Scotland
units of dry capacity

Contents

From the 1820's to the end of the 19th century

The 1618 Assize

Before 1618

From the 1820's to the end of the 19th century

For wheat, pease, beans, rye, white salt

       

chalder

     

boll

16

   

firlot

4

64

peck

4

16

256

lippie or forpet

4

16

64

1024

in cubic inches

138⅜

553½

2214

8856

141,696

in liters

2.26

9.1

36.3

145.1

2321.1

with 1/16th allowance, cu. in

147

588.1

2352.4

 9409.5

150,552

ditto, in liters

 2.4

9.6

38.5

154.1

2466.1

For barley, malt, oats, fruit, potatoes

       

chalder

     

boll

16

   

firlot

4

64

peck

4

16

256

lippie or forpet

4

16

64

1024

in cubic inches

201⅞

807½

3230

12,920

206,720

in liters

3.3

13.2

52.9

211.6

3386.2

with 1/16th allowance, cu. in

214½

858

3431.9

13,727½

219,640

ditto, in liters

3.5

14.1

56.2

224.9

3597.9

Values calculated from the magnitude of the firlot.

Connor and Simpson.

The Assize of 1618

The 1618 assize was the first to introduce different dry capacity units for wheat and barley. Previously, barley had been sold by counting 2 firlots for every 3 measured. Again, all values have been calculated from the magnitude of the firlot.

In the middle of the 18th century members of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh published values of 2197.3 and 3205.6 cubic inches for the wheat and barley firlots of the 1618 Assize. These values have been widely reproduced in books, but they are too small, because the professors mistakenly calculated the volumes occupied by a given weight of water (the English practice), instead of a given weight of grain, which was the old Scottish practice for units of dry capacity.

For wheat, pease, beans, rye, white salt

       

chalder

     

boll

16

   

firlot

4

64

peck

4

16

256

lippie or forpet

4

16

64

1024

in pints

 

 

 

 

 

in cubic inches

131⅞

527½

2210

8840

135,040

in liters

2.2

8.6

34.6

138.3

2212.0

with 1/16th allowance, cubic inches

140.1

560.5

2241.9

8967.5

143,480

ditto, in liters

2.3

9.2

36.7

146.9

2350.3

customarily taken as, cubic inches

140

560

2240

8960

143,360

ditto in liters

2.3

9.2

36.7

146.8

2348.3

For barley, malt, oats, fruit, potatoes

       

chalder

     

boll

16

   

firlot

4

64

peck

4

16

256

lippie or forpet

4

16

64

1024

in pints

 

 

31

 

 

in cubic inches

188¾

755

3020

12080

193280

in liters

3.1

12.4

49.5

197.9

3166.1

with 1/16th allowance, cubic inches

200.5

802.2

3208.8

12,835.0

205,360.0

ditto, in liters

3.3

13.1

52.6

210.2

3363.9

customarily taken as, cubic inches

 

 

3280

 

 

ditto, in liters

 

Comparing the 2210 cubic inches of the new legal wheat firlot with the 3020 cubic inches of the new barley firlot, one sees immediately that the proportion is nowhere near the previous 2:3 ratio. This change was totally unacceptable in the marketplace. In practice the public assigned a value of 3080 cubic inches to the barley firlot, which, with an allowance, became 3280 cubic inches, and this is the value at which the barley firlot was usually actually used in the following two centuries.

Before 1618

The following discussion is basically a presentation of the work of Connor and Simpson, who should not, however, be blamed for any errors we have introduced.

First a few factors to bear in mind

circa 1426

Sixteen-pint firlot, about 19.7 liters. A boll of 92 liters.

circa 1497, pint about 77.8 cubic inches

Sometime around this period it became customary to give an additional allowance to those trading in boll-sized amounts. The allowance for the boll was an additional 1/8, based on the capacity of the legal firlot.

firlot
  legal trading customary
(¼ boll)
pints 20 21.25 22.5
cubic inches 1556.0 1653.3 1750.5
liters 25.5 27.1 28.7

circa 1512, pint about 103.7 cubic inches

The increase in the size of the pint was compensated for by changing the number of pints in a firlot. The actual capacity of the firlot did not change.

firlot
legal trading customary
(¼ boll)
pints 15 15.9375 16⅞
cubic inches 1555.5 1652.7 1749.9
liters 25.5 27.1 28.7

circa 1555, pint about 103.7 cubic inches

The size of the legal firlot was increased to make it the capacity at which wholesale trading had actually been occurring, the previous customary firlot.

firlot
legal trading customary
(¼ boll)
pints 16⅞ 17.93 18.98
cubic inches 1749.9 1859.3 1968.7
liters 28.7 30.5 32.2

circa 1563, pint about 102.3 cubic inches

Small adjustment due to change in the size of the pint.

firlot
legal trading customary
(¼ boll)
pints 16⅞ 17.93 18.98
cubic inches 1726.3 1834.2 1942.1
liters 28.3 30.0 31.8

circa 1587, pint about 102.3 cubic inches

The size of the legal firlot was increased again to make it the capacity at which wholesale trading had actually been occurring, the previous customary firlot.

firlot
legal trading customary
(¼ boll)
pints 16⅞ 17.92969 18.98438
cubic inches 1726.3 1834.2 1942.1
liters 28.3 30.0 31.8
size of pt, cu in 102.7
pints 16.875 17.92969 18.98438
cubic inches 1733.1 1841.4 1949.7
liters 28.4 30.2 31.9
X

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