of the hard Fish called Aberdene].[26]

One of the copies of the Tractatus contains the first use of the word avoirdupois in England. However, the word does not refer to a weight system but to a class of goods: viz., heavy goods sold by weight rather than by capacity, count, or other means. This copy of the Tractatus was written in Anglo-Norman French, however, it does not count as the first occurrence of the word in English.[25]

  • Statutum de Admensuratione Terrase[27]
Also known as "A Statute for the Measuring of Land" or "An Ordinance for Measuring of Land" or "33 Edw. I st. 6. (1305)".
"When an Acre of Land contianeth 10 Perches in Length, then it shall be in Breadth 16 Perches."

Ordinatum est quod tria grana ordei sicca et rotunda faciunt pollicem, et duodecim pollices faciunt pedem, tres pedes faciunt ulnam, quinque ulne et dimidia faciunt perticam, et quadraginta pertice in longitudine, et quatuor in latitudine, faciunt unam acram. It is ordained that 3 grains of barley dry and round do make an inch, 12 inches make 1 foot, 3 feet make 1 yard [lit. ell], 5 yards and a half make a perch [i.e., a rod], and 40 perches in length and 4 in breadth make an acre.
The Liber Horn account reads:[31]
"And be it remembered that the iron yard of our Lord the King containeth 3 feet and no more, and a foot ought to contain 12 inches by the right measure of this yard measured, to wit, the 36th part of this yard rightly measured maketh 1 inch neither more nor less and 5 yards and a half make a perch that is 16 feet and a half measured by the aforesaid yard of our Lord the King."
This document seems to have had the effect of redefining the yard, foot, inch, and barleycorn to 1011 of their previous values, but leaves the rod and acre unchanged. The rod thus became 16½ feet instead of 15.

13th century[edit]

There shall be but one Measure throughout the Realm.
Una Mensura vini sit per totum regnum nostrum & una mensura cervise & una mensura bladi scilicet quarter’ London’ & una latitudo pannorum tinctorum Russettorum & haubergettorum scilicet due ulne infra Listas. De ponderibus vero sit sicut de mensuris.[32] One measure of Wine shall be through our Realm, and one measure of Ale, and one measure of Corn, that is to say, the Quarter of London; and one breadth of dyed Cloth, Russets, and Haberjects, that is to say, two Yards within the lists. (2) And it shall be of Weights as it is of Measures.
The Magna Carta of 1215 was not ratified by Parliament until 1225, by which time it had become substantially abridged. Chapter 35 of the Magna Carta of 1215 (which dealt with weights and measures) became chapter 25 of the Magna Carta of 1225.

14th century[edit]

"Bushels and Weights shall be made and sent into every Country."
"Commissions to assay Weights and Measures shall be repealed, and none such granted."

Auncel Weight shall be put out, and Weighing shall be by equal Balance.
Enfement pur ce qe tres grant damage & desceit est fait au poeple par tant qe plusours marchantz usent dachater & poiser leines & autres marchandises par une pois qest appelle Aunsell’ Acorde est & establi qe celle pois appelle Aunsell’ entre achatour et vendour soit del tout ofte & qe chescun vend & achat par balances iffint qe les balances soient owels & les leines & autres marchandises owelment poisez par droit pois & qe le sak de leine ne poise qe vint & sys peres & chescun pere poise quatorze livres & qe lestater de la balance ne encline ne a lune partie ne al autre & qe le pois soit acordant al estandard del Escheker. Et si nul achatour face al encontre soit grevousement puny sibien a la seute de partie come a la seute nostre Seignur le Roi. Item, Whereas great Damage and Deceit is done to the People, for that divers Merchants use to buy and weigh Woolls and other Merchandises, by a Weight which is called Auncel; it is accorded and established, That this Weight called Auncel betwixt Buyers and Sellers, shall be wholly put out; (2) and that every Person do sell and buy by the Balance, so that the Balance be even, and the Woolls and other Merchandizes evenly weighed by the right Weight, so that the Sack of Wooll weigh no more but 26 Stones, and every Stone to weigh 14 l. and that the Beam of the Balance do not bow more to the one Part than to the other; (3) and that the Weight be according to the Standard of the Exchequer. (4) And if any Buyer do the contrary, he shall be grievously punished, as well at the Suit of the Party, as at the Suit of our Lord the King.

