www.townwaits.org.uk / History Index / Snippets

Miscellaneous Waits

Snippets of history concerning various Waits

Editor's note: Much of the material previously classified under this heading was re-organised during May 2011. Please see the history section index. [AG 23-May-2011].

Early Waits

“By that was the day don: dymmed the skyes, Merked montayns and mores aboute, Foules fallen to fote and here fethres rysten, The nyght-wacche to the walle and waytes to blowe.”
Siege of Jerusalem. Anon., circa 1390-1400, edited by Michael Livingston, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004.

"When the table was y-drawe, Theo Wayte gan a pipe blawe".
Kyng Alysaunder, 14th cent.


Jock Milburn was the Piper of Bellingham in 1775. Source: McCandless


From "A Journey to Edinborough and the North of Scotland", Mrs. C R Cotton, 1831
"We arrived at Dunstable in Bedfordshire about two in the afternoon, and sett up at the Redd Lyon; we din'd here and were entertained by the Town Musick."


Donald MacLean was the Piper of Galashiels before 1750. Source: McCandless

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Northampton: "Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases" by Anne Elizabeth Baker (1854)

WAITS. The Corporation of Northampton, within the remembrance of my informant, had a band of musicians called the corporation waits, who used to meet the judges at the entrance into the town at the time of the assizes. They were four in number, attired in long black gowns, two playing on violins, one on the hautboy, and the other on a whip and dub, or tabor and pipe.

Northampton: The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol 16, p 494, Monday 22nd September 1746

"Being the anniversary meeting at Northampton, of the governors and subscribers to the county infirmary, they went in procession, attended by the mayor, aldermen, baliffs, &c. preceded by the town musick and flags to the Church of All-Saints, where a sermon was preach'd by the Rev. Mr Henry Layng, rector of Paulersbury, and a collection of 32 l. 17 s. 6 d. made at the church doors: ...."

North Shields Waits

Waits are discussed and the following waits are mentioned in: Roz Southey 'Music-making in North-East England during the eighteenth century' (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), as well as many other local musicians, fiddlers, pipers etc (some of whom may have been waits)

Allan, James fl. 1770s (the well-known piper)


Plymouth Borough courts etc., First Folio
ref. 1/359/53 - date: 17cent
Petition of the waytes of the borough of Plymouth to the Mayor, Aldermen and Magistrates regarding the payment of waytes.


READING WAITS (moonlighting at Oxford) in 1607 - "Christmas: its Origins and Associations", W. F Dawson, 1902
"At this time, as on all other Holy-dayes, the Princes allowed Musitions (which were sent for from Readinge, because our owne Town Musick had given us the slipp, as they use to doe at that time when we had most need of them) played all dinner time, and allso at supper. The Prince as ofte as hee satt in the Hall was attended on by a Commoner and Scholler of the Colledge in tafaty sarcenett.


From "Shakespeare And Music: Arden Critical Companions" edited by David Lindley (2005)

The Skipton Waits were hired for no less than twelve weeks by Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland, to celebrate the visit and wedding of Richard Boyle, 2nd Viscount Dungarvan, to his daughter Lady Elizabeth Clifford in 1635. The wedding was at Skipton Parish Church, right next to the castle.

[If only we could all get residencies like that - Alan Radford, 7 November 2012.]

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