History

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



Exeter Waits


1590
The shall vppon euerye pryncipall feast Daye attende the mayor vnto St. Peters Churche and goe before hym too & too [there were 4 of them] next before the Sergeantes.
The shall trewlye & in salffitie redelyver at all tymes when the same shalbe required of theym suche settes & Noyses of Instrumementes as they have of the Citie aswell Recordes as others Bought at the Cities charges ... Whiche sayde Instrumentes ar as followethe A Doble Curtall A Lyserden, Too tenor hoyboyes, a Treble hoboyes A Cornet A sett or case of ffower Recorders Bowght by mr. Nicholas martyn.

http://www.exeter.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2910 says:
"The waits were the city Chamber's own band of musicians, who wore these chains over fine cloaks provided by the Chamber. They performed in the streets, and outside the Mayor's house at Christmas; they also celebrated coronations, victories and anniversaries. Three of the silver waits' chains were made in the 15th century; they are believed to be those re-made in 1476-7 at a cost of 14s (70p); the fourth is of the early 16th century. Each chain consists of alternating letters X and R, each enclosed in a circle and joined to its neighbours by rings. They are now amongst the city's greatest treasures. In 1957 a replica set was made, since the originals are irreplaceable. These are now worn by the Mace Sergeants."

There's a picture of a badge and part of the chain at http://www.exeter.gov.uk/media/image/2/j/waits_1.jpg

http://www.worldmilitarybands.com/The%20Waits.htm says:
"Three of four beautiful silver waits chains, believed to date from 1476, are comprised in Exeter City regalia."
"John Hooker (1525-1601 ), the town-clerk historian of Exeter, left a valuable manuscript 'Description of the Citie of Exeter', in which he gives the composition of the waits band in 1575 as "A Doble Curtall, a Lyserden, Two Tenor Hoyboyes, a Treble Hoyboyes, a Cornet, a set or case of fower Recorders". "
"In 1602 the Exeter Waits agreed to buy a set of "vyalls"."
"At Exeter in 1602 the four waits each received yearly wages and their accustomed livery. A curious privilege allowed one of the waits, with consent of his fellows, to keep at his sole cost two boys trained up in music to join with the waits. "
and
"The Municipal Reform Act Of 1835 led to the disbanding of the waits in nearly every case but as at Exeter and elsewhere, financial stringency arising from the Napoleonic wars had led to the waits' dismissal as early as 18l5."

http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/History.html gives the following reference:
Draisey, John. Discordant Notes or A Broken Consort; Exeter's Waits in 1631.
In Devon Documents (ed. T. Gray). Tiverton: Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, Special Issue (1996) [ISBN 0925836203] pp.62-66.


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