Every Measure shall be according to the King's Standard; and shall be striked without Heap; saving the Rents of Lords.
Auxint come contenue soit en la Grande Chartre qe une mesure soit usee parmy tout Engleterre la quele chartre nad mie este tenu bien en ceo point avant ses heures si est acorde & assentu qe touz les mesures cest asavoir bussel dimid' bussel & peck galon potel & quart par toute Engleterre deinz fanchise & dehors soient acordauntz al estandard nostre Seignur le Roi & contiegne le quartre oet busselx par lestandard & nient pluis. Et soit chescune mesure de blee rase fanz comble sauvez les rentes & fermes des Seignurs queles soient avant ces heures. Et facent les purveours le Roi ma dame la Roigne & touz autres lours purveances par meismes les mesures rases & en meisme le manere Et a toutes les foitz qe mestier serra Nostre Seignur le Roi assignera certeines Justices en chescune countee denqueer & doier & terminer sur les pointz suisditz & de faire sur ce due punissement solone chescun trespas siebien a la seute de partie come a la seute le Roi. Iffint totes soitz qe toutes maneres des franchises soient sauvez as Seignurs en toutz pointz saunz nul emblemissement ent faire en quecumqe manere. Item, Whereas it is contained in the Great Charter, that one Measure shall be throughout England, which Charter hath not been well kept and holden in this Point in Times past; (2) it is accorded and assented, That all the Measures, that is to say, Bushels, Half-bushels, Peck, Gallon, Pottle, and Quart, throughout England, within the Franchises and without, shall be according to the King's Standard; (3) and the Quarter shall contain Eight Bushels by the Standard, and no more. (4) And every Measure of Corn shall be striken without Heap, saving the Rents and Ferms of Lords, which shall be measured by such Measures as they were wont in Times past. (5) And the Purveyors of the King, of the Queen, and all other, shall make their Purveyances by the same Measure striked in the same Manner, and at all Times that shall be needful. (6) And our Lord the King shall assign certain Justices in every County to inquire, hear, and determine upon the Points aforesaid, and upon the same to do Punishment according to the Trespass, as well at the Party's Suit, as at the King's; (7) so always, that all Manner of Franchises be saved to the Lords in all Points without Blemish to be made in any Manner.

There shall be but one Weight, Measure and Yard throughout the Realm.
...un pois, un mesure, et un verge soit per tut la terre... ...one weight, one measure [of volume], and one [measuring] stick shall there be through all the land...
A chapter of the Statute of the Staple that provides for justices to be appointed to hear charges of measuring fraud at the staple ports. Those found guilty were liable for quadruple damages and 2 years' imprisonment.
"No Wool shall be bought by Fraud to abate the Price thereof. Weights shall be sent to all the Shires."
"All Vessels of Wine, Honey, and Oil brought into this realm shall be gauged."
"There shall be but one Weight and one Measure throughout the Realm, saving in the County of Lancaster. The Weight of Wool, and the Refuse thereof."
"There shall be but eight Bushels of Corn striked to the Quarter."
"The Clerk of the Market shall carry with him all his Weights and Measures signed."

