Muster Rolls c. 1630

The Muster Roll of the Province of Ulster is a large, leather-bound volume in the British Library, where it is shelved as Additional Manuscript 4770. The volume consists of 283 folio sheets, each slightly larger than a page of A4, on which are recorded the names of 13,147 adult males from the nine counties of Ulster. Each county forms a separate section of the volume and the men who mustered are listed under the names of their landlords; beside each man’s name there is a description of the weapons he was carrying or a note that he was unarmed. The lists cover the first 276 folios and the remaining seven folios are a ‘breviate’ or summary of the whole book. Most of the men who mustered were English and Scottish settlers and, in the absence of comprehensive parish and estate records, the muster roll is the nearest one has to a census of the British population of early seventeenth-century Ulster.

In the late 1960s or early 1970s Robert Hunter began a project to publish each section of the muster. William Copeland Trimble had published the muster roll for county Fermanagh in the History of Enniskillen in 1919, and T.G.F. Paterson had published that for county Armagh in 1970. Robert therefore began with the muster roll for county Donegal, which he published in 1972, and in 1978 he and Michael Perceval-Maxwell collaborated on an edition of the muster roll for county Cavan. The muster roll for county Fermanagh seems to have been the next section which Robert intended to publish, but for whatever reason he put the project into abeyance and did not resume working on it until 1998. Over the following years he collated material for counties Antrim, Down, and Londonderry and had begun working on the muster rolls for counties Monaghan and Tyrone shortly before his death in 2007.