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The Leeds Waits

A fragmentary history of the corporate waits, official town musicians and peripatetic entertainers for over three centuries.

© Alan Radford 2006

This document has been prepared by the author, who re-established the Leeds Waits in 1983. He has researched their history since subsequently discovering the existence of waits in the old Borough of Leeds from Walter L Woodfill’s book, Musicians in English Society, Da Capo Press, 1969. The revived Leeds Waits led an unofficial existence for several years before being officially recognised by resolution of Leeds City Council in 1990.

The following records are the only available evidence to date of the Borough Waits of Leeds, the town musicians from at least as early as 1530, when they were of sufficient repute to have been hired by the monks of Selby Abbey, up to 1835, when the implementation in Leeds of the Municipal Corporations Act led to their abolition. This brief history is dedicated to those musicians, known and unknown, over the centuries, who undertook the various civic duties, and in between times travelled far and wide to perform for hire by other boroughs and cities, and for the aristocracy and rising bourgeoisie.

1341       “In 1341 Richard Waite held a messuage, a toft, and 2 bovates at will which he had formerly held in bondage.”

Thoresby Society Publications XLV, Documents relating to the manor and borough of Leeds, 1066-1400. Ed. J. H. Le Patourel. A suggestive surname, but not conclusive evidence of the office of waite in the medieval manor and the borough within it established by Maurice Paynel, the Lord of the Manor, in 1207. The borough first achieved any significance in the second half of the fifteenth century.

1425       “Paslow J. of Potternewton, freehold of 1 mas 2 bov     for 2.0 from Th. Waite”

Account of Manorial rentals, from J W Kirby (1983) "The Manor and Borough of Leeds 1425-1662", Thoresby Society Miscellanaea. The surname is again suggestive.

1530/31       “Players: 5 lusores of Leeds”

Selby Abbey, Bursar's accounts, cited in Records of Early English Drama - West Riding, ed. B D Palmer and J M Wasson, University of Toronto Press, in press. If lusores are musicians rather than actors, this shows the existence of the town musicians a century before the first royal charter.

1530/31       “Entertainers: one histrioni at the same time as the 5 Leeds' lusores were there.”

Selby Abbey, Bursar's accounts, cited by Palmer and Wasson. This certainly differentiates between histrioni (actors) and lusores (minstrels).

1562       “Item paid mor geven in Reward to the wayttes of ledes      iiij s.”

Chamberlain's Accounts Books of Newcastle upon Tyne, for the second week of February, cited in Records of Early English Drama - Newcastle upon Tyne, ed. J J Anderson, University of Toronto Press, 1982.

  • 1571-72       “Rewards to Waits:
  • Ledes             x d
  • Ledes             vi d”

Nottingham City Records, cited in Musicians in English Society, W L Woodfill, Da Capo Press, 1969.

1597       “paide by James graie to j abrahame ------ father his sonne being one of the wates & deed att leedes he having the townes cunisente: & in reward      iij s iv p”.
from Chamberlain's Accounts Books of Newcastle upon Tyne, the second week of January, cited by Anderson.

1604       6 April-9 May, “Item unto the waittes of Leaddes,     ij s”.

from Chamberlain's Accounts of Carlisle, vol 1, cited in Records of Early English Drama - Cumberland, Westmorland, and Gloucestershire, ed. A Douglas and P Greenfield, University of Toronto Press, 1986.

1610       July, “Item to the waits of Leads at Mr Maior commande,      iiij s”.

from Chamberlain's Accounts of Carlisle, cited by Douglas and Greenfield.

1612       26 March, “Three men the waits of Leedes who played at the gates,      iii s iv d”.

from the Earl of Cumberland's Accounts, cited by Woodfill, now in the library of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, identified by R T Spence as relating to Londesborough Hall near Market Weighton in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Londesborough Hall was demolished circa 1819, but an illustration exists in Kip and Knyff, "Britannia Illustrata", 1720.

1618       29 March, “Item given to the waites of Liddes by my masters,      xij d”.

Household accounts of Sir Richard Shuttleworth for Gawthorpe Hall, cited in Records of Early English Drama - Lancashire, ed. D George, University of Toronto Press,1991. Gawthorpe Hall, near Burnley, was built circa 1605, still stands, and is administered by Lancashire County Council for The National Trust. The original minstrels' gallery still survives.

