A search for David Mellor found this advertisement for a land auction in an 1810 newspaper. In auction Lot II there are two "closes" of land being sold with David Mellor being listed as Occupier.

What does "Containing by Estimation Seven Days' Work" mean?

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  • 1
    Can you relate how this is applicable to Genealogy/Family history in your question, otherwise this may be more appropriate for History.SE
    – CRSouser
    Jan 7, 2015 at 18:54
  • @CRSouser have you read What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking? for History.SE? It's a good idea to check the other site's guidelines before steering a new user elsewhere -- otherwise the new person goes through the same cycle of "this question isn't for us" at the other site, too.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jan 7, 2015 at 22:22
  • @JanMurphy I have and they can be pretty brutal there with lots of editorial comment. I am just failing to see how this is related to genealogy. I have seen similar questions asked though there if well framed.
    – CRSouser
    Jan 7, 2015 at 22:25
  • I suspect that your question is related to your family's history but as it stands it could just be something you came across in an old newspaper while relining a drawer. I'm going to place your question on hold, which will give you an opportunity to use the edit button beneath your question to enter some more details about how the land auction relates to your family and ancestors. I think it would also be useful to say where in the world the auction was advertised/held - I am guessing Shipley and Bradford in northern England which are now part of West Yorkshire.
    – PolyGeo
    Jan 7, 2015 at 22:54
  • 1
    I've edited the question to put it in a form more suitable for G&FH.SE. Ideally the question would also have included the newspaper this item came from and the place of its publication. If you have any other details that would make it more clear that the question has genealogical interest, could you edit the original question and add them?
    – Jan Murphy
    Jan 9, 2015 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


The Free Dictionary defines a close as "A parcel of land that is surrounded by a boundary of some kind, such as a hedge or a fence."

From the context it appears that the estimation of "seven days work" is a measure of how large the land parcels are.

A search for the phrase "seven days work" turned up similar descriptions in The Bradford Antiquary: The Journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society, Volume 1 (1900), published in Yorkshire -- on page 60, a description of mortgages says:

With the Hall were sold several closes of land among them being "The Ffalderinge" (containing eight days' work).

and following on the same page are descriptions of several other land parcels.

In Transactions of the Illinois State Horticultural Society, Volume 3 (1904) on page 493 there is a discussion of how much yield can be gotten out of a parcel of land, which says in part:

Last year we had 13 acres of yellow Dent corn, which produced 1,260 bushels crib measure at two and one-half square feet to the bushel. This corn cost seven days' work for breaking the land and two days pulverizing and dressing the ground, one day planting, nine days cultivating, twenty-five days gathering the crop ....

I suspect that the 'seven days work' might be a rough estimate of how long it takes to break the ground, and is intended as a measure of how large the enclosure might be.

Resources for using land records in genealogy include:

If you can find out more about the location of the properties in this lot, you can try searching for tax rolls, like this record set from Yorshire, Land tax assessments for Bradford township, 1781-1832 found in the Family History Catalog. Sometimes valuation rolls list the occupier of the land, so David Mellor's name might appear in those records, even if they are not indexed to be searched by occupier's name.

Edited to add: an anonymous editor contributed this definition from ranchoregon.com/land-measurement:

The surface of land a man can work (farm) used to be a way to measure land.

The blog post "All in a Day's Work" by The Legal Genealogist has a glossary of law terms referring to things that could be done in a single day.

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