Bridge in Stamford, Lincolnshire

Stamford seen from the meadows

Detail from the Stamford Historian

Muster Roll 1584

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 14:36 -- Chris Davies
RESPECT OUR PRIIVILEGES: A Muster Certificate for Stamford and St Martin’s, 1584 Among the many manuscript volumes which are to be found in the Town Hall is an early one of considerable interest. It contains a wide range of notes and transcripts of items relating to the property of the town including a register of leases from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, hirings of servants, sealing of hides and other items, not least a taxation list of 1581.



The volume covers much of Elizabeth I’s reign, though it was used mainly as a record of leases of town (and probably Free School) property until 1720 . Among all the early notes and transcripts – a few written in the finest and neatest hands of the period, many more bordering on the near illegible – one item stands out, not least because the scribe was forced to turn the volume on its side in order to fit all the detail on the page clearly. Written carefully, its heading explains its original purpose: A Copy of the certificate of the Musters and charge of Stamford …… 23 January 1583 [1584] & xxvj year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. All was not as straightforward as it might at first appear, however, as the writer takes care to point out. This is indeed a “copy” of the document made presumably by the Alderman [as the Mayor of the time was called] and his fellows at the request of central government. But the title also contains an indication that the original had been “delivered to Thomas Cony Esquier, John Harington Esqr. and Francis Harington Esqr. Commissioners Royal for Musters in the hundred of Nesse, who wolde have sitt also for Staunforde, and was denyed by Richard Shute then Alderman who with his brethren tooke the Muster by virtue of the Charter but yet delivered their doinges to be certified with the Shire.” The then Alderman, Richard Shute, had quite clearly refused to co-operate with the Royal Commissioners. They had been given the task of drawing up the Muster for the local area the hundred of Ness including the borough of Stamford. Moreover, he wanted to ensure that his own lack of co-operation was recorded for all to see. By implication his fellow justices, all senior members of the borough council, as well as the rest of the council, were included also. Shute had, with his fellow justices of the peace, carried out the task of recording the muster for Stamford, presumably having refusing to allow the Royal Commissioners, in their official capacity, to come into the town. His authority for so doing, he claimed, was the Royal Charter to the Borough which gave the Town the right to carry out all aspects of administration of the town without interference from outside authorities. To show the town’s allegiance to the Queen nevertheless, having ensured that its own rights and privileges had been protected, the Alderman then gave his findings to these same Royal Commissioners for Ness so they could include them in their own summary. But this is not all. When the list was submitted to the Commissioners certain details, also given in our copy below, were not passed on to the authorities. “I did sett donne but the first name only of ev[er]y Caliver men ……. to this ende yt it shoolde not appeare to the Queenes Councell upon the certificate, yt we sought so much helpe for so small a charge. The reason for the omission of the subsidiary names of the caliver men is thus made clear. It would certainly be stretching interpretation a little to suggest that the Alderman was directly seeking to avoid taxation by this little ruse. Rather he looked to reinforce the reports of the town’s poverty which had already reached the ears of the powers at court. The reality of late sixteenth century Stamford was that the town was struggling, and the issue of poverty in and of the town in the late sixteenth century was a very real one. It would have been most desirable to reinforce this appearance of poverty in central government’s record. Another interesting feature of the record is that the muster was taken for both the Town and the parish of St Martin’s, across the river in a separate county and, coincidentally, diocese. From the later middle ages until the early nineteenth century the borough was jealous of its status in all areas of administration and St Martin’s was regarded as a completely separate entity administratively. It had always been the custom that only those who lived in the borough, that is the area to north of the Welland, should be permitted to trade in the borough, having first been granted their freedom. Likewise the magistrates of the borough had no jurisdiction whatsoever to south of the river. Crimes committed in St Martin’s parish were dealt with by the justices of Northamptonshire or the Soke of Peterborough. In the same way the borough coroner had no jurisdiction south of the Town Bridge. Most importantly of all, especially at a later date, only those admitted to freedom of the borough and paying “scot and lot”, the town taxes, could vote in any elections for Stamford’s two members of parliament. The First Parliamentary Reform Act of 1832 changed those electoral qualifications, ironically not to the local benefit of the reformers. The Municipal Corporations Reform Act of 1835 formally united the settlements on both sides of the Welland, essentially creating the borough which lasted until 1972. Between these two reforms, in 1834, the Poor Law Amendment Act also directly affected an area of jurisdiction of the town, bringing parishes in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire under the authority of the Poor Law Guardians, based in Stamford. One further significant consideration about this copy of the Muster for Stamford in 1584 remains – if this document is, by its own admission, the true statement rather than the return for public consumption, was William Cecil, Lord Burghley, being hoodwinked or was he aware of what was going on? It is hard to believe, with his background and his contacts, that he would have been totally unaware of what was happening, more especially as his own parish of St Martin’s was included in the returns. In these circumstances, it would be good to know whether he encouraged and supported this or whether he knew about this. Such conclusions can only be drawn from the use of sources outside Stamford. Items referred to in the Muster Roll itself A Corslett was either the breastplate, or the whole armour of a pikeman. A Caliver was a gun newly introduced in Elizabeth's reign, that was 4 ft 10 ins long, but still lighter and shorter than the musket, and it fired more rapidly. In the glossary of the 2001 edition of the reprint of the 1603 edition of Stow’s Survey of London “almaine rivets” are described as “a kind of light armour, first used in Germany in which great flexibility was obtained by overlapping plates sliding on rivets.” The source of the information is given as “Almaine or alman rivets - a certaine kinde of armour, or corslet for the body of a man, with the sleeves or braces of maile, or plates of iron, for the defense of the armes, so called because they be rivetted or buckled after the old Alman fashion.” (Minsheu, Guide unto Tongues, 1617)
 
