History

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City of London Waits

From "Interludes in Fifteenth Century Revels at Furnivall's Inn" by D S Bland, The Review of English Studies, New Series, v. 3, pp. 263-268 (1952),

waits were involved in Christmas entertainments at Furnivall's Inn, one of the then Inns of Court, in the fifteenth century:

1480   "In regardo pour les Waites viijd."
1485   has a reference to "Waytes and other musick"
1494   "They had lyons, the waites, the harpur...."
1498   "to the waytes 4s. 8d."
1502   Christmas day revels involved "the waites of London"

"The xxiij day of Marche was a commondement cam that the Kyng and the Quen wold ryd from the Towre-warff thrugh London with the nobuls of the rayme, boyth lordes and lades; and at the Towre-warff my lord mayre mett ther gracys boyth, and thrugh London my masters the althermen and the shreyffes and alle the crafftes of London in ther leveres, and ther standynges set up of evere craft of tymbur, and the strett and the trumpettes blohyng with odur enstrementtes with grett joye and plesur, and grett shutyng of gones at the Towre, and the waytes plahyng on sant Peter's ledes in Chepe; and my lord mayre bare the septer a-for the Kyng and the Quen."
From: 'Diary: 1557 (Jan - June)', The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563) (1848), pp. 123-41.

Arnold Pinckley was admitted to be a drumster of the City, and to have such allowance as other drumsters have had, and to pay a certain allowance to the retiring player, Christopher Wayte.(1597.)

General Source: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/

Lez Wayt' de Citie.
Thursday, 15 Nov., 21 Henry VI. [A.D. 1442], petition to the Common Council by the City's Waits as follows:-
"Un to our full honourables Maisters right wyse & discrete persones of the Co'e Counseill in ye Citee of London Besechen full mekely your humble servauntes John Tassell, William Raumpayne, William Fegge, Richard Kendale wt other v. of her felowshippe Waytes of the seid Citee that how Waytes of other Citees & townes han' here lyvere & clothyng by which they ben know to their soveraignes & maisters And it is so yt your seid servauntes ben nat of power to continue in her servise wtoute your gracious help and supportacion So plese it un to your wise discrecions the premisses considered by yadvise of the Mair & Aldremen of ye seid Citee with your goode will & assent to ordein & graunt yt yowre seid besechers may have the armes of ye seid Citee. (fn. 15) And yerely onys her clothyng which woll be worshippe to hem & to yew & to alle ye seid Citee And yan your seid servauntes woll abide with yow for terme of her lives And ellis it lith not in her power to do service as hem aught to doo."
The said prayer granted on condition (1) that each of the Waytes hold office during the pleasure of the Mayor and Aldermen; (2) that they attend the Mayor and Aldermen when specially summoned; (3) that any vacancy should be filled up by the advice of the Mayor for the time being; (4) that each one shall take a suitable oath at the discretion of the Mayor; and (5) that the following nine (fn. 16) persons should execute the office, viz., John Tassell, William Figge, William Rampayn, John Wikes, senior, John Wykes, junior, Richard Wykes, Thomas Aleys, Richard Porter, and Richard Kendale.
In the cellarer's account, L. and P. Hen. VIII, ii (1), 115, there are notices of presents to the queen, to the king's footmen, the king's waits, the lord of misrule of the king's house.
From: 'Folio 206b: July 1442 - ', Calendar of letter-books of the city of London: K: Henry VI (1911), pp. 269-83.

Footnote:
The City Waits being musicians whose business was to play before the Mayor and Aldermen on festive occasions, their number appears at this time to have followed the number of Muses. In later years their number was reduced. In 1789 there were eight, and so remained until 1802, when their place was taken by seven City Trumpeters (Rep. 206, fo. 449). This number was maintained until 1854, when an order was made by the General Purposes Committee that vacancies as they occurred were not to be filled up. The number of City Trumpeters at the present day is four. The word is only preserved at the present day in the English language for the Waits who at Christmas time occupy the streets and render night hideous.

City Waits, petition of, to be allowed to wear a livery and the City arms, 276
From: 'Index: A - K', Calendar of letter-books of the city of London: K: Henry VI (1911), pp. 404-33.


The Lord Mayor's Houshold Officers.
These Officers are nominated by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs for the Time being, to be admitted by the Approbation of the Court of Aldermen, and hold their Places as Freeholdersquam diu se bene gesserint. By reason whereof the Disposal of such Places rarely happen to the Lord Mayor or Sheriffs; the said Officers claiming it as their Due, by Custom and antient Usage, to transfer their Places by the Permission of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs respectively, with the Consent of the Court of Aldermen.
The Charges of the Government:
City Waits £53 6s 8d
From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 10: 28 January 1693', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 10: 1688-1693 (1802), pp. 795-800.

