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 1919,1 and T.G.F. Paterson had published that for county Armagh in 1970.2 Robert therefore began with the muster roll for county Donegal, which he published in 1972,3 and in 1978 he and Michael Perceval-Maxwell collaborated on an edition of the muster roll for county Cavan.4 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 2007.5

Robert had also changed his intention of publishing the muster roll for each of the counties separately and had decided to publish the muster roll as a single volume. His working papers for the project consist of manila folders, one for each county and one for the introduction to the book. The county folders contain copies of published transcripts of the muster roll, offprints from a microfilm copy of the original manuscript, Robert’s holograph transcripts of the offprint, copies of earlier transcripts from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and loose notes on individuals mentioned in the muster roll or points for explanation or follow-up.6 This book is essentially a compilation of those notes, the transcripts of the muster roll, and the annotations on individual settlers.7 The title of the book – Men and arms: the Ulster settlers, c. 1630 – is the one Robert had chosen.

Robert had noted in 1972 that a ‘more detailed criticism’ of the muster roll would ‘have to be based on an examination of other primary sources, for example inquisitions printed and manuscript and any estate papers that may be located.’8 The annotations he subsequently produced were a step towards that ‘detailed criticism’ and ‘examination of other primary sources’, in particular material in the National Archives of Ireland (NAI). I have added to his notes through reference to material from sources he did not use and through cross-referencing family names with the online transcripts of the 1641 depositions.9 The result, I hope, meets Robert’s exacting standards of meticulousness and precision.

Personal names are shown in the transcript of the muster roll as they appear in the original manuscript, but otherwise I have silently expanded contractions and used modern spellings and punctuation: modern versions of names are used for the most part in the footnotes. For ease of reference, I have enumerated all of the names in the muster roll: in the original manuscript, the names in counties Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Londonderry, and Tyrone are enumerated but not those in counties Antrim, Donegal, Down, and Monaghan. Secondly, I have adapted Robert’s methodology and put details of the weapons being carried at the start of a column rather than trying to bracket names together as is done in the original manuscript. Finally, I have followed long-standing conventions of beginning years on 1 January rather than 25 March, of referring to Laois and Offaly as Queen’s County and King’s County, and of using Derry for the city and Londonderry for the county.

In producing this edition of the muster roll, I am grateful to the British Library Board, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the Board of Trinity College Dublin, Sheffield City Council: Libraries, Archives, and Information,10 and The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford for permission to publish and cite documents in their collections, to the committees of the Cumann Seanchais Ard Mhacha, Cumann Seanchais Bhreifne, the Clogher Historical Society, and the Donegal Historical Society and to the Irish Manuscripts Commission for permission to use copyrighted material, to Laura Houghton Hunter for agreeing to give access to her father’s papers, and to the Hunter Committee for financial support with the project. I am especially indebted to William Roulston and the Ulster Historical Foundation for their support and encouragement, to Ian Montgomery of PRONI for arranging access to the Hunter Papers before they had been fully catalogued and for providing scanned copies of Robert’s transcripts, and to Carole Yates and the team at the Rheindahlen Library for arranging inter-library loans. Lastly, I must thank my wife, Monika, for her patience and support with this project and my sister and brother-in-law, Fiona and Sam Mulholland, for their hospitality during visits to Ireland.

John Johnston
Mönchengladbach, 2012


  1. William Copeland Trimble, The history of Enniskillen, with references to some manors in county Fermanagh and other local subjects, 1 (Enniskillen, 1919) [hereafter, Trimble, History of Enniskillen], pp 197-221; Trimble used a transcript of the original manuscript provided by Rev. W.H. Dundas (ibid. p. 200): there is no transcript of the muster roll in the Dundas papers (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland [PRONI], D1588).
  2. T.G.F. Paterson, ‘An unpublished early seventeenth-century census of the men and arms on the estates of English and Scotch settlers in county Armagh’, in Seanchas Ardmhacha, 5 (1970) [hereafter, Paterson, ‘Armagh’], pp 401-17; Paterson used the transcript of the manuscript in the Armagh Public Library, a copy of which is in the National Library of Ireland [hereafter NLI].
  3. R.J. Hunter, ‘The settler population of an Ulster plantation county’, in Donegal Annual, 10 (1972) [hereafter, Hunter, ‘Donegal’], pp 124-54.
  4. R.J. Hunter and Michael Perceval-Maxwell, ‘The muster roll of c. 1630: county Cavan’, in Breifne, 5 (1978) [hereafter, Hunter and Perceval-Maxwell, ‘Cavan’], pp 206-12.
  5. This paragraph is based on notes and correspondence in Robert’s working papers on the muster roll (PRONI, D4446/A/8).
  6. The offprint appears to be from the NLI microfilm copy of the original manuscript and the transcripts are from PRONI, D1759/3C/3 and T934/1.
  7. Robert’s annotations are shown as [RJH] and mine as [JJ].
  8. Hunter, ‘Donegal’, p. 127.
  10. Hereafter, Sheffield Archives.