Two unrelated terms. See also churl.
14ᵗʰ – 17ᵗʰ century, a bundle of no certain weight, dimensions, or count of constituent pieces, typically of canvas or other cloth. Three fardels of canvas simply means 3 bundles of cloth. Also spelled fardle, fardele, fardelle. Not a unit.
Skeat¹ accepted Diez' derivation of the word from the Arabic, probably from “fardah,” bundle. It entered other languages as well, Low Latin fardellus, Spanish and Portuguese, fardel, fardo, French fardel, fardeau, Italian fardello, all also meaning a bundle.
In the baronies of Forth and Bargy, County Wexford, Ireland, the word was in use in the 20ᵗʰ century.²
In his study of 12ᵗʰ – 14ᵗʰ century documents from Champagne and Brie, Bourquelot³ found the “fardel ou fardeau” was in use.
1. Walter W. Skeat.
An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. (2nd ed.)
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888.
2. Terence Patrick Dolan.
A Dictionary of Hiberno-English. The Irish Use of English.
Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1998.
3. Félix Bourquelot.
Études sur les Foires de Champagne…
Mémoires préséntes par divers savants a l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de l'Institute Impérial de France. 2nd series, volume 5.
Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1845.
In northern England, 14ᵗʰ – 18ᵗʰ century, a unit of land area = 10 statute acres (4.05 hectares). The word comes from the Old English “feortha,”fourth, and “dæl,” part, and was a fourth of a virgate.
The fardel came to be identified with the farthingdale and was superseded by it. The farthingdale had two meanings: either a fourth part of a virgate or a fourth part of an acre. By treating “fardel” as a synonym for “farthingdale”, commentators added the fourth part of an acre meaning (which it never really had) to the fardel.
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Last revised: 3 February 2011.