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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military & Services  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


Militia (cont.)

Militiamen’s Records

A great variety of material is available but scattered in location so persistence is needed. I show below a call-up paper, two papers regarding provision of substitutes and information on attestation papers and muster rolls, finishing with a look at what the man’s local parish chest may hold relevant to him and his family.

CHART: Militia Call-Up Paper 1803

I DO hereby give you Notice that you are chosen by Ballot to serve in the Army of Reserve, pursuant to the Act of Parliament for raising such Army, and you are hereby noticed and required to appear at the Meeting of the Deputy Lieutenants, to be held at the New Bayley Court House, in Salford in the said County, on Tuesday the thirtieth day of August now next ensuing, at none o’clock in the Forenoon, then and there to be sworn and enrolled as the Statute directs, to serve in the said Army of Reserve, unless you then and there bring with you and provide a Substitute, to be enrolled and sworn to serve for you, which Substitute is not to be rejected or on Account of the Number of his Children: and if you neglect to appear at the Time and Place aforesaid, for the Purpose aforesaid, you will forfeit Twenty Pounds, and be liable to be again ballotted; and you will also, in Case you neglect to appear on the Day aforesaid, and at the Place, and for the Space of Fourteen Days after the Delivery of this Notice, be advertised and treated as a Deserter. Given under my hand the 16th day of August, 1803.
Joseph Nadin
Deputy Constable of Manchester

CHART: Payment for Substitute

Received 25th September 1781 of Mr. Luke Clement Churchwarden of the Parish of Pulborough in the County of Sussex for Thomas Joyce ye person initially drawn by Lot to serve in the Militia for the said Parish, the Sum of Ten Pounds paid at his Request to the Sussex Regiment to provide a proper Person for his Substitute.
John Bayley

CHART: Certificate of Provision of Substitute

That Charles Watts of the Parish of Camberwell (Peckham) in the said County of Surrey, having been ballotted to serve in the said Militia, for the said Parish, did on the Third day of May 1825, find and provide Robert Bailey to serve as his Substitute in the said Militia, who was duly Sworn and Enrolled accordingly.
John Clutton
Clerk to the Southwark Court of Lieutenancy

Attestation Forms

WO 96 is the class containing the attestation forms of those who served only as militiamen, but they only cover 1806 to 1915 and most are in the last half of the century. They are similar to the soldiers documents in WO 97 , and indeed some (mainly Irish) militia regiments are found therein if they later volunteered to serve in the regular army. They are organized by regiment then surname. There is an index for WO 97 but not for WO 96 yet; one example found on the WO97 index at National Archives is shown below.

CHART: Militiaman in WO 97 Index

Title/Scope and Content
[Regiments usually given in order
listed on the papers]
Covering Dates
[Enlistment and
WO 97/276/51

Robert TOPPING Born Wigan,
Lancashire. Servedin 5th Foot
Regiment; Lancashire Militia.
Discharded age 34.


Muster Rolls

The researcher can trace a man from his date of enlistment to discharge or death through the muster books and pay lists. The Public Record Office has them for all kinds of militia from 1780-1878 in WO 13. Others remain in county hands, naturally, and they can turn up in the strangest places since there was no national co-ordinating agency for taking or storing the records. There are two union lists showing what is known to survive for each parish in England, Wales, Scotland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Ireland:

  • Ÿ Gibson and Dell’s Tudor and Stuart Muster Rolls (pre 1757)
  • Ÿ Gibson and Medlycott’s Militia Lists and Musters 1757-1876.

The latest edition should be consulted as more lists continue to be discovered, such as the ones I found for 1803, 1807 and 1810 on FHL film 1551143 inscribed inside the front cover of a Halifax Out Town Poor Relief book. Please assist the compilers, as I did, by reporting any lucky finds that are not yet included. Most seem to be microfilmed and can be found on the FHLC.

CHART: Subdivision Rolls of Ballotted Men and their Substitutes Serving for the Parish of Halifax

Enrolled 10 Feb 1803
Person Balloted Substitute Class (1-5 and Remarks
Jonas FOSTER Thomas DEAN 1
Saml SURIE Issac HARGRAVES 1-3 Oct 1818
volunteered for 25th Foot
John NICHOLL James JACKSON 5-discharged
17 June 1812
Supplementary Militia enrolled 11 Jul 1803
Army of Reserve enrolled 8 Aug 1803

John FURNESS Joseph WEST 1
James BOOTH James JARMAN 1
Men raised by Beat of Drum and placed by Ballot to the Town of
Halifax August 1810

Of Allerton 13 Jul 1811 Volunteered
into 33rd Regt of Foot
George FIRTH Of Northowram Discharged as unfit for
service 25 Jun 1812

Some indexes for Militia Records exist and mention should be made of the magnificent series by parish produced by the Hertfordshire Family and Population History Society. The 1781-2 musters for most counties, indexed by Hore and Tamblin, can be purchased through the Society of Genealogists. Other family history societies have also been active; extracts from East Surrey’s fiche index for Mitcham can be seen in the chart below. Indexes of Volunteers for southern England are being produced by Defence of the Realm Indexes.

