About This Collection
Cornwall, an isolated peninsula of Great Britain located on the Celtic sea, is strategically located to play an important role in Great Britain's defenses. This collection contains information on soldiers who were registered for potential service in the Cornwall Militia and the Sea Fencibles, primarily during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) and the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). Records in this index span the years 1780 to 1831.
The Militia Act of 1757 was intended to create a professional national military reserve in England and Wales. Men were selected by ballot to serve on a part-time voluntary basis in infantry regiments, organized by county. Those selected were provided with uniforms, weapons, and training. The militia was seen as a training ground for the regular army, and bounties were offered to men who opted to transition from the militia to the army.
Sea fencibles were a naval militia raised in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to provide for defense against invasion. They consisted of merchant seamen, supplied with uniforms and weapons, who received pay for each day that they assembled, as well as protection from navy press gangs. Volunteers manned watch and signal towers, in addition to fixed and floating batteries, along coasts and ports. Those who owned and served on private or commercial vessels were authorized to capture enemy ships, and eligible to receive prize and salvage money when they did so.
What you can find in this index
For each record, the following information may be included:
- Service Status
- Year of Military Service
- Military Unit or Occupation
- Amount Paid
- Spouse's Name
- Number of children