15th century[edit]

An Act concerning the true Measure of Corn.
"There Shall be no gilding of Silver Ware but of the Allay of English Sterling."
First notice of troy weight in statute.[45]
"Every City and Borough shall have a common Balance and Weight. Who may buy Wool and Yarn."
"There shall be but one Measure of Cloth through the Realm by the Yard and the Inch, and not by the Yard and Handful, according to the London Measure."
"Item – come il foit meritorie & almoigne a departer la veritee de la desciet si come jatarde en un parlement tenuz a Westm' la fuist ouste un rayme..."
"Vessels of Wine, Oyl, and Honey, shall be gauged"
Item—pur ceo qe toutz les tonels pipes tertians & hoggeshedes de vin oyle & mele... Item—Because all the Tuns, Pipes, Tertians and Hogsheads of Wine, Oyl, and Honey...
An Act for Weights and Measures.
"The Names of the Cities and Towns limited for the keeping of Weights and Measures."
An Act for Weights and Measures.
"That the Measure of a Bushel contain viij. Gallons of Wheat, and that every Gallon contain viij. li. of Wheat of Troy Weight, and every Pound contain xij. Ounces of Troy Weight, and every Ounce contain xx. Sterlings, and every Sterling be of the Weight of xxxij. Corns of Wheat that grew in the Midst of the Ear of Wheat, according to the old Laws of this Land."

16th century[edit]

"And whereas heretofore the merchaunte paid for coynage of every pounde Towre of fyne gold weighing xi oz. quarter Troye ii s. vi d. Nowe it is determyned by the king's highness, and his said councelle that the foresaid pounde Towre shall be no more used and occupied but al maner of golde and sylver shall be wayed by the pounde Troye, which maketh xii oz. Troy, which exceedith the pounde Towre in weight iii quarters of the oz."
An Act that no Brewers of Beer or Ale shall make their Barrels, Kilderkins or Firkins within them, and how much the same Barrels, et cetera shall contain.
An Act for flesh to be sold by weight, and the prices limited.
"Beef, pork, mutton and veal shall be sold by weight called Haver-de-pois."
"An acre shall be counted 160 perches, and every perch 16-foot and a half.
An Act for the true making of Woolen Cloth.
"XIV. And that all and every Broad Cloth and Clothes called Taunton Clothes, Bridgwaters, and other Clothes which shall be made after the said Feast in Taunton, Bridgwater or in other Places of like Sort, shall contain at the Water in Length betwixt twelve and thirteen Yards, Yard and Inch of the Rule, and in Breadth seven-Quarters of a Yard: (2) And every narrow Cloth made after the said Feast in the said Towns or elsewhere of like Sorts, shall contain in the Water in Length betwixt three and twenty and five and twenty Yards, Yard and Inch as is aforesaid, and in Breadth one Yard of like Measure; (3) and every such Cloth, both Broad and Narrow being well scowred, thicked, milled and fully dried, shall weigh xxxiv. li. the Piece at the least."
"XV. And that all Clothes named Check-Kersie and Straits, which shall be made after the said Feast shall contain being wet between seventeen and eighteen Yards, with the Inches as is aforesaid, and in Breadth one Yard at the least at the Water; and being well scowred, thicked, milled and fully dried, shall weigh xxiv. li. the Piece at the least."
An act touching the making of woolen clothes.
"IX. Item, That every ordinary kersie mentioned in the said act shall contain in length in the water betwixt xvi. and xvii. yards, yard and inch; and being well scoured thicked, milled, dressed and fully dried, shall weigh nineteen pounds the piece at the least:..."
An Act touching the true melting, making and working of Wax.
"...fill and sell or cause to be filled or sold or offered to be sold any Barrel, Kilderkin or Firkin with Honey, for or in the Name of a Barrel, Kilderkin or Firkin containing less than two and thirty Wine Gallons the Barrel, sixteen Wine Gallons the Kilderkin, and eight Wine Gallons the Firkin; every Person and Persons so offending shall forfeit and lose for every Half Gallon so lacking five Shillings of English Money."

An Act against converting of great Houses into several Tenements, and for Restraint of Inmates and Inclosures, in and near about the City of London and Westminster.
"... A Mile shall contain eight Furlongs, every Furlong forty Poles, and every Pole shall contain sixteen Foot and an half."[57]
This is the codification and namesake of the statute mile.
An act for the reformation of sundry abuses in clothes, called Devonshire kerjies or dozens, according to a proclamation of the thirty-fourth year of the reign of our sovereign lady the Queen that now is.
"(2) and each and every of the same Devonshire kersies or dozens, so being raw, and as it cometh forth off the weaver's loom (without racking, stretching, straining or other device to encrease the length thereof) shall contain in length between fifteen and sixteen yards by the measure of yard and inch by the rule, ..."

