retained until the Charter Government
was abrogated in 1686, when he was seventy-four years of age.
Up to this time military service was required of all able-bodied men. Such service commenced at the age of sixteen years; but I have not found a limit prescribed for its close.
Special exemption was granted to privates at various ages.
April 1, 1656, ‘Edward Goffe
, aged about 63 years, having long been serviceable both to town and country, and now disenabled as well by infirmities of body as age, is by this court released from all ordinary trainings.
And he is to make such annual allowance to the military company as himself shall see meet.’1
Ordinarily, five shillings per annum was required to be paid in consideration of such exemption, as in the case of Gilbert Crackbone
, April 6, 1658, and Robert Parker
and William Mann
, October, 1658,2
men. So also, June, 1659, ‘William Kerley
aged about 76 years, is released from all ordinary trainings, paying 5s. per annum to the use of the military company in the town where he dwelleth.’
In the Middlesex Court
Files of 1659 is preserved a document without date, entitled, ‘Reasons, showing why old men of sixty years are not to train:’—
From the word of God, though not in express terms, yet by consequence, may be gathered, that if the Levites were to be dismissed at fifty years from their service at the tabernacle, then much more old men at sixty from training, which is the practice of our native country, to take in at sixteen years and dismiss at sixty, which is agreeable to our neighbor plantations to do the like.
2ly. The Scripture doth hold forth, by way of allusion, that it is an act of cruelty.
The words are these: if a bird's nest be upon a tree or upon the ground, be they young or eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young, but in any wise thou shalt let the dam go, and take the young to thee, that it may be well with thee.
Doth God count it an act of cruelty to put no difference between old and young in an unreasonable creature, and shall not man shun cruelty towards the reasonable?
If your children come in at sixteen years, well may their fathers be taken out at sixty.
‘3ly. Old men of sixty years have not the organs of nature to handle their arms, and are overborne with heat and cold, having ’