Way Back When... 1767
Although historian Ken Reiss had knowledge of its existence, and had hoped for years for its re-emergence, he was unexpectedly and happily surprised when Dave Burt expressed his plans to donate a significant piece of history to the Darien Historical Society, a Middlesex militia muster roll from April of 1767. Although the document had been in Burt’s family for decades, he deemed it an appropriate time to give it back to the town; its 250th anniversary was approaching.
Burt, along with family members, mother Carolyn “Rusty” Burt, brother Jeffrey Burt, nieces Hattie, Chloe and Sophie Burt, and uncle Bill Ruscoe, were in attendance at an informal ceremony where the muster roll was donated to the Society. The occasion was marked with a champagne toast and refreshments, and a reading by Rusty Burt, touching on the family’s connection with the document.
Established as a way to account for members in a military unit, the muster lists the names of soldiers assigned to the Fourth Company of the Ninth Regiment, which was made up of the militias from Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich and Ridgefield. These towns were considerably larger in 1767 and included “parishes” that became Wilton, New Canaan, Darien and part of Westport. Middlesex Parish was part of Stamford that 53 years later would be incorporated as the town of Darien.
The historically significant document not only affords a glimpse of the colonial life in Darien, but also previews the way in which this traditional form of military preparedness could so quickly translate into action at the outbreak of war. It also dates to just eight years before the battles of Lexington and Concord, which marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War and which brought militiamen from all over Connecticut under arms.
Although there is no record of the Fourth Company, Middlesex Militia ever fighting as a unit, during the eight years of the Revolution many of the men and officers listed on the muster were active participants in various units of the Continental Army, the State militia brigades, and the local militia Coast Guards who were charged with protecting local shores from the British and Loyalist raiders based across the Sound on Long Island. The document contains the names of many families now living in the towns of Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.
For more information about the 1767 military muster, call the Historical Society at (203) 655-9233. The Darien Historical Society is located at 45 Old Kings Highway North. To find out more, please visit, darienhistorical.org.