If a piece of research includes the use of accounts, maps, and estate papers, researchers should be aware of the various ways of reckoning weights and measurement that have been used in the UK.
Prior to the partial adoption of the metric system in the UK during the 20th century, standards for weights and measures were governed by the imperial system.
The imperial system evolved over time with the standardisation of various locally and regionally developed units of measurement. However, recognised standards for measuring length, height, area and weight were formalised with the introduction of the Weights and Measures Act of 1824.
Currency also differed from today's monetary measures, with the imperial units of pounds, shillings and pence being employed to denote a decreasing scale of value. An imperial pound consisted of 20 shillings, and a shilling consisted of 12 imperial pence. It was not until 1971 that the UK adopted the now standard decimal currency system, under which the shilling was abolished and the pound became worth 100 pence.
The resources below provide good reference tools when working with historic weights and measures.
- British Imperial System An article on the British Imperial System of measuring from the Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Currency Converter: 1270-2017 A historical currency converter from The National Archives
- Measuring Worth An online tool for the interpretation of historical values
- Introduction to Weights and Measures Resource developed by the University of Nottingham
- How Heavy, How Much and How Long? Weights, Money and Other Measures Used by Our Ancestors by A guide to historical measuresCall Number: [Hull History Centre Reference]Publication Date: 1995
- The General Rule: A Guide to Customary Weights and Measures by A guide to weights and measuresCall Number: [Hull History Centre Reference]ISBN: 1906069018Publication Date: 2007
- A Dictionary of Weights, Measures, and Units by This comprehensive and authoritative dictionary provides clear definitions of units, prefixes, and styles of weights and measures within the Systeme International (SI), as well as traditional, and industry-specific units. It also includes general historical and scientific background, coveringthe development of the sequential definitions and sizing of units. This new reference work will prove invaluable to professional scientists, engineers, technicians as well as to students and the general user.DT Over 1,600 clear and concise entries complete with historical backgroundDT Covers a broad range of disciplines, including astronomy, electromagnetics, geology, photography, mathematics, meteorology, physics, and temperatureDT Notes on associated terminologyDT Numerous tables, including the geochronologic scale and the equation of timeDT Comprehensive coverage of the whole Systeme InternationalCall Number: QC82 .F428 2002ISBN: 0198605226Publication Date: 2002-10-26
- British Weights and Measures by A guide to British weights and measuresCall Number: [Hull History Centre Reference]ISBN: 0299073408Publication Date: 1977-10-01