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1539 Muster Roll

A militia or citizen force for home defence was first established in England by Alfred the Great, and was maintained with more or less efficiency until the Conquest. After that event it was to a large extent overshadowed by the army of feudal tenants; but it never wholly ceased to exist, and was revived by the sovereigns of the twelfth century as a counterpoise to the feudal levies of the rebellious barons. Henry VIII found it defective in both organization and equipment, and with a view to its reform appointed in each county a lieutenant (the Lord Lieutenant of to-day), whom he made responsible for the efficiency of the force within his area. As a result the men of each township were periodically mustered for inspection, and on these occasions the equipment of each individual was noted. The records of these inspections, known as Muster Rolls, are still preserved, and are interesting not only from a military point of view, but as registers of local names. A roll for the wapentake of Staincliffe of about the year 1539 shows the number of persons liable for service in the parish of Kirkby to be two hundred and twenty-two, of whom eight are marked 'excused' by reason of illness or age. Of the remainder, one hundred and seventy-five are billmen and thirty-nine archers. The majority possess their own weapons, and a considerable number, a piece of defensive armour—a sallet or a jack, or both. About eighty possess horses and harness, and a certain number, a complete equipment of all the above articles.

16th Century Arms & Armour

During the 16th Century when the pike and arquebus were being adpted throughout Europe, we preferred to stick with the tried and tested combination of Bill and English longbow that had proved successful during the Hundred Years' War, Wars of the Roses and constant conflicts with Scotland.


A light metal helmet, smooth and rounded like an inverted bowl, which extends backwards to protect the neck. Some also had a fixed or moveable visor to protect the face.


Jack (jak)

A thickly padded or quilted military jacket, faced with leather or heavy canvas. The padding consisted of some 20-30 layers of cloth according to some sources and was designed to absorb impact. Sometimes iron rings or plates were sewn onto or between the layers, to offer more protection from edged weapons.



A general purpose, simple to make pole weapon, it is a slashing weapon with a hook shaped axe blade mounted on a 6-9 foot pole and was developed from the agricultural billhook. Similar to the more axe-like halberd, it also had a spike or hook behind the main blade which could be used to unseat horsemen and a spike on the top. Sometimes another spike was added to the other end of the pole, providing a more compact stabbing weapon.

English BillEnglish billhook
Examples of the English Bill


The English longbow is made from yew and about 5-6 feet long to suit the archer. Its "D" shaped section has heartwood on one side and sapwood on the other providing a natural laminate and making it very powerful. Bow strings were made of hemp or flax, attached to the wood via horn "nocks", fitted onto the end of the bow.The arrows had a long range and archers could fire 10-20 per minute, providing a deadly hail of projectiles.

Hors & Hern/Herneys

Horse & Harness, harness being the complete trappings of a horse, which might include defensive armour.


Malhamdale Muster Roll 1539

The monstre or shewyng and viewe of all men of armes me armed hable to bear theym as well archers as other men on horse and on fote, togither with the names & sirnames and diversite of ther barneys viewed and sene in the Wapentake of Staynclif comonlie called Craven and in the forest of Boolande therto adjoyningin the Westriddyng of the Countie of Yorke before Sir Thomas Tempest of Bracewell, Knight, and John Lambart of Calton, Comissioners to our soveraigne lorde the Kinge in the said Westrithynge to thos places & Wapentake assigned by division of assent of the hole commissioners made Ther taken viewed & sene the xxvij. xxviij of March and the firste daye of Aprile and divers other tymes and sundry places by vertue and auctorite of our said soveraigne(s) Commission to the said Sir Thomas and John and other directed &c.

