Wednesday, 22 June 2011

FindmyPast adds militia records

FindmyPast ( has added militia attestation papers to its site from 1806-1915. An index to the British records from 1886-1910 has previously been available on, as well as 1872-1915 for Ireland, but these are the actual documents themselves, and for a considerably longer period, all sourced from WO96 at the National Archives (Kew). Here is the description of the content from the site itself:

What are the Militia Attestation Papers?

These records are brought to you online in association with The National Archives (TNA). The TNA record series number is ‘WO96’: WO simply indicates that the records were created by the War Office, the precursor of today’s Ministry of Defence.

The Militia was a voluntary county-based part-time force for home defence. It ceased to be summoned after the Civil War but was revived in 1757, when the Militia Act established militia regiments in all counties of England and Wales.

Why are these records useful to the family historian?

These records provide rich detail and colour to your ancestors’ lives at a level that is difficult to find elsewhere. Many of your ancestors will have served in the militia, often as a precursor to serving in the British Army so these records will provide a useful addition to our British Army Service Records.

You will often find physical descriptions including distinguishing marks including tattoos. In the absence of photographs, these records are an essential tool in imagining what your ancestors were like - although some of the later records do include photographs. You’ll also be able to see the individual’s signature.

Whereas many other military records provide information about officer class soldiers, these records include papers from ordinary soldiers of other ranks. This makes it more likely that you will be able to find details about your ancestors. If searching the censuses leads to a dead end, it is possible you can find who you are looking for here. Men often attested into one corps and out of another.

What exactly will I be able to find out?

The Militia Attestation Papers provide a record of service as they were annotated until the date of discharge. They also have information about birth date and place.

What else is special about the Militia Attestation Papers?

They contain details which are largely unavailable elsewhere. These records are useful in finding out information about ancestors from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and overseas.

This is the first time these records have been scanned, transcribed and published online.

With thanks to FindmyPast - the search page is available at and a blog post is available at There are half a million records available - including the soldiers' signatures.

Happy hunting! :)



Eric Carlin said...

Thanks Chris

I found a gt gt uncle in them and this confirms my suspicions that I had found him in the army in the 1881 Census. Plus he served in South Africa in 1900.

Chris Paton said...

Result! Glad it helped!