sources and resources
for the entry on the statute acre



Statutum de Admensuratione Terre
Statute for the Measuring of Land

[Undated but attributed to the 33rd year of Edward I (1305), though the substance is older. The great bulk of the statute is given over to a lengthy list of pairs of lengths and widths of fields which, multiplied, make 160 square rods (one acre), beginning with 10 rods by 16 rods and ending at 80 rods by 2 rods. It then concludes, here translated from the Latin:]

And Be it Remembered, That the Iron Yard of our Lord the King, containeth three feet and no more. And a Foot ought to contain Twelve inches, by the right measure of this Yard measured; to wit, the Thirty-Sixth part of this Yard rightly measured maketh one Inch, neither more nor less. And Five Yards and a half make one Perch, that is Sixteen Feet and a half, measured by the aforesaid Iron Yard of our Lord the King.

Statutes of the Realm, vol. 1, page 206.


Some men will tell you that a plough cannot work eight score or nine score acres yearly, but I will show you that it can. You know well that a furlong ought to be forty perches long and four wide, and the king's perch is sixteen feet and a half; then an acre is sixty-six feet in width.

Walter of Henley's Husbandry, page 9. Written (in French) about 1280.

Because acres are not all of one measure, for in some countries they measure by the perch of eighteen feet, and in some by the perch of twenty feet, and in some by the perch of twenty-two feet, and in some by the perch of twenty-four feet,…

Anonymous. Seneschaucie, page 69. Probably written in the 1270's.
Elizabeth Lamond, editor and translator.
Walter of Henley's Husbandry, together with an anonymous Husbandry, Senschaucie and Robery Grosseteste's Rules.
London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1890.
For a more recent edition, see
Dorothea Oschinsky.
Walter of Henley and Other Treatises on Estate Management and Accounting.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.


¶ The Fourme and the Mesur to mete Land by.

... V. yardis di. make a perche in Londo to mete lande by, and that perch is xvi. fote di. longe. In dyuers odur placis in this lande they mete grounde by pollis gaddis and roddis som be of xviij. foote som of xx. fote and som xxi. fote in lengith, but of what lengith soo euer they be C.lx. perches make an akir, for as a mark of English monei conteyneth an C. lx. pence soo euery akir lande conteyneth C. lx. perchies, and as a noble conteyneth lxxx. pense soo half an aker lade conteyneth Ixxx. perchis, etc., and as the half a noble conteyneth xl. d'. soo a roede lande coteyneth xl. perchi etc., and a perche of grounde shal coteyngne I lengith of the perche euery wey i the maner of a cheker soo y it be as loge as brode.

Five and a half yards make a perch in London to measure land by, and that perch is 16½ feet long. In various other places in this land they measure ground by poles, gads and rods; some are 18 feet, some 20 feet and some 21 feet in length, but of what length soever they be 160 [square] perches make an acre, for as a mark of English money contains 160 pence so every acre of land contains 160 [square] perches, and as a noble contains 80 pence so half an acre of land contains 80 [square] perches, etc., and as half a noble contains 40 pence, so a rood of land contains 40 [square] perches, etc. A [square] perch of ground shall contain the length of a perch in both directions, in the manner of a square, so it is as long as broad.

The Customs of London, otherwise called Arnold’s Chronicle.
London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; T. Payne; etc., 1811.
Page 173.
The first edition appeared in Antwerp around 1502.


A list of some local values of the acre in Britain in the 18ᵗʰ century is given in the Second Report of the Commissioners... (1820, page 5).

Here's a way for city dwellers to use a Google map of their neighborhood to get a feel for how big an acre is.

[BACK to acre.htm]


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