bill Rob'tus Birtwisell hors stelecap bill
bill Thomas Birtwisell
archer John Thomson
ex. Etate Will'm Preston sen. jak bill
archer Will'm Preston Jun.
bill Antonius Holgate
bill Ric'us Wilson hors jak
bill Joh'es Wilson
ex. Etate Joh'es Chatburn hors jak
bill Crist. Nelson
archer Cristoferus Preston Hors
archer Rob'tus Tateham
archer Ric'us Smyth'
ex. Etate Joh'es Wigan salet jak hors
bill Rob'tus Croke
bill Ric'us Croke
bill John. Hall bill
bill Joh'es Lauson sen. fil. Robti.
archer Will'm Todde
bill Will'm Fisshe hors
bill John Lauson Jun. fil' Thos.
bill Thomas Nicolson salet
bill Johannes Nelson
bill Cristof. Hall bill hors
archer Thomas Smyth jak bill
bill Petrus Hynde hors & herneys
bill Georgius Todde
Sm.of me. hable to were herneys — xxiij unde
Archers vij
Billes xvij
Horses vij
Jakkes iiij
Billes v
Salett iij
Furnisshed hors and herneys j
archer Edward Salley hors jak
bill Rob't Husbonde
bill Thomas Hurtlay
bill Henr. Swier
bill Adam Swier hors & hern
bill Ric. P'ston Jun. jak salet
bill Adam Preston jak bill salet
bill John Smyth thelder
archer John Smyth the yong. hors & hern
bill Roger Preston jak bill hors
bill Thomas Preston
bill Cristof. Preston hors & hern
bill Henr. Preston
bill Will'm P'ston hors & hern
bill Thomas Lausan
bill Hugh Preston bill
bill Adam Preston
bill Edward Wogan hors & hern
archer John Wegan
bill Ric'us P'ston sen. hors jak bill
archer Hugh Spenser hors & hern
bill Thomas Diconson hors & hern
bill Rob't Smyth hors jak
archer John Spenser hors & hern
bill Thomas Diconson hors bill
bill Will'm Bordeley
Sm. of me. habill for werres xxvj
Men furnisshed w
 l hors & herneys viii
Jakke all
Horses v
Jakkes vj
Salette ij
Billes v
Archers v
Bilmen xxj
bill Ric. Walker
bill John Middilten
bill John Lauson hors jak
bill George Knolle
archer Geffrey P'cto. Gent hors & hern
bill Will'm Airton
bill Ric'us Airton
bill Miles Seriauntson hors jak
bill Ric'Barsha jak
bill Joh'es Dene jak
bill John Atkynson hors jak
bill Roger Lauson
bill Rob't Lauson hors & hern
archer Crist.Atkynson hors jak
not hable John Fish salet
bill John Dene jak
bill Ric. Barehede
bill John Seriauntson hors jak
bill Th. Thomson hors & hern
bill Henr. Hirde hors jak
bill Crist. Smyth
ex.etate John Knolle jak bill
bill Will'm Hill hors & hern
bill John Wyndesor hors jak
bill Will'm Hurtlove hors jak bill
bill Ric. Preston
bill John Preston hors & hern
archer Alex. Whitfeld hors & hern
bill Thomas Anderson
bill Thomas Hill
bill John Settill
bill John Smyth jak
bill Rob't Wilkynson hors & hern
bill Thomas Dene hors jak bill
bill Will'm Knolle hors jak bill
bill Ric. Knolle hors jak salet
bill Henr. Pacok hors jak bill
bill Will'm Wharfe hors jak bill
bill Will'm Toller hors & hern
bill Th. Toller hors & hern
bill Rob't Slynger
bill Will'm Hesildon
bill John Segewik jak salet bill
bill Matheus Toller hors & hern
archer Thomas Toller salet
bill Michaell Buk hors
bill Gregory Buk hors jak salet
bill Jamys Buk
bill Francisca Buk hors  bill
bill John Brown bill
bill Cr. Brown
bill Henr. Walok hors jak
bill Will'm Stephan hors
ex. et. John Thomson hors
bill Henr. Thomson hors  bill
archer Leon, de Walok hors & hern
bill Rob't Broune
bill Will'm Lauson hors
bill Thorn's Lauson
bill Will's Knolle
bill Will'm Smyth alias Hall
archer Thos. Wilson
bill Joh'es Howson
archer Georgius Knolle
archer Joh'es Knolle
archer Joh'es Hill, jun.
bill Joh'es Hurtlofe
