1542 Muster Rolls
VIII, in order to be better prepared for any war in which he
might have become involved, decided to carry out a census of
all the able bodied men in England who could be called upon
in such an eventuality. For this purpose, reliable men in each
locality were required to compile musters or lists of the men
in each parish, stating the weapons they possessed (or lacked)
and their ability to use them. Most were either billmen or archers,
and if the latter, they were compelled to practice regularly
at the `butts.'
the cultivated strips of the old open fields ran parallel to
the con-ours of a steep slope, centuries of ploughing in the
same direction resulted in the formation of a series of terraces
with banks between, known as butts, and where these lay
conveniently close to a village they were doubtless used at
this time for archery practice. Such a case occurs at Bere Regis
where a tongue of the large open middle field reached down to
Tower Hill, and where the terracing and butts can still be
clearly seen in the small field immediately west of Barrow Hill.
Coupled with the fact that Butt Lane, to which this field originally
extended, is so-called, there seems little doubt that this was
the site of the 16th century archery butts. Many other towns
and villages have streets or other localities where the word
butts figures in the name-Butt Close, Puddletown; Lower Butt
Street, Poole; Hillbutts, Wimborne; and Butts Pond, Sturmrnster
Newton to name but four in Dorset.
Bere Regis muster roil was compiled in 1542, and commences with
a lengthy loyal auctress to tine king, together with a rather
obscure expranatron of the way in which the abilities of the
archers and billmen have been set down :
person being an able archer and very good, thes too lrs aA and
upon the name of evy pson being of the sede sorte and yt wyll
serve a time this letter A nut a pricke and lykewyse upon the
names of them yt be able bylrnen, thes too lrs ab uppon the
names or them that bythe of ye sede sorte and wyl syrve, tnis
rr b with a prycke.
is interesting to note that several of the surnames on the roll
still survive in Bere Regis after more than 400 years, although
the spelling has usually undergone changes over the course of
the years. In addition, other names appear on the roll, which
occur in other connections with the parish - John Daw, wnose
name is carved on one of the old church bench ends; Roger Gye
named as bailiff of the Bere manor in an account of 1535; and
Nicholas Grout, John Sargent and George Hart who signed the
inventory of church goods in 1552.
of the terms and abbreviations used in the roll should perhaps
be explained (harnise = armour; most pvid = must provide; di'S.
off arr = two sheafs of arrows; a byll = a bill, a Kind of spear
on a wooden shaft; sallett = helmet; a p of spiets = a pair
of splents, small pieces of armour to protect the arms.) The
following list includes portions of the roll for Bere Hundred
and Barrow Hundred relating to Bere Regis itself and Shitterton,
other tythings within these two hundreds, Milbourne Stileham,
Winterbourne Kingston and Turnerspuddle etc, being omitted:
hundredd off Bere Regis
Tething of Bere.
Turberffeld, gent. horses & harnise for ij men ij bowis
ij shefis or arrowis ij swerds & ij daggars & narnise
for a bylma. Jonn Galton most p vid a bow & di'S. on arr.
(aA) George Frome hathe a bow & a S. of arr. Alis Dyott
wydow hathe harnise for a ma a bow & S. off arr swerd &
dagr. John Welsted hathe a Sallet & a p of splets a bow
& di'S. off arr. (b) Roger Gardynr hathe a byll a bow &
a S. of arr. John Lokear hathe a bow & a S. of arr. Jonn
Daw most p vid a bow & di'S. of arr. Nichos Growte hathe
a byll a bow & vj arr. Roger Gye hathe a byll a bow &
di'S. of arr. Thorns Howlett hathe a bille. Thomas Frye hathe
a bow & di'S. of arr. (ab) John Gye hathe a byll. Henri
Golde hathe a bylle. (aA) Thomas Georke. (b) Wyllm Lokear hathe
a byll. (ab) Thoms Godwyn. (b) John Tratell hathe a byll. John
Knappe hathe a byll. Wyllum Eylis hathe a byll. (aA) John Dyott
hathe a bow. (b) Thomas Burdon hathe a bow. John Clothear alyn.
most delyvr a S. of arr to the Costabull. (ab) Wyllum Pleyer.
(b) Thoms Wolfrey. Wyllum Meriwether hathe a byll a sallett
& a p of splents. (b) John Meriwether hathe a bowe, (b)
Roger George Smithe most p vide a bow & vj arr. Jonn Golde
hath a bow & most p vide vj arr. George Harte hathe a bow
& vi arr. Edward Gerard hathe a bow. Robt Holm most p vid
a byll. (aA) Richard Blundell most p vid a bowe. John Sergeantt
hathe a byll. (b) Richard Matte hathe a byll, (A) Henri Holmr.
(aA) Robt Galton. (b) Hew Serrell. (Alyn) Wyllum Gresell most
p vid a bow di'S of arr delyv the to ye costabull. Robt Dyott
hathe a byll, (b) Henri Bolte hathe a byll. Jaffer Harrice hathe
a byll. (aA) Thomas Medar hathe a bow. (b) Thoms Gwye hathe
a bow & most p vide vj arr. (b) Thoms Golde. Peter Saunder
hathe a bow & vj arr. (ab) Rowland Seland most p vide di'S.
of arr. (b) Raff George hathe a byll. (ab) Wyllum Humte hathe
a bill. John Swale hathe a bylle. (b) John Pope hathe a byll.
Sylvester Harice hathe a bow & vj arr. (ab) Thomas Valey
hathe a byll. John Maunsell hathe a bill, Nichos Bucke hathe
a bill. John Hayne hathe a byll.
Tething of the p sons Tething of Bere: (aA) Nichos Humte Tethingma
hathe a byll. John Tylley hathe a byll. Henri Lambard hathe
a bille. Robt Maundsell hathe a byll. (aa) Robt Donston hathe
a byll. Thoms Hechyns hathe a byll, (b) George Chyld hathe a
byll. Xpofer Bragge hathe a bow & vj arr. John Osye hathe
a byll. Thes too Tethings above most p vid a comon harnise a
bow & a S. of arr. a swerd & a dagger.
hundred of Hundredds barowe; The Tething of Sheterton - (aA)
Thorns Gye hathe a bow & most p vid vj arr. Thorns Clemet
hathe a byll, (aA) Richard Besaunt most p vid a bow & di'S
of arr. (A) Robt Besaunt. (b) Richard Gerard hathe a byll. Nichos
Dycke alyn, hathe a bow & di'S. of arr delyvid dec. Richard
Zeborne hathe a bow & di'S. of arr & a byll. (b) John
Besaunt hathe a bylle. John Brounde hathe a bow & most p
vid iij arr. Hewght Lucas hathe a byll. Alyn Thomas Byshoppe
hathe a bow & xvj arr delyvid dec This Tething & the
Tething of Trnrspudell her next folowing most p vid a comon
harnise a bow a S. off arr a swerd & a daggar.
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