In England, a measure of capacity for wine and ale, originally 256 gallons. (A bushel is 8 gallons; a quarter is 8 bushels; 4 quarters is 256 gallons. For centuries the ale barrel was exactly 1/8th of 256 gallons.)
Prior to the 14th century the tun for wine lost 4 gallons, becoming 252 gallons, a value given in 2 Henry VI c 14 (1423), 18 Henry VI c 17 (1439), 1 Richard III c 13 (1483) and 28 Henry VIII c 4 (1536). See wine barrel for a chart showing the tun's subdivisions (for wine) and its changes.
With the introduction of imperial measure in 1824, the tun became 210 imperial gallons. See barrel.
The above is the standard definition of the tun, but it is apparently not the only tun that existed. In a manuscript of 1507 we read:
He that ys a gawner [gauger] owght to understonde there ys in a tunne lx systerns and every systern ys iiii galons be yt wyne or oylle.1
Sixty sesters each of 4 gallons make a 240-gallon tun. According to Richard Hayes (1740):
However the Custom of London in many Commodities is found to disagree in their measures from Statute; as in Oyl it is observ'd, that 236 Gallons, by Merchants called the Civil Gauge, is ordinarily sold for a Tun, and not 252 Gallons, as above mentioned.
This “Civil Gauge” tun is four gallons less than the 240-gallon tun described in 1507, shrinking as the 256-gallon tun shrank to 252.
1. From a 1702 copy (British Museum Add. Roll, 16577) of a manuscript by T. Forgon, internally dated 15 July 1507, consisting of a list of customs duties on various
articles. Reproduced as Appendix C in
Norman Scott Brien Gras,
The Early English Customs System.
Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1918. Page 706.
2. Hayes, 1740, page 211.
In the United States, a unit of liquid capacity, = 252 U.S. gallons, approximately 953.9 liters.
In Malaysia1 and Singapore2, ? – 20th century , a unit of capacity, = 252 imperial gallons (about 1145.6 liters or 302.6 U.S. gallons).
1. United Nations, 1966.
2. Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 301.
In England, 17th century, 43 cubic feet of wood.
TIMBER-MEASURE. Forty three foot Solid, make a Tun of Timber, and fifty foot a Load.
Copyright © 2000 Sizes, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last revised: 8 October 2010.