Wiltshire Soldiers Wounded in the English Civil War, Petitions for Parliamentarian and Royalist Pensions
Originally Quarter Sessions considered each application in detail with supporting evidence from the soldier’s military commander and local dignitaries. Again, this was more than the full meeting of Quarter Sessions could deal with.
In 1662, the petitions were first referred to local JPs to vet and to make recommendations. The early minutes in the Quarter Sessions Order Book give quite full details of the application including the soldier’s service and injuries. But, after the JP referral system was introduced, only a list of names, place of residence and amount of pension granted is recorded.Widows of soldiers killed in the war could also apply. The list contains 18 women: eleven widows and one mother on the Parliamentary side and five widows and one daughter on the Royalist side.
The total number of pensions awarded, recorded in the Order Books, was 408: 70 Parliamentary and 338 Royalist. It is not clear why there was such an imbalance. Also, no geographical division in the county is evident. But the very large numbers involved must have had an impact on local communities – Enford, for example, had twelve injured soldiers, while Mere had 15.
Looking at individual names also suggests that, in a number of cases, several members of the same family were injured and pensioned.There are two main series in the Quarter Sessions. The original are in the minute books or entry books and the Great Rolls or Session bundles.
The original orders, together with supporting documents, were filed on the Great Rolls and both series should be used in conjunction with each other to pursue lines of research as thoroughly as possible.
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