LEADING family history website, findmypast.co.uk has today published the records of over half a million men who served in the British Militia over a space of 100 years.
The Militia Attestation Papers, covering 1806 to 1915, have been made available online for the first time to coincide with British Armed Forces Day last Saturday.
The records colourfully portray what the British militia looked like, detailing the height, weight, chest size, complexion, eye colour, hair colour and distinctive marks of each recruit.
It is known that just over 18,000 people joined the Militia from Warwickshire alone, closely followed by Staffordshire with around 17,000 members.
Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at findmypast.co.uk, said: “These records provide rich insight into our past and show how the everyday man, such as your local shopkeeper, found himself fighting for his country.”
Like today’s Territorial Army, the militia was made up of men who held everyday jobs but took part in military exercises and on occasions fought for their country. This could include jobs such as shoemakers, woodchoppers, butchers and bakers
William Spencer, Principal Military Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: “It took a certain kind of individual to leave a day job as a blacksmith, labourer or barman and enlist as a part time soldier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
David Rencher, Chief Genealogy Officer at FamilySearch, added: “The publication of the Militia Attestation Papers fills another critical gap in the family historian’s toolkit.”
The county of Lancashire is known to have had the most members in the Militia, with over 85,000 volunteers, followed by Middlesex with 45,500.
The county with least members in the militia was Durham, with not much more than 10,000.