Put that in a Hogshead

Jeremy M. Bell // AMH 4110.0M01 – colonial America, 1607-1763

If you had a hogshead, what would certainly you perform with it? would you drink out of her hogshead? How about pack it complete of tobacco to save for later? would you pack it complete of sugar maybe? Well, if you to be living in colonial America you absolutely might do any of the above.

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A hogshead is a unit of measure used more commonly in colonial times 보다 today. And why is that? The basic answer is the the average human today walk very tiny with barrels. In early american times, when you gotten in a store one of the an initial things to be noticed to be the variety of barrels present. Barrels were the shipping containers of your time. Because that ease the transport, storage, and sealable freshness, barrels to be the colonial Tupperware. So, what constitutes a hogshead, and where walk the hatchet come from?

Barrels came in assorted sizes. A hogshead held approximately 1000 pounds that tobacco (or 64 gallons that liquid). Photograph credit: Distillerytrail.com

In 1423, the British conference passed the first act come standardize barrels and their measurements.<1> A tun was set at 252 gallons. Every designation of volume would certainly then be cut in half. So, a pipe barrel would be measured as 126 gallons, or fifty percent of a tun. Complying with suit, a hogshead would measure in at 64 gallons and a typical barrel at 32 gallons.<2> There were exception to the halving rule, and more barrel sizes, but these to be the key units that measure. Dry goods, such together tobacco, sugar, or salted fish, would certainly be packed into the barrels till the network weight matched the of the same barrel complete of water, to aid standardize weight measurements.<3>

The etymology of the term hogshead was clarified through Walter william Skeat of Cambridge in 1896. The hatchet ‘hogshead’ to be traditionally believed to be derived from hog’s hide, a feasible material because that containers to hold wine. Skeat argued that this just wasn’t so. Tracing the term through the Dutch, Swedish, and Danish languages, Skeat argued that in all other languages, the very first part of hogshead refers to an ox, not a hog. That concluded that hogshead was a corruption the the swedish word oxhuvud meaning both the head of one ox and a barrel.<4>

A depiction of hogshead barrels ~ above a map of early american Virginia native 1751. Image courtesy the the Library that Congress, Geography and also Maps Division, LCCN 74693166.

A hogshead barrel would have been a usual sight in colonial American stores choose that the eighteenth-century shopkeeper Alexander Henderson, variable for john Glassford, in ~ the Colchester store in Virginia. John Glassford was one of the most significant Scottish tobacco lords until his death in 1783.<5> The Glassford firm was the second highest shipper the hogsheads of tobacco to good Britain in 1774 importing 4,506 hogsheads.<6>

It was with the transcription of the 1760/1761 Colchester ledger that I very first came throughout hogsheads. Among the ways in i beg your pardon customers could receive credit transaction was with the offering of tobacco consisted of in a hogshead. Tobacco was the many common kind of payment in the store.

Joseph Power’s credit account at the Colchester store, whereby he payment his debt through hogsheads of tobacco (folio 059C).

Abbreviated in the ledger together Hhd or Hhds, a hogshead is still supplied in the wine and whiskey sectors mainly because that maturing alcohol.<7> While less usual today, this unit the measure and also the container it describes was an aspect of day-to-day life in colonial times. Indigenous the common mercantile save to huge plantations, a hogshead barrel was vital element of life before and after that standardization through the British parliament in 1423.


<1> joined States, room of State, “Report top top Weights and also Measures,” john Quincy Adams, Senate 119 and also House 109 that 16th Congress 2nd Session, Boston public Library (Washington: published by Gales & Seaton, 1821), 27, https://archive.org/details/reportuponweights1821unit.

<2> room of State, “Report,” 27.

<3> Ibid., 26.

<4> wilhelm Walter Skeat, A Student’s Pastime: gift a Select series of articles Reprinted native “Notes and Queries” (London, England: Clarendon press, 1996), 33.

<5> john Francis Hackett, John Glassford and company Records: A Finding help to the arsenal in the Library the Congress (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2000), 4.

<6> James H. Soltow, The Economic function of Williamsburg (Williamsburg: University push of Virginia, Charlottesvile, 1965), 47, colonial Williamsburg Digital Library,http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/view/index.cfm?doc=ResearchReports\RR0066.xml&highlight=.

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<7> “Casks (barrels, hogsheads, butts),.” WhiskyInvestDirect, accessed April 20, 2017,https://www.whiskyinvestdirect.com/about-whisky/scotch-whisky-casks-and-barrels.