1620       “Item gyven unto the waites of Leedes 13th of ffebruary 1620,      xviij d”.

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Household accounts of Thomas Walmesley, vol 2, for Dunkenhalgh Manor House, Accrington, Lancashire, cited by George. The Manor of Dunkenhalgh was earlier held by the Rushton family, coming into Walmesley ownership in the reign of Elizabeth I, according to accounts in Chetham Miscellanies 4. A largely rebuilt Dunkenhalgh is now a hotel alongside the M65 motorway.

1626       “The corporate seal under this Charter is of silver, and bears the following inscription or legend, 'SIGILLVM.. BVRGI: DE.. LEEDES: 1626*'. An ancient silver badge, which may perhaps be attributed to this period, and formerly belonging to one of the four Waits appointed by the Corporation...”

Municipal History of Leeds, J Wardell, 1847. The illustration in Wardell's book does not have the date inscribed. Badges similar to the illustration are on display in Leeds Civic Hall.

1629       “Item given the wates of Leedes the last of ffebruary,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 7, cited by George.

1629       “Item given the wates of Leeds the 14th of March,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 7, cited by George.

1630       “given the waites of Leedes march 10th,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 10, cited by George.

1631       6 March, “given the waites of Leedes,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 11, cited by George.

1632       6 March, “given the waites of Leedes,      xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 12, cited by George.

1634       29 February, “given the waites of Leedes,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, vol 22, cited by George.

1634       26 March, “waits of Leeds”

Clifford papers, personal communication from Barbara Palmer. The Clifford family home was Skipton Castle.

1637       March, “given the waites of Leedes,     xij d”

Walmsley accounts, cited by George.

1640       24 December, “Item to the waites of leeds      00 10 0.”

Temple Newsam, Steward's accounts, cited by Palmer and Wasson. Temple Newsam, a sixteenth/seventeenth century mansion, the former family home of the Ingram family, still survives as a Leeds City Council museum and art gallery. The accounts are in the West Yorkshire Archives at Sheepscar, Leeds.

18th Cent.        "Leeds maintained four Waits in the 17th century."

Frank Kidson’s entry on Waits in Grove Dictionary of Music, 1904

1670       “The late seventeenth century Leeds waits wore an impressive badge of office in the form of an oval plaque of silver, probably made in London around 1670. These still survive with the city plate in the Civic Hall, and show the golden fleece, the original arms of the Borough of Leeds, between two crowned owls as supporters.”

Leeds Christmas Book, P C D Brears, 1982. (Note: This is presumably the same badge as that shown by Wardell, who claimed it to date from 1626, the time of the Charles I charter). The Leeds Arms in 1661 at the time of the second royal charter, from Charles II, gained the three mullets, from the arms of the Alderman at that time, Thomas Danby. The date suggested by Brears thus seems too late, although the style of the badge is typical of the late seventeenth century, as exemplified by the Wakefield Waits' badges, known to date from circa 1680.

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1700       “'At the wedding of Mr William Calverley, who was married to Alderman Kitchenman's daughter, and I led the bride to church. Had a pair of gloves and a favour, and sent half a crown apiece to the butler, the cook and the music.' This latter doubtless refers to the Corporation Waits - the town's band - in evidence on all corporate ceremonials. On this occasion they would tune up as the happy couple emerged from church.”

Original source the diaries of Ralph Thoresby (1677-1724), Fellow of the Royal Society, antiquary, author of “Ducatus Leodiensis” (1715). The diary excerpt was adapted for Chronicles of Old Leeds, Mattison.
Thoresby was a resident of Kirkgate, on the south side half way between the Parish Church and Vicar Lane, immediately east of Low Back Lane and extending south to his folly adjacent to The Calls according to the town plan of John Cossins of 1725. The Calverley family were lords of the manor of the same name, and lived in Calverley Hall, about ten miles West of Leeds. However, the town house of Mr Calverley at this time was The Red House, on the south side of The Headrow (the site of the Schofields Centre), during the Civil War the site of the temporary imprisonment of King Charles I. Thoresby was a neighbour on Kirkgate of John Berkenhold, a Dutch wool merchant who arrived in Leeds from Hamburg c.1715, and subsequently married Ann, another of Ald. James Kitchingman’s daughters. Ald. Kitchingman was Mayor of Leeds in 1702.

