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  The Soldier in later Medieval England

Review of a new database: The soldier in later medieval England

Were any of your medieval ancestors soldiers? You can find out the names of soldiers during 1369-1453 thanks to researchers at the Universities of Reading and Southampton who have received a major grant to make available records of soldiers fighting in those years. By then armies were paid by the Crown, rather than being raised under the old feudal system. Expedition commanders received indentures and they, or captains they subcontracted, had to provide soldiers at agreed rates of pay. Officers from the Exchequer carried out musters to ensure the agreed number of soldiers were present. So far over 80,000 service records based on indentures and muster rolls have been included in a database which went online at the end of 2007 at website <>. A search facility enables you to look for the names of individual soldiers, captains and commanders or to find information in a particular year or area of activity. Overall, it is possible to get an idea of the deployment of troops, for example as standing forces in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and France or on land and naval expeditions.

In the 14th and 15th Centuries some soldiers were still known by their place of origin. Several soldiers were almost certainly recruited from this area as archers and men-at-arms: William Tikhill, man-at-arms, who went on the expedition to Scotland in 1384 under the captaincy of the Duke of Northumberland and the overall command of John of Gaunt, and Robert de Tykhill, archer, who also went to Scotland, but in 1400. Other names suggesting local recruitment include Robert Malteby, Henry de Edlyngton, John Misterton, Richard Rossington, and Adam Blithe.

Among the archers on the expedition to Scotland in 1400 were the following whose surnames (give or take slight variations in spelling) will be familiar to some members of our Society: Peter de Bradeley, John Browne, John Carter, Alan Cook, Stigbert Eliot, John Grene, William Nicholson, John Page, John Thorp, Richard Tyas, Robert West and John Wilkynson. John Cornysh and Thomas Payne were archers on board ship in 1404 responsible for ‘keeping the sea’ and William Sully was an archer in the standing force in Ireland during 1395-7. Some of the soldiers’ surnames are less likely to have survived to modern times. These include John Brymkehulle, Walter Ethirdakes, William Futty, Paton Gudeneghbour, Clays Mastemaker, William Qwhit and Robert Wynddislayr.

The database does not contain information on where the troops were recruited, their age or whether they survived their military service, all of which would have been of great interest. However, it is likely that most men required to serve in Scotland would have come from the northern half of the country, similarly the soldiers who went to France probably lived in the south. One other feature of the website is that it invites people to submit their own research about individual soldiers, to have the chance of being published as ‘soldier of the month’. This database is well worth browsing whether to look for possible family connections or to get a sense of our history in the later Middle Ages.













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