Guernsey pound

On Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, a unit of mass which varied over time but was roughly 18 avoirdupois ounces. Originally it was a descendent of the “Norman pound.” A law of 1611 describes it as 18 ounces of the French city of Rouen, one of the Norman capitals (William the Conqueror died there in 1087)

The Pound is of 18 ounces, Rouen weight; greater than the Averdupois, by about 34 grs. Less than the Troy Ounce, by about 9½ do.

Warburton.
Treatise on the History, Laws and Customs of the Island of Guernsey.
Guernsey: Printed and published by Deumaresq and Mauger, 1822.
Page 114.

Although Warburton wrote the Treatise in 1682, it was not published until 1822.

According to William Berry (1815),

The lawful weight of the Island is the pound of Rouen weight, each ounce being about 34 grains more than the English avoirdupoise [sic], so that the Guernsey pound is, within a few grains, two ounces heavier than the English pound; but the quarter is only reckoned at twenty-five pounds, and the hundred weight one hundred pounds.

William Berry.
The History of the Island of Guernsey, part of the ancient Duchy of Normandy, from the remotest period of antiquity to the year 1814,...
London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815.
Page 119.

These quotations don't give the actual mass of the Guernsey pound. If it was “within a few grains, 2 ounces heavier than the English pound” avoirdupois, it would be somewhere in the region of 7875 grains. If it was 18 ounces, each ounce (437.5 + 34 =) 471.5 grains, it would be 8487 grains, which is larger than any known pound. Berry is thus inconsistent. However, if instead of 18 we use 16 ounces, each 471.5 grains, the Guernsey pound is 7544 grains. As it happens, in 1730, 2 ounces were removed from the Guernsey pound, giving it the same number of ounces as the Jersey pound.

That the Stranger may compare the Guernsey prices of the chief articles of life with his own, I shall add a List, taken in December, 1830; first premising that the Guernsey pound weight is between 17 and 18 ounces English; for, by nice calculation, it appears that 14 oz. 10 dr. and 9 gr. of Guernsey is just equal to 16 ounces or one pound English; the Guernsey pound is also 16 ounces, but Guernsey weight.

John Jacob.
Annals of Some of the British Norman Islands Constituting the Baliliwick of Guernsey… Part 1.
Paris: Printed for the author by J. Smith, 1830.
Page xx of the Postscript.

Doursther (1840) describes two livre in Rouen, France (page 230):

L'ancienne livre poids de vicomté, usitée pour le laines et le marchandises en gros, valait 4 pour cent de plus que le livre de Paris.......7857 grains (509.1 grams)

La livre poids de marc était usitée dans le commerce de détail......7555 grains (489.5 grams)

The ancient livre of the viscount's standard, used for wool and wholesale trade, valued at 4% more than the livre of Paris....7857 grains

The livre of the poids de marc standard is used for retail trade......7555 grains

We can recognize the first of these as Berry's Guernsey pound that is 2 ounces heavier than the avoirdupois pound, and the second as Berry's pound with 34 more grains in the ounce.

The Guernsey pound weight contains 7845 grains, being 1¾ oz. and 80 grains heavier than avoirdupois. 100 Guernsey pounds are equivalent to 108 lbs. 15 1/3 oz. avoirdupois. page 97

Black's Guide to Guernsey
David Thomas Ansted, editor.
Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1866.
Page 97.

Guernsey Breeders p56

 

In 1916 the Guernsey pound was abolished, by omitting it from the list of legal units in the Law relating to Weights and Measures, 1916.

legislation

1

Les Chefs Plets d'après le jour de Pasques, tenus le xve jour d'Avrill, l'an 1611,….

POIDS ET MESURES.

Article 1.