1713       12 May, Tuesday,    "Was proclaimed the Peace of Utrecht with France…. Mr Mayor, being a right worthy and religious gentlemen, desired the aldermen and common councilmen to meet him at the Old Church at ten o’clock, where the Reverend Mr Killingbeck , vicar, read prayers, which, being ended, the gentlemen being mounted in Mr Mayor’s yard, first went the bellman and beadle, next the constables, after them the waits on foot, then followed on horseback Mr Mayor’s two eldest sons, the younger of which carried a streamer of white silk on which were written in golden letters the word Peace, 1713, under that a crown, then A. R. in a cipher, after them went a great number of scholars with each a favour in his hat of red and white ribband, next the common council men, then the aldermen all in order, as they had been chosn, viz., the youngest the first, next the golden macecarried by Mr Thomas Cornforth Sergeant-at-Mace, and the silver mace carried by Mr William Nottingham, Deputy Constable, then Mr Henry Adam, Town Clerk, who read the proclamation at most public places in the town, and after him the Right Worshipful William Cookson Esq., Mayor, in all their robes…. They began at Mr Mayor’s, near the Old Church, went up Kirkgate and so up the Shambles, round the cross, down the back of the Shambles, to the Bridge End, then up Cow Lane into Kirkgate, and so up to Mr James Wainman’s at the Sign of the Swan where a dinner was provided…"

From the Memorandum Book of John Lucas, a Leeds schoolmaster.

1714       William Wait of Arthington, born 1600 and extant in 1714, also John Wait, almost 100 in 1714.

Appendix in Ducatus Leodiensis by Ralph Thoresby,published 1615. Were these men or their forebears waits?

1725       "In the night between the 5 & 6 December 1725 Mr Robert Green's workshop in Kirkgate was burnt down but no more damage done, the fire being timely espied by the waits."

From the Memorandum Book of John Lucas. Another source (Lumb, Proc. Thoresby Soc. XXII, 199) states that seven cloths and all the contents of the shop were burnt, the total loss being estimated at £150.

1727       19 June, “Ordered that the Aldermen and Assistants of this Borough, do wait upon Mr Mayor tomorrow, at twelve of the clock, at his own house, in their gowns and on horseback, to go from thence in procession up the Back of the Shambles to the Market Cross, and there to proclaim the Mighty Prince, George Prince of Wales, to be lawfull and Rightfull King of Great Brittaine, &c. & from thence to go down the Shambles, & to make the like Proclamat'on at Kirkgate end, at the Vicaridge, at the North end of the Bridge, & at Boar Lane end, & from Boar Lane to adjourn to the house of Mr. James Wainman's to Solempnize the day, where an entertainment is to be prepared at the Corporac'on charge, but the same is not to exceed the sume of fifteen pounds. The method to be observed in the procession is to be as follows, 'viz't, the Constables of the Burrough are to lead the Van two by two, and are to be followed by the Musicians; then the two youngest Assistants (Councillors) are to go in abreast, and are to be followed by the other Assistants, two by two, in order of seniority; until the Aldermen fall in their ranks, who are to observe the like method 'till they come to the Mayor, who is to be preceeded first by the two maces, and then by the Com'on Clerk.' It was a gay spectacle, the strains of “musick” from the town's waits old-time instruments.”

