Breamlea, Victoria

Breamlea, Victoria

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Perches, metres and feet - James Salter's land in Chewton in 1860

I love TROVE so much!

Today I got emailed by them telling me a certain article I was interested in was available.

The article appeared in the Mount Alexander Mail on Friday 3 August 1860. The heading is 'Title Deeds' and  tells a list of people for whom Title Deeds await at the Receipt and Pay Office at Castlemaine.

Included in the list is James Salter, my 4x great grandmother's third husband.  Beside his name is listed where he bought the land, Chewton, and numbers and letters.  In James' case it is 35p.  For half a second I thought it was the price, but then 35 pence was too cheap for land even in those days.  Besides I knew he paid 15 pounds for his land.

So what does 35p mean? Looking at other names on the list, I saw others had numbers with the letter 'r' or a combination of 'r' and 'p'.  Finally I realised it stood for rods and perches, old fashioned units of measurement.

So James' block of land in Chewton is 35 perches. Apparently that is the equivalent of 885 square metres or 9500 square feet. I hope that means something to you because it means nothing to me.  I was born without a measurement gene apparently; never have been able to judge distance or size of things. My husband tells me it's about twice the size of our house, but that won't help you. we went to Chewton earlier this year, we visited James and Janet's block briefly driving past it.  It is close to the town centre, not far from the Post Office. I could easily see the back fence quite close to the road, so it is not a huge block.  They built a bark hut on the property and Janet lived in that hut from 1860 when they bought the land until 1887 when she died.

 I imagine that James promised Janet that she and her children would never have to move again, and they would all put down roots in Chewton.  And he did that for her.

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