fother

1

In England, 14th – 18th centuries, a unit of mass for lead, varying at different periods between 2184 and 2520 pounds. From the Old English fother, a cartload. It has a host of spellings, a few of which are: fozer, fodre, fudder, foulder, fodder. Some of its definitions:

By no later than the 18th century different at different locales and phases:

According to William Martin, 1794
Locale   Pounds
Derby 22½ cwt; 112-pound cwt 2520
Gainsborough and Stockwith 21½ cwt; 112-pound cwt 2408
Hull 19½ cwt; 120-pound cwt 2340
London 19½ cwt; 112-pound cwt 2184

Example 8, below, seems to indicate that the difference in the size of the fother in various markets was accommodated at the smelter by pouring the molten lead into moulds sized for a particular market.

Examples of Use

1

[in England] Piombo vi si vende a un peso che si chiama fadra che è libbre c xix e mezo di libbre c12 per cento.

Lead is sold by a unit of mass which they call a fodder, which is 19½ hundredweights, of the 112-pound hundredweight.

Chiarini, 1481.

Pegolotti, writing about 140 years earlier, describes lead as sold in London by the “ciarrea” (the charge, essentially the same unit with a different name), so the changeover to the fodder occurred during the 14th century. The erroneous “119½ libbre” encountered in Borlandi is the result of a scribe's or typesetter's having mistakenly run together the “c” (symbolizing hundredweight) and “xix”.

2

A fudder of Lede. Also lede ys sold by the fudder, xixc and dim make a fuddyr, after vxxxii to the C.

A fother of lead. Also lead is sold by the fother, nineteen and a half hundredweights make a fother, after five score and twelve [i.e., 112 pounds] to the hundredweight.

MS. Cotton, Vesp. E. IX, folios 86-110. 15th century.

3

for a fodder led....iij li vj s viij d.

Edward Peacock.
Excerpts from the Churchwardens' Accounts of the Parish of Leverton, in the County of Lincoln.
Archaeologia, or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity, vol 41, page 340 (1867).
The entry was made in 155X.

4

Lead uncast the foulder containing xix c. di. euery c. waying vxx xij pound

Lead uncast, the fother, containing 19½ hundredweights every hundredweight weighing 112 pounds. [5 times 20, plus 12. "di." is an abbreviation of the Latin for "half".]

[English] Commissioners of Customs, 1590.

5

The load of lead doth consist of 30. formels, and euerie formell containeth 6. stone, except two pound: and euerie stone doth consist of 12 pound.

Collection of English Statutes, 1615.

Note the 12-pound stone. The formell is then (6×12) − 2 = 70 pounds and the load 30×70 = 2100 pounds.

6

A loade of Ore with them is as much as foure or five horses can conveniently carrie, which by computation is some ten hundreth weight, and is also delivered by a measure called Load; foure of these Loads will make a Fother of Lead of twentie hundreth, their weight being 120 [pounds symbol] to the hundreth London weight; so one hundreth of Lead Ore maketh but 30 [pounds symbol] of Lead…

Gerard Malynes.
Vel Lex Mercatoria, or the Ancient Law-Merchant.…
London: Printed by Adam Islip, 1622.
Page 269.

7

Lead cast and uncast the fodder cont. 20 hundred weight

“A Subsidy granted to the King of Tonnage and Poundage and other summes of Money payable upon Merchandize Exported and Imported.”
A statute from the 12th year of Charles II, 1660. The selection is from the Booke of Rates, which is not part of the statute proper but developed from it. Both are printed in:
Statutes of the Realm, Volume 5: 1628-80, John Raithby, editor.
London: 1819.

8

FODDER, or FODER of LEAD; is a Weight containing eight Pigs, and every Pig one and twenty Stone and a half, which is about a Tun, or a common Wain or Cart-Load : I find also in the Book of Rates, mention of a Fodder of Lead, which is there said to be 2000 Weight; at the mines 'tis 2200 Weight and an half; among the Plumbers at London, 1900 and an half.

Worlidge, 1704.

Some interpretation may be required: “2000 Weight” = twenty hundred weight = 20 hundredweights = 2240 pounds (the modern long ton). “2200 Weight and an half” = 22½ hundredweights = 2520 pounds. “1900 and an half” = 19½ hundredweights = 2184 pounds.

FUDDER OF LEAD; that is, a Load or Piggs of 16 Hundred Weight.

Worlidge, 1704.

Sixteen hundredweights = 1792 pounds, much less than any other description. Why did Worlidge make two entries? Is one an error that failed to be removed? Was Worlidge trying to make a distinction between a fodder and a fudder? 

9

Fodder, or Fother. [prob. of fuder, Ger. a cart-load] a weight of lead, containing eight pigs, every pig weighing three stone and a half, reckoned at 2600 pounds in the book of rates, 2200½ at the mines, and 1900½ by the London plumbers. 

Bailey's Dictionary, 1772 edition.

 10

The lead, when smelted, is poured into moulds of various sizes, according to the different markets for which it is intended: Gainsborough, Hull, or London. Two blocks make a pig; and eight of these a fodder.

Stephen Glover, publisher; Thomas Noble, editor.
The History and Gazetteer of the County of Derby….
Derby: Printed by Henry Mozley and Son, 1831.
Volume 1, page 56.

2

In Tyneside, England, a unit of mass for coal, in concept the amount that could be conveyed by a cart drawn by one horse. 3 fother = 1 chaldron.

sources

1

Schedule of murage chargeable on divers goods.

for every “fother” of coals ½d.;

Reginald R. Sharpe, editor.
Calendar of Letter-Books Preserved among the Archives of the City of London at the Guildhall.
Letter-Book H. Circa A.D. 1375-1399.

London: Printed by John Edward Francis, 1907.
Page 298.
Probably written 1386.

2

From a contemporary record, dated 1349 (quoted hereafter), we learn that at this time the chaldron of mineral coal was equal to three fothers-the term “fother,” according to Mr. Taylor (ib., p. 170), properly signifying as much as could be conveyed in a cart with one horse.

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