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1700's Militia Muster Rolls

The Militia Act of 1757 provided for men to serve in the militia at home in order to counter any threat arising while the majority of the regular army was stationed abroad. Lists of eligible men in each parish were known as militia ballot lists and from these, the men actually chosen appeared in the militia lists which are often to be found in county record offices. At the National Archives (former Public Record Office), however, are the muster and pay lists in series WO 13. These record the men actually serving and the indexes provide details for each man at the three or four musters during the two year period for which records survive. County regiments, although recruited locally, often served away from home and these indexes tell precisely where, under whom and on what dates the men were mustered.

1800's Worldwide Army Index (1851/1861/1871)

Since the 1990s modern computer applications have greatly aided genealogists and family historians alike. Some of the first computerized indexes were those of various British census returns. Whilst they revealed many long-lost souls there was still the matter of many thousands of British (English, Scottish, Welsh & Irish) subjects who remained unaccounted for. Some of them would have been merchant mariners or Royal Navy subjects away on the highs seas or folk who simply upped and emigrated. However, there were a vast number of British Army subjects not entirely accounted for in the census enumerations.

Compiled from musters contained in WO 10-11-12 Series War Office Paylists held at the National Archives, Kew, the 1851 Worldwide Army Index lists all officers and other ranks subjects serving in the January-March quarter of 1851 together with their regimental HQ location. The index is effectively a military surrogate for the 1851 census taken on 30 March 1851. Also included are recruits, boy soldiers, bandsmen and civilians working in the armed forces as clerks, pension recruiters and suchlike. Colonial regiments which invariably had numbers of British subjects are also included.

The index consists of almost 160,000 lines. Other ranks are indicated by army number, rank, first and last names, regiment and HQ location. The index is augmented by an additional 11000 lines of notes indicating detachments, attachments, units recruits will likely join and so on. The index also indicates regiments a man may have previously served in. Thus 2879/40F 2171+35F 2239 Pte Joseph Green describes him as serving in the 60th King’s Royal Rifles with No 2879 whilst serving in 1851. The subsequent details show the regiment(s) and number(s) of units previously served with. Here the 40th Foot No 2171 and 35 Foot No 2239.

Colonial regiments which invariably had numbers of British subjects are also included.

Many thousands of men of the British Army were serving overseas in far flung parts of the British Empire over many decades of the 1800s. Many of those serving in 1851 could well have been born as early as 1810 whilst others who joined in the census year might well have continued their service as late as 1872, exceptionally 1877

If a male subject cannot easily be found in the 1851 census then he may not be where expected; or in Ireland (where there is no 1861 census equivalent); serving in the navy or abroad. There is a high probability that he was serving in the army.

Source Information

Muster Books and Pay Lists, 1781-1871 [database online]. 2017

Original data: "WO12 Commissary General of Musters Office and successors: General Muster Books and Pay Lists" The National Archives

Original data: "WO13 War Office and predecessors: Militia and Volunteers Muster Books and Pay Lists" The National Archives

1851, 1861 & 1871 Worldwide Army Index Copyright Roger E Nixon, 2017. All Rights reserved.