In Britain, 14th – 19th centuries, a unit of length used for measuring the types of cloth called Welsh Frizes or Frizadoes, apparently flannels. In the 15th century London customs books¹ it was applied to “Welsh straits” and “cotton russets.” Some sources say that in this period it = 54 inches. See Pasi, below.
In later periods it seems to have been applied to the width of the cloth. According to Hayes (1740, page 206) the goad equaled 55 inches and was by then no longer in use. Others say it was 54 inches, and Simmonds (1892, page 174) says it was 27½ inches.
1. H. S. Cobb, editor.
The Overseas Trade of London. Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480-1.
London Record Society, 1990.
See for example page 96 for Welsh straits and page 118 for cotton russet.
Come responde la mesure del frisetto el qual se mesura in Londra a godo. Et godo uno fa braza venetiani 2.
What corresponds to the measure of frizes in London by the goad. And 1 goad is 2 Venetian braccia.
Bartolommeo di Pasi.
Tariffa de' pesi e mesure con gratia et privilegio.
as quoted in Edler, page 137.
Assuming a Venetian braccio of 63.9 centimeters makes the goad 127.8 cm, (50.3 inches).
…some particular Cities are observed by custome to have divers measures, for divers sorts of commodities, as it is seen practised by example in the City of London, where the yard is accounted the common measure for cloth of woollen, and silke &c. the elle accounted the common measure for linen, and the goad for frizes, cottens and the like.
Lewes Roberts, 1638, page 37.
Sometimes the perch was called a goad.
In Cornwall¹ the linear unit that played the role of the perch was traditionally 18 feet long. In the 19th century a dialect researcher for east Cornwall recorded “goad. Land in small quantities is measured by the goad or staff with which oxen are driven. It represents nine feet, and two goads square is called a yard of ground.” The Cornish acre of the time consisted of 160 such 18 ft by 18 ft areas. For west Cornwall another writer recorded “gourd, goad, a linear measure; a square yard; so called from being measured with the goad or staff by which oxen are driven.” This makes more sense considered with the same author's “land-yard, two staves, or 18 ft., are a land-yard, and 160 land-yards an acre”. Allowing for the latter writer's confounding of length and area, these entries suggest that in Cornwall the perch was not called a goad, but a land-yard. A goad was a linear unit = 9 feet.
1. M. A. Courtney, West Cornwall. Thomas Q. Couch, East Cornwall.
in Glossary of Words in Use in Cornwall.
Published for the English Dialect Society.
London: Trübner and Company, 1880.
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Last revised: 10 July 2009.