last

See also laest.

The last originated as a measure for loading ships. It varied by commodity, soemtimes even by the nationality of the ship carrying the goods.

1

In the Netherlands, 20th century (UN 1966), two units:

2

In England, a unit of mass, = 4,368 pounds avoirdupois. link to a chart showing relationships between English units of mass

As a Unit of Capacity
Commodity Quantity
soap, codfish, white herrings,
meal, pitch, tar
12 barrels. But by the 20th century for meal it may have shrunk to 11.
gunpowder 24 barrels or 2400 pounds
grain or rapeseed 10 quarters = 80 bushels
wool 12 sacks

 

As a Unit of Count
Commodity Quantity
red herrings 20 cade = 10,000, circa 1660. But the 16th century cade
was 620, so the last was 12,400.
stockfish 1000
dogstones 3 pair
flax, feathers 1 Hundred
leather 1200
hides 144

sources

1

And the Hundred of Herring shall be accounted by six Score, and the Last by ten Thousand.

31 Edward III Statute 2, Chapter 2. (1357)
Statutes of the Realm, vol I, page 354.

2

Herrings,  
white full or shottenye last cont. xij barlls
red the cade cont. five hundred
red the last cont. xx cades
   
[for export]  
Spratts the Cade cont a thounsad
Winter Herrings red full the cade cont. five hundred;
the Last cont. 20 cades or ten thousandsand  

“A Subsidy granted to the King of Tonnage and Poundage and other summes of Money payable upon Merchandize Exported and Imported.”
A statute from the 12th year of Charles II, 1660. The selection is from the Booke of Rates, which is not part of the statute proper but developed from it. Both are printed in:
Statutes of the Realm, Volume 5: 1628-80, John Raithby, editor.
London: 1819.

3

LAST; of Ashes for Sope, Cod-Fish; white-Herrings, Meal, Pitch and Tar, 12 Barrels. Of Red-Herrings, 20 Cades; Stock-fish 1000; of Dog-stones three pair; Flax, or Feathers 17 Hundred; of Gun-powder 24 barrels (or 2400l. weight) of Leather 120 Dicker; of Hydes 12 Dozen; of Corn, or Rape-seed 10 Quarters; and of Wool 12 Sacks.

Worlidge, 1704.

4

Dry or corn measure... 80 bushels [=] 1 last. 11 barrels [=] 1 last of meal.

Crawford's Handbook for the Grocery and Kindred Trades.
Edinburgh: Wm. Crawford & Sons, Ltd. 1922.
Page 150.

3

In Scotland

“A last of gudes sured hame” (imported), commonly contained 12 barrels, or half a serplath. A last was two packs, and each pack was as great as half a sack of wool-skins, and contained in weight 36 “Sprusse“ stones. A Sprusse stone contained 28 pounds Troy. For every last of wax imported by strangers there were 14 ship pounds, and imported by Scotch shipmasters, 12 ship pounds. There were 12 great or 14 small barrels for the last of tar, pitch, and such-like wares. By strangers, 24, and by Scotch “skippers,” 18 barrels of rye-meal were imported for the last, and a last of rye was sometimes 18 and sometimes 19 bolls in measure. Ten packs of wool made a last of wool. Ten hides made a daiker, and 20 daikers made a last... Twelve barrels of salmon were bought for the last; but in “suring” them over the sea, skippers counted only 9 barrels for the last.

William Bell.
A Dictionary and Digest of the Law of Scotland
Revised and corrected by George Ross.
Edinburgh: Bell and Bradfute, 1861.
Page 750.

4

In the Shetland Islands, Scotland, ? – mid-20th century, a unit of land area = 18 merks (or marks), between somewhat less than 18 to 36 acres.

John J. Graham.
The Shetland Dictionary.
Stornoway, Lewis, Scotland: The Thule Press, 1979.

Page 46.

5

= 12 barrels (180 lispunds) = 24 meils (144 lispunds).

6

In Orkney, Scotland, a unit of mass = 24 meils.

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