Composition of Yards and Perches

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The Composition of Yards and Perches (Latin: Compositio Ulnarum et Perticarum) or the Statute of Ells and Perches was a medieval English statute defining the length of the barleycorn, inch, foot, yard, and perch, as well as the area of the acre. Its date has been estimated at 1266–1303.[1]

The Latin text from the manuscript known as BL Cotton MS Claudius D 2 is translated in Ruffhead's Statutes at Large) as

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, 5 yards and a half make a perch, and 40 perches in length and 4 in breadth make an acre.[2][3]: 277 

A similar statement is made in Liber Horn (as published in The Statutes of the Realm):

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.[3]: 276 

The Composition of Yards and Perches belongs to a class of documents known as Statutes of uncertain date generally thought to be from c. 1250 to 1305. Although not originally statutes, they gradually acquired the force of law. In some early statute books Composition of Yards and Perches was appended to another statute of uncertain date, the Statute for the Measuring of Land also known as Statutum de Admensuratione Terrase, An Ordinance for Measuring of Land, sometimes (erroneously) listed as 33° Edward I. st. 6. (1305). The Composition of Yards and Perches was repealed by the Weights and Measures Act 1824 (5 George IV c. 74, par. 23).[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ronald Edward Zupko (1977). British weights & measures: a history from antiquity to the seventeenth century. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 10, 20–1. ISBN 9780299073404. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  2. ^ Ruffhead, Owen (1765). Statutes at Large |From the second year of the reign of King George the Third | And an Appendix consisting of O[illegible]s and Curious Acts, some of which were never [b]efore printed. Printed by M. Baskett. p. A421. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b Fowler, W. (1884). "On the ancient terms applicable to the measurement of land". Transactions. Vol. XVI. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  4. ^ Parliament of the United Kingdom (1824). "CAP. LXXIV". The statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1807-1865). p. 349.