17th century[edit]

An Act for the better ordering and regulating of the Office of Clerk of the Market, allowed and confirmed by this Statutes; and for the Reformation of false Weights and Measures.
An Act for ascertaining the Measures of Corn and Salt.
First mention of Winchester bushel in statute.
An additional Act for ascertaining the Measures of Corn and Salt.
"...every round bushel with a plain and even bottom being eighteen inches and a half wide throughout and eight inches deep shall be determined a legal Winchester bushel according to the Standard of His Majesty's Exchequer."
First definition of Winchester bushel in statute (≈2150.42 cubic inches).

18th century[edit]

An Act for ascertaining the Measures for retailing Ale and Beer.
An Act to ascertain the Water Measure of Fruit.

Britain[edit]

Acts of Parliament[edit]

18th century[edit]

An Act for continuing several Subsidies, Impositions and Duties, and for making Provisions therein mentioned to raise Money by Way of Loan for the Service of the War, and other Her Majesty's necessary and important Occasions, and for ascertaining the Wine Measure.
"...any Vessel containing two hundred thirty one cubical Inches and no more shall be deemed and taken to be a lawful Wine Gallon..."
This statute is the origin of the US gallon, also known as the Queen Anne Gallon, Queen Anne Wine Gallon, or pre-1824 British gallon.

  • False Weights and Scales Act 1770 or 10 Geo. III c. 44[67]
An Act for more effectually preventing Traders in exciseable Commodities from using false Weights and Scales and for explaining and amending several Acts of Parliament relating to Hackney Coaches and Chairs

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1795 or 35 Geo. III c. 102[68]
An Act for the more effectual Prevention of the Use of defective Weights, and of false and unequal Balances.

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1797 or 37 Geo. III c. 143[69]
An Act to explain and amend an Act made in the thirty-fifth Year of the Reign of his present Majesty, intituled, An Act for the more effectual Prevention of the use of defective Weights, and of false and unequal Balances.

19th century[edit]

An Act for the more effectual Prevention of the Use of false and deficient Measures.

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1824 or 5 Geo. IV c. 74[71]
An Act for ascertaining and establishing Uniformity of Weights and Measures.
This is the origin of Imperial units. This statute repeals nearly all previous weights and measures legislation, listing them in chronological order (by regnal year but without dates) beginning with "ancient statutes of uncertain date."

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1825 or 6 Geo. IV c. 12[72]
An Act to prolong the Time of the Commencement of an Act of the last Session of Parliament, for ascertaining and establishing Uniformity of Weights and Measures and to amend the said Act.

An Act to amend and render more effectual Two Acts of the Fifth and Sixth Years of the Reign of His late Majesty King George the Fourth, relating to Weights and Measures.

Also known as the Weights and Measures Act of 1835; originally entitled "An Act to repeal an Act of the Fourth and Fifth Year of His present Majesty relating to Weights and Measures, and to make other Provisions instead thereof".
Established the imperial stone & hundredweight of 14 and 112 lbs. respectively, based on the wool stone of Edward III

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1855 or 18 & 19 Vict. c. 72.[75]
An Act for legalising and preserving the restored Standards of Weights and Measures
"...the Imperial Standard Pound Avoirdupois and shall be deemed to be the only Standard Measure of Weight from which all other Weights and other Measures having Reference..."

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1859 or 22 & 23 Vict. c. 56[76]
An Act to amend the Act of the fifth and sixth years of King William the Fourth, chapter sixty-three, relating to weights and measures.
  • Metric Weights and Measures Act 1864 27 & 28 Vict. c. 117[77]
An Act to render permissive the Use of the Metric System of Weights and Measures.