The manner howe the Secrete Elecion is published in the Coen Hall:
After the Hall is served wth the seconde Course, the Mr and his Wardens accompanyed wth Officers do at evry Table chere their Gests, wch beinge done the Mr preparinge to make solempn publicac[i]on of the said secrete Elec[i]on havinge before him, firste, the Wayts of the Cytie playinge, then the Beadill and Clarke followinge together, the Beadill having a Verger of Sylver in his hande and the Clerke a Scrole of Paper which importeth the names of the Brethern, after whome followith the youngest Warden goinge alone, havinge one of the Elec[i]on Cupps in his hande and his Garlande on his hedd and in like mannr appoynted, all the other Wardens followinge accordinge to their places, so that the ffirste or Mr Warden goinge hindermost next the Mr carrieth the Mrs Cuppe wth Ipocras, (fn. 1) whom the Mr ffolowith, havinge onely his Garlande on his hedd, being accompaned wth two olde Mrs, thelder of whome goeth on his righte hande and the yonger on the Mrs lefte hande.
From: 'Memorial XXII: Ceremonies upon the election of Masters and Wardens, 1573', Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors: Of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London (1875), pp. 120-123.

Mr. Bodurda. In the statute touching fiddlers and minstrels, there has been a reservation of the privileges of one Dutton. I know not what it means, but I thought good to tell you of it.
Mr. Robinson. This privilege is excepted by another statute. These minstrels do corrupt the manners of the people, and inflame their debauchery by their lewd and obscene songs
Sir Thomas Wroth. Harpers should be included.
Mr.- (fn. 3) Pipers should be comprehended.
Alderman Foot. I hope you intend not to include the waits of the City of London, which are a great preservation of men's houses in the night. (fn. 4)
Sir William Strickland. The general word minstrel will be best; for if you go to enumerate, they will devise new instruments.
Mr. Butler. Music is a lawful science, and I love it; but, in regard you restrain it to those places, I think the general word will serve well enough.
Mr. Highland. Add singing as well as playing.
Colonel Whetham. I hope you will not deprive men of their voices.
Mr. Speaker. Singing is a natural, playing an artificial music.
From: 'The Diary of Thomas Burton: 5 December 1656', Diary of Thomas Burton esq, volume 1: July 1653 - April 1657 (1828), pp. 20-37. .

Freeman's Court
North out of Cheapside at No. 103 to Honey Lane Market, with a passage east to No. 32 Laurence Lane (P.O. Directory). In Cheap Ward.
First mention : Boyle, 1799.
Former name : "Trump Alley," 33 H. VIII. 1540-1 (L. and P.H. VIII. XVI. 717, to Maitland, ed. 1775).
Riley suggests that the Trumpers or makers of Trumpets may have lived here and that their Trumpets were probably used principally by the City Waits or Watchmen, and that a trumpet was known as a "wait." He also suggests that it is identical with Trump Street, but this is not so, Trump Street (q.v.) lying further north.
From: 'Freeman's Court', A Dictionary of London (1918).

In the cellarer's account, L. and P. Hen. VIII, ii (1), 115, there are notices of presents to the queen, to the king's footmen, the king's waits, the lord of misrule of the king's house. From: 'Austin canons: Priory of Holy Trinity or Christchurch, Aldgate', A History of the County of London: Volume 1: London within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark (1909), pp. 465-75.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=35357&strquery=waits .

In Thomas Dekker's "The Magnificent Entertainment Given to King James," describing the arrival of James I in London for his coronation in 1603, there is a reference to a banquet with music by "The Wayts and Haultboyes of London." Does "wayts" refer to the musicians and "haultboyes" to their instruments, or what?



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14. ffor the Waits. Also it is ordeigned, that Six Waites yerely shall goo in al the Stretys of London and subbarbs of the same, before the ffestis of the Transfigurac[i]on of owre Lorde and de Nomine Jesu, with ther Instruments plaieng, to gif warnyng and knowlege to the people of the seid ffestys: and they shall haue amongest them all Six for their laboure, ten shillings; provided alwey, that yf ther wante enny of the same numbre of vj, that than there shalbe abated of the same some after the rate of the persone or persones so wantyng; and that the Wardeins or their deputie shall deliuer vnto the seid Six Waites for every of them a Banere pictured with the counsauns (fn. 2) of Jh[es]us, and also a liverey of Jh[es]us browdred; all the whiche baners and lyveries the seid Waytys shall redeliuer vnto the seid Wardeyns in the ende of the seid ffestis. From: 'The Fraternity of Jesus: Other Ordinances enacted for Divine Service', Registrum Statutorum et Consuetudinum Ecclesiae Cathedralis Sancti Pauli Londiniensis (1873), pp. 446-452.

