1539 Muster Roll of Offlow Hundred Staffordshire


Introduction and Glossary of Terms Used

Transcriptions of the individual Muster Rolls can be found on the appropriate Parish Page under the topic "Military Records" The transcriptions are from "Collections for a History of Staffordshire Vol IV, (NS), 1901"


In 1538, the Emperor Charles V and Francis, the King of France, had made up their differences, and had agreed to a ten years' truce. In the same year, the Pope, Paul IV, had published a Bull excommunicating Henry VIII and deposing him for his heretical opinions, and was endeavouring to induce the two sovereigns above named to put it into execution. The King and his Privy Council were seriously alarmed and ordered a muster to be made of the entire armed force of the kingdom. The levies were never called up, the King, by his diplomacy, having managed to disconcert the project of the Pope. 

Letters Patent appointing Commissioners of Array for each County were issued on the 1st March, 30 H. VIII (1539). Those for Staffordshire were as follows : — 


Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, and Lord of Ireland, and in earth of the English Church supreme head, to his beloved and faithful Walter, Lord Ferrers, Henry Stafford, Lord Stafford, John Gyfforde, knight, William Bassett, 
knight, Philip Draycotte, knight, John Harecoutt;, knight, Edward Astone, knight, George Greisley, knight, George Gryffith, knight, John Varnon, Walter Wrottesley, Edward Lytleton, Thomas Gyfford, William Wyrley the younger, Thomas Holte, James {name illegible), Humfrey Welles, Thomas 
Skrympshire, John Grosvenour, Thomas Moreton, Richard Selman, and Walter Blounte, and the Sheriff of the County of Stafford, greeting. Know ye that we, fully trusting in your fidelity and prudent circumspection, with the advice of our Council have assigned you and two of you our Commissioners and deputies, giving and granting to you by these presents full power and authority jointly and severally, all and singular men at arms and armed men capable for arms, as well archers as other men, horse and foot,above the age of sixteen years, resident in the several places within the County of Stafford aforesaid, as well within liberties as without, to array, inspect, and test, and to cause to be armed and furnished, and also to have arms and munitions according to their abilities, and according to the form and effect of the Statutes and Ordinances before these times thereof published and provided, and diligently to make and oversee the due mustering or inspection of the same our subjects and their arms and munitions. So that the said men at arms and armed men, archers, and other defensible men aforesaid, so armed, arrayed, inspected, and furnished, henceforth from time to time may be ready and prepared to serve us as often as, and when it shall be needful and requisite. Moreover, we have assigned you and two of you by turns to inspect, test, and array all and every of you in like manner, yourselves to be furnished and in arms and horses to cause to be provided and ordered in form aforesaid. So that all and every of you, in form aforesaid inspected, arrayed, and prepared, may be ready and continually prepared to serve us in like manner as is aforesaid. And therefore we command you, that respecting the premises at certain days and places which for this purpose according to your sound discretion you shall see fit, you do diligently attend to and perform and execute them in form aforesaid. We give also to all and singular our officers, ministers, and subjects whomsoever, as well within liberties as without, by the tenor of these presents firmly in command that to you in execution of the premises they be attentive, assisting and diligently obedient in all things. And what you shall have done in the premises, together with the names and surnames and number as well of horse, foot, and archers, and all arms and munitions and other things by you in form aforesaid inspected and armed in the several places within the county aforesaid in which they dwell, and of the diversity of arms with which every one of them is armed do you duly certify us and our Council at one month from Easter Day next, under your seals or the seals of two of you. In witness whereof these our letters we have caused to be made patent. Witness ourself at Westminster the first day of March in the thirtieth year of our reign. 

The following meanings of the terms used in the Muster Roll are taken principally from Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words: — 

A Gesturne, Gestrone, or Gessaraunte is a jacket without sleeves, on which were fastened small oblong plates of steel overlapping one another. 

A Jack is a doublet, or defensive garment, padded, and quilted with strips of leather. 

Splents or splints was armour for the arms, where they were left unprotected by the Gesturne or Jack. 

A Salet (French, Salade) was a light steel cap with a projection behind extending over the nape of the neck. 

Harness was any kind of armour, and was not used in the modern contracted sense of the word as referring only to the horse. It probably comprised all kinds of defensible armour, including the Jack, which contained no iron or steel; it also included defensible armour for the horse. 

" Almain rivets " were rivets with elongated holes which admitted of the plates moving one upon the other. Halliwell quotes from " Testamenta Vetusta " : — " My coat of black velvet furred with martens, with six pair of Almain rivets complete with splints, sallets, etc." 

A bill was a pike with a long handle and a spear head with a bill-hook, which was used to drag a man off a horse. In this reign the pike was often 18 feet in length. 

Thys ys the sertyffycathe of sir George Gresley, knyght, John Vernon, and Wylliam Wyrley, Esqwyere, thre of the kynges Commyssyoners seyveryd and appointed for the Tryall and the view of all persons armed whitin the hundreth of Ofelaw in the Cowntye of Stafforde abuff xvj yeres, aswell horssmen, fotemen, bowmen, and byllmen, within the seyd hundrethe whos names with ther surnames and ther weppons severallye apperithe and have gyffin monicion to every of theym beyng within the seyde hundrethe to be redy with ther horse and harnesse and to have ther hernesse accordyng to the kynges estatute theroff made. In wyttenes whe have subscrybed our names and sett to our Seales the xxvij dey of Aprill xxxj H. octavi. 27 April, 1639.