no compar Ric. Hurtlofe
archer Henr. Hill
bill Cristofer Hill
no.compar. gz infirm. Rob't Leylonde
bill Ric'us Benson hors jak
bill Georgius Knolle
archer Milo Knolle
bill Rog'us Benson
bill Ric'us Wharfe
bill Rog'us Seriauntson
bill Th. Slynger
bill John Hesilden
bill Cr. Hesilden
bill Milo Toller
bill Ric'us Toller jun.
bill Antony Buk hors
bill Raufe Buk hors & hern
archer Th. Broun
bill Will'm Thomson sen. hors jak bill
no.compar. gz infirm. Will'm Thomson jun.
Sm.of hable men iiij. iiij
Archers xij
Bilmen lxxij
And y.of
Of men furnysshed xij
Of horses xxiiij
Of jakkes xxj
Of Salettes v
Of billes xj
bill Ric. Howson jak comon
archer Hugh Howson
bill Thomas P'kinson hors bill
bill Cristof. Foster
bill Rob't Preston salet hors
bill Will's Anderson
bill Henr. Sclater
bill Rob't Sclater jak
bill Will'm Sclater
bill John Wegan hors & hern
bill Rob't Lauson hors jak bill
archer John Lauson
bill John Lauson jun.
bill Rob't Atkinson
bill Rob't Dene
archer John Dene
archer Joh'es Broghton
archer Rob't Broghton
bill Laur. Coke
bill George Baroo
bill Will'm Walton
bill Thomas Lauson hors
bill John Coke
bill Mathewe Walton
bill Will'm Dene hors jak
bill Will'm Foster
archer John Smythe hors & hern
bill Henr. Foster
bill Edward Lauson
bill John Brashaa
Sm.of hable me. xxxj
Archers vj
Bilmen xxv
And y.of
Of men furnysshed ij
Of horses v
Of jakkes iiij
Of salettes j
Of billes iiij
bill Richard Spenser hors & hern
archer Edward Spenser
bill Rob't Malhom
bill Thomas Anderson
bill John Preston hors & hern
bill Crist. Preston
bill Crist. Iveson
bill John Carlile hors jak bill
bill Th. Wederhirde
archer Will'm Sariauntson
bill John Hodgeson
bill Thomas Hogeson
bill Thomas Hodgeson Jun.
bill John Thomson hors jak bill
bill Stephan Hall hors jak bill
bill Edward Hall hors
bill Ric'us Atkynson
bill Ric'us Lauson hors
bill Hugh Foster
Sm.of hable me.xix xix
Archers ij
Bilmen xvij
And y.of
Of men furnysshed ij
Of horses v
Of jakkes iij
Of salettes null
Of billes iij
bill John Brashaa
bill Thomas Brasha sen.
bill Thomas Brasha Jun.
bill John Brasha Jun hors
bill Oliuer Crofte hors
John Hurtley  jak salet
bill Cr. Smyth
bill Thomas Lauson
bill Ric. Hynde hors & hern
archer John Lauson
archer John Seriauntson hors & hern
bill John Seriauntson Jun. hors jak bill
archer Rob't Seriauntson hors
archer Henry Wilkynson hors
bill Henr. Faldshaa
archer John Faldshaa
archer John Hill hors
archer Ric. Anderson
archer Rog. Anderson bill
bill Cr. Seriauntson hors
bill Rog. Salley hors
bill Thomas Brasha
Sm. of hable me. xxij
Archers ix
Bilmen xiij
Of men furnisshed ij
Of horses viij
Of jakkes ij
Of Salettes j
Of billes ij
bill Thomas Bowhurst
bill Hen. Atkynson jak bill hors
bill Thomas Atkynson hors
bill Cr. Thomson hors jak
bill John Kendall
bill Rob't Atkynson bill jak hors
bill Rob't Holgate bill jak hors
bill Leonarde Holgate
bill Thomas Pathnalle hors & hern
bill John Fawsit
bill Robtus Spenser hors & hern
bill Thomas Atkynson hors jak bill
bill John Anderson
bill Will'm Swer
Sm.of Hable men xiij
Archers null
Bilmen xiij
Of men furnysshed ij
Of horses vj
Of jakks v
Of salettes null
Of billes iiij

The National Archives: Exchequer: Treasury of Receipt; Miscellaneous Books: Class E34.
The margin notes "ex etate" or "not hable" indicate persons who possess equipment but are not themselves fit for war.


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