1569 Muster Roll

16th Century Life

Explanation of 1569 Muster Roll

From the beginning of her reign in 1558 Elizabeth held musters of men every 4 years. It was a display of men and equipment/weaponry so that the government officials could see how many men and horse could be called upon to defend the country in the event of attack from Spain.

The muster was held in March/April of that year, with the returns being sent back to the Queen. In their accompanying letter, the Commissioners reported that Cornwall was a very poor county, being afflicted by deaths of cattle, horses and sheep, the like of which had not happened in living memory. This had lead to poverty which meant that the armoury and horse of the county was not what it should be. They stated that the list comprised gentleman, their servants and the remainder being fishermen, tinners and husbandmen.

Many names appear more than twice and it is assumed that these are separate people, although allocation on the database is generally random.

The muster contains abbreviations in the margin which indicate the fit men aged between 16 and 60, where these are not given the man is considered to be unfit for the muster. (Unable in the database).


aa=able archer




paa=principal archer

Armoury terms used in the St Minver Muster

almain rivet

light armour used in Germany. A pair of Almain rivets was a breast plate and a back plate which overlapped and slid on rivets.



strips of metal to protect the forearms



a short brimmed helmet


steel cap

helmet without a brim



helmet without a brim



a type of helmet with a ridge crest


sheaf of arrows

a sheaf contained 24 arrows - there were two sorts lightweight and steel tipped heavyweight which was capable of piercing mail.



longbow, generally made of yew and about 6ft long.



a leather, canvas of quilted jacket, sleeveless, reinforced, worn by archers



short sword used by archers



a long wooden shaft about 15ft long with a iron or steel pointed head



a firearm, weighing 10lb and about 3ft long.



an even earlier form harquebus (early firearm)



a hooked cutting edge on a 6ft shaft similar to a bill hook.



a broad bladed weapon on a long shaft, like the bill.


jollyn javelin


dagger as now.

Please check with The Cornwall Muster Roll 1569 edited by Douch, published by Stoate, 1984. (Marginal abbreviations are open to interpretation!)


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Page created January 2012