La livre, poids de ceste isle de Gernezé, doit contenir xviij onches, poids de Rouen, par laquelle se vendront en detail toutes especes de laines, tant peignées et du creu de ce pays, d'Angleterre, ou d'ailleurs, que non peignées ou en toison. Item, tout burre en detail, du creu de ce pays ou d'ailleurs, estoupes, suif, chandelle faicte en ceste isle ou aportée d'Angleterre ou d'ailleurs, chanvre ou lin à faire toilles communes. Item, toutes sortes de forgeries quy se vendent par le poids.

Article 2.

Toute autre espece de marchandize ou mercherie se detaillera, vendra, ou pesera, par le poids de Rouen.

Easter Chief Pleas, held 15 April 1611,….

Article 1.

The pound, the weight of this isle of Guernsey, ought to contain 18 ounces, Rouen weight, by which all kinds of wool, so much combed, and the crown of that country, England, or elsewhere, combed or fleece. Item, everything burner in detail, from the crevice of this country or elsewhere, stuffs, tallow, candle made in this isle or imported from England or elsewhere, hemp or linen to make common toilles. Item, all kinds of forges that sell by weight.

Article 2.

Any other kind of merchandise or merchandise will retail, sell, or weigh, by the weight of Rouen.

Robert Macculloch.
Recueil D'Ordonnances de la Cour Royal de L'Isle de Guernesey. vol 1. 1533-1800.
Guernesey: imprimé et publié aux frais des états, par Etienne Barbet, 1852.
Page 99. See the author's note on page 80 regarding the source of the text.

2

Les Chefs Plaids Capitaulx d'après le jour St. Michel, tenus le iiije d'Octobre, l'an 1658,…

Il a esté ce dit jour ordonné que toute laine pegnée ou sans pegner, tout beure, suif, chandelle, etoupes, et toute sorte de forgerie, de quelque pays que ce soit, qui se vendent en dettail au public, se vendront au pois d'icelle isle, qui est de dix-huit onces pois de Rouen à la livre, sur la peine de six cents livres tournois au delinquant, applicables un tiers au fisque, un autre tiers aux pauvres, et l'autre tiers au delateur; et commandé aux Connetables d'en voir l'execution Samedi prochain, sur la peine de xxx livres tournois d'amende : ce qui sera presentement publié par les carrefours de cette ville, et Samedy prochain, affin qu'aucun n'en pretende cause d'ignorance.

Les Chefs Plaids Capitaulx after Michelmas, held the 4 October 1658,…

It was on that said day that all wool, combed, or uncombed, all butter, tallow, candle, chops, and any kind of forge, whatever country, sold at retail to the public, shall be sold by the weight of this island, which is eighteen ounces of Rouen to a pound, on the penalty of six hundred livres tournois to the offender, one third to the tax, one third to the poor, and the other third to the informer; and ordered the Connetables to see the execution next Saturday, on the penalty of a fine of 30 livres tournois : which will be published at the crossroads of this town, and next Saturday, that no one pretends to do so out of ignorance.

Macculloch, cited above, page 187.

3

Aux Chefs Plaids Capitaux d'après le jour de Noël, tenus le 16e jour du mois de Janvier, l'an 1720.

La Cour, pour plusieurs raisons à cela mouvant, et pour obvier aux inconvénients qui arrivent de temps à autre par les différentes Mesures et Poids dont on fait usage en cette Isle,-A ORDONNÉ (ensuite de la conclusion du Procureur du Roi) qu'à l'avenir, après le 25e de Mars prochain, tous marchands et autres qui achètent et vendent, soit en gros ou en détail, marchandises et denrées de quelque espèce ou nature que ce soit, venues de dehors ou du crû et produit de cette Isle, feront usage de l'aune de quatre pieds, contenant quarante-huit pouces, pour les marchandises qui se vendent par l'aune, et de la verge de trois pieds, contenant trente-six pouces, pour celles qui se vendent par la verge. Et quant aux poids, la livre sera de seize onces. Et défendu à qui que ce soit de faire usage d'aucune autre sorte de poids ou de mesures, après le dit jour 25e de Mars prochain, sur la peine de vingt livres tournois d'amende, applicable un quart au Roi, un quart aux pauvres, et moitié au délateur.

