[From Mona Miscellany second series Manx Soc vol 21]


Some peculiarities in these are yet to be met with in the various transactions of trade, but they are gradually assiinilating to those in England both in capacity and name. Various acts of Tynwald have from time to time been passed to regulate these, as may be seen on reference to the statutes of the island. In the Act of 24th June 1637, whereby it is enacted that all weights and measures should agree with "the assize of the Lords’ weights and measures," etc. In the Act passed after the revestment to the British Crown, it was enacted in 1777 that all weights and measures should be according to the standard of His Majesty’s Exchequer in England.

Bolley—Boll.—This term is in general use for the sale of grain, etc. Cregeen in his Manx Dictionary, 1835, gives the following meaning to this measure. "Bolley—a boll, a measure of 6 bushels, or 24 kishens of barley and oats, 4 bushels or 16 kishens of wheat, rye, pease, beans, and potatoes."

Parlane—Firlot, is half a boll, and is a term frequently used in measuring corn. That this measure was looked upon in early days as of importance is evident, as appears from the following declaration at a Tynwald court holden "on Tuesday next after the Feast of St. Mary, 1429." "Also that all measures of your land of Mann be made all after one, that is to say, Firlett and quart be justly and truly ordained and made."—.Mill’s Statutes, p. 11.

Lioarlltan.—A measure equal to half a Firlot or a quarter of a boll.

Windle.—A measure of 3 bushels. A Peel Windile is mentioned in one of the Earl of Derby’s household accounts, 1561, * but I have not been able to learn its exact capacity. This term for a measure of corn is still in use in various parts of Lancashire, but the measure appears to have been variable. A windle of wheat was 210 to 220 lbs., or 3 bushels. At Preston oats were sold by the windle of 313 lbs

* The Stanley Papers, part 11, Chetham Society, vol. xxxi. pp. 1 and 2, 1853. The editor, the Rev. F. R. Raines, states that the "windle is an old Lancashire measure containing a mett, or two bushels."

Kaire Uhistrauyn—Bushel.——A tub of 4 kishens or pecks.

Tubbag—Tub.—Is the term usually applied to a bushel. It contains 4 kishens or pecks. The term is commonly applied in the sale of coals.

Stoandey—Barrel.—This term is applied both for dry and liquid use. According to an English Act (13th Elizabeth, cap. 11), the barrel of herrings ought to contain 32 gallons wine measure, equal to about 28 gallons old standard, containing about 1000 herrings; the half barrel or firkin according to the same rate. Lime at the kiln is sold by the barrel at the rate of 8 barrels to the ton of 30 cwt., being 3* cwt. to the barrel.

Tyld.—The quantity or weight implied by this term appears to be uncertain. In the regulations for the supply of the Lords’ garrisons in Peel Castle and Castle Rushen, A.D. 1561, we find that each soldier was allowed "the third part of a tyld of beef, and a canne of beere of two quarts, for his supper."—.Mill’s Statutes, p. 37.

Kishan or Kishen.—A measure containing 8 quarts equal to one peck. This was commonly used in the sale of corn, potatoes, coals, etc. In point of weight the contents of a kishan of potatoes was estimated at 21 lbs. A kishan of coals, it is said, ought to weigh 21¼ lbs.

Kaire Uhaartyn—Gallon.—A measure containing 4 quarts.

Podjal daa Uhaart—Pottle.-—A measure containing 2 quarts. This is referred to in the regulations as to Peel Castle and Castle Rushen in 1561. "A canne of beere of two quarts" is also mentioned as sufficient drink for a sick soldier’s supper.—Mill’s Statutes, p. 36.

In an indenture between the Bishop of Man and others, made in the year 1532, "the clergy allege that they had taken, and ought to have of right and custome of every person brewing any ale, in recompence of the tith thereof, certain Pottles of Ale."—Mill’s Statutes, p. 30.

This custom of the Manx clergy has evidently a close connection with the custom of the "Parish Brewing-pan," of which mention was made in Mona Miscellany, first series, p. 36.

