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Laws relating to the Munufacture, Sale, and Assize of


Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed,

6 June, 1815.


THE COMMITTEE appointed to inquire into the State

of the existing Laws which regulate the Manufacture and Sale of BREAD, and whether it is expedient to continue the Assize thereon under any and what Regulations, and to report the Matter thereof as it should appear to them to The House, together with their observations and opinion thereupon ; and to whom the Petition of several Bakers of the City and Suburbs of

the City of Canterbury, was referred ;Have proceeded in pursuance of the Orders of the House, to examine and compare the Statute called Assisa Panis et cervisiæ, made in the 51st year of Henry III, with the Ordinances made in the reign of Edward I, the 12th

year of Henry VII, the 34th of Elizabeth, and the Book of Assize published by Order of Council in the year 1638.

Your Committee find, that the 51st of Henry III, was (at the petition of the Bakers of Coventry,) an Exemplification of certain Ordinances of Assize made in the reign of King John, the purpose of which appears to have been to regulate the charges and profits of Bakers; it being stated, immediately after the specification of the Table of Assize in the Act, “ that then a baker in every quarter of wheat (as it is proved by the King's bakers) may gain fourpence and the bran, and two loaves for advantage ; for three servants three halfpence, for two lads one halfpenny, in salt one halfpenny, for kneading one halfpenny, for candle one farthing, for, wood twopence, for his bultel (or bolting) three halfpence,” in all sixpence three farthings, and two loaves for advantage.

Your Committee observing the allowance thus stated to be made to the bakers, was partly in money and partly in bread, proceeded to examine in what way the Table of Assize was constructed for the purpose of ensuring to them that allowance; and they found, that of eight sorts of Bread which were included in the Table, the sixth is that which has been called wheaten bread in the subsequent Assize Laws. Of this bread it is stated in the table, “when wheat shall sell at 12d. the quarter, the farthing loaf shall weigh 10l. 11s. 6d.” which weight (as was usual in those times) being expressed in pounds shillings and pence, Your Committee find to be the Saxon or Tower pound, which is to the Troy pound, in the proportion of 15 to 16; and accordingly, when the Troy weight was established in 18th of Henry VIII, the Tables of Assize were duly adjusted in that proportion. Subsequently, in the 13th of Charles I, when the avoirdupois weight was introduced, the Tables were again adjusted according to the known principle, that 73 ounces troy equal 80 ounces avoirdupois.

From which statement it is apparent, that the quantity of wheaten bread expressed in the Statute by the denomination of 10l. 11s. 6d. is equal to 10.575lbs. troy, and 8.7087lbs. avoirdupois ; as one loaf of this weight was to be sold for a farthing when a quarter of wheat was at 12d. it follows that 48 such loaves (which weigh 41.802lbs. avoirdupois) was the exact quantity of bread which was to be sold for the price of a quarter of wheat ; whatever bread could be made from it over and above 418lbs. was for the baker's advantage, and this is stated in the Statute to have been proved on experiment to have amounted to two loaves; and if these were peck loaves, 452lbs. 1402. of wheaten bread was the quantity obtained by the King's bakers from a quarter of wheat.

Your Committee proceeded to examine, whether the quantity of bread which can be made from a quarter of wheat, is such as to justify the above interpretation of the Statute; and they found in the Report of a Committee of the House which sat in 1774, the detail of many accurate experiments upon that subject; but Your Committee beg leave to refer to the record of an experiment which was reported to the House by the Committee on the high price of provisions in the year 1800, by which it appears that the flour from a quarter of wheat weighing only 55 lbs. a bushel, and dressed after the mode now in use for preparing flour for the London Market, was baked into 433 lbs. of wheaten bread, and 25 lbs. of household bread. And Your Committee relying confidently upon the accuracy of that experiment, are thereby assured, that when the baker was forced to sell no more than 418 lbs, of bread for the price of a quarter of wheat, he really obtained in surplus bread the two loaves for advantage which the Statute professed to allow him; although it is probable the bread was not of quite so fine a quality as the wheaten bread now in use.

The Money allowance appears by its specified applica

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