CHART: Extracts from Militia Index for Mitcham, Surrey

Name Ref Date Other Information
NEWMAN, Jeremiah 30-53 24 Feb 1811 --
OXLEY, John 30/44 17 Apr 1819 Substitute for Geo.
REYNOLDS, Williams 10 17 Jan 1805 Born and residing in
Frimley. 18 Yrs
labourer, Reserve D
wife Mary and child
30-43a 30 Mar 1809 Residing in St
Mary Newington

Other records exist for militiamen at the Public Record office, such as Chelsea Pension Records in WO23, and payments to men and their families in E 182 Exchequer: King’s Remembrance: Particulars of Account or Land and Assessed Taxes (Fowler and Spencer, Thomas 1993, and being indexed by Chambers.) Leaflets M2, M18, and M72 from the TNA website give further details. All kinds of miscellaneous records and ephemera will be found in county archive collections and as not all is on microfilm an enquiry is worthwhile. Thus, Wiltshire Record Office has a poster offering a reward for the apprehension of Michael Byrne belonging to the Ulster Volunteers, illustrated in Cole and Titford’sTracing Your Family Tree. Another example of material held at a County Record Office, entitledCheshire Militia 1759-1826, is on four films starting at FHL film 1564173.

Parish Poor Law Records

According to Acts of Parliament of 1758, 1793, and 1803 each parish had to support the dependants of its militiamen. The militiaman got a certificate of service from his captain which he sent to his wife. She gave it to the Overseers of the Poor or obtained a Justice of the Peace’s Order for payment (Camp 1999-2) which could come from the Poor Rates or the special Land Taxes. Charts 41-43 are examples from parish collections, found on the FHLC through POORHOUSES, POOR LAW ETC. of the COUNTY or PARISH listings. Other records are findable through the OCCUPATIONS category.

CHART: Order to Support a Militia Wife
Walter Sergeant of Pulborough is serving as a substitute for George Lovell of Brightling. Pulborough is ordered by a JP to pay for his wife’s upkeep but will be reimbursed by Brightling.

Sussex: To the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Pulborough in the said County and to every of them —

Whereas complaint upon Oath hath been made before me, Walter Smyth Esqu, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said County by Ann Serjeant now dwelling in your said Parish, wife of George Serjeant a private Militia Man serving in the Militia of the said County as a Substitute for George Lovell of the Parish of Brightling in the said County (which Militia are now embodied and in actual Service and have been ordered to march), that she, the said Ann Serjeant is not able to support herself. I do therefore hereby require you the said Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Pulborough aforesaid, to pay unto the said Ann Serjeant the sum of One Shilling and Sixpence weekly for and towards the support of her the said Ann Serjeant until you shall be otherwise ordered to forbear the said Allowance, Which said weekly sum is to be reimbursed to you by the Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Brightling aforesaid who are hereby required to reimburse the same accordingly. Given under my hand and seal the Fourth day of November in the Year of our Lord 1797. Walter Smyth

CHART: Payment of Support to Militiaman’s Wife
From Tonbridge Parish Chest material on  FHL film 1835473. The Goodwins live in Tonbridge but William is substituting for a Maidstone man thus Maidstone re-imburses Tonbridge.

The Overseers of the Parish of Tonbridge
To the Overseers of Maidstone
To Cash advanced Charlotte the Wife of William Goodwin, a Substitute serving in the West Kent Militia for William KINCHIN, towards her support from June 2nd 1806 to Decr 2nd 1806 being 26 weeks at 2/- per week
Janry 20th 1807
The above Account being verified on the Oath of John Ruck is allowed by me.
John King, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the King’s Town and Parish of Maidstone

CHART: Payment of Support to Militiaman’s Wife
From Hadlow parish chest material on film 1701919. William Pearce and his family are of Marden and he is serving as a substitute for John Stevenson, ballotted to represent Hadlow.

KENT to Wit. To the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Hadlow in the said County.

Whereas Joseph Clout, one of the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Marden in the said County, hath this Day made Oath before me, one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, that in pursuance of an Order under the Hand and Seal of Lord George Murray, one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, he hath expended the Sum of Thirteen Pounds and ten shillings towards the Support and Maintenance of Elizabeth Pearce the wife of William Pearce, who is now serving as a Substitute for John Stevenson of your said parish of Hadlow in the West Kent Militia, which is now embodied and in actual Service; and also for and towards the Support and Maintenance of the Five Children of the said William Pearce and Elizabeth Pearce, being Thirty weeks allowance at Nine shillings per Week, from the Twenty fifth Day of March last to the Twenty first Day of October last. NOW THEREFORE I do hereby in pursuance of the several Statutes in that Case made and provided, order and direct you the Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Hadlow on Sight hereof, to pay and reimburse to the Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Marden the said sum of Thirteen Pounds and ten shillings so by them advanced for the relief of the said Family of the said William Pearce and for so doing, this shall be your sufficient Authority. GIVEN under my Hand and Seal this Fifth day of November in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Nine.
[signed] J. Andrews


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military and Services offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

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