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Imperial Weights and Measures

Imperial Weights, Measures and Currency

The following is provided for people reading historic documents who are not familiar with British measures and terms, many of which have long ceased to be used.

Measures of Length

UnitEqual toMetric equivalent
1 inch - 25.4 mm
1 foot12 inches304.8 mm
1 yard3 feet914.4 mm
1 pole, rod or perch5½ yards5.0292 m
1 chain4 poles20.1168 m
1 furlong10 chains201.168 m
1 mile 8 furlongs (1,760 yards)1.6093 km
1 league3 miles4.8279 km

Nautical Measures of Length

UnitEqual toMetric equivalent
1 fathom6 feet1.8288 m
1 cable608 feet185.3184 m
1 nautical mile10 cables1.852 km

Measures of Area

UnitEqual toMetric equivalent
square inch - 6.4516 cm2
square foot144 square inches0.0929 m2
square yard9 square feet0.8361 m2
square pole30¼ square yards25.292 m2
rood40 square poles1,011.725 m2
acre 4 roods4046.9 m2
square mile640 acres2.59 km2

Measures of Weight

UnitEqual toMetric equivalent
ounce - 28.35 grams
pound16 onces0.4536 kg
stone14 pounds6.3503 kg
quarter28 pounds12.7 kg
cental100 pounds45.36 kg
hundredweight4 quarters or 112 pounds50.802 kg
short ton2,000 pounds907.2 kg
ton20 hundredweights or 2240 pounds1.016 tonne

Measures of Capacity

UnitEqual toMetric equivalent
fluid ounce - 28.413 millilitres
gill5 fluid ounces0.1421 litres
pint4 gills or 20 fluid ounces0.5683 litres
quart2 pints1.1365 litres
gallon4 quarts4.546 litres
peck2 gallons9.0922 litres
bushel4 pecks36.3686 litres
quarter8 bushels290.949 litres
load5 quarters1,454.745 litres
chaldron36 bushels1,309.2696 litres

Units of Currency

Note: this table refers to the British Currency prior to 15th February 1971 when the UK converted to decimal currency. After this date the pound was divided into 100 pence and currency values were displayed as, for example, 2.22 or as 23p for amounts less than a pound. Amounts using the "p" for pence always refer to post decimalisation pence. Before decimalisation pence amounts were indicated by the letter "d" and amounts were usually given in the form 3 7s 6d i.e. 3 pounds 7 shillings and 6 (old) pence.

UnitEqual toPounds sterling equivalent
farthing¼ of a penny0.0010416
halfpenny or ha'penny½ of a penny0.0020833
pennya 240th part of a pound0.0041666
groat4 pence0.016666
shilling12 pence0.05
florin2 shillings0.1
half-crown2 shiilings and 6 pence0.125
crown5 shillings0.25
sovereignA gold 1 coin1
guineaOriginally a gold coin worth 21 shillings1.05

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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