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Musters in the Skyrack Wapentake

Barwicker No.9 March 1988

Drawings and other artwork by Bart Hammond

The series of musters, of which these form a part, were taken in the spring of 1539, in view of the threatened war with France.

Holinshed records the circumstances as follows:

"The King being informed that the Pope by instigation of Cardinall Pole had mooved and stirred divers great princes and potentats of Christendome to invade the realme of England, without all delaie rode himselfe toward the sea coasts, and sent diverse of his nobles and councellors to surveie all the ports and places of danger on the coast, where any meet and convenient landing place might be doubted, as well as the borders of England, as also of Wales: in which dangerous places he caused bulworks and forts to be erected. And further, he caused the Lord Admerall, Eerle of Southampton, to prepare in readiness his navie of ships for defense of the coasts. Beside this, he sent forth commissions to have generall musters, taken through the realme, to understand what number of able men he might make account of: and further to have the armor and weapons seene and viewed.

The King reviewed the London musters, which were then called all over the country. Most of these returns are preserved among State Papers.

The Barwick Muster
"Berwyk in Elmet cum hamletis"

William Bryge, Constable, abill in person, archer, haveng no harnez.
John Gascoigne, esquyer, horssed and harnessed for hymselff and two seruauntes, bowmen, and hymselff abill.
Willaim Ellez, esquyer, horssed and harnessed for hymselff and oone seruaunt, hymselff a archer, and his seruaunt abill.

Archerz, abill personez horssed and harnessed:
John Evers
John Branche, abill man
W'lliam Crofte
John Hacon
Myles Pyckerd
Thomas Jakson
John Stettill

Billes, abill personez horssed and harnessed:
John Hopton, horssed and harnessed
Robert Rawson, yonger
Robert Rawson, th'elder
James Hardecastell
Cuthbert Symkyn
Thomas Yeston

Archers, abill personez havyng noo harnesse:
Thomas Potter
W'illiam Rasyn
Thomas W'right
John Kytton
Antony Shaw
John Gybson
Thomas Talor
William Snawdon
Thomas Wylson

Billmen, abyll personez parcel1 harnessed,part horssed;
Persiuell Kygley, a horse
Antony Hypron, a horse
William Raper, a horse, a jak
Thomas Tate, a jak
Robert Grenewode, a jak & salet
Percyvell Bakhous, a jak & salet
Robert Cook, jak and salet
Richerd Dogson, a salett
John Weste, a horsse

Billmen, abill personez, havyng no harnez:
John Baley
William Garford
Christopher Brame
Robert Yngyll
John Londe
Richerd Roodes
John Herreson
Richerd Flater
William Tomson
Robert Blande
William Erle
Richerd Saner
Robert Rycherdson
John Talor

Taken by townships, the constable heads the list in most cases. Then the gentry, followed by the archers horsed and harnessed, billmen horsed and harnessed, archers parcel harnessed, billmen parcel harnessed, and finally the archers and billmen having no harness. Most persons are described as "abill"(able) or fit for military service. A man described as "harnessed" is assumed to be fully equipped with weapons and armour. "Parcel harnessed" is being partly in armour, such as having a jack, a salade and perhaps any other items of armour. Some of those described as harnessed, especially the gentry, would have complete suits of armour of the period.

A jack was a protective covering for the body usually without sleeves, and made of cloth lined with small plates of steel, iron or horn.

A salade was a close-fitting head-piece often with a movable vizor. Other favoured head protection were morions, steel helmets with narrow brims, and steel caps with or without brims.

Only two types of fighting men are included here, the archers or bowmen, and the billmen.

Archers or bowmen would all be long-bowmen carrying the traditional six foot bow, which used three foot arrows with their goose feather flights. Archers could be either on horse or on foot.

Billmen. The weapons carried could consist of various types, including the bill itself and the pike; long wooden shafted with a pointed metal head, probably up to 16 feet long. The halberd may have been included; this had a pointed head plus a cutting edge like a cleaver, and often a hook. Billmen in the Barwick muster were the most numerous and were mounted or on foot.

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