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What is a Militia List or Muster Roll?

Militia lists and books or muster rolls, have their origins in Anglo Saxon times, when it became necessary to be able to call on a group of men, who, at a moments notice, could act as a local defence unit.

This was particularly important when the ‘army’ was engaged in battle away from home.

    • Recruitment was organised through the County Lieutenancy.
    • The officers of the county would draw up an annual list of eligible men over 18 years old, who were capable of serving.
    • A ballot was then held and a muster of men drawn up.
    • Names were recorded in militia enrolment lists.
    • These men had to serve unless they could find someone else to take their place or they could afford to pay someone else to do so.

The militia lists are an excellent source of fascinating data for the family historian, unfortunately the survival of the lists varies enormously from county to county and they can be tricky to find but if you get lucky, they can reveal a person’s disabilities (for exclusion purposes), occupation, number of children and their age.

Look out on Intriguing History, as we will be providing links on a county to county basis.

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