The Court, for several motive reasons, and to obviate the disadvantages which occasionally arise from the different Measures and Weights used in this Isle, - ORDERED (following the conclusion of the Procureur du Roi) In the future, after the 25th of March next, all merchants and others who buy and sell, wholesale or retail, goods and commodities of whatever kind or nature that come from shall make use of the aune of four pieds, containing forty-eight pouces, for the goods which are sold by the aune, and the verge of three pieds, containing thirty-six pouces, for those sold by the verge. And as for weights, the livre [pound] will be sixteen onces. And it is forbidden for anyone to make use of any other kind of weight or measures, after the said 25th day of March next, on the penalty of a fine of twenty pounds tournois, applicable a quarter to the King, a quarter to the Poor, and half to the informer.

Macculloch, cited above, pages 243-244.

4

Aux Chefs Plaids tenus le 19e jour du mois de Janvier, l'an 1729,…

La Cour, en obéissant à l'Ordre de Sa Majesté en Conseil du 29e Novembre dernier, qui ordonne et appointe que l'Etalon des Poids de cette Isle sera à l'avenir de seize onces à la livre, A ORDONNÉ ET ORDONNE que publications seront faites au plutôt aux paroisses de cette Isle, issue des prêches, pour faire connaître aux habitants d'icelle qu'à l'avenir il est défendu à qui que ce soit de faire usage d'aucun autre Poids que de seize onces à la livre, conformément au dit Ordre, à peine de punition exemplaire suivant l'exigence du cas: et ordonné que la présente sera publiée, issue des prêches des paroisi;ies de cette Isle, et ce afin que personne n'en prétende cause d'ignorance.

The Court, in obedience to the Order of His Majesty in Council of the 29th of November last, which orders and appoints that the Standard of Weight of this Isle will be in the future of sixteen ounces to the pound, has ORDERED AND ORDERS that publications Will be made, rather, to the parishes of this Isle, issued from the sermons, in order to make known to the inhabitants of it that in the future it is forbidden for any one to use any other Weight than sixteen ounces at In accordance with the said Order, on pain of exemplary punishment according to the exigency of the case, and ordered that the present shall be published, issued from the sermons of the parishes of that island, in order that no one may pretend to be ignorant of it.

Macculloch, pages 256-257.

5

The theoretical legal standard of weight in all the islands is the “poids de marc de Rouen,” the old Normandy pound, the value of which is stated in Kelly's “Cambiste Universel” to bear to the Amsterdam pound the proportion of 1009 to 1000; and as the latter is 7625 grains, this would give the poids de marc 7539½ Troy grains.

When, however, we compare the actual standards, the result is very different. In Jersey, the value of the standard is 7560 grains, and this Col. Le Couteur, F.R.S., the present Vicomte, or Sheriff, of Jersey, has identified by careful personal observation with the old French standard pound of Charlemagne, preserved at Rouen. This certainly ought to be, and is assumed by Col. Le Couteur to be the true “poids de marc.” In Guernsey, a careful comparison of several standard weights was made some years ago, and the result gave, as the mean value of all, 7627 grains to the pound. This agrees so nearly with the Amsterdam pound (the difference being only two grains) that it would seem probable that the original standard has there been replaced by one from Amsterdam, a curious illustration of the greater prevalence and importance of foreign (Dutch) trade in Guernsey, and of the coasting (French) trade in Jersey.

…The weights used in Alderney, Sark, and Herm, correspond to those of Guernsey.

David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham.
The Channel Islands.
London: Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1862.
Pages 573-574.

for further reading

D. R. Laine.
Weights and Measures for Trade in Guernsey and Alderney, 13th – 20th Century.
2012.
Available online at www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=82330&p=0. Retrieved 25 December 2014.

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