Borough Council resolution, quoted in Wardell's Municipal History of the Borough of Leeds, re-quoted in part with comment by Mattison. Borough Council resolution, quoted in Wardell's Municipal History of the Borough of Leeds, re-quoted in part with comment by Mattison. The Market Cross was near the northern end of Briggate at its junction with Cross Arcade, and Leeds Bridge at the southern end crossing the River Aire. The Parish Church (fourteenth to seventeenth century) was demolished and rebuilt in the nineteenth century. It stood south of the eastern end of Kirkgate. The Vicarage on Vicar's Croft was at the junction of Vicar Lane and Kirkgate, the current site of the building housing Leeds Market. The Vicarage was built on land given to the church in 1453 by William Scott of Potter Newton, and rebuilt in 1717, and demolished in 1824 to make way for the new market. The original market was at the north end of Briggate, between the Market Cross and the Town Hall. The Shambles was the middle section of Briggate, with the Town Hall (Moot Hall) in the centre of Briggate just above the junction with Lands Lane, The Shambles to the east side, and The Back Shambles to the west. Briggate, Kirkgate and Boar Lane still survive. The Moot Hall was built in 1615 by John Harrison, rebuilt in 1710, and finally demolished in 1825. The Market Cross was built by Harrison in 1619, replaced in 1776, and removed with the move of the corn market to the new Corn Exchange in 1828. Incidentally, Harrison also built St. John's Church and almshouses on his land just north-west of the intersection of Briggate and The Headrow. The first reference to Leeds Bridge is in the Manor Rolls of 1383. It was the site of sconces (defensive earthworks) erected by the Royalist army commanded by Sir William Savile, defended by two demi-culverins against the Parliamentary army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax, in the Civil War siege of Leeds on 23 January 1643. Leeds Bridge was widened in 1730 and again in 1760 with dressed stone transported by barge down-river from Kirkstall Abbey, and finally totally rebuilt (in iron, not stone) in 1871.

~1734       "About this time there was a long-room built at the Green-Dragon in Harrogate. More music being wanted, he engaged one Midgeley (one of the Leeds waits) and his own son as assistants. Midgeley, senior, being a good performer, he was taken into partnership gratis; but the son, and Metcalf’s former assistant, paid five pounds each premium.".

originally "The Life of John Metcalf, commonly called Blind Jack of Knareborough" dictated by Metcalfe himself in 1793-4 and published by R. and R. Peck, York in 1795. Blind Jack was blinded by smallpox at the age of six. He was in turn a fiddler and hautboy plyer in a number of inns in Knaresborough, Harrogate and York (with the above residency in the Long Room of the Green Dragon continuing until 1745), when he joined the army of General Monk on his Scottish campaign, and civil engineer. According to a History of Harrogate, "The Green Dragon" was one of the earliest inns built in High Harrogate, in the late seventeenth century, for those taking the waters of St. John's Well (the sweet water or chalybeate well). It was located on the south-west side of Silver Street, shown as an unnamed building on a map of 1778, identified as "The Green Dragon" on an 1821 map, and as "The Dragon" on maps of 1840 and 1851. From 1870 to 1886 it was a school, and was then demolished to make way for the construction of Mornington Crescent.

1734       Aug 16th, “By the 2 Leeds Waites for playing 6 nights in the race week      £4-4-0”

From the Account Book of the York Assembly Rooms, currently housed in the York City Archives, Exhibition Square. By this time the York Waits’ monopoly for music in the city had broken down. The management of the Assembly Rooms was in the habit of providing evening music during the August race meeting, and supplemented the York Waits with other musicians. Among those other waits named in the accounts between this time and 1774 are the Leeds Waites, the Wakefield Waites and the local “Skeldergate Waites”. Named musicians include John Dixon (hautboy), James Blaycock (hautboy), Thomas Walker, Francis, Henry and George Beckwith, Daniel Whalley (hautboy), Thomas Thackray, John Priestley (violin), Thomas Sedgwick (violin), William Shaw (violin), George Harrison, Henry Middleton, Hatfield, John Barnard, Joseph Shaw’s servant/apprentice, Charles Mason and William Audsley.

1737       Aug 10th, “By Ino Midgley for playing six nights at 5/- per night      1”10”- ”

Account Book of the York Assembly Rooms. This seems like the Midgeley of the Green Dragon in Harrogate. Was this John Midgley the only Leeds Wait to play at the York Assembly Rooms during the Lent Assize, Card assemblies, Lammas Assizes and the May and August race meetings at Knavesmire?

1739       “war with Spain declared with the usual solemnity by the Mayor, Aldermen, Common Council etc., the Town's Musick playing before them 'Britons Strike Home!'”

An item in The Mercury, November 1739, cited in “Musical Leeds in the eighteenth century”, E. Hargrave, Thoresby Society Proceedings 28 (1928). “Britons Strike Home” is from the opera “Bonduca” (1695) by Henry Purcell, in which it is sung by the archdruid and a chorus of druids, but as a patriotic song it must have maintained its popularity for half a century, despite being re-used by Dr Pepusch with somewhat different words by John Gay in “The Beggar’s Opera”. [see the music section.]

