The "Militia" were Britain's principal military, defensive forces during the 18th century. Records were kept of these forces, and the men were selected by ballot, (ie, conscripted) to serve for various periods. The government provided uniforms and weapons and training (from time to time.) The "Fencibles" on the other hand, were volunteers. Both Militia and Fencibles were to serve within Great Britain. Some Scottish Fencible Regiments volunteered for active service overseas, and a number served in Ireland during the French-aided rebellion of 1798.
The Militia Act says that "whereas the Laws now in being for the Regulation of the Fenciple Men, or Militia, in Scotland, are defective and ineffectual...." The Fencibles were paid as regular soldiers, but their service was restricted to Great Britain. Their officers were appointed and their commissions signed by the king. From the government's point of view, a Militia was a more flexible entity, and was not as costly to maintain. Also, the Fencibles were formed by individual landowners and local associations (eg, the Duke of Argyll; and Grant of Grant). the 1797 Act, on the other hand, regularized militia organization, intended to provide locally based defence for the United Kingdom. Many men thus recruited came to enjoy the military life, and joined the regular forces.
The King's representative at the local , English parish/town level was the "Lord Lieutenant". Scotland did not have such a position, until a 1793 invasion scare, at which point Lord Lieutenants, responsible for defence and police, were appointed in each county. They were also supposed to encourage locals to form Volunteer Corps. Thus, military affairs - and patriotism - became a county concern and burden. It was this Argyll Lieutenancy committee, its 'Deputies' meeting on a regular basis, which raised the Argyll Militia according to the Law as defined in 1797. Argyll's "Lord Lieutenant" was the eldest son of the Duke, the Marquess of Lorne. The Deputies were landowners appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, drawn from each parish/division of the county. It was an effective 'machine', capable of keeping in touch with reservists who had been sent home temporarily until danger threatened.
The Argyll Militia Act was enacted in 1797. This was 50 years after the Battle of Culloden. The Fifth Duke of Argyll, who was still alive, fought in that battle. The reality was, there were definite issues when it came to embodying a Militia within Scotland, with the task of defending northern Britain from invasion. This would mean training and arming Highlanders and other Scotsmen, people last seen (by the English) screaming out of the hills intent upon destroying the British Way of Life. However, 50 years had passed, and times had changed.
Whereas the 1747 Act of Proscription was downright nasty in its punishments, the Militia Act for Scotland is almost timid in its effort to fill the requirements of a militia. Only 6,000 men were to be raised; their service was to be for the duration of the war plus one month, and was to be confined to Scotland itself. Lyable were fit men between the ages of 18 and 23 (or 30 or 45 at different times). However, lawfully married men with 2 children AND total assets of 50 pounds were exempt, as were men in the regular forces, Volunteers, schoolmasters, professors, clergy, apprentices and parish constables. Sailors were exempt, also. This last was particularly contentious in Argyll, where most of the men spent at least part of the year as fishermen, on the open sea. (The Orkneys contended that ALL of its men were sailors, and therefore exempt!) Quakers could not be forced to enter the militia; the Deputies were to hire a substitute, and recover this cost from the Quaker.
There were various uprisings against the Militia Act, but none of any consequence in Argyll. In September 1797, the Mid Argyll Court of Lieutenancy noted that "The Meeting having understood that in many parts of Scotland ill-disposed persons had been at pains to mislead the lower orders of the people by a misconstruction of the Act of Parliament....". It therefore decided that the Act must be fully explained in Gaelic to the 'lower orders, and these notices placed on parish church doors. Moreover, the lists of 'lyable men' were to be public, and time must be allowed for people, even those 'residing at a distance' to bring forward their objections.
Below is a table showing the quota Mid Argyll was to fill, in 1798:
In other words, out of a total of 27 'lyable' men, South Knapdale Parish had to produce SIX men to the Argyll Militia. When you go to this page remember that the whole process was aimed at filling ONE slot of this quota!