Land Measurements in Cornwall, 1599

20 No: 1599

Off the antiquity, variety, & etimology, off measuring land in Cornwayl


The measuring of Land in Cornwayl should seem to bee anncient, beecause the manner & termes thearoff, doo differ from those in other parts off the realme, for seeing wee finde not wheure it hath been borrowed, wee may the more probably coniecture, that the same was brought in by the Bretons at their first inhabitance, & so ever sure retayned, howbeeit, the use thearoff, in former time, was not very great, for wthin memory off their fathers who now live, the most part off the contrey Lay in common, & only som parcells, about the villages, wear enclosed, & a small quantity in landshares allotted out for tillage, but when the people began to encrease in number, those more mouthes scarcened the corne, & so consequently enhaunced the price, & the gamefull price, drew the inhabitants to enlarge & (though wth extraordinary charges) to extend their tillage into the commons, wch, for the better manurance & safer preserving, they devided, inclosed, & so brought reduced to bee severall, whearthrough they those who formerly had great store off corne brought weekly to their maarkettes out off devon, did in short time after, spare yeerly a far larger quantity into other parts beeyond the seas, the making off these enclosures, wch they terme Closes, drew them to agrea for need, & use, & knowledge off measuring, at first evry Tenement (wch they call a bargayne) did ordinarily consist off a plow land, & that off about 60 acres, iff the ground wear good, or more iff barrayner, but most off these bargaynes, especially neer the sea side, have sithence been subdivided into lesser porctions, & converted into newer dwellings,


The variety consisteth not in it self, for throughe out the whole sheer, the measure off ground is one, but in comparison wth other Countyes, for from them it differeth,
12 inches make a foot, 9 foot a staffe, 2 staves a Land yard, 160 Land yards an english aker, 30 acres off good soill make a farthing, more is taken in measure, whear the ground is meaner in goodnes, 4 farthings goe to a Cornish aker, 4 sutch akers to a knights fee,
note, that in Cornwayl, the releef for a knights fee amounteth but unto five marcks, & is called fee Morton,


Closes are derived from the Latine worrd clausus, the Cornish men terme them by the english parcks
Bargayne, off bargayning wth the L off the Land, for the taking theroff & that, off the frentch worrd bergaigne in Cornish tre serveth for that & a towne & villadge suches commeth from uncia, in Cornish misne
foot off the dutch woord fuess in cornish trenz
staffe off the dutch stab, in cornish Lorgh,
for land yard amplio, in cornish luce teere
Aker, off acker, in duch a feeld, in cornish, Erroow,
farthing, off the duch viert ding, a 4th part, as in proportion it holdeth, in cornish ferthen feere
Fee off feodum, & that off fides.

British Library, MS Cotton Faustina E.v., ff.133-134

Transcribed by Chris Bond, 2006. Published with the permission of The British Library.