1741       September, a series of subscription concerts at the Rotal Oak, Briggate, were organised for the winter season.

If Midgeley and the other Leeds Waits were entertaining at York Assembly Rooms, surely they would be doing likewise at home in Leeds? Cited by Hargrave.

1742       2 November : "a Person that can play well on the Hautboy, if such a one will apply to the Printer hereof he shall find proper Encouragement."

advert in the Leeds Mercury. Who was looking? Cited by Hargrave.

1757       3 November: "On Thursday November 3rd Will be performed at the Assembly Rooms in Leeds a Concert of Musick."
"Act I. Concerto, Hautboy Mr. Perkins
Act II. Hautboy Solo Mr. Perkins"

Local press notice. Was Mr. Perkins one of the borough waits? Cited by Hargrave.

1757       28 November : a concert at the Assembly Rooms "For the Benefit of Mr. Perkins" and including:
"Act I. Concerto Hautboy Mr. Perkins.
Act II. Concerto for two Hautboys, Mr. Perkins and son."

Local press notice. Mr. Perkins and son/apprentice? Cited by Hargrave.

1758       13 December 1758: a concert, including:
"Act I. Concerto Hautboy Mr. Perkins
Act II. German Flute Concerto by Mr. Miller
Act III. Duet for 2 Hautboys Mr. Perkins & Son"

Local press notice. Again Mr. Perkins and son. Cited by Hargrave.

1765       “The first whole week after Michaelmas, The Quarter Sessions. Dine with the old Mayor, go to Court after dinner to swear the new Mayor. Sup with the new Mayor. Waites playing before them from Court.”

All from a memorandum book of Thomas Barstow, Town Clerk of the Borough of Leeds in the mid-eighteenth century, listing annual duties, cited by Wardell. The court quarter sessions were in fact held in the Moot Hall in Briggate. A new court house was not erected until 1811, in Park Row, opening in 1813. The Moot Hall was finally demolished in the 1820s.

1765       5th November. “Waites to play before the Mayor to church.”

Barstow, cited by Wardell.

1765       29th May. “A gown day, and if not Sunday, the Waites to play before the Mayor to church.”

Barstow, cited by Wardell.

1765       22 June. “A gown day, and if not Sunday, the Waites to play before the Mayor to church.”

Barstow, cited by Wardell.

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1770       31 May at Leeds Parish Church, a performance of "Messiah"
"The Hautboys, Clarinetts, &c., by Mr. Tatnall, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Turner, Mr. Lincoln, and Mr. Muchman from London. ....  The rest of the performers were from Wakefield, Halifax, Manchester, Sheffield, and other parts adjacent."

Perkins again (senior or junior?), and also Tatnall, Turner and Lincoln as Leeds-based wind musicians. Cited by Hargrave.

1770       1 June 1770 at Leeds Parish Church, a performance of "Judas Macchabeus"
"The Hautboys, Clarinetts, &c., by Mr. Tatnall, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Turner, Mr. Lincoln, and Mr. Muchman from London. ....  The rest of the performers were from Wakefield, Halifax, Manchester, Sheffield, and other parts adjacent."

Perkins again, cited by Hargrave.

1788       “the Town Band performed with the band of the 44th Regiment of Foot 'on the occasion of the passing of the Bill to prevent the exportation of live sheep and wool'”

Local press report in July of that year, cited by Hargrave. This was of course legislation to protect the domestic wool textiles industry, and is reported in Hansard. According the the Curator of the Essex Regiment Museum, the 44th Regiment of Foot (The East Essex) was stationed in Leeds from April to November 1788.

1789       “This Town Band, (of which we know so little) also played before the Corporation in the procession to and from the Parish Church, on the day of thanksgiving for the happy Restoration of His Majesty's health.”

March 16th local press report in the Leeds Mercury, cited by Hargrave. It refers of course to remission of the insanity of King George III, who suffered from the hereditary disease, porphyria (port wine urine disease). According to official sources, on 26 February 1789 George III's physicians had issued a bulletin announcing the King's recovery from his first serious bout of porphyria, and the news prompted widespread public thanksgiving.

