The Militia List
The Militia can be likened to the present day Territorial Army. In Saxon times communities were liable to supply men and weapons to fight when necessary and this practice continued for several centuries. In 1551 the control of the Militia for each county was given to newly created officials called the King's Lieutenants who, as they were usually Noblemen, eventually became called Lord Lieutenants.
After the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745/6 and with the threat of invasion from France an Act of Parliament was passed in 1757 which re -established the Militia as a local defence force.
Parishes were grouped together for the purpose of providing men for a company in each Militia Regiment, which usually covered a whole county. The constables had to provide an annual list of all men in their parish between the ages of 18 and 50 (amended to 45 in 1762) who could be 'conscripted' into the Militia by ballot. Each county and parish had a quota of conscripts to provide and could be fined if they were not forthcoming. If there were men willing to volunteer the ballot was not used, or only used in part to provide the requisite number of men. Peers of the realm, clergymen, articled clerks, apprentices, seamen, soldiers, parish constables and those who had already served were exempt. In some ballots Quakers, licensed teachers, judges and medical practitioners were also exempt. Although the men in these exempted groups were supposed to be recorded by the constable when he drew up his return, this was not always carried out. Exemption could also be granted on the grounds of infirmity or poverty as, if these persons were called upon to serve, their wives and children would have to be provided for out of the poor rates.
Once the constable had drawn up the list it would be displayed in the parish – usually in a public place, such as the church door. Those who wished to object to their inclusion and provide a reason for exemption – the constable would probably have noted those who were exempt on the grounds of the Acts of Parliament – were given a place and a date for their appeals to be heard by the Magistrate. In the case of Middleton Cheney, this took place at 'The Three Coneys Inn' at Thorpe Mandeville.
For the poor there was probably little chance of escaping service. For those who had some money it was possible to pay someone else to take your place. This was called “serving by substitute” and the men listed in this way are exempt from the ballot because they are deemed to have served or be serving in the Militia.