corn, cattle, poultry, &c. It sometimes happened
however, that the landlord would stipulate
that he should be at liberty to demand 
of the tenant, either the annual payment in 
kind or a certain sum of money instead of it. 
The price at which the payment in kind was 
in this manner exchanged for a certain sum of 
money, is in Scotland called the conversion 
price. As the option is always in the landlord 
to take either the substance or the price
it is necessary, for the safety of the tenant
that the conversion price should rather be below 
than above the average market price. In 
many places, accordingly, it is not much above 
one half of this price. Through the greater 
part of Scotland this custom still continues 
with regard to poultry, and in some places 
with regard to cattle. It might probably have 
continued to take place, too, with regard to 
corn, had not the institution of the public fiars 
put an end to it. These are annual valuations
according to the judgment of an assize
of the average price of all the different sorts 
of grain, and of all the different qualities of 
each, according to the actual market price in 
every different county. This institution rendered 
it sufficiently safe for the tenant, and 
much more convenient for the landlord, to 
convert, as they call it, the corn rent, rather 
at what should happen to be the price of the 
fiars of each year, than at any certain fixed 
price. But the writers who have collected 
the prices of corn in ancient times seem frequently 
to have mistaken what is called in 
Scotland the conversion price for the actual 
market price. Fleetwood acknowledges, upon 
one occasion, that he had made this mistake. 
As he wrote his book, however, for a 
particular purpose, he does not think proper 
to make this acknowledgment till after transcribing 
this conversion price fifteen times
The price is eight shillings the quarter of 
wheat. This sum in 1423, the year at which 
he begins with it, contained the same quantity 
of silver as sixteen shillings of our present 
money. But in 1562, the year at which he 
ends with it, it contained no more than the 
same nominal sum does at present
Secondly, they have been misled by the slovenly 
manner in which some ancient statutes 
of assize had been sometimes transcribed by 
lazy copiers, and sometimes, perhaps, actually 
composed by the legislature
The ancient statutes of assize seem to have 
begun always with determining what ought to 
be the price of bread and ale when the price 
of wheat and barley were at the lowest; and 
to have proceeded gradually to determine what 
it ought to be, according as the prices of those 
two sorts of grain should gradually rise above 
this lowest price. But the transcribers of 
those statutes seem frequently to have thought 
it sufficient to copy the regulation as far as 
the three or four first and lowest prices; saving 
in this manner their own labour, and judging
I suppose, that this was enough to show 
what proportion ought to be observed in all 
higher prices
Thus, in the assize of bread and ale, of the 
51st of Henry III. the price of bread was regulated 
according to the different prices of 
wheat, from one shilling to twenty shillings 
the quarter of the money of those times. But 
in the manuscripts from which all the different 
editions of the statutes, preceding that of 
Mr Ruffhead, were printed, the copiers had 
never transcribed this regulation beyond the 
price of twelve shillings. Several writers
therefore, being misled by this faulty transcription
very naturally conclude that the 
middle price, or six shillings the quarter, equal 
to about eighteen shillings of our present 
money, was the ordinary or average price of 
wheat at that time
In the statute of Tumbrel and Pillory, enacted 
nearly about the same time, the price of 
ale is regulated according to every sixpence 
rise in the price of barley, from two shillings
to four shillings the quarter. That four shillings
however, was not considered as the 
highest price to which barley might frequently 
rise in those times and that these prices 
were only given as an example of the proportion 
which ought to be observed in all other 
prices, whether higher or lower, we may infer 
from the last words of the statute: "Et 
sic deinceps crescetur vel diminuetur per sex 
denarios." The expression is very slovenly
but the meaning is plain enough, "that the 
price of ale is in this manner to be increased 
or diminished according to every sixpence rise 
or fall in the price of barley." In the composition 
of this statute, the legislature itself 
seems to have been as negligent as the copiers 
were in the transcription of the other. 
In an ancient manuscript of the Regiam 
Majestatem, an old Scotch law book, there is 
a statute of assize, in which the price of bread 
is regulated according to all the different 
prices of wheat, from tenpence to three shillings 
the Scotch boll, equal to about half an 
English quarter. Three shillings Scotch, at 
the time when this assize is supposed to have 
been enacted, were equal to about nine shillings 
sterling of our present money. Mr Ruddiman 
seems[16] to conclude from this, that three shillings 
was the highest price to which wheat 
ever rose in those times, and that tenpence, a 
shilling, or at most two shillings, were the 
ordinary prices. Upon consulting the manuscript
however, it appears evidently, that all 
these prices are only set down as examples of 
the proportion which ought to be observed 
between the respective prices of wheat and 
bread. The last words of the statute are 
"reliqua judicabis secundum præscripta, habendo 
respectum ad pretium bladi."—"You 
shall judge of the remaining cases, according