18. ffor Lyveryes. Also it is ordeigned, that against the seid ffest of the Transfigurac[i]on of our Lorde lyveries of golde and silver shalbe made and given to the Brothren and Sustren, after the olde eustume, by the Proctour of London, and he to be allowed for the same xiij s. and iiij d. except that the Wardeins, Waites, and ffeliship of Wexchaundelers shall yerely haue their conysaunces and lyveries ovir and beside the seid sume.
From: 'The Fraternity of Jesus: Other Ordinances enacted for Divine Service', Registrum Statutorum et Consuetudinum Ecclesiae Cathedralis Sancti Pauli Londiniensis (1873), pp. 446-452.

The manner howe the Secrete Elecion is published in the Coen Hall: After the Hall is served wth the seconde Course, the Mr and his Wardens accompanyed wth Officers do at evry Table chere their Gests, wch beinge done the Mr preparinge to make solempn publicac[i]on of the said secrete Elec[i]on havinge before him, firste, the Wayts of the Cytie playinge, then the Beadill and Clarke followinge together, the Beadill having a Verger of Sylver in his hande and the Clerke a Scrole of Paper which importeth the names of the Brethern, after whome followith the youngest Warden goinge alone, havinge one of the Elec[i]on Cupps in his hande and his Garlande on his hedd and in like mannr appoynted, all the other Wardens followinge accordinge to their places, so that the ffirste or Mr Warden goinge hindermost next the Mr carrieth the Mrs Cuppe wth Ipocras, (fn. 1) whom the Mr ffolowith, havinge onely his Garlande on his hedd, being accompaned wth two olde Mrs, thelder of whome goeth on his righte hande and the yonger on the Mrs lefte hande.
From: 'Memorial XXII: Ceremonies upon the election of Masters and Wardens, 1573', Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors: Of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London (1875), pp. 120-123.

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=64120&strquery=wayts

Syr John Allyn, mayre, ye xxvij. (fn. 65) yere of ye kynge, ye xj. day of Novembar, beyng styll in ye xxvij. yere of Henrie ye viij., was a great procession at London by ye kyngis commandement: fyrst went ye wayts of ye citie 'A London Chronicle: Henry VIII', Two London Chronicles from the Collections of John Stow (1910), pp. 1-17.
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=81143&strquery=wayt

LONDON, 1562-3
To the 6 waits to every of them for his fee £6, summa £36.0s.0d. To Richard Strachey late one of the waits for a yearly pension, £2.13s.4d. To John Chese broiderer for embroidering of 6 badges with the arms of the city and the lord mayor worn by the waits this year, £1.4s.0d.
From: 'Appendix: Outward Fees, 1562-3', Chamber accounts of the sixteenth century: London Record Society, 20 (1984), pp. 118-121.

LONDON, 1573
Afterwards the Waits, Officers, and Wardens descende alonge by the Lyvry Table, leavinge comodious place for the Mr to sett his Garlande on the Olde Mrs hedds with certen of the Assistants sytting abowte the newe Mr or where he should sytt, yf he be absente one, whose hedds he setteth the Garlande twyse yf the Mr Electe be presente, and when he setteth his Garland the seconde tyme on the hedd of the Mr Electe he letteth yt stande, and taketh his Cuppe of the Mr Warden and drynketh to him whom he publisheth to be Mr of the Company for the year ensuinge. But yf the Mr Electe be absent (as yt happened this yeare), The Waits, Officers, &c., in Order, as aforesaide cross ovr the Hall nere by and above the Scryne, and yf there be a Gest Table, they go upwards betwene the Geste Table and the Mrs Table towards ye chief Geste, and then at the Geste Table the Mr dothe also yf yt be his pleasure pffer his Garlande to his deare ffriende there, and thenn fynally, dothe go to the chiefe Geste at the upper Table and drynketh to the Maister Electe being absent whom he then nameth and leaveth before the chiefe Geste his Cupp and his Garlande, and taketh his ease, wch being done, the Waits, Officers, and Wardens descende, and come aboute the Scryne at the nether ende of the Hall where the fower Wardens Substitute attende to receive theire Cuppes wch they do beare afore them, viz., The Warden Substitute for M'chaunttaillo's Hall Quarter before the youngest Warden [..]tor, and the Warden Substitute for Flete Streate Quarter before the thirde Warden, the Warden Substitute for Candilwicke Quarter beareth the Seconde Warden's Cuppe, and the Warden Substitute for Watling Streate Quarter beareth the Maister Wardens Cuppe, who then p'cede and go righte over the hearthe towards the Chief Geste where dutye being rendered they goe unto the Livry Table, where evry of them pseth lyke ceremonyes wth their Garlands among suche as have not bene Maisters as the Mr dyd before among the Maisters, and soe publishe the Elec[i]on of the Newe Wardens one after another by mutuall courses, viz., The Mr Warden and the most ancient Warden ov' ffirste after the like forme, as is described the manner aforesaide when a Maister Electe psente or absente is published untill all be done, and then the Hall is served with Wafers.

