Devon Muster Roll of 1569 copied by A J Howard and T L Stoate

In Devon Record Office

Mustering in this period meant little more than a display and inspection of men and equipment which arose out of requirement of every man to bear arms in home defence. This was first put on a regular basis in the reign of Elizabeth I and in the early part was every 3 years but increased in frequency as the threat of Spanish invasion grew. In 1567 a strong Spanish army established in Holland appeared as a real threat to England. On March 26th 1569 the Privy Council issued a directive to the counties to hold a general muster of all men over 16. Preparation for the muster took place through the hundred and parish constables who also prepared the rolls of the men taking part. It was held at convenient places all over the county partly as it would involve too much travelling to have a central location and partly because government was afraid of large assemblies. It probably took place in June though not all on the same day as this would not have been very practical but the crown would have preferred it to stop the practice of lending armour and sometimes men from one parish to another.

All citizens possessed of certain wealth including widows and clergy were to provide armour and weapons according to a laid down scale and were subject to penalties if they did not do so unless as a valid excuse, they were genuinely unable to obtain them because of want and lack within the realm. Citizens falling into this class was about 1/3rd of those that were taxed in Elizabethan days, being gentry and richer yeomen, numbering in Devon 3294

Any man whose wife wore velvet in the lining of her gown or any petticoat of silk had to provide a light horse (light gelding) which was the case for Thomas Monck, George Moncks father at Great Potheridge.. A corslet was a light body armour made up of a metal back plate and breast plate held together by straps and sometimes with addition of a collar (gorget) and a metal apron attached to the breast plate and reaching to the upper thigh in front. It was worn by pikemen, The almain (i.e.German) rivet was similar to the corslet but in its basic form was made of only the breast plate and apron, this was latter made up of overlapping pieces attached by rivets and sliding slots. A pair of almain rivets included both breast plate and back plate, normally worn by the billman. The morion (murrion) and sallet were similar versions of a helmet with a central ridge and narrow brim worn by pikemen and harquebusiers (musketeers) Weapons required by the act were a long bow with its sheaf of 24 arrows, a harquebus, a pike and a bill. The archer carried a sword and a dagger, the harquebus was an early form of firearm about 3 feet long and weighing about 10 lbs and was fired by lighting the pan with a lighted wick. The caliver was a later development of this midway between the harquebus and the musket.

The days when every man learned to use a bow from boyhood were fast disappearing. The pike had a single spike attached to a 15foot shaft by two long strips of iron which protected the shaft from sword cuts. The bill was used in infighting, especially against cavalry. It was similar to the agricultural bill hook with fairly long, slightly hooked cutting edge mounted on the side of a black shaft about 6 foot long and usually had a spike at he end as well. The roll ought to give the names of all able men between 16 and 60

There was a prescribed level of arms etc required according to income from land. For Merton these were as follows and relate only to Thomas Monck, the wealthiest inhabitant of Merton and Huish in 1569.

Code Income Horse, Armour and Weapons

L 7 £40 to 100 2 corslets, 2 almain rivets, 2 pikes, 1 bow, 1 sheaf of
arrows, 1 steel cap, 2 harquebuts, 2 morions.

For those in possession of goods to the value stated had to provide.

G 6 £20 - £40 1 almain rivet, 2 bows, 2 sheafs of arrows, 2 steel caps, 1 bill

G 7 £10 - £20 1 bow, 1 sheaf of arrows, 1 steel cap, 1 bill


Presenters sworen : John Baillief Nicholas Wollacot

Who do presente as affordsaide and the parke of Thomas Monke Esquyre of two myles compass furnished acordinge to ye statute.

Thomas Monck Esq L 7 + 1 light gelding furnished
Philip Bennet G 6 + 1 cors
John Kelly G 7
John Clief G 7
John Braylie G 7
John Hooper G 7
Nicholas Wollacot G 7

The inhabitants not speciallye chardged by the Statute are accessed to fynde etc 2 corslets, 2 pikes, 2 calviers, 2 murrions

The names of all the able menne within the saide parishe of Martyn mustered

George Rive
John Bennet
Nicholas Wollacot
Nicholas Rudgeman
William Howe
John Welshman


Anthony Medowe
William Hille
Hugh Woode
Richard Lanchebroke
John Shorte
Edward Powe
John Holland
George Dennys
Stephen Gibbes
John Corties
Thomas Courtis
William Pomerye
Gregory Neale
Nighten Averye
Anthony Parnacot
William Dowe
Thomas Clief


Thomas Denys
John Browne
John Newcombe
Richard Courtis
Philip Hooper
Anthony Water


Stephen Harries
Walter Parnacot


John Yeo G 7
John Hunte G 7
Tibalde Davye G 7

Inhabitants not particlarlie charged by the Statute are accessed to fynde etc one corset, one pike, one clavier, one murrion.

The names of all the habell menne within the saide parishe of Huyshe mustered as affordsaide etc.


Willaim Nenowe
Oliver Wyllye
Roger Toser


Simon Sheppard
Henry Bande
Robert Neylle


Tybbald Davy
Leonard Netheywaye
Robert Parnacotte
Anthony Smythe
Henry Herne
John Perkyn