Lieutenancy Papers

Lieutenancy Papers 1803

In May 1803, after a brief period of peace, Britain was once again at war with France. Under the threat of invasion two Acts of Parliament were passed to raise men for the purpose of home defence; the Army Reserve and the Levee en-Masse. Both the schedules for the town of Deal survive giving us two lists of the adult men of the town and their occupations.

The Army Reserve Act  (43 George III Cap. 82) 

“to enable His Majesty more effectually to raise and assemble, in England, an additional Military Force, for the better Defence and Security of the United Kingdom, and for the more vigorous Prosecution of the War”.  

Implementation of the Act was vested in the County Lieutenants and Deputy Lieutenants, and in the case of the Cinque Ports, the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.  Each county was given a quota of men to raise. Kent’s quota was 1,026 men the Cinque Ports, who were treated seperately, had its own quota of 400 men.  

The Constables of the parishes were made responsible for preparing lists of all persons liable to be balloted and for posting them on the door of their respective parish churches with a notice of when appeals might be heard.  

There were exemptions from the ballot and these included:

  • Officers and men serving in the Army (Regular or Militia), Navy or Marines
  • Resident members of either of the universities in England
  • Clergymen
  • Licensed teachers of any separate congregation in Holy Orders, or pretended holy orders, and not carrying on any trade or exercising any other occupation for his livelihood except that of a schoolmaster, and so licensed on or before 8 March 1803
  • Constables or other Peace Officers
  • Articled clerks who were engaged thus on or before 22 June 1803
  • Apprentices under the age of 21 years at the passing of this Act
  • Professional Seamen or Seafaring Men
  • Dockyard employees
  • Ordnance employees
  • Poor men with more than one child born in lawful wedlock under 10 years of age
  • The infirm
  • Men who had served personally or as a substitute in the Militia unless it was their turn to be balloted again
  • Men enrolled on or before 22 June 1803 in the Honourable Artillery Company of the City of London or in any Yeomanry or Volunteer Corps. and continuing to be so enrolled.
  • Men under height 5 feet 2 inches who were otherwise able-bodied and fit for service.

The provisions of the Act enabled substitutes or volunteers to be enrolled in lieu of balloted men. Those men who refused to serve or provide a substitute were liable to pay a £20 fine. If they did not pay this then they would be subject to the same punishments for absconding or deserting as they would have if they had enrolled.

No man could be enrolled to serve in the Army of Reserve until they had satisfied a medical examination then they were required to take the following oath:

“I,  NAME,  do sincerely promise and swear, That I will be faithful and, bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George, and that I will faithfully serve His Majesty in Great Britain and Ireland, or the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney, for the Defence of the same, for the period of Five Years,* unless I shall sooner be discharged.”

(* For substitutes and volunteers, the phrase “and further until six months after the Ratification of a Definitive Treaty of Peace with France,” was added.)

Additionally, all enrolled men swore

“That I have no Rupture, nor am I subject to Fits,nor am I disabled by Lameness or otherwise, but have the perfect Use of my Limbs,and that I am not an Apprentice, or a Seaman or Seafaring Man, and that I do not belong to His Majesty’s Navy, Army, or Marines, nor to the Militia.”

The Levee en Masse (43 George III Cap. 96)

When initial attempts to raise volunteer forces for the ‘home guard’ failed to recruit the required numbers of men another Act,  The Levee en Masse, was passed. This time each parish had to return a list of all men resident in the parish

  • between the ages of 17 and 55
  • specifying whether they were willing to serve as a volunteer
  • whether they were infirm or lame
  • whether a Clergyman or licensed teacher in Holy Orders, Quaker or Medical Man,
  • whether they were serving in any military force
  • whether they were a constable or other peace officer

Then they then put into four classes of men to judge their suitability for military service.

The 4 classes were:

Class 1: age 17-29, unmarried, with no child or children under age 10.

Class 2:  age 30-49, unmarried, with no child or children under age 10.

Class 3:  age 17-29, married or have been married, with not more than 2 children under age 10.

These three classes were liable for training and exercise in the use of arms.

Class 4:  All men not included in Classes 1 – 3.


The Army of Reserve schedules give the name, occupation, and reason for exemption

The Levee en Masse schedules give the name, occupation, parish, class, and remarks on infirmity and any volunteer force the men were engaged in.

Source and further reading:
Deal Lieutenancy Papers 1803  Transcribed by Jennifer Killick
available from