The 1535 Tinner's Muster
for the Cornish Parish of St Stithians
From "The Cornwall Military Survey of 1522...and the Tinner's Muster of 1535", edited by T.L. Sloate
The Bookshop - Bernard D. Welchman
Stithians, at some point in its history, appears to have been richly exploited for its tin deposits. However, these played out and the tinners and their mining operations moved into other, more fruitful, neighbouring parishes, particularly Gwennap. Nevertheless, a large portion (72 in this muster )of the male population of Stithians continued to be involved in tinning, working their small holdings during the spring and summer and going to the mines once the harvest was done. It may seem like an idealic lifestyle but the work was hard, backbreaking and dangerous as well as not being very lucrative for most. Some of the men listed in this muster may not appear on the 1524 and 1543 subsidy rolls simply because they did not earn, or were not worth, enough to be taxed. Others (18), who appear in both subsides and this muster have clearly not substantially increased their worth over the intervening twenty years.
Secondary identifier names follow the same patterns as seen in the subsidy rolls. Land holders, or leasors, are given, or take, property names. Most of these do not survive into the modern era. Others acquire the name of their father. A quotation mark (") indicates that the man is part of a group, sharing the same weapons, probably indicating members of the same family.
Tinners were a privileged group, because so much of the Cornish economy depended on their labours. They had their own Parliament, their own laws and were entitled to their own military muster.
This particular muster was ordered by Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, chief warden of the Stanneries, in or about 1535. Courtenay was beheaded in 1538 due to accusations of being involved in a Catholic plot against Henry VIII.
Splints are strips of metal to protect the forearm. A Buckler is a small shield. A Gorget protects the neck. Sling and bag are just what they suggest, the bag being used to carry the missiles. Other arms are described on the 1569 Muster page and on the 1522 Military Survey page.