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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Militia Lists, 1757-1860 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2012.
Original data: Dorset Militia Lists, 1757–1860. Dorchester, Dorset, England: Dorset History Centre.

About Dorset, England, Militia Lists, 1757-1860

This database contains a collection of militia records from Dorset.

Historical Background

English militias were part-time military units established at the county level for home defence. After a dormant period following the Civil War, they were reinstated by the 1757 Militia Act. When volunteers proved insufficient, a parish selected men by ballot. These men then either served or found a substitute to take their place.

The Dorset History Centre provides the following background on these records:

    The Lord Lieutenant for each county was responsible for arming, training and mustering able-bodied men
    When the Militia was raised, each county was given a quota of men and the Lord Lieutenant would allocate this number between the hundreds in his county
    Lists of able-bodied men between 18 and 50 (after 1762 the age was lowered to 45) in each tithing were drawn up and from these lists the names of those who were to serve in the militia were selected by ballot

The documents in this database are made up primarily of these militia lists. They typically list the following details (these particulars are often given for substitutes as well):

  • name
  • residence
  • occupation

Some versions of the lists may include age, height, marital status, remarks on infirmities or exemptions, and other family details. The History Centre notes that “Ministers of Religion, apprentices, doctors and parish officers were exempt from militia service.”

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