In 1973 the late Victor Hatley, who was a passionate local historian published a fascinating little book** in which he collated all the known militia lists for Northamptonshire for the year 1777.

These lists were required by statute to provide a body of men for the defence of the Realm, the men were not liable for service overseas, so they could be thought of as a sort of Home Guard. All men aged between 18 and 45 were required to register for service however exemptions from the list were made. These exemptions included: Peers of the realm, clergymen, articled clerks, apprentices, seamen, parish constables and poor men who had 3 or more children born in wedlock.

In reality very few of these men served in the Military. Firstly names of men required for service were drawn by ballot and secondly those unlucky enough to find their names drawn could provide a volunteer in their place of pay for a substitute. At a time when most country men were self-employed, service in the Militia could impose an onerous obligation.

Should your name be drawn in the ballot and you could not provide a substitute you were required to present yourself at the annual Muster in Northampton where drill and exercise took place for about 28 days. During this time you would be billeted in a Public House and paid according to a scale laid down by an Act of Parliament. The Musters usually took place in May or June.

The Northamptonshire Regiment had to provide a force of approximately 700 men, in 1777 the list for Northamptonshire included the names of some 14,000 men so the chance of being drawn by ballot was slight.

The lists are of interest to Social Historians as they often include the men's occupations, below is the list for Everdon which contains the names of 44 men, indicating that the population of the village at that time would be similar to todays. One name on the list is of particular interest to me as he once owned my house! Simon Osborn, the baker purchased the Bakehouse in 1763 for the princely sum of £55, in 1777 he would have been between the ages of 36 and 45.

** Northants Record Society Vo. XXV - Northamptonshire Militia Lists 1777
Edited by Victor A. Hatley.

A list of the persons names liable to serve in the malitia in the parish of Everdon in the county of Northampton 1777.

John Goodman, yeoman Tho. Ward, cordwinder
Willm. Brumwich, junr., yeoman John Elmes, wheelright
Willm Stockley, grazier Robt. Burton, mastoner
Tho. Mountfort, junr., grazier James Carvil, carpenter
Wilim. Warr, yeoman <Geo.Bird, servant>
John Warr, yeoman <Saml. Ward, servant>
Joseph Warr, yeoman <Tho.Amos, servant>
John Bird, junr., yeoman James Rosimond, servant
Nathanl. Leeson,junr.,yeoman Thos. Cocks, servant
Joshua Goodman, yeoman Valentine Townshend, servant
Robt. Rushal, yeoman Tho. Bird, servant
Willm. Bird, junr., yeoman Joseph Gibbens, miller
Mr John Gardner, clother John Heans, miller
Simon Osborn, baker Edward Aiers, servant
Michael Warwick, glazier John Gregory, junr., labourer
Luis Brown, woolcomber Tho. Gregory, junr., labourer
Edward Ashby, woolcomber Tho. Gude, labourer
Wm. Rushal, junr., butcher Richd.Aiers, woodman
John Bird, beasomaker Fransis, Rosimond, labourer
Thos. Brown, blacksmith John Joans, labourer
John Cockrel, blacksmith Wlm. Hazlewood, labourer
Wm. Bottril, cordwinder Benjiman Marriott, labourer
Wm. Russell, constable  

All spellings are as the original document
A cordwinder made shoes
A bessomaker made brooms
A yeoman was a small scale farmer
A mastoner was a mason

(Originally published in the Everdon Newsletter - November, 2000)


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