Cornish bushel

In Cornwall, United Kingdom, ? – 19th centuries, a unit of capacity varying from 2 to 3 Winchester bushels (16 to 24 gallons; 70.5 – 105.7 liters), the 24-gallon version prevailing in the west.



In measures the Shire varieth, not only from others. but also in it selfe: for they have a land-measure, and a water-measure: the water-measure, of things sold at the ships side (as salt and peason) by the Inhabitants, is sixteene gallons the bushell; by strangers, betweene 19. and 24. gallons the bushell, being least in the East parts, and increasing to the Westwards, where they measure Oates by the hogshead.

The Justices of peace have often times indevoured to reduce this variance to a certaintie of double Winchester: but though they raysed the lower, they cannot abate the higher to this proportion: and yet from the want of this reformation, there ensue many inconveniences: for the Farmer that hath the greatest bushell at the market, maketh a price for the lesser to follow with little, (or at least) no rateable deduction. Besides, they sell at home to their neighbours, the rest of the weeke, by the snaller measure, as was payd in the market for the bigger.

There are also some Ingrossers, who buy Wheat of the husbandman, after 18. gallons the bushell, and deliver it to the transporting Marchant, for the same summe, at 16.

Richard Carew.
The Survey of Cornwall,...
London: Printed for B. Law in Ave-Mary-Lane; and J. Hewett, at Penzance, 1769.
Page 54.

The first edition was published in 1602.


[Page 564]

Captain James of Marazion assured me, that two years ago he had by this management, in the first crop, from one acre, 100 Cornish bushels of twenty-four gallons each; and in the second crop, 200 bushels; so that from one acre Cornish, which is one acre and one eighth statute measure, he produced 900 Winchester bushels of potatoes in one year.

[Page 578]

In the eastern part of the county, the bushel varies from sixteen to twenty-four gallons; but in the western districts the standard is regularly fixed at twenty-four gallons. The measure was brought to this regular standard by the spirited exertions of the magistrates, about the year 1730; who, according to Mr. Tonkin's notes, had regulated the liquid measure some time before.

Fortesque Hitchins, ed. by Samuel Drew.
The History of Cornwall, from the earliest records and traditions to the present time. Vol. 1.
Helston: Printed and published by William Penaluna, 1824.


By the side of the road leading from Barn Park to Forrabury Church is a stone vessel, now used as a water trough, very closely resembling the old stone corn measure now in the Market House at Bodmin (described ante p. 192). It has the same kind of opening and lip at the bottom, though destitute of the hooks which the Bodmin measure possesses and also of the "strike" arrangements. It is between 21 and 22 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep, and in capacity will contain 16 gallons or two Winchester bushels, which at this time is a local bushel. There is a tradition that it was used as a measure in the castle whence it was brought, but it is more probable that it formed the standard measure in the Market House.*

*Following Wallis we have described the Bodmin measure as of the capacity of one Winchester bushel. Having recently taken the measurements we find that it will contain, like the Boscastle measure, just two Winchester bushels, and the graduated scale shews 6, 8, and 12 gallons respectively (see Plate XXVI., fig. 7, Boscastle; fig. 8, Bodmin.)

Sir John Maclean.
The Parochial and Family History of the Parishes of Forrabury and Minster in the County of Cornwall.
Exeter: Printed for the subscribers by William Pollard, 1873.

The earlier description of the Bodmin measure:

The Refectory, or Church, was formerly used as the corn-market, and therein was kept a large stone bowl of the capacity of one Winchester bushel, which is now removed to the new market-house. It is mentioned by Hals as a stone font appertaining to the Friary church for the baptism of infants, which Hals supposed had been converted into a corn-measure. This idea is, however, clearly erroneous. It is presumed that the friars would not have been permitted to administer the sacrament of baptism in derogation of the rights of the parish church; but, however this may have been, the vessel in question was indubitably a measure. It is externally octagonal in form with a circular bowl, having perpendicular sides and a flat bottom.  A graduated iron rod is set up in the centre, upon which revolves, horizontally, another rod or bar which acts as a strike, and being raised or depressed according to the index on the perpendicular rod, which corresponds with a similar index on the sides of the vessel, describes a bushel, or any given proportion of a bushel. On one side of the vessel, near the bottom, is an opening covered within by a sliding trap, and having externally a lip and an iron hook on each side whereon may be hung a sack, into which, by withdrawing the slide, the corn would easily run. On the faces of the vessel are the following inscriptions:—

However ye sell
B. F 1563.
Your measure fyll
R F 1826.

John Maclean.
The Parochial and Family History of the Parish and Borough of Bodmin, in the County of Cornwall.
London: Nichols and Sons, etc., 1870.
Page 92.


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