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The Craven Legion

By the end of the 18th century disagreements with France after the French Revolution involved us in various overseas battles, and the attempted invasion of the country by France was regarded as a distinct possibility. The timing of such an event was uncertain, but it was decided that immediate preparations were necessary. Both men and funds were needed and a systematic canvass of the parishes of the country seems to have been made for the latter. An undated record, described as A list of Subscribers in the Parish of Kirkby Malham Dale in Craven towards the Exigencies of the State is entered in the churchwardens' minute book of the time. It occurs between the entries for the years 1798 and 1801, a period of hostility with France. The amount gathered at the time, £28 5s 0d seems somewhat inadequate, but local support was considerably stronger when the Craven Legion was formed a few years later, when war had again broken out with France.

By 1802 we were at peace with France, but it was very short lived and war broke out again in 1803. Napoleon's domination of the continent of Europe led to a heightened perception of the threat of invasion, which almost occurred in 1805, and troops were moved to defend the coast, with volunteer forces being formed to fill the gaps they left.

A local voluntary force known as The Craven Legion, part of the West Riding Yeomanry Cavalry and consisting of both cavalry and infantry, was raised by Thomas Lister, Lord Ribblesdale of Gisburn Park, who at that time was owner of the Malham Tarn estate. Thomas Lister (1752-1826) was born at Gisburn in 1752, educated at Eton and Westminster, then Brasenose College, Oxford. During the American War of Independence he had raised a regiment called Lister's Light Dragoons. The Yorkshire West Riding Yeomanry was formed in 1794. The first or Southern regiment consisting of nine troops raised from Spofforth, Tickhill, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Barnsley and Pontefract were the predecessors of the Yorkshire Dragoons. The second or Northern Regiment, consisted of six troops from Agbrigg, Morley, Barkston Ash, Knaresborough, Skyrack and Craven (1st and 2nd), who were the predecessors of the Yorkshire Hussars. Thomas Lister remained Lieutenant Colonel of the Craven Legion of the West Riding Yeomanry Cavalry from 1794 until his death in 1826. His involvement aroused great local enthusiasm and seems to have elicited rather better contributions towards the cost of equipment from the parish.

The Kirkby Malhamdale churchwardens' minute book contains a list of 'subscribers' from the parish of Kirkby in 1803:

Malhamdale Subscribers to the Volunteers in the Craven Legion

   
s
d
Josias Rimington  
21
0
0
John Parkinson  
15
15
0
Thomas Preston  
10
10
0
John Taylor  
10
10
0
Anthony Taylor  
10
10
0
Henry Lund  
10
10
0
Ellen Rimington  
5
5
0
Ellen Thompson  
5
5
0
Robert Procter  
3
3
0
John Atkinson  
5
5
0
William Atkinson  
10
10
0
William Clough  
2
2
0
Robert Airton  
2
0
0
Betty Knowles  
1
1
0
Thomas Halleywell  
5
5
0
Richard Hardacre  
3
3
0
James Taylor  
3
0
Samuel Hartley  
10
6
John Brown  
5
5
0
James Hardacre  
5
0
Long Langstroth  
1
1
0
Christopher Smith  
1
1
0
George Hargraves  
1
1
0
Thomas Parkinson  
10
6
George Mount  
5
0
Thomas Procter  
3
0
John Airton  
5
0
John Hammerton  
2
6
John Saner  
3
0
John Overing  
10
6
John Settle  
10
6
Timothy Lee  
2
6
Samuel Preston  
10
6
Robert Hind  
1
1
0
Matthew Procter  
5
0
William Preston  
1
6
John Armistead  
5
0
John Preston  
2
6
TOTAL  
135
18s
6d

The threat of invasion in 1803 made it necessary to prepare the entire active male population for military training. In order to facilitate this Muster Rolls or Militia Lists were compiled of all men between the ages of 17 and 55 years, with eligible men in four classes:-

Class 1: Unmarried men under 30 with no child living under 10 years of age.

Class 2: Unmarried men between 30 and 49 inclusive with no child living under 10 years of age.

Class 3: Married men between seventeen and twenty-nine inclusive with not more than two children living under 10 years of age.

Class 4: Others not included in the above classes.

Judges, infirm persons, clergymen, medical men, Quakers, persons serving in the army, navy, marines, militia and volunteers, Lords Lieutenant, Deputy Lieutenants, constables and peace officers were to be distinguished in the lists because they were to be exempt from military service under this act.
Those willing to serve as volunteers under the act were also to be distinguished and recorded accordingly.

The Muster Roll for Craven now held in the North Yorkshire Record Office is fully entitled:-

Divisions of Staincliffe and Ewcross in the West Riding of the County of York.
The Enrolment under an Act of Parliament made and passed in the forty-third year of the Reign of His Majesty King George the third Instituted An Act to enable His Majesty more effectually to provide for the Defence of the Realm during the present War and for indemnifying Persons who may suffer in their Property by such Measures as may be  necessary for that Purpose and to enable His Majesty more effectually and speedily to exercise his ancient and undoubted Prerogative in requiring the Military Service of His liege subjects in case of Invasion of the Realm - And also of another Act passed the same Session of Parliament to amend the said last mentioned Act.

The North Yorkshire Record Office have published the complete transcription of the Craven Muster Roll 1803 and it contains details of the Names; Occupations, Class and Remarks. It is also available to purchase from Amazon.co.ukExternal Website logo who accept credit cards and offer free postage for orders over £15. The Muster Roll has been analysed by R Lawton in his article entitled The Economic Geography of Craven in the early nineteenth century (Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers no.20 - 1954, revised and reprinted in English Rural Communities ed. D R Mills 1973)

The National Archives External Website logo hold some other Muster Lists for the Craven Legion and you can also find more information by searching A2A. External Website logo

Subscribers list transcribed by JW Morkill, from his book "THE PARISH OF KIRKBY MALHAMDALE"

Malham, Mallam, Malum, Maulm, Mawm, Malam, Mallum, Moor, Moore, More, Kirkby, Kirby, Mallamdale, Mallumdale, Malhamdale, Malham-Dale, Kirkby-in-Malham-Dale, Kirkby-Malham-Dale, Kirby-in-Malham-Dale, Kirby-Malham-Dale, Hanlith, Hanlyth, Scosthrop, Scosthorpe, Skosthrop, Airton, Ayrton, Airtown, Calton, Carlton, Craven, Yorkshire, Otterburn, Otter Burn, Bellbusk, Bell Busk, Conistone, Family, Genealogy, Geneology, Buildings, People, Maps, Census, Scawthorpe, Scothorpe, Return to Previous Page
Cold, Coniston Cold, Bordley, Bordly, Boardly, Boardley, Winterburn, Winter Burn, History, Local, ancestors, ancestry, Scorthorp, Wills, Tax, Eshton, Asheton


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