The 1569 Military Muster
for the Cornish Parish of St Stithians
From "The Cornwall Muster 1569", edited by H.L. Douch
The Bookshop - Bernard D. Welchman
During the reign of Elizabeth I military musters were held on a regular basis. The purpose was to determine the number of able men that could be summoned to repel an invasion by the Spaniards. The earlier returns simply noted the numbers of able and unable men, but in March, 1569 the command was given to compile a full listing, giving names, place of residence and what armour and weapons each man possessed. Thus we have a fairly accurate listing of all the males between 16 and 60 (83 mentions) within the parish of Stithians.
According to the laws at the time, each man was to have and be able to use the prescribed weapons commensurate with his income (land rents) and material possessions. A man with goods, or income, to the value of between £ 5 and £20 had to have, at least; 1 bow, 1 sheaf of arrows, 1 steel cap, 1 bill. To each incremental increase in wealth would be added additional equipment such as, body armour, a helmet and a harquebus ( a primitive firearm ). Extremely wealthy individuals (£400 +) had to provide numbers of horses and equipage for a body of men. However, unlike in other counties, these laws don't appear to have been enforced in Cornwall, possibly due to the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. The authorities may not have wanted the Cornish to be too well armed. It is therefore unlikely that the return for Stithians reflects the wealth of the individuals listed in the muster.
There were no men of rank (gentlemen and above) listed in the Stithians muster. No horses or mares were bred for military purposes. A sheaf of arrows held about 24. Harness was a general term for armour, a pair being front and back plates. A scull was a helmet without a brim.
Once again, naming patterns follow the same form as seen in the earlier subsidies and survey (1522, 1524/25, 1543). Many of the men are identified by the name of their residence or father's name. A few of these names would survive; Penhalurick and Treweek were and are ancient family names taken from this parish, Trebilcock would continue to the present day. However, most would not. Family names such as Davy, Williams, John would also continue, but it's impossible to associate future generations with the men on this list due to their prevelance in many other parishes and counties. Nevertheless, there are recognizable surnames being used, Dunstan, Launce, Grim, Perry to name a few. It is difficult to understand why, when hereditary family names were universal in the rest of England and had been so for a century before, there should be so many in Stithians without one.
Stithians was not an isolated community. Many of these men were relatively prosperous farmers and many appear to have been involved in the tin trade, both activities necessitating contact with the outside world. For instance, there are 78 men listed on the 1535 Tinners Muster for Stithians. This number surpasses the number of resident taxpayers in the 1543 subsidy, indicating that there was a lot of migration to and from the parish.
A question then arises, perhaps only in my own mind, as to whether many of the men listed in this muster may have had a family name that was ignored by the muster officials. Is it possible that the clerks listed the name of the property that the man held (freehold or leasehold) rather than his surname? Is it possible that they did so due to local tradition, or perhaps because it would make it easier to locate the individual?
A case in point is that of Henry Hendra, possessing a bow and sheaf of arrows in this muster. The name Hendra doesn't appear before or since in any records that I know of. At this time most land was held on three life leases (99 years). In other words it could be passed from father to son and on to the grandson etc.. By early in the following century the property called Hendra was held by Edmund Bathe, who arrived in Stithians before 1597, from St. Breward, a parish in north Cornwall. Edmund, by the time of his death in 1633, held many properties in Stithians and Wendron and it has always been a mystery as to what brought him to Stithians and how he could have amassed a fortune of £275. Edmund's father's name was recorded as Harry (Henry) and it is known from certain St Miniver deeds that his grandfather's name was Henry. Is it therefore possible that the name Henry Hendra, given in the muster, was actually Henry Bathe Sr. ?
Of course it's impossible to be at all certain, there was another Henry Bathe recorded in the 1569 Muster for St Creed, but the coincidence raises a question that has implications for other researchers of Stithians families.
Some entries are illegible or torn ( - ).
Hereafter followeth the names of those men within the parryshe of Stethyens & within the hundred of Kerryer that are within the age of 60 score years & above the age of 16 years in the 11th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.