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1878 or 41 & 42 Vict. c. 49[78]
An Act to consolidate the Law relating to Weights and Measures.
This statute abolished the troy pound, effective January 1879.[79]

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1889 or 52 & 53 Vict. c. 21[80]
An Act for amending the Law relating to Weights and Measures and for other purposes connected therewith.

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1897 or 60 & 61 Vict. c. 46.[81]
An Act to legalise the Use of Weights and Measures of the Metric System.

  • "The Weights and Measures Acts of 1878 to 1893" was the collective title of the following Acts:[82]
    • The Weights and Measures Act of 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c 49)
    • The Weights and Measures Act of 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. c 21)
    • The Weights and Measures (Purchase) Act of 1892 (55 & 56 Vict. c. 18)
    • The Weights and Measures Act of 1893 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 19)

20th century[edit]

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1926 or 16 & 17 Geo. V c. 63
Sale of Food (Weights and Measures) Act.

  • Weights and Measures etc Act of 1976[87]

  • Weights and Measures Act of 1985[3]
This act excluded weight or measure by the bushel; chain; cubic inch, foot, or yard; dry or fluid dram; furlong; grain; short or long hundredweight; square mile; apothecary's ounce; peck; pennyweight; quarter; quintal; rood; scruple; stone; or metric, short or long ton from commercial use as part of the process of metricating retail sales.[88]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bennett (2004), p. 8.
  2. ^ Ewart (1862), pp. 112–113.
  3. ^ a b "Weights and Measures Act 1985", Legislation.gov.uk, retrieved 25 September 2014 
  4. ^ "Full Legislation List", Tradingstandards.gov.uk, Trading Standards Office, retrieved 25 April 2012 
  5. ^ "Tuesday, August 10, 1897" (PDF), The London Gazette, 10 August 1897, p. 4481 
  6. ^ "House of Lords", Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), London, 22 July 1897, col. 695–696 
  7. ^ "House of Lords", Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), London, 25 February 2010, col. 1081–1083 
  8. ^ Verheugen, Günter (11 September 2007), "Exclusive: Your pint safe in EU hands", Ec.europa.eu, retrieved 10 November 2007 
  9. ^ "Clearing Up the Metric Muddle", Tradingstandards.gov.uk, Gloucester: Trading Standards Office, 4 April 2010, retrieved 24 April 2012 
  10. ^ UK Parliament. The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations (2006) as made, from legislation.gov.uk.
  11. ^ Thorpe, Benjamin (1840), "The Laws of King Edgar", Ancient Laws and Institutes of England; Comprising Laws enacted under the Anglo-Saxon Kings from Æthelbirht to Cnut, With an English Translation of the Saxon; The Laws called Edward the Confessor's; The Laws of William the Conqueror, and those ascribed to Henry the First: Also, Monumenta Ecclesiastica Anglicana, From the Seventh to the Tenth Century; And the Ancient Latin Version of the Anglo-Saxon Laws. With a Compendious Glossary, &c., London: Commissioners of the Public Records of the Kingdom, p. 113 . (Old English) & (Latin) & (English)
  12. ^ Felix Liebermann (1903). Die gesetze der Angelsachsen: Text und übersetzung. Max Niemeyer. pp. 204–6. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Thorpe (1840), p. 525.
  14. ^ a b Adams, John Quincy (1821), Report upon Weights and Measures: Prepared in Obedience to a Resolution of the Senate of the Third March, 1817, Washington: Gales & Seaton, p. 22 
  15. ^ a b Wilkins, David (1721), Leges Anglo-Saxonicæ Ecclesiasticæ & Civiles. Accedunt Leges Eduardi Latinæ, Guilielmi Conquestoris Gallo-Normannicæ, et Henrici I. Latinæ. Subjungitur Domini Henr. Spelmanni Codex Legum Veterum Statutorum Regni Angliæ, quæ ab ingressu Guilielmi I. usque ad annum nonum Henr. III. edita sunt. Toti Operi præmittitur Dissertatio Epistolaris admodum Reverendi Domini Guilielmi Nicolsoni Episcopi Derrensis De Jure Feudali Veterum Saxonum [The Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical and Civil Laws: The Laws of Edward in Latin, of William the Conqueror in Norman French, and of Henry I in Latin, to which is Appended the Legal Code of Old Statutes of the Kings of England of Lord Henry Spelman, which were Published from the Beginning of William I up to the 9th Year of Henry III., the whole work prefaced by the Epistolary Dissertation of the Most Rev. Lord William Nicolson, Bishop of Derry, on the Feudal Law of the Old Saxons], London: Wm. Bowyer for Rob. Gosling, p. 228 . (Latin) & (Norman French) & (Old English)
