Discussion Essays

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The various versions of the duties of a waite given in

LIBER NIGER DOMUS REGIS - Edward IV (1461-83)

Myers dates the Liber Niger 1467-(1471-2)-1472
[the symbol '3' is medieval shorthand for 'gh']



1. "A WAITE that nightly from Michaelmas till Shere-thursday pypeth the watche within this Court fower Tymes, And in the summer nightes threetymes [sic] And he to make bon gayte and [sic] euery chambre doore and office aswell for fuyre as for other pikers or perelles...."

Stephen George A (1933). The waits of the city of Norwich through four centuries to 1790. Proceedings of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society. vol. xxv.

Who also give this invaluable information, a very full reference: "The duties, status, wages and perquisites of a Wait in royal service during the latter part of the fifteenth century are stated in an Account of the Household Establishment of the King, recorded in the Liber Niger Domus Regis, which is generally ascribed to the reign of Edward VI. (1461-83). The original appears to have been lost, but there is an early copy in the Public Record Office (Exchequeur T.R. Misc. Book 230), and four copies of various dates in the British Museum, Harleian MSS. 293, 369, 610, and 642. The following extract is from Harleian MS. 642 (dating from the first half of the sixteenth century) as the record is somewhat fuller than in the other MSS".

2. A WAYTE, that ny3tly, from Mighelmasse til Shere Thursday, pipeth the wache within this court iiij tymes, and in the somer ny3ghtes [sic] iij tymes; and he to make bon gayte, and euery chambre dore and office, as well for fyre1 as for other pikers or perelliz2 . He etith in the hall with the minstrelles and takith lyuerey at ny3t, dim. payn, dim. gallon ale; and for somer ny3tes, ij candylles peris, dim. bushell coolez. &c.                             Quoted from ms 'A' (of three) p. 106

Myers AR (1959). The Household of Edward IV. Manchester U. P. [Q42.044 MYE]

3. "a wayte, that nyghtley, from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye, pipe the watch within this courte fowere tymes; in the somere nightes three tymes and maketh bon gayte at every chambre doare and offyce, as well for feare3 of pyckeres and pilfers4."

Anon. (1911). Encyclopaedia Brtittanica

4. A wayte, that nyghtley, from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye, pipthe the watche within this courte fower tymes; in the somere nightes iij tymes and makethe bon gayte at every chambere doare and offyce, as well for feare of pyckeres and pilleres. He eateth in the halle with the minstrielles and taketh lyverey at nighte a loffe, a galone of alle, and for somere nightes, ij candles pich, a bushell of coles; &c.

Anon. (1915). The Waits. Notes on their origin and history. in: Hill AF ed. (1915) and republished by Crewdson HAF ed. (1971) in The Worshipful Company of Musicians. 162-173.

5. "a wayte, that nyghtly, from Michelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye, pipeth the watch within this Courte foure tymes; in the somers nyghtes II tymes and makyth bon gayte at every chamber door and offyce, as well for fear of pickers and pillers."

Bridge JC (1928). Town waits and their tunes. Proc. Br. Mus. Assoc. 64-92.

6. "A wayte, that nightely, from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye, pipethe the watche within this courte fowere tymes; in the somere nightes iij tymes, and makethe Bon Gayte at every chambere doare and offyce, as well for feare of pyckeres and pillers."

Langwill LG (1952). THE WAITS A short historical study. Hinrichson's Music Book VII. 170-183.

7. "A Wayte, that nightely, from Michaelmas to Shrove Tuesday, pipe the watch within the Court fowere tymes-- in the summer nightes iii tymes, and maketh Bon Gate [= Bon Guet] at every chamber door and office, as well for feare of pyckers and pillers."

Hadland FA (1915). The Waits. Musical News. 106-7, 125-6, 149-10, 177-8, 198-200, 214-5. [Quoted from Rymer's Foedera]

8. A wayte, nyghtely from Mychelmas to Shrove Thorsday pipe the watch within this court fowere tymes. In the Somere nyghtes three tymes and maketh bon gayte to every chamber doare and offyce, as well for feare of pyckerers and pilfers.

Brice, Douglas (1967). The folk-carol of England. London, Herbert Jenkins.

9. "A Wayte, that nightelye, from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye, pipeth the watche within this courte fower tymes ; in the somere nyghtes, three tymes, and makethe bon gayte at every chambere-dore and offyce, as well for feare of pycheres and pilleres."

Cooper, Thomas Parsons 'TPC' (1909). The Christmas Waits and Minstrels of Bygone York. York, Edwin Story.

10. "A Wayte, that nightelye, from Mychelmas to Shere Thursday, pypeth the watche within this Courte fower Tymes ; in the somere nyghtes, three tymes, And makethe bon gayte at every chambere-dore and offyce, as well for feare of pyckeres and pilferes."

Cooper, Thomas Parsons 'TPC' (c. 1934). The waits and minstrels of the City of York from the earliest times to the year 1835. Unpublished draft of book (TPC died in 1937). In York City Library.

11. "A wayte that nightlye from Michaelmas to Shrove Thorsdaye pipeth the Watch within this court fower tymes, in the somere nyghtes iiij tymes, and maketh bon gayte at every chambere-doare and offyce, as well for feare of pyckeres and pillers."

Simpson, Justin (1885). The Stamford Waits And Their Predecessors: an historical sketch. The Reliquary (Stamford, Lincs.). 12. A Wayte that ny3tlye ffrom mychelmas till shore thursdaye pipithe the watche within this corte iiij tymys & in sommer ny3tes iij tymys and he to make bone gaite and every chamber dore and office aswell for fyre as for other pikers and perelz....."

Janssen, Carole (1979). The Waytes of Norwich and an Early Lord Mayor's Show. RORD (Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama) 22:57-64.

(Janssen also cites that Alexander Neckam passage, and is the only author other than myself to say honestly that she can't find the passage in De Naturis Rerum.)

Footnotes

1. Fire (NB Roman vigiles were fire watchers, as were early vigiles in England: e.g. 10s each to Ricard the Watchman (Vigil Castri de Wyndesoure)and Ricard de Burghardesle, Prince's Watchmen, for raising the alarm of fire to the Prince and other members of his household and for their help in extinguishing it and for evacuating in like menner diver people from the buildings and from the residence of the Lord Prince. 17 April. Windsor. (1306). Bullock-Davies, Constance (1986). Register of Royal and Baronial domestic minstrels 1272-1327. 165-6. Woodbridge, Suffolk, Boydell Press. ISBN 0 85115 431 X).

2. Perils?

3. Fire is now Fear

4. Perils becomes Pilferers/Pilfers/Pillers

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BEWARE: The wayte in this passage was a household watchman, but it is usually quoted as if it refers to an early wait-musician. Though our waits might have evolved out of the old watchman system, a direct connection has yet to be authoritatively demonstrated.



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