wey

Also called a weight or weigh.

1

In England, an early medieval unit of dry capacity, = 32 bushels. The capacity of a wagon-load.

2

In England, 14th century, a unit of mass, 175 pounds avoirdupois. link to a chart showing relationships between English units of mass 

A Sack of Wool ought to weigh Twenty-eight Stone, that is Three hundred and fifty Pounds, and in some parts Thirty Stone, that is Three hundred and seventy-five Pounds, and they are the same according to the greater or lesser Pound.

...

There is a Weight, as well of Lead as of Wool, Tallow, and Cheese, and weigheth Fourteen Stone. And Two [Weights] of Wool make a Sack...

Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris.

Taking the stone at 12½ pounds makes the wey 175 pounds.

3

In England, 15th – 19th centuries, a unit of mass used for cheese, reestablished in 1430 as the result of a petition to the king at 224 pounds (= 32 cloves each of 7 pounds). This is twice the hundredweight of 112 pounds. In Latin accounts, translated as pisa.

The counties of Essex the wey of cheese was 336 pounds (3 112-lb hundredweights), and Suffolk of 256 pounds (32 8-lb cloves). But see below.

The cheeses themselves did not weigh a weigh. Rogers says of Essex cheeses in the 15th century, “it appears that about nine cheeses went to the wey, each weighing about 25 pounds.”¹

1. James E. Thorold Rogers.
A History of Agriculture and Prices in England. Vol. 4.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1882.
Page 358.

sources

1

9 Henry VI, chapter 8 [1430]

ITEM, Whereas it hath been of old Times accustomed in all the Counties of England, that all the Cheeses which ought to be sold by the Wey should be weighed by the Auncel, and because that at the last Parliament holden at Westminster, it was ordained, that the said Auncels, in respect of the great Deceit of the same, should be destroyed, and other Weights couching should be in this Behalf ordained ; and it is so, that the poor People of the Realm be greatly deceived by the said Weights couching, for that they know not how many Pounds the Wey of Cheese doth contain by the said Weights couching ; And therefore to the Intent that the said poor People shall not be in this Behalf deceived, as they have been sithence the said last Parliament, It is ordained by the Authority of this Parliament, That the Weight of a Wey of Cheese may contain xxxii. Cloves, that is to say, every Clove vij li. by the said Weights couching.

The Statutes of the Realm, volume 2, page 267.

2

The weyght of Essex chese is in England, CCC. weyght, fyve score xij. li. for the C. The weyght of Suffolke chese is xij. score and xvi. li.

The weight of Essex cheese is in England three hundredweight, five score 12 pounds to the hundredweight [and so 336 pounds]. The weight of Suffolke cheese is 12 score and 16 pounds [and so 256 pounds].

Richard Arnold.
In this Booke is conteyned the Names of the Baylifs, Custos, Mairs, and Sherefs,of the Cite of London, from the Tyme of King Richard the Furst; and also th'Artycles of the Chartur and Libarties of the same Cyte ; and of th'Chartur and Liberties off England, wyth odur dyvers mat's good and necessary for every Citezen to undirstond and knowe.
[Antwerp: John Doesborowe?, 1503?.]
Reprinted as
The Customs of London, otherwise called Arnold's Chronicle; containing among divers other matters, …
London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown; etc., 1811.
Page 263 (of the 1811 edition).

3

There is also the true weight of Cheese and Butter, called the weigh, which is 112 [pound symbol] Avoirdupois to the hundreth : so the two hundreth is 224 [pound symbol], containing 32 Cloves, and every Clove 7 [pound symbol] : so the weigh of Suffolke Cheese is 256 [pound symbol] Avoirdupois weight : but the weigh of Essex Cheese, is 336 [pound symbol].

Gerard Malynes.
Consuetudo, Vel Lex Mercatoria, or the Ancient Law-Merchant.…
London: Printed by Adam Islip, 1622.
Page 50.

4

By the Statute of the 9th of Henry the 6th, A.D. 1430, Chap. 8th, after reciting the Practice of weighing cheese throughout England by the Auncel, and that Auncel, in Respect of the Deceit thereof, had been by Statute destroyed; and other weights, called Couching, should be used; and the People were, from their Ignorance, deceived by such Couching weights, it is enacted, That the Weight of a Wey of Cheese shall contain thirty-two Cloves, and every Clove 7 lb. by the said Weights Couching.

Report from the Committee Appointed to Inquire into the Original Standards of Weights and Measures in this Kingdom and to Consider the Laws relating thereto. [Carysfort Report.]
Reports from Committees of the House of Commons (1737-65) Vol II, pages 453-463.

5

CLOVE; is a term used in Weights; and in respect to Wool, 7 pounds makes a Clove; but in Essex, they allow 8 pounds of cheese and butter to the Clove; 31 Cloves, or 256 pounds to the Wey: In Suffolk, they allow 42 of those Cloves, or 336 pounds to the Wey,

...

WEY, or Weigh : This is a term used in dry English Measure. It's a weight of Cheese or Wool, containing 256 pounds of Averdupois; a weigh of Barley or Malt is 6 quarters or forty eight Bushels; a weigh of Cheese in Essex is 300 pounds, and 60 Bunches is a weigh of Glass.

Worlidge, 1704.

Thirty-one 8-lb cloves make 248 pounds, not 256; “31” is probably a misprint for “32”. More important, notice in the clove entry that the sizes of the Suffolk and Essex weys as reported by Arnold and Malynes are inverted. Further, in the clove entry the Essex wey is 256 pounds, but the wey entry makes it 300 pounds. In short, Worlidge is a quesionable source on this subject. However, he seems to have become the primary source of information on the term in later glossaries.

6

WEIGH, or WEY, of cheese … 14 stone 31 Ed I. … 

of cheese, 2 cwt.; but in Essex, 256 lb. 9 H. 6. Otherwise 416, and in Suffolk, 3 cwt.

Second Report (1820), page 37.

Repeats Worlidge's magnitudes for Essex and Suffolk. Is this simply copied from Worlidge, or is it based on investigation on the ground?

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