Aberdeen County Militia records

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives hold a number of records relating to the militia in the North East. Scotland did not furnish any regular militia until 1797, though there had been areas where local militias had existed at an earlier date, such as Perthshire, and there was a programme of impressment in 1756 to provide troops for the Seven Years War. Enlistment into the militia was first raised by a ballot among men aged between 19 and 30, though in 1802 an act was passed which provided for the organisation of the militia on a similar basis to that of England.

A full list of the militia records (including commissions, testimonials and bounty certificates) held can be found on our Online Catalogue under the reference AS/AMil.

List of Appeals before the Aberdeenshire Commission for Military Impressment, 1757-58

This list comes from two volumes of minutes of meetings of a Commission formed to provide troops for the British Armed Forces at the start of the Seven Years War between Great Britain and France in 1756. In that same year an Act was passed through Parliament to allow a quick recruitment campaign to be started throughout the country for raising the necessary number of troops to fight the war in Europe. The Act appointed various bodies in the counties and cities of the land to administer and oversee the recruitment process within their subdivided districts, and in Aberdeenshire, this consisted of the Justices of the Peace and the Commissioners of Supply (collectors of tax throughout the County).

The main business of these newly formed Commissions under the Act was to recruit able-bodied unemployed men of 17-45 years of age from within the County boundary that had no form of monetary support or maintenance. The business of finding the recruits was delegated to Parish Officers or Constables who had powers to search their areas for potential candidates, and apprehend them for service in the army. As an extra inducement for their trouble in finding these men, the Act allowed for the Officers to be given 20 shillings (£1) for each man recruited.

Understandably this also provided encouragement for the process to be abused, and the Commission heard petitions from men appealing against their impressment and the behaviour of the constables in apprehending them.

The list is fairly short and provides basic details of the cases heard, including the names of the petitioners, their place of residence, and the date they appeared before the Commission. Our thanks go to volunteer Sandy Riddell for compiling it.

Muster Books

Muster books for the Aberdeenshire militia force raised in 1798 as a result of the Militia (Scotland) Act, 1797 are available to consult at our Old Aberdeen House Search Room (ref. AS/Amil/3/1-3) . They cover 1798 - 1801. A transcription of two of these books are available below:

Enrolment Books

Enrolment books for four districts of the the Aberdeenshire militia have survived and are being transcribed. The first three are available below. Name abbreviations have been expanded e.g. Wm to William. Spellings have been left as they are in the original document, any other expansions are noted in square brackets. You may find this list of fencible units useful for researching the men's former service.

There is also a volume for 10th (Newmachar) District which will be transcribed soon.

Records of Certificates Granted for the Relief of the Wives and Families of Militia Men

We have, with the help of our volunteer Sandy Riddell, transcribed several volumes which details the relief given to the wives of militia men between 1803 and 1816. The wives and families of militiamen were entitled to relief from their parish during their husband/father’s absence, and the certificates would have enabled them to apply for that relief.

This gives information such as the name of the wife (including maiden name), the name of the husband, and the number of children they had on a given date. The same people often appear more than once, so it is worth looking through the whole document, which is electronically searchable.

Please note that the document has been transcribed as it is written in the original, and this may mean that there are some abbreviations used. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Wm for William
  • Alex for Alexander
  • Fras for Fraser
  • Chas for Charles

Surnames have been left as the way they were in the original document, so there may be some differences between what was written and what is now the standard spelling.

Volunteers Muster Rolls, 1803-4

The muster rolls provided here (transcribed by our volunteer Sandy Weir), note names of those that joined local militia forces during the anti-invasion preparations of 1802-4 at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars.

Although the information noted varies a little, in most cases the rolls give the names of those joining militia forces, the parish they were from, and the date that they enrolled.

Names have been provided in full, and expanded where abbreviated.

Accounts of Prisoner's Aliments

Account of the money paid to poor prisoners kept in the Tolbooth in Aberdeen in 1776 - 1777, giving each prisoner's name, crime accused of, committing officer, entry and length of stay in the Tolbooth, the number of days they have been there, how much has been paid for them, and how they were disposed of.


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