Ref NoAS/AMil
Alt Ref NoAC/10
Acc No680
TitleAberdeen County Militia Records
DescriptionAS/AMil/1: Printed Militia Acts (1797-1869);
AS/AMil/2: Minutes (Commissioners of Supply and Justices of the Peace) (1756-1812);
AS/AMil/3: Muster Books (1798-1801);
AS/AMil/4: Officers Qualification Rolls (1802-1854);
AS/AMil/5: Enrolment Books (1802-1804);
AS/AMil/6: Relief Certificates for Wives and Families of Militiamen (1809-1816);
AS/AMil/7: Register of Assignations (1862-1888);
AS/AMil/8: Miscellanea 1 (1757-1864);
AS/AMil/9: Miscellanea 2 (1776-1861);
AS/AMil/10: Oaths of Allegiance (1824-1858)
Date1756 - 1888
CreatorAberdeen County Council
Extent23 volumes and 3 boxes
​Open or Restricted AccessOpen
Access ConditionsNone
Administrative HistoryThe records in the Archive collections concerning the militia relate mostly to the process of raising a military force from the local population to supplement a regular army during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), and the Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815.

Seven Years War
When the Seven Years War against France started in 1756 15 British foot regiments were ordered to raise second battalions in order to quickly reinforce the Army for the coming conflict. The 32nd Regiment of Foot under Col. Francis Leighton was ordered to find its recruits in Scotland – in particular the Counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine (including the burghs within them). The regiments had some help in the form of an Act of Parliament in 1756, euphemistically entitled ‘An Act for the speedy and effectual Recruiting of His Majesty’s Land Forces and Marines’. This Act calculated the number of people to be recruited based on the land tax assessments. A total amount of tax was expected to go to the Crown, and each county paid a proportion of that. Consequently the number of each county’s recruits was to be the same proportion contributing to the total.

Aberdeen County was to raise 165 men and the duty of finding them was placed on the justices of the peace and the commissioners of supply. Their efforts are recorded in 2 volumes of minutes of the impressment committee formed to administer the recruitment task across the County (AS/Amil/2/1-2). In turn the proportions of the 165 that each parish had to raise was worked out and responsibility for finding them was passed to parish committees and their constables. The recruits were to healthy men aged between 17 and 45, above 5 feet 4 inches, be protestant, without any lawful calling, employment, or money to support themselves. They also had to have their own shoes.

Napoleonic Wars
The first Scottish militias in the Napoleonic Wars were established in 1797, but prior to that Lord Lieutenants to every Scottish County ostensibly to provide internal defence for their areas against political threats as well as invasion - initially it was the Duke of Gordon for Aberdeen County, and Earl Fife in Banff County.  These people provided properly equipped and disciplined forces for home defence and also the maintenance of civil order. Their main efforts related to providing Volunteer Corps such as the ones raised in 1794 by Aberdeen County for manning the Battery in Aberdeen, and also later in Peterhead and Fraserburgh [see commissioners of supply minutes and separate militia minutes AS/] as well as encouraging other landowners to follow suit by raising Fencible Regiments (permanent local forces run by local landowners, e.g. the Argyll Fencibles) and other Volunteer Forces. The force raised in Macduff in 1795 is a good example of this process in action (see AS/Bmcd/1/1). A second call for volunteer Forces was made in 1803 - this was more popular as this provided an exemption from being balloted for the militia. Muster rolls for various volunteers units in Aberdeenshire are included in the collection (AS/Amil/8/9). Volunteers units were disbanded in 1808.

The Militia Act in July 1797 established a formal militia in Scotland raised from 6000 men, arranged into county regiments by ballot. It was intended to be a full time local force formed of men aged between 17 and 23 but intended for defence of the shores of Britain. Recruitment was by ballot, although it was possible to get out of recruitment by providing a substitute or by paying a fine, and there were also exemptions for members of the Volunteer forces, schoolteachers, parish ministers, the infirm and married poor men with more than 2 children. This act was unpopular and caused unrest. The Militia forces were raised and administered at County level, but controlled centrally. Lists of men balloted can be seen in the muster books (AS/Amil/3).

An Act was passed in 1802 to increase the size of the Militia in Scotland from 10 battalions to 15. A new wave of enrolments began in Aberdeenshire (see AS/AMil/5 and AS/AMil/2/5). The Aberdeenshire Militia were renamed to “The Aberdeenshire or 55th Regiment of Militia”, became the Royal Aberdeenshire Highlanders in 1855.

In 1803 an Act was passed providing Relief to the Wives and Families of Militiamen (see AS/Amil/6 and AS/Amil/8/7), in recognition of the hardship militiamen's families could be placed in when they were balloted.
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