Please see virgate and hide.
In England, 13th – 18th centuries, a unit of land area, equivalent to a virgate. Its size varied by region from 15 to 80 acres.
Worlidge has an entry for “yarn-land” with values like those of the yardland (in Wimbleton, 15 acres, others 20, 24, 30 or 40 acres). This is another of the book's numerous typographical errors. It appears as if Worlidge's data was lifted whole either from Blount's Fragments or from White Kennett's Parochial Antiquities (Oxford, 1695).
Yardland (virgata terrae) is a quantity of land so called from the Sax. (Gyrdlander) but not so certain a quantity, as that it is the same in all places: for in some Countries it contains twenty acres, in some twenty four, in some thirty, according to Mr. Lambert, in his Explication of Saxon words, Verba, Virgata terrae: This Yardland Bracton calls Virgatam Terrae (Lib 2, cap. 10 & 27.) but he expressth no certainty what it contains.
Mr. Noy in his Compleat Lawyer, pag. 57, saith, That two Fardels of Land make a Nook of Land, and four Nooks make a Yardland, and four Yardlands make a Hyde of Land; and four (but some say eight) Hides make a Knight's Fee, the relief whereof is five pound, and so ratably.
London: Printed by Tho. Newcomb…, 1656.
ZARDE Ia. I p.7 c.99. Is an kind of measure commonlie used in England nocht meikle different from our elne, ane zairde of land virgata terra, in the Britton laws, is ane measure of land quhilk in diverse places is diverse, sumtimes of 20. aikers, sumtimes of 24. & sumtimes of 30. aikers.
YARD. James I, first year, paragraph 7, sec 99. Is a kind of measure commonly used in England not much different from our eln. A yard of land, virgata terra, in the British laws, is a measure of land which in different places is different, sometimes 20 acres, sometimes 24 and sometimes 30.
De Verborum Significatione.
Edinburgh: printed by David Landsay, 1681.
The first edition was published in Edinburgh in 1597.
In east Cornwall, 19th century: under the headword “goad”, Couch writes “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 customary perch of Cornwall was 18 feet long.
His colleague Courtney, writing of west Cornwall, says “two staves, or 18 ft., are a land-yard, and 160 land-yards an acre.” Under “gourd, goad” she wrote “a linear measure; a square yard; so called from being measured with the goad or staff by which oxen are driven.” Untangling the confusion of linear and areal units, this can only mean that a land-yard was 18 feet by 18 feet, as with Couch.
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: 27 March 2018.