  16. ^ Schmid, Reinhold, ed. (1858), Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen: In der Ursprache mit Uebersetzung, Erläuterungen und einem antiquarischen Glossar [The Laws of the Anglo-Saxons: In the Original Language with Translation, Explanatory Notes, and an Antiquarian Glossary], Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, p. 355 . (German) & (Old English) & (Latin)
  17. ^ Clarke, William (1767), The Connexion of the Roman, Saxon, and English Coins Deducing the Antiquities, Customs, and Manners of Each People to Modern Times; Particularly the Origin of Feudal Tenures, and of Parliaments: Illustrated throughout with Critical and Historical Remarks on Various Authors, both Sacred and Profane, London: W. Bowyer & J. Nichols, p. 150 
  18. ^ Wilkins[15] & Folkes, cited by Clarke,[17] cited by Adams.[14]
  19. ^ Alfred Edward Bland; Richard Henry Tawney (1919). English economic history: select documents. Macmillan Co. pp. 154–5. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Great Britain (1863). The public general acts. Proprietors of the Law Journal Reports. p. 270. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Smith, Adam (1827), An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, University Press for T. Nelson and P. Brown, p. p. 77, retrieved 31 December 2011 
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  25. ^ a b c "Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris", Sizes.com, retrieved 25 September 2014 
  26. ^ Per the 1810 Statutes of the Realm,[24] which differs in several particulars from the original Latin text, following Norman French copies or new emendations[25] (shown in brackets). For a discussion of the textual changes (e.g., the Latin text described gallons of wheat) and relevant archaeological findings (e.g., that the penny during this period seems to have actually consisted of 30 Tower grains rather than 32), see the article at Sizes.com.[25]
  27. ^ Ruffhead (1763a), p. 152.
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  30. ^ BL Cotton MS Claudius D2.
  31. ^ Fowler, W. (1884), Transactions, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, p. p. 276, retrieved 8 January 2012 
  32. ^ Ruffhead (1763a), p. 7.
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  44. ^ Ruffhead (1763a), p. 499.
  45. ^ ?, 1864, pp. 5–6 
  46. ^ Ruffhead (1763a), pp. 542–544.
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  49. ^ Evans (1836), pp. 312–313.
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  51. ^ Pickering, Danby, ed. (1763d), The Statutes at Large, Vol. IV: From the First Year of King Richard III. to the Thirty-first Year of King Henry VIII. inclusive. To which is prefixed, A Table containing the Titles of all the Statutes during that Period., Cambridge: Joseph Bentham for Charles Bathurst, pp. 219–223 . (English) & (Latin)
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  56. ^ Pickering (1763f), p. 433.
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  60. ^ Pickering, Danby, ed. (1763h), The Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII: From the Twelfth Year of King Charles II., to the Last Year of King James II. inclusive. To which is prefixed, A Table containing the Titles of all the Statutes during that Period., Cambridge: Joseph Bentham for Charles Bathurst, pp. 287–289 
  61. ^ Pickering (1763h), pp. 353–355.
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  71. ^ Rickards, George Kettilby (ed.), The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 5 George IV, 1824, London: His Majesty's Statute and Law Printers for J. Butterworth & Son, pp. 339–354 
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  82. ^ The Short Titles Act 1896, s. 2(1) & Schedule 2.
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External links[edit]