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COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,
Secretary's Department, Sept. 5th, 1817.
To his Excellency Governor Brooks.
SIR: In obedience to instructions from your excellency to furnish an abstract of the laws now in force in this commonwealth respecting weights and measures, for the purpose of complying with a request of the acting Secretary of State of the United States, made to your excellency by a note of the 29th of July last, in pursuance of a resolution of Congress of March 3d, 1817, I have now the honor to submit the following statement on that subject.
In February, 1800, an act passed the legislature of this commonwealth, entitled “ An act for the due regulation of weights and measures,” by which it was required that the brass and copper weights and measures formerly sent out from England with a certificate from the exchequer, to be approved Winchester measures, according to the standard in the said exchequer, and adopted and used, and allowed in this commonwealth, should be and remain the public allowed standards through the same, by which all weights and measures should be tried, proved, and sealed.
By said act it was made the duty of the treasurer of the commonwealth to have and keep, as public standards, to be used only as such, the beams, weights, and measures following, to wit: one bushel, one half bushel, one peck, one half peck, one ale quart, one wine gallon, one wine half gallon, one wine quart, one wine pint, one wine half pint, and one wine gill; the said measures to be of copper or pewter, conformable as to contents to said Winchester measures, and as to breadth, that is to say, the diameter of the bushel not less than eighteen inches and a half, containing thirty-two Winchester quarts ; of the half bushel, not less than thirteen inches and three quarters, consisting of sixteen Winchester quarts; of the peck, not less than ten inches and three quarters, containing eight Winchester quarts; and of the half peck, not less than nine inches, containing four Winchester quarts; the admeasurement to be made in each instance within side the measure. Also, one ell, one yard, one set of brass weights to four pounds, computed at sixteen ounces to the pound, with fit scales and steel-beam. Also, a good beam and scales, and a nest of troy weights, from one hundred and twenty-eight ounces down to the least denomination, with the weight of each weight, and the length of each measure, marked or stamped thereon, respectively, and scaled with a seal, to be procured and kept by the said treasurer of the commonwealth. And, also, one fifty-six pound weight, one twentyeight pound weight, one fourteen pound weight, and one seven pound weight, made of iron.
By the same act the county treasurers were also required to keep a complete set of beams, and of brass, copper, pewter, and iron weights, and of the aforesaid measures, (the bushel measure excepted) tried, proved, and sealed, by the said state standards, and marked or stamped as aforesaid, the measures to be conformable, as to breadth and contents, to the state standards, to be kept for the sole use of the respective counties, and to be used only as standards, and every ten years to be tried and proved by the treasurer and standards of the commonwealth ; and, for neglect of duty in this behalf, the county treasurers are made liable to a fine of two hundred dollary,
The treasurers of towns were also required by the same law to procure and keep for town standards a complete set of beams, weights, and copper or pewter measures, under a penalty of one hundred dol. lars, to be conformable to said state standards, (excepting as to a bushel measure, and with liberty also to have a wooden, ins copper, iron, or pewter half bushel, peck, and half peck.) The town treasurers also to be excused from procuring a nest of troy weights, other than from the lowest denominations to the size of eight ounces; the same to be tried, proved, and sealed, either by the treasurer of the commonwealth, or of the county within which the town lies, and to be proved and sealed every ten years. Said town treasurer also to procure and keep a town seal for the purpose of sealing weights, &c. And the selectmen of every town are directed by the same law, annually, to appoint a suitable person as sealer of weights and mea. sures, with power to remove and appoint others. The person appointed to be sealer of weights and measures to be under oath ; the selectmen are liable to a fine of ten dollars for neglect of duty in this case, and the sealer of weights and measures to a fine of one hundred dollars for neglect of duty. The sealer to receive the town seals and standards for the purpose of proving, marking, and sealing weights and measures.
The sealer of weights and measures is also required by said law to give public notice of his appointment, and of the time when, and place where, he will try, prove, and seal the measures and weights. And he is authorized to go to the houses, stores, or shops, of such as do not come to him to have their measures and weights proved, &c. And those who refuse to have beams, weights, and measures so tried, proved, and sealed, to forfeit ten dollars for every offence. Those who offer to sell, or do sell, without such proved and sealed weights and measures, to forfeit one dollar for every offence.
Fees to be paid state or county treasurer for sealing any weight, measure, scale, or beam, the first time three cents, and two cents for every after sealing of the same. The sealer of weights and measures for trying and proving town standards, and sealing them, to receive three cents, if they are found not conformable to the standard, and one cent and five mills for each beam, weight, and measure, if conformable thereto.
