Morgen

Conceptually the amount of land that could be plowed by oxen in one morning (Morgen), which was a day's work for the oxen.

1

In Germany, at least as early as the 16th century – 20th century, the Morgen was the most important traditional unit of land area, about 0.25 to 1.3 hectares. Originally it had specific dimensions related to the furrow, 120 ruten long and 5 ruten wide, but as usual with such units, the dimensions were later disregarded and the morgen came to be simply a unit of area, 1 morgen = 600 square ruten.

Locale Unit Equivalent Approx area
in sq. meters
Source
widespread Calenberger Morgen = 120 square Hannoverian Ruten 2620.92  
Stedingerland Stedinger Morgen = 20 Stedinger Scheffelsaat, each of 17.5 Ruten 12256 1

1. Hase and Dethlefs.

The size of the Morgen varied from region to region, and still does. The present day units are based on the Calenberger Morgen. Some 20th century values were:

Baden 3,600 square meters, 0.89 acres. (UN 1966)
Bavaria 2,726 square meters, 0.67 acres. (UN 1966)
Hanover 2,621 square meters, 0.65 acres. (UN 1966)
Hesse 2,500 square meters, 0.62 acres. (UN 1966)
Wurttemberg 3,152 square meters, 0.78 acres. (UN 1966)

sources

1 Feld-Morgen = 160 □ Feldruthen … = 6760 □ Elen = 2500 □ Werkschuh.

1 Wald-Morgen = 160 □ Waldruthen … = 10874⁴⁄₉ □ Elen = 40215 sq Werkschuh.

1 hude oder hufe Landes = 30 Morgen.

page 25, section 58.

1 Feld-Morgen = 20,24929 oder etmas über 20¼ Are.

1 Wald-Morgen = 32,57303 oder etmas über 32⁴⁄₇ Aren.

page 27, section 64.

Georg Kaspar Chelius.
Zuverlässige Vergleichung sämmtlicher Maass und Gewichte der Handelstadt Frankfurt am Main…. 2nd ed.
Frankfurt am Main: Joh. Christian Hermann's Buchhandlung, 1808.

So in 19th century Frankfurt a Feld-Morgen was 2024.9 square meters and a Wald-Morgen 3257.3 sq. m. Chelius quotes a 1549 source: “Und Franckfurt seind 160 Ruden ein Morgen, 12½ schuh ist daselbst ein Rud, 30 Morgen seind ein gemeyn hub lands.”

2

In the Netherlands there were two principal morgens, both = 600 square roeden. The Amsterdam morgen, however, was based on a roede of 13 Amsterdam voet, about 8127.14 square meters, and the Rhineland morgen, based on a roede of 12 Rhineland Fuss, was about 8510.75 square meters.

In the Dutch East Indies, the morgen is said to have been 8515.79 square meters.¹

1. Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch-Indië. 2nd edition.
S. de Graaff and D. G. Stibbe, editors.
's-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1918.

Volume 2. Page 687.

3

In South Africa, the Dutch morgen was adopted by the British colonies in the Cape and Natal, as well as the Boer Transvaal and Orange Free State republics. (The Natal republic used the acre.) The morgen survived to the 20th century in South Africa and South West Africa, at 8565.32 square meters, approximately 2.117 acres. chart symbol

United Nations, 1966.

Technical Conversion Factors…, 1972, page 305.

Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa.
Capetown: NASOU Ltd, 1975.

Volume 2, page 385.

source

A morgen is generally taken [at the Cape of Good Hope] to be equal to two English statute acres; but the true proportion is considered at 49 71-100 morgen to 100 acres.

Robert Montgomery Martin.
History of the Colonies of the British Empire in the West Indies, South America, North America, Asia...
London: W. H. Allen & Co. and George Routledge, 1843.
Page 493.

4

In colonial New York, the Dutch morgen briefly survived the Dutch withdrawal. It was also called the margin, at 1 margin equal to about 3.2 acres.

Richard M. Lederer, Jr.
Colonial American English. A Glossary.
Essex, Connecticut: A Verbatim Book, 1985.

Page 144.

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