1792       “Many associations were formed about this time for the protection of liberty and property against 'republicans and levellers'. Meetings were held in Leeds to make public Declarations of Loyalty to the Constitution, and 'God Save The King' was sung in the Parish Church, accompanied by the organ 'in excellent time', and it was also sung at the Market Cross and other places aided by the Town's Band.”
Report in the Leeds Mercury, cited by Hargrave. Republican sentiments were common in the years after the French Revolution of 1789.

1794       June 4th, the King's Birthday. "..at 10 o'clock the Leeds Volunteers assembled in the yard of the White Cloth Hall, and from there marched through all the principal streets of the town, accompanied by an excellent band of music.  The band played such loyal airs as "God save the King", Britons strike home", "Rule Britannia" etc.."

Press report, cited by Hargrave. The local volunteers’ band must surely have been built around the waits.

1794       October 19th, "The band of the Leeds Volunteers seems to have been rather notable, for when the Troop of Cavalry (raised in the Wapentake of Skyrack) went to Harewood Church it accompanied them, playing "God save the King" and other popular tunes.

Press report, cited by Hargrave.

1798 Crowshay, William, musician, Kirkgate
Crowshay, William jun., musician, Kirkgate
Crowshay, Thomas, musician, Kirkgate
Lawson, D. musician, St Peter's Square
Lister, Richard, musician, Meadow-lane
Porter, E. musician & musical instrument seller, Lower-head Row

Leeds Directory for the year 1798, the first published directory of the borough. Such early directories did not list every inhabitant, only leading citizens and business people. Not all professional musicians were waits, but from the records of other towns and cities, there is a strong correlation. There is no mention of Thomas Laycock whose obituary is cited below as a musician. Perhaps he was not of adequate status to be listed. Alternatively, not all waits were full-time musicians, but there is a directory entry for:

"Laycock and Pattison, cloth dresser, Butt's Court"

Could this be Thomas Laycock, part-time musician and wait?

1804       April 26th, the two battalions of the Leeds Volunteer Infantry returned to Leeds from York, and were preceded along York Road from the borough boundary by "a select band of music".

Cited by Hargrave.

1804       June 4th, the King's 66th birthday, "fifes and music (of the Leeds Volunteers) playing "God save the King"."

Cited by Hargrave.

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1817       “Crawshaw Thomas, musician, Harper's Yard”
Entry in the Directory of Leeds, 1817. Could this be the Thomas Crowshay of the 1798 listing? Directories from 1798 onwards list a number of other musicians, but with no known links with the Leeds Waits. Among them are William Heginbotham, David Lawton (Lawson), Richard Lister, Edward Porter, William Southern and Thomas White. Note the alternative spellings of David Lawton (Lawson) of St. Peter's Square in the 1798 and subsequent directories. This supports the case for Thomas Crowshay and Thomas Crawshaw being the same person.

1824       “On the 7th inst. in the 87th year of his age, Mr. Thomas Laycock, for upwards of 45 years one of the Waits of this borough.”
Obituary in the Leeds Mercury, Sept 18th, cited by Mattison. This is strong evidence that the Leeds Waits, unlike those of many towns and cities, survived into the nineteenth century. From the obituary details, Thomas Laycock was born about 1738, which would make him 60 years old at the date of the 1798 directory, late in his career as a wait, but surely within the 45 year period of his service.

1826       “Crawshaw, Thomas, musician, 14 Harper's Yard, Kirkgate”
Entry in the Directory of Leeds, 1826. Harper's Yard is shown on the 1811 map of the centre of Leeds, as an alley off the east side of Harper Street near its junction with Kirkgate. The westward extension of York Street (New York Street) to its present junction with Kirkgate has intersected Harper Street, which still runs from Kirkgate, crosses New York Street, and runs along the back of the covered market extension. New York Street has obliterated the northern end of Harper's Yard, but the southern end survives, a set-paved alley running from the intersection of Harper Street and Kirkgate along the west side of “The Duck and Drake” public house.

1834       “Crawshaw, Thomas, music teacher, 14 Harper's Yard, Harper Street”
     Entry in the Directory of Leeds, 1834.

