Military activity in the Flegg Area

An article by Ann Meakin

Sources of information:-

The Muster Rolls for the Hundreds of East and West Flegg in 1684, 1690 and 1700 are held at the NRO under references PET 1100/1-10, 506 X 9.

Those for 1662 are held under ref. BL/GT 11/1-2.

The Roll for 1662 which included Martham is a roll on parchment about 10 inches wide and 22 inches long.

At the top it says “ A gift made and given into the Right Honourable the Lord Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Norfolk of the trained foote band of East and West Flegg given this 19th January 1662 under the command of Leonard Mapes Captaine of the said Hundred.

                                         1 Lieutenant

                                         1 Ensign

                                         4 Seargeants

                                         1 Clarke

                                         2 Drummers"

The Martham men were listed as ‘owners’? and ‘forme’? or farmer?  It seemed that their contributions were '1M' or '1P' - perhaps muskets or pikes?

Several names were familiar from other studies of wills and various documents. The first was John Spendlove who was the Vicar.

The roll for 1684(?), again on parchment 6 inches x 18 inches. says:

'East and West Flegg Hundred.  Muster rolls for the said hundreds for ye foot company under the command of Captain Leonard Mapes given into ye Honourable His Majestie’ys Deputy Lieutenant at ye little grand jury chamber in Norwich ye 16th January anno domono 1683.

                     Leo. Mapes Esquire – captain

                     John Castell Gent. – lieutenant

                     John Lane Gent. - ensign

                     John Ducke Gent.) sergeants

                     Robert Roe Gent. )

                     Thomas Richers Gent. Clarke of the company

                               Martham                                      M                  P'

        In 1690 and 1700 the Muster Roll was on Lingwood Heath and included men from         other hundreds.

The times of the Napoloeonic wars 1793 to 1815

The great concern during these years was the protection of Great Yarmouth and Norwich.  Great Yarmouth was an important naval base and Norwich an important city.  The French could have invaded in numerous places, including sailing up the River Yare or landing on the beaches of the then islands of Flegg and Lothingland.  Wherever they landed they would have attempted to go farther inland up the rivers Bure, Yare and Waveney.   It was vital to defend the bridges at places like Haddiscoe and Acle, and also at Reedham which did not have a bridge but was a key crossing place on the River Yare.

Each parish was required to supply a proportion of men to join the Militia and pay from the rates to support their families or pay from the rates for any men who went as substitutes.

So what happened at Martham?  I studied the Overseers Accounts from 1793 to 1815 to find out what happened.  I found that for the year ending Easter 1794 they spent 10s. on making a Militia List but could not find any men to send to the Militia so they paid for substitutes to go @ 4/2 per week making £4 8 8.  This continued for three years until after Easter 1796 when it seems that the first Militia men went form Martham and money to support their families was paid to Peter Finch who was possibly the County Treasurer. 

The amount paid for the support of Militia families varied from £5 8 4 per half year to £9 14 0.

The amount collected also varied from £96 12 0 per half year at Easter 1794 to £124 12 6 for the half year ending Easter 1800. 

It all seems a heavy burden on the parish rate payers but without a detailed analysis of the accounts, you cannot be sure.

From 1806 to 1815 they were making an army list every year at a cost of 10/6.

Maybe because there was no really grand house in Flegg and therefore no very eminent landed gentry to command loyalty, the Flegg men were very reluctant to volunteer.

Nobody from Flegg joined the Yeomanry Cavalry between 1794 and 1815.

And nobody from Flegg joined the Volunteer Infantry during those years.

In 1803 when new Cavalry Units were being formed, the Revd. Salmon the vicar of Ormesby was very keen to take command of one, however he was forbidden to do so by the Bishop of Norwich who had forbidden all clergy to join up.

The Revd. Salmon seemed to be the leading light in the Flegg area and he informed the Deputy Lieutenant that he had managed to convince the population of the need to evacuate their farms if there were an invasion but he had failed to get anybody to volunteer to join the forces.

Ann Meakin


Ensign and colour sergeant

(Above): Ensign and colour sergeant, Norfolk Militia, 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment, 1813.

(Below): East Norfolk Militia - Colonel Wodehouse, the founder of the Norfolk Militia proudly gestures towards the East Norfolk Militia in the background (Courtesy: ENM).


Below: East Norfolk Militia re-enactment group, 2015


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