NB All Christian Names have been extended without indication in this transcript
 
Staunforde with St Martyns
 
A Copy of the certificate of the Musters and charge of Stamford delivered to Thomas Cony Esquier, John Harington Esqr. and Francis Harington Esqr. Commissioners Royal for Musters in the hundred of Nesse, who wolde have sitt also for Staunforde, and was denyed by Richard Shute then Alderman who with his brethren tooke the Muster by virtue of the Charter but yet delivered their doinges to be certified with the Shire.  23 January 1583 [1584] & xxvj year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
 
Private Armes
2 Corselets
            Edward Heron Esqr                A Corslett furnished                           Thomas Lane miller to beare it
            John Wingfelde Esqr              A Corslett furnished                           Robert Warner his s[er]vaunte
5 Calivers
            Richard Shute &                     A Caliver furnished                            Richard Dawson housholder             John Browne                                                                                                   trayned
            Nicholas Fulwood &               A Caliver furnished                            Henry Lewys h[ousholder] &
                        Henry Clarke                                                                                                               trayned
            Robert Medowes &                A Calyver [sic] furnished                   Mathew Rooth baker h[ousholder]
                        Cutbert Grenebery
            Robert Tomson,                      A Calyver furnished                           William Topper tailer trayned
                        Peter Wokely &
                        William Loveday
            Laurence Willesby &              A Calyver furnished                           Griffyn Owen shoemaker
                        Thoby Loveday
2 Alm[ayne] ryvetes
            Richard Dickenson,                An Almayne ryvett furnished             Richard Goodlad Sawyer
                        Nicholas Lambe and
                        Anthony Hitchcocke
            John Allyn,                              An Almayne ryvett furnished             Rychard Johnson h[ousholder]
                        John Tonnesend
                        and John Dickenson jun[ior]                                      
6 Bowes
            Ralf Haseldyne &                   A long bowe shef of arrows,              Oliver Scorer h[ousholder]                              John Yerwood                        a steele cappe or scull                          Thomas Orton
                                                                        A sworde & dagger               
                                                                                                 
            William Campinet &               A longe bowe furnished as above       John Clarke h[ousholder]
                        Reginald Harrison                   [ut sup(r)a]                                         
            John Barnes the elder &          A longe bowe fur[nished] as above    James Grene h[ouseholder]
                        Robert Langton                       [ut sup(r)a]                                         
            John P[ar]sons &                     A longe bowe furnished as above       Richard Backhus S[er]vant
                        William Lovedey [del]            [ut sup(r)a]
                        Robert Billing                                                            
            William Watson &                  A longe bowe furnished as above       Robert Turnam [?Tumam]
                        Gilbert Ward thelder               [ut sup(r)a]                                                      h[ouseholder]
            John Elmes gent                      A longe bowe fur[nished] as above    John Bosden householder
                                                                        [ut sup(r)a]
 
 
Common Armes [ie belonging to the community]
            3 Corsletes      Staunforde      iij Corslettes furnished            James Backhus}         
                                                                                                            William Todde}  Householders to beare
                                                                                                            William Coye  }          the corslettes
            3 Calivers        St Martins       iij Calivers furnished               Jeffery Haverde          }         
                                                                                                            Henry Grene               }  Householders to
                                                                                                            Thomas Cooke smith  } cary them
 
Sum Total}      Corsletts   v     {  Be it remembred yt [that] where it appeareth to be two or three persons to a             }            Calivers   viij   {  Calyver & so to the rest of the armo[ur], yet in the copy I deliv[er]ed to the             }            Bowes     vj     {  Justices abovenamed I did sett donne but the first name only of ev[er]y
                 }     Alm[ayne]       {  Caliver men & the rest [del]  The w[hi]ch I did sett to this ende yt it shoolde
                 }        Rivetes  ij     {  not appeare to the Queenes Councell [ins or Royal Commissioners] upon the                                          {  certificate, yt we sought so much helpe for so small a charge.
                                     Memorandum also yt of all this charge Staunforde and St Martins together founde but viij men, whereof Staunforde iiij St Martins ij Mr John Wingfeld of the Nones j, & Mr Heron of the Black Fryers one man,