Caart or Kaart—Quart.——This has two significations—lst the well-known liquid measure—2d, a weight equal to 7 lbs. by which wool was formerly, and occasionally at the present time, sold. The Manx term for the latter is Caart-oliey, for which, in the Manx and English Dictionary, 1866, the following meaning is given: "A weight containing 7 lbs., and used only in weighing wool, from caart a quart, and ollan wool."

Butter was formerly sold by the quart, calculated as equal to 2½ lbs. In making up salt butter in crocks (crockan, an earthen vessel), the quantity was calculated at so many quarts.

A crock containing say 2 gallons or 8 quarts, ought to hold 20 lbs. of butter; that is allowing 2½ lbs. of butter to a quart of liquid, which was the ordinary allowance.

Pynt Lich Uaart—Pint.—Half a quart.

Eaggin.—A measure equal to half a gill, or the fourth part of a pint. It is still in general use in the purchase of spirits and other liquids. The word (which is as common a one as can be met with), is not given in either Cregeen or the dictionary published by the Manx Society. Under the term gill in the latter, naggin is given as the Manx of the word.

Half a naggin.—Is equal to a glass.

Cropper.—Was a term formerly used by the common people in calling for half a glass of spirits at a public house.

It is still occasionally made use of, and in Betsy Lee, the finest and most pathetic epic of the day descriptive of Manx manners, just published by Macmillan, we find it used, as—

"Here goes the last copper,
And into a house to get a cropper."

Sniper.—This was also a common term for a dram or a drop of spirits, and almost invariably to a morning drink. A nip is occasionally used. It does not mean any particular quantity but usually something under a glass. It is equivalent to what is generally understood as "a hair of the old dog," or "a hair of the dog that bit you," terms totally unknown to the Good Templars of the present day.

These two latter words are not Manx, but provincialisms or slang terms.

In an old drinking song which is sung on completing the carrying of the barley harvest in Devon and Cornwall, the following measures are mentioned :—

"We’ll drink it out of the ocean, my boys.
Here’s a health to the barley.mow
The ocean, the river, the well, the pipe,
The hogshead, the half-hogshead, the anker,
The half-anker, the gallon, the pottle, the quart,
The pint, the half-a-pint, the quarter pint,
The nipperlon, and the jolly brown bowl !"

Standayrt—Yard.-—Cregeen gives the following meaning: —" A yard. This might be the Manx of standard, and perhaps right, as this (the yard) was the only standard measure in use, therefore called Standayrt (standard)." The Manx yard was 1½ inch longer than the English one, being 37½ inches.

In measuring out old intacks for instance, the Manx yard was used, and, as will be at once seen, the dimensions of the ground licenced by the lord to be enclosed (being the intack— intake or intaking), would in modern times appear to he much greater than the actual measurement would warrant. As, for example, if a licence had been granted, say 150 years ago, to enclose a parcel of commons 100 yards in length by 80 yards in breadth, the proper dimensions of the ground, if measured at the present day, and according to the English standard, would be 104 yards and 6 inches long, by 83 yards and 1 foot wide.

For want of this knowledge or inattention to the rule, much trouble has been caused in surveying intack and other lands in late years, and in reconciling the apparent discrepancies in these measurements.

The use of the Manx yard was not of course confined to the measurement of land, but was applied to all materials. The use of the Manx yard was discontinued by weavers upon the assimilation of the currency. Within the last thirty years it was customary for country weavers in attending fairs, or in going from house to house to sell flannel or cloth, as was a usual practice, to carry with them a Manx yard measure. In addition to this, the breadth of the thumb was given in to each yard measured.

Uass—A foot.—Inasmuch as a Manx yard consisted of 37½ inches, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the foot in old times was equal to 12½ inches, the half-inch to each of the 3 feet in a yard making up the amount.

Uarlagh—An inch.

Acyr—A Manx acre, is 5042 yards, measured at 37½ inches to the yard.

Feigh——A fathom.—Cregeen says it was so named as being probably the greatest measure formerly in use.

Beaish—A span.—Cregeen says this ought to be the Manx for a cubit—-craue-roih, the length of the arm-bone.

Kesmad—A step or pace.—A measure equal to about 20 inches.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001