1835       “The Officers of the corporation named in the governing charter are:

        Mayor 1
        Aldermen 12
        Assistants 24
        Recorder 1
        Deputy Recorder 1
        Town Clerk 1
        Deputy Town Clerk (when appointed) 1
        Coroner 1
        Clerk of the Market 1
        Serjeant-at-Mace 1

Other officers of the corporation are

        Constables (considered as Mayor's Officers)
        Chief 1
        Deputy 1
        Beadle 1
        Assistant Beadle 1
        Waits 2

The Beadle, Assistant Beadle and Waits are appointed by the mayor and aldermen during pleasure.

The Waits have suits of clothes only.”

Report compiled as part of the review of Leeds Corporation in 1835 in connection with the Municipal Reform Act.

1835       Corporation funds are frequently expended in feasting and in paying the salaries of unimportant officers. In some cases, in which the funds are expended on public works, an expense has been incurred beyond what would be necessary if due care had been taken. These abuses often originate in negligence ... in the opportunity afforded of obliging members of their own body, or the friends and relations of such members.

Parliamentary Papers (1835) XXIII. Royal Commission on Municipal Corporations. Thus, as "unimportant officers", waits were abolished.

1837        Crawshaw Thomas, musician, Harper yard

Entry in The Directory of Leeds, 1837

15th November, Thomas Crawshaw, age 76 years, occupation musician, cause of death bronchitis, place of death Workhouse 1, Grantham Street, Leeds South-East.

Death certificate, registered on the 17th of November, attested by the mark of Ann Hyde of the Workhouse who was present at his death and the signature of Edward Cooke, Registrar. Workhouse 1 was otherwise known as the Vagrant Office or Mendicity Office on Grantham Street, separate from the residential workhouse which was located at Lady Lane until 1858 and then at Beckett Street. The Vagrancy Office was established in 1`818 for the discouragement of begging, supported out of the Poor Rate, and some years gave support to up to 6,000 people, accorting to White’s "History, Directory and Gazeteer of the West Riding" of 1837. In theory, the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834, should have abolished outdoor relief, but clearly this continued in Leeds. The Supervisor of the Mendicity Office, Grantham Street, is listed in the 1837 Leeds Directory of Trades and Professions. An 1853 listing of the streets of Leeds shows "Grantham street, Woodhouse lane and 20, Upper Cross street". However, a 1921 map shows the only Grantham Street one block south of Railway Street off Marsh Lane, nowhere near Woodhouse Lane. There is a reference to the Leeds Mendicity Office in the 1851 census (HO107/2319) on the web site of the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc..

name: Crawshaw, forename: Thomas, burial: 14144, grave: 6641

Entry in the register of burials at Beckett Street Cemetery, Burmantofts, Leeds. Grave 6641 is a "common grave" with multiple interments, with no headstone, although a small memorial was subsequently added for two other occupants. The grave is located in the consecrated or Anglican section of the cemetery.

"Thomas Crawshaw, musician, the last of the old Corporate Waits, died Wednesday last, aged 74."

Obituary in the Leeds Intelligencer, Nov 20th, cited by Mattison.

"In Leeds the last of the Corporate Waits, a Mr. Thomas Crawshaw, died in 1858 at the age of 74, and musical honours were paid to his memory at the funeral in Burmantofts Cemetery."

"The Waits, V" by F. A. Hadland, in "Musical News", 28 August 1915, pp. 198-200.

If Thomas Crawshaw was a wait of Leeds, one must speculate, the office tending to run in families, that his father William and his brother William were probably also waits of the borough.

This is the last link with the original Leeds Waits, the office having been abolished by the Municipal Corporations Act in 1835. If Thomas Crawshaw, pauper musician dying in Workhouse 1 in 1858 is indeed the Thomas Crowshay listed as a musician in the Leeds Directory of 1798, presumably living in the parental home on Kirkgate, he would at that time have been around fifteen years old, at the very start of his sixty year musical career.


Editor's note:
There's now a published version of the Leeds Waits' history:
A. Radford (2009) The Leeds Waits: official town musicians and peripatetic entertainers for over three centuries. Publications of The Thoresby Society, second series, vol. 19, pp 59-76.

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