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118.: To LORD HAILES - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith 
Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E. C. Mossner and I. S. Ross, vol. VI of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987).
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To LORD HAILES
MS., Keio University Libr., Japan; Brougham ii. 219; Rae 249; Sotheby’s Catalogue 21 May 1969, 65 (all ptd. texts, in part).
Kirkcaldy, 12 Mar. 1769
I received the favour of your Lordships Letter in due course of Post and have read over the Papers you enclosed along with it; with great pleasure and attention.1 I am greatly obliged to your Lordship for them: they will be of very great use to me.
I shall only observe to your Lordship that all the estimated prices of grain among our ancestors seem to have been extremely Loose and inaccurate: and that the same nominal sum was frequently considered as the Average price both of grain and of other things during a course of years in which considerable alterations had been made upon the intrinsick value of the Coin.2 Thus both in 1523. and in 1540. the Boll3 of barley and meal is estimated at 13s and 4d, tho in the first of these two periods there were only seven money pounds coined out of the pound weight of Silver; and tho’ in the second there were nine pounds, twelve Shillings coined out of it.4 This estimation is made, however, by the Lords of council and Session5 from whom the greatest accuracy might have been expected. It is not conceivable that during the course of the sixteenth century, so long after the discovery of the Spanish west Indies, grain should have sunk near one third in its average Price, or in the real quantity of silver that was given for it.6 The Market price of Grain was in those times extremely fluctuating, much more so than at present, and people seem to have been so much at a Loss how to fix an average, that they were happy to catch at any average that had been fixed in some former period without always attending to the difference of circumstances. In the conversion Prices that are agreed upon in Leases, the option whether to pay or take the rent in kind or in money, is sometimes in the Tennant, and sometimes in the Landlord. When it is in the Landlord, and when the Landlord generally resides upon his estate and chuses, for the conveniency of his family, to receive the rent in kind, it is very indifferent to him how low the conversion price is.7 In this neighbourhood the price of a good fowl, a hen, has been for many years from ten pence, to a Shilling and fifteen pence. Several years ago a friend of mine converted all the Poultry upon his estate at a Shilling. Five pence, however, is a common conversion price in a lease, the option being in the Landlord. Leases of this kind have been let within [?these] two or three years. I should be glad to know, if your Lordship remembers it, for I should be very sorry to give you the trouble to consult the record, whether in the leases of the Abbays and Bishopricks which you have looked into,8 the option was in the Landlord or in Tennant. If it was in the former, as a Monastery is always, and in old times a Bishop was generally resident, we need not wonder either at the irregularity, or at the lowness of some of the conversion prices. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect and regard
My Lord Your Lordships most obedient and obliged Servant
If the rejoicings, which I read of in the public papers, in different places on account of the Douglass Cause, had no more foundation than those which were said to have been in this place, there has been very little joy upon the occasion. There was here no sort of rejoicing of any kind; unless four schoolboys having set up three candles upon the trone,9 by way of an illumination, is to be considered as such.
[1 ]See Letter 117 from Hailes, dated 6 Mar. 1769.
[2 ]Cf. WN I.v. and I.xi. e. 28 on real and nominal price and corn as a ‘more accurate measure of value than any other commodity or set of commodities’.
[3 ]‘The Scotch boll, equal to about half the English quarter’ (WN I.xi.e.22).
[4 ]Smith’s information about Scots money came from James Anderson, Selectus diplomatum et numismatum Scotiae thesaurus (1739) and Thomas Ruddiman’s intro. to this book. It was in Smith’s library.
[5 ]In their judicial capacity, judges of the Court of Session are addressed as Lords of Council and Session, recalling their origin in the Curia Regis; see Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, ed. T. Thomson and C. Innes, Record Edition, 12 vols. (1814–75), ii. 226. c. 16, by which the Chancellor was directed to preside over such ‘lordis of consale or ellis the lordis of sessioun’ who were to administer justice at three fixed terms. These Lords specialized in law, leaving others free for other functions of government.
[6 ]WN I.xi.e.
[7 ]‘In antient times almost all rents were paid in kind; in a certain quantity of corn, cattle, poultry, etc. 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’ (WN I.xi.e.17).
[8 ]See the memorandum on ‘Prices’ accompanying Hailes’s letter of 6 Mar., above. Hailes had consulted charters and rent rolls of abbeys and bishopries.
[9 ]Usually ‘tron’: public weighing apparatus in a burgh; the post for the scales could be used as a place for public exposure and punishment of criminals.