In 1804, March, an act passed the legislature, in addition to the act above referred to, and abridged, requiring the treasurer of the commonwealth to add to the troy weights, (by the first act ordered to be kept by him for public use,) as follows, viz: To the weight of one hundred and twenty-eight ounces, the further weight of twentyseven grains; to the weight of sixty-four ounces, the further weight of fifteen grains ; to the weight of thirty-two ounces, the further weight of six grains; to the weight of sixteen ounces, the further weight of seven grains; to the weight of eight ounces, the further weight of four and a half grains ; to the weight of four ounces, the further weight of two and a half grains; to the weight of two ounces, the further weight of two and a half grains ; to the weight of one ounce, the further weight of two grains; to the weight of half an ounce, the further weight of one quarter of a grain; or to procure new weights of the same denomination, and conformable to the state standards, with the additions aforesaid, respectively; and the same to be the standards of troy weight for the commonwealth.
By this last named act, the directors of all banks in the state are required annually to have all the weights used in their respective banks, compared, proved, and sealed, by the treasurer of the commonwealth, or by some person specially appointed by bim for the purpose ; and the weights of banks are not, therefore, required to be sealed by town treasurers or sealers. Aud no tender of gold by any bank is to be legal, unless weighed with weights thus compared, proved, and sealed.
The county treasurers are required by this law to have their standards of troy weights compared, proved, and sealed, by the treasurer of the commonwealth, once in ten years, at the expense of the county. And the treasurers of towns, at the expense of the towns, to have the town standards of troy weight compared, proved, and sealed, every ten years, by the treasurer of the commonwealth, or the treasurer of the county.
The above is the substance of the laws of this state now in force through the whole commonwealth on the subject of weights and measures. In June, 1817, a law passed regulating weights and measures in the town of Boston. The provisions of this law vary but little from the former law above abridged, which is obligatory through the state. It provides that the sealer of weights and measures for the town of Boston shall have a house or office, to which all persons in Boston, using scale-beams, steelyards, weights, or measures, for the purpose of buying or selling any article, shall be obliged, after due notice in the public papers, to send annually their scale-beams, steelyards, weights, and measures, to be tried, proved, and sealed, as re. quired by the act first above referred to. The sealer in Boston, by this act, is authorized and required to go to the houses or shops of those who do not send their weights, scales, &c. to him, to try, prove, and seal the same; and is to have double fees in such case.
For refusing to have scales, weights, &c. proved and sealed, and for using
weights, scales, &c. which are not conformable to the state standards, a fine of ten dollars is provided for each offence. And for altering any scale or weight, &c. a penalty of fifty dollars for each offence.
ALDEN BRADFORD, Secretary of Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
Governor of Rhode Island to the Secretary of State.
THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND,
Providence, September 5, 1817. Sir: Agreeably to your request of the 29th of July last, relative to the regulations and standards for weights and measures here, I have to observe there is not any statute of this state regulating weights and measures, though the general assembly have passed some acts regulating the assize of casks, for cider and stone lime, but have never declared the cubical contents of a gallon or bushel.
The weights and measures now in use are sealed by the standard weights and measures procured from England many years since, and are said to be in conformity with those called the Lower Standards. However, they are the same as those used in the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, which are generally known to be the same as the Winchester measure.
I have not been able to find, in the course of my researches, any thing written on the subject of weights and measures by any authority of this state, but I find it the immemorial custom of merchants to buy and sell sugar, rice, hay, iron, hemp, cordage, copperas, and dyewoods, by gross hundreds, that is, 112 pounds for the hundred.
N. R. KNIGHT.
N. B. Land and distances are measured here by the English rod. Hon. RICHARD RUSH,
Acting Secretary of State.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT,
Litchfield, August 5, 1817. SIR: I have received your letter of the 29th of July, and have directed the Secretary of State to transmit, to your department, exemplifications of the acts of this state, establishing the standards of weights and measures.
I have the honor to be,
OLIVER WOLCOTT. The Hon. RICHARD Rush,
Acting Secretary of State, Washington.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT,
Secretary's Office, August 12, 1817. SIR: In compliance with the request of his excellency the Governor of this state, I enclose, herewith, for your use, exemplifications of all the statutes of this state now in force relating to weights and measures.
With great respect,
THOMAS DAY. The Hon. RICHARD RUSH,
Acting Secretary of State, Washington.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT.
At a general assembly of the state of Connecticut, in America, holden at New Haven, in said state, on the second Thursday of October, being the ninth day of said month, and continued by adjournments from day to day, until the first day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred.
An Act prescribing and regulating Weights and Measures. SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the Governor and Council, and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, That the brass measures, the property of this state, kept at the treasury, that is to say: a half