1 Richard III, chapter 13

The text is that of the English version printed in Statutes of the Realm, vol. II, page 496, with the following changes: Extra paragraph breaks have been added, even in the middle of sentences, because such chunking of the text makes it easier for a modern reader to grasp the meaning. The special ligatures and symbols needed to represent abbreviations common in 15th-century handwriting, for which no equivalents exist in online fonts, have been spelled out.

An Act for the Contents of a Butt of Malmesey

TO the Kinge oure Sovraigne Lorde.1

Shewed unto your highnesse, lamentably compleynyng youre humble Commons of this your present parliament assembled, in the name of theym self and of all your other humble Commons of this youre honorable Realme, that

Whereas Buttes of Wyne called Maluesey were wont in greate plentee to be brought in to this youre said Realm to be sold before the xxvij and xxviij yeares of the Reigne of Henry the syxte, late in dede and not of right King of Englond, and also in the same yeres,

And then divers of the Buttes hilde in mesuare vijxx galons apece, And divers hilde vjxx xij galons apece, And the leste of theym hilde vjxx vj galons apece,2

And than a man might bye and have of the merchaunte strangier seller of the said Malueseys by meane of the seid plentee of theym for l [shillings] or liij [shillings] iiij [pence] atte the most a Butte of suche Wyne, he takinge for his payment thereof ij. partes in Wollen cloth wrought in this youre said Realm and the iij. parte in redy money :

It is so, Sovraigne lorde, that by the sotell and crafty meanes of such persones Straungiers as have the Sale of suche Wynes the which have been made denizeins within this youre seid Realme have caused the Butts of Malueseys latewards brought into this youre seid Realme to be solde for to be sore abregged and mynisshed of the said Measure so largely,

That a Butte of their Malueseyes at this day scantly holdith in measure vxx viij galons; And besides that they knowinge as it semeth what quantite of such Wyne may serve yerely to be solde within this youre saide Realme, where they were wont to brynge hider yerely greate quantite and plentevously of such Wyne to be solde after the prices aforesaid, of their craftynesse use to brynge no more hider nowe in late daies but onely as wolle scantly serve this Realme a yere ; wherethurgh they have enhaunced the Price of the same Wynes to viij marc3 a butte, redy money and no Cloth, to the great enrichyng of theym self and greate disceite losse hurt and damage of you Sovraigne lorde and of all your Comens of this your said Realme;

in consideracion of which hurtes and Damagis aforeseid and for the reformacion of the same, Please it youre highnesse of youre moost bountevous and benygne grace, by thadvise and assent of youre lordes spiritual and temporall and of youre Comesn in this youre present parliament assembled, for to ordeyngen enacte and establisshe in this youre present parliament and by auctoritie of the same, that no maner merchaunte nor other persone what so ever he be, from the fest of Seynt Mygell tharchaungell nowe next coming forthwarth brynge nor make to be brought in to this youre said Realme eny Butte of Malvesey to be solde but it hold in mesure atte the leste the seid old mesure of vjxx vj. galons, nor eny maner Vessels with any maner Wynes what so ever they be and of what manner Contrey so ever they be, nor any maner Vesselles of Oyle, but if the Vessellis of thoo Wynes and Oyle conteyne and holde thassises and mesures here folowynge that is to witt;

every Ton to holde xijxx xij galons;

and every Pipe to hold vjxx and vj. galons,

and every Tercian to hold iiijxx and iiij galons,

and every hoggeshed to holde lxiij. galons

and every barell to holde xxxj galons and an half,

and every Rondelet to holde xviij galons and an half,4

according to thauncient assisse and mesure of the same Vessells used within this youre said noble Realm. And that all vessellys of Wyne and Oyle brought into this youre said Realme after the seid feste to be solde, be not put to Sale after the same feste till they be well and truly gauged by your Gaugiour, or by his sufficient Deputee, upon payne of forfaiture unto you Soveraign lorde of all suche Wynes and Oyle so solde to the contrarie of this present ordenance or ellys of the value of the same. And in case that any maner person of what Contrey so ever he be from this tyme forthward selle, to eny of youre liege people for eny price assigned in certayn, eny Ton Butte Pype Tercian Hoggeshede Barell or Rondelet of any maner Wyne or Oyle fautynge any thynge of the said Assise or Mesure, that the Seller shall allowe and rebate of the same price, to the byer of suche Wyne or Oyle, as moche Money as suche Defaute by the rate shall amounte unto, uppon payne of forfaiture unto you Soveraigne lorde the Value of all the Wyne and Oyle so solde to the contrary of this Ordenance; eny private covenante or contract made or to be made betwene the byer and the seller to the contrary of this Ordenaunce in nowise withstondyng.


1. The English version of the Act includes this preamble, which was from the petition to the King. The petition is not included in the Norman French version.

2. The roman numeral superscript “xx” indicates that the number to which it is applied is to be multiplied by twenty. The three capacities given are thus (7×20) = 140 gallons; (6×20 ) +  12 = 132 gallons; and (6×20) + 6 = 126 gallons.

3. In England, the marc (as money) was 13 shillings 4 pence.

4. Converting the Roman numerals: Butt, (6×20) + 6 = 126 gallons. Ton, (12×20) + 12 = 252 gallons. Pipe, (6×20) + 6 = 126 gallons. Tercian, (4×20) + 4 = 84 gallons. Hogshead, 63 gallons. Barrel, 31½ gallons. Rondelet, 18½ gallons. See the chart. Notice that the butt and pipe are the same size, but they were applied to wines from different markets.


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