Quick Conversion Tables for Basic Colonial Measures

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The tables below are provided as quick-references for converting selected colonial measures (distance and weight/volume) into modern-day miles and kilometers, with values ranging from 1-100.

Spanish Leagues / Spanish Varas /  Spanish Arrobas


Spanish Leagues

The two most commonly-employed league distances used for terrestrial measurements in Spanish Florida were the legua legal, which measured 3 Spanish millas, or 5,000 varas (equaling 0.8359 meters) of 3 Spanish pies (equaling 0.2786 meters), and the legua común, which measured 4 Spanish millas, or 4,000 pasos of 5 Spanish pies.  The longer legua común seems to have been used principally during the 16th century, while the shorter legua legal seems to have been in nearly universal usage in Florida during 17th and 18th centuries. For more in-depth discussion of the variability in the Spanish league measurements during this period, see the following sources:
Chardon, Roland, "The Elusive Spanish League: A Problem of Measurement in Sixteenth-Century New Spain," The Hispanic American Historical Review 60(2): 294-302 (1980). Chardon, Roland, "The Linear League in North America," Annals of the Association of American Geographers70(2): 129-153 (1980).
Statute Leagues
(legua legal)
Miles Kilometers
1 2.6 4.18
2 5.2 8.37
3 7.8 12.55
4 10.4 16.73
5 13 20.92
6 15.6 25.10
7 18.2 29.28
8 20.8 33.47
9 23.4 37.65
10 26 41.83
11 28.6 46.02
12 31.2 50.20
13 33.8 54.38
14 36.4 58.57
15 39 62.75
16 41.6 66.93
17 44.2 71.12
18 46.8 75.30
19 49.4 79.48
20 52 83.67
30 78 125.50
40 104 167.34
50 130 209.17
60 156 251.00
70 182 292.84
80 208 334.67
90 234 376.51
100 260 418.34

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Common Leagues
(legua común)
Miles Kilometers
1 3.46 5.57
2 6.92 11.13
3 10.38 16.70
4 13.84 22.27
5 17.3 27.84
6 20.76 33.40
7 24.22 38.97
8 27.68 44.54
9 31.14 50.10
10 34.6 55.67
11 38.06 61.24
12 41.52 66.81
13 44.98 72.37
14 48.44 77.94
15 51.9 83.51
16 55.36 89.07
17 58.82 94.64
18 62.28 100.21
19 65.74 105.78
20 69.2 111.34
30 103.8 167.01
40 138.4 222.69
50 173 278.36
60 207.6 334.03
70 242.2 389.70
80 276.8 445.37
90 311.4 501.04
100 346 556.71

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Spanish Varas

The Spanish vara was comprised of 3 Spanish pies, or feet, and was established as equivalent to 0.8359 meters upon the transition to the metric system during the 19th century.  The vara de Burgos upon which this measurement was based was only one of several in usage during the colonial era, however, and so a certain amount of variability is to be expected both regionally and chronologically.

varas Feet Meters
1 2.74 0.836
2 5.49 1.672
3 8.23 2.508
4 10.97 3.344
5 13.71 4.180
6 16.46 5.015
7 19.20 5.851
8 21.94 6.687
9 24.68 7.523
10 27.43 8.359
11 30.17 9.195
12 32.91 10.031
13 35.65 10.867
14 38.40 11.703
15 41.14 12.539
16 43.88 13.374
17 46.62 14.210
18 49.37 15.046
19 52.11 15.882
20 54.85 16.718
30 82.28 25.077
40 109.70 33.436
50 137.13 41.795
60 164.56 50.154
70 191.98 58.513
80 219.41 66.872
90 246.83 75.231
100 274.26 83.590

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Spanish Arrobas

The Spanish arroba was used both as a measure of dry weight and separately as a measure of liquid volume, as indicated below in a single chart.  All liquids but olive oil were measured using a larger arroba, while olive oil was measured using a smaller arroba (because of its greater density).

  Dry Weight Liquid Volume Olive Oil Volume
arrobas Pounds Kilograms Gallons Liters Gallons Liters
1 25.36 11.50 4.26 16.13 3.32 12.56
2 50.73 23.00 8.52 32.27 6.64 25.13
3 76.09 34.51 12.79 48.40 9.96 37.69
4 101.45 46.01 17.05 64.53 13.28 50.25
5 126.81 57.51 21.31 80.67 16.60 62.82
6 152.18 69.01 25.57 96.80 19.91 75.38
7 177.54 80.52 29.84 112.93 23.23 87.94
8 202.90 92.02 34.10 129.06 26.55 100.50
9 228.26 103.52 38.36 145.20 29.87 113.07
10 253.63 115.02 42.62 161.33 33.19 125.63
11 278.99 126.53 46.89 177.46 36.51 138.19
12 304.35 138.03 51.15 193.60 39.83 150.76
13 329.71 149.53 55.41 209.73 43.15 163.32
14 355.08 161.03 59.67 225.86 46.47 175.88
15 380.44 172.53 63.94 242.00 49.79 188.45
16 405.80 184.04 68.20 258.13 53.11 201.01
17 431.16 195.54 72.46 274.26 56.43 213.57
18 456.53 207.04 76.72 290.39 59.74 226.13
19 481.89 218.54 80.98 306.53 63.06 238.70
20 507.25 230.05 85.25 322.66 66.38 251.26

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