‘The 1569 muster roll for Devon is one of the most important to have survived for any county in any period. It contains 17,778 names with 25 parishes missing… Mustering, which in this period meant little more than a display and inspection of men and equipment arose out of the obligation of every man to bear arms in home defence. It was first put on a regular basis in the reign of Elizabeth and in the early part of her reign took place about once every three years but increased in frequency as the Spanish invasion threat grew. In 1567 a strong Spanish army established in the Netherlands constituted a real threat to England and was so understood by Elizabeth and the Privy Council. On March 26th 1569 the Council issued a directive to the counties to hold a general muster of all men over 16 …
Each parish in the hundred then follows divided into four sections.
- The sworn presenters who bring to notice the facts shown in the rolls. They are among the most important parishioners and are often duplicated in the next section. Occasionally two parishes share the same set of presenters.
- The providers of armour. By “An Act for the Having of Horse, Armour and Weapons” … which is referred to in the roll as the Statute of Armour, all citizens possessed of certain wealth, including widows and clergy, were to provide armour and weapons according to a laid down scale and were subject to penalties if they did not do so, except that it was a valid excuse if they were genuinely unable to obtain them because of “want and lack of within the realm”. The number falling this class is 3294, or about a third of the number taxed in an Elizabethan subsidy; thus they were made up of the gentry and the richer yeomen … [G7 denotes those in possession of goods to the value of £10 to £20, with a requirement to provide 1 bow, 1 sheaf of arrows, 1 steel cap, 1 bill]
- A section dealing with the responsibility of the parish as a whole for the provision of armour … [Bratton parishioners had no responsibility for armour beyond those of item 2]
- The ablemen. These are divided into 5 categories — light horsemen, archers, harquebusiers, pikemen and billmen …
The roll ought to give the names of all ablemen between the ages of 16 and 60, there being no better definition of “able” than that they were fit to serve in war … [A]ll the parishes in Lifton are represented but the tinners are excluded [tinners were mustered by the stannary courts] … [taking into account “unable” men] the genealogist has something like a 50% chance of finding a name in the given age and sex group …’
If you would prefer to view the Muster Roll ordered by surname, press the ‘Surname’ field in the header bar.
|Section||Given Name||Surname||Assessment||Ablemen Category|