Bancrofts on the Craven Muster Rolls,1803

I recently spent some in our local Reference Library, going through extracts of the Craven Muster Rolls, which contains details about some Bancroft individuals.

This was an important historical document produced in 1803, when England declared war against France and the threat of invasion by Napoleon made it necessary to prepare the whole of the active male population of the country between the ages of 17 and 55 for military training, but not military service. The purpose of the lists was to organise reserves of men, not already serving in the military services, who would be required to take on such duties as evacuation of the civilian population, moving food supplies and gathers arms and equipment in the event of an invasion in a similar way to how the Home Guard were organise during the Second World War.

The Muster Rolls Act was vaguely worded as follows:
“Divisions of Staincliff and Ewcross [in the West Riding] of the County of York. The enrolment under an Act of Parliament made and passed in the fourty-third year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third intituled an Act to enable His Majesty more effectually to provide for the defence of the Realm during the present war and for indemnifying person who may suffer in their property by such measures as may be necessary for that purpose and to enable His Majesty more effectually and speedily to exercise his ancient and undoubted prerogative in requiring military service of his subjects in case of invasion of the Realm – And also of another act passed the same session of Parliament to amend the said last mentioned Act.”

The acts referred to in this title required the compilation of lists of all men between the ages of seventeen and fifty-five, arranged in four categories:

Class 1: unmarried men under thirty with no children living under ten years of age.

Class 2: unmarried men between thirty and forty-nine inclusive with no children living under ten years of age.

Class 3:married men between seventeen and twenty-nine inclusive with not more than two children living under ten years of age

Class 4:others not included in the above classes

Certain people were exempt under the act, although they could serve as volunteers and were then marked accordingly on the rolls. Listed in the rolls were such categories of persons such as  Judges, Infirm Persons,Clergymen, Medical Men, Quakers, persons already serving in the army navy or marines, Lord Lieutenant, Constables, Peace Officers. There are also interesting comments made against certain names, which may be of interest to family researchers, such as “blind in one eye” or “missing one arm” and even one poor individual with “idiot” written alongside his name….one wonders exactly what sort of task he would have been allocated in the event of an invasion!

The original document consists of 26 membranes of parchment, and was for many years kept at the Settle Town Hall after being held in a local solicitor’s office previously. The full Muster Records have the names of over 9000 men and their occupations, but no address or age is given, which makes identification sometimes difficult.

There are six Bancroft men listed in the Keighley and Sutton areas, and it not easy to work out exactly which individuals are referred to, due to lack of details but I thing it refers to the following men. An interesting point to note is that the surname “Bancroft” is spelt with three different variations



Isaac Bancroft   Class 3   Weaver
He was born 1777 and baptised at Haworth, the son of Timothy and Ann. In 1803 he was 26 years old and living at Cragg Top in the Deanfield area, and moved to Sutton later. In 1803 he was married and had two young children. He eventually became a farmer, although there is evidence that he continued with weaving from his farm, as many people did in those days to help supplement a poor living from a small farm. He died in 1850 somewhere in the Cowling area, and is buried at Keighley Parish Church.

Fairplace Farm

 Timothy Bankroft Class 4 Farmer
Was born at Far Oxenhope in 1761, the son of Joseph and Grace. In 1803 he was 42 years old and living at Brow Top in Haworth. He later moved to the Bocking area  and eventually ran a shuttle making business with his sons. He married twice, firstly to Ellen Mitchell, and then later to Ann Mitchell [probably the sister of his first wife] He had a total of twelve children with his two wives. He died in 1837, and left a will valuing his estate at £207. I wrote and article some time ago about the Bancroft Shuttlemakers, click here to read it.

Joseph Bankcroft Class 4 Weaver
Was born at Far Oxenhope in 1755, the brother of the above-mentioned Timothy. In 1803 he was 48 years of age and living at Hoyle House, Oakworth in the Keighley Parish area. [shown below] and spent all his wife as a weaver.


Hoyle House as it is today
 He also married twice, firstly to Judith Smith and then later to Ellen [Nelly] Bradley. He had a total of fifteen children with the two wives. He died in 1838, and is described on his death certificate as a weaver, and death due to of "old age" on his death certificate age 83 ¾ old!


William Bankroft Class 4 Weaver
Was born 1762 on a farm called Old Snap in the Keighley Parish area, the son of Abraham. His mother’s details are not confirmed. In 1893 he was 41 years old and living at New Laithe. He married Ann Binns, who died in 1794 at the early age of 34 years from smallpox, which was quite a prevalent disease around this time in the area. They had at least two children. William died in 1823 and is buried at Haworth Parish Church.

Timothy Bankcroft Class 1 Weaver
This one is not so easy to identify. It is most likley to be the Timothy who was baptised in 1790 at Haworth, and who had been born at Leeming, Far Oxenhope, the son of John and Martha. If his birth was during 1790, it would have made him underage on the Muster Rolls, but how accurate are the Parish Records and The Muster Rolls? He went on to become a man of some substance because by the 1838 rating valuation, he is listed as owning six houses, a smithy and a house with shop, all in the Uppertown area of Oxenhope. He married Hannah Baldwin.

John Bancroft Class 1 Weaver
Again, this one is also not easy to identify. He could be brother of the above Timothy, was born in 1780, but there are several John Bancrofts in the area around this time

If any fellow researcher can provide more information to confirm the identity of these individuals, please let me know.
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