What was the Militia?
The militia was part of the military. The militiamen were drawn locally and generated their own records. The militia units would serve outside their home area when needed. They were a supplement to the British Army.
After the United Kingdom was created in 1801 the “Militia of the United Kingdom” became the reserve military forces. By the 1820s compulsory enlistment was abandoned and the militia became a voluntary force. The men would receive basic training at an army depot, then return to civilian life, reporting back for periodic training.
Contents of a Militia Service Record
The hosting of these records through FamilySearch is free and can be searched by name, birthplace, birth year, and military service place. It is also searchable on the FindMyPast website. A typical record is a fill in the blank form. Important information that may not be indexed but could possibly be found includes:
- Parish/Town/County of Birth
- Whether a British Subject
- Parish/Town/County of Residence
- Parish/Town/County of Residence in the Last 12 Months
- Age in Years and Months
- Marital Status
- Physical Appearance and Health
- Religious Denomination
- Militia Unit
- Service Record
The forms can be several pages long. This collection includes 555,558 indexed records from throughout the UK during the period. If you type in “Ireland” as a birthplace, for example, 71,225 records become available through the indexing. However, you can narrow a search by Irish county of birth. Be aware that number is greatly increased if you include men of Irish descent born in other parts of the Empire, such as India, but were living in the UK when they enlisted.
Importance of the Records
For young men in the nineteenth century, the militia would have been attractive as a supplement to their civil pay. For that reason, you may find information about your family, even if you have no knowledge of anyone serving in the larger British Army.
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