LONDON, 1588
From: Alan Radford: 19 March 2013
London Waits and the Armada
Describing the celebration of the victory over the Spanish armada and Elizabeth's triumphal entry to London:
"Imitating of the ancient Romans, the Queen rode in triumph in a symbolic chariot, made with four pillars behind to have a canopy, on the top thereof was made a crown imperial and two lower pillars before, whereon stood a lion and a dragon, supporters of the arms of England, drawn by two white horses. Behind it rode the Earl of Essex leading the horse of estate, and then came the ladies of honour. The streets were hung with blue cloth, and at Temple Bar the city waits were stationed making music. It was here that the mayor yielded up and received again the mace. St Paul's Cathedral was adorned with the banners of the vanquished Spaniards, and there waited over fifty clergy arrayed in their copes to greet the Queen. From a specially constructed closet she heard the sermon at Paul's Cross, and in the evening returned by torchlight to Whitehall." ("The Cult of Elizabeth" by Roy Strong, University of California Press (1977)).

From: 'Memorial XXII: Ceremonies upon the election of Masters and Wardens, 1573', Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors: Of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London (1875), pp. 120-123.

LONDON, 1655 - 1668
From: Alan Radford: 19 March 2013 John Youckney, musitioner, violinist and city wait, fl. 1655-1668.
Address Robinhood Court, Shoe Lane; also member of the King's private music 1661-1668.
1657, election of Master and Wardens of the Stationers' Company, after election and service at a nearby church they are entertained back at Stationers' Hall by the city waits.




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1667 London Gazette No. 189/1
The Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of this Town, after a Sermon Preached to them, went to the Market-Cross in their Formalities, the Waytes playing before them.

Hadland 1915
In 1677. Sir Francis Chaplin, Knt, Lord Mayor. "The several companies adorned with streamers and banners, and fitted with Hoe-boyes, Cornets, Drums, and Trumpets, moved by water towards Westminster. . . . His Lordship and the guests being all seated, the City Music are in preparation to exercise their delightful science and finger their instruments with good skill and excellent humour, but (after some suits of Ayres being played) a person of good fancy with a well composed voice begins a new song of entertain�ment, one of the City Musicians being attired like to New-Bedlamite with appropriate action and audible voice singeth the second song to the tune of Tom-a-bedlam."

FILE - RICHARD EDGE to ROGER KENYON. - ref. DDKE/acc. 7840 HMC/1057 -
date: 1697, November 16


The Blue Boar, in Holborn
16 November 1697
"His Majestie landed on Sunday last, about 11 a'clock in the aforenoon, at Margret, came that night to Canterbury, last night to Greenwich, where this morning most of the great officers and persons of quality in the town, waited of him, and about two this afternoon made his publick entry into the citty; came through Fleet Street about 4, and so went to Whitehall. The ceremony was thus, as near as I can remember: ringing of bells, the streets lined with the citty trainbands, here and there a conduit running with wine. First, a company of granadeers, a troop of the royall dragoons, next 3 of the King's coaches, with several persons of quality in them--Collonel Stanley I saw in one of them; next was the messengers on horseback, next the Citty trumpetts and waits, next the serjeants of the counters, next the Common Councell on horseback, next the Aldermen on horseback, next the Lord Mayor, carrying the sword, on horseback, then the heralds, all bare, then the kettle-drums, next the yeomen of the guard, then the King's coach, very fine, in which was the King, who looked very brisk, and made his compliments to each side the street, and the Prince of Denmark and Earl of Rumney, next Prince George's empty coach, then a troop of the life guard, then the Archbishopp of Canterbury, then the Lord Chancellor, then the Duke of Leeds in his coach besides his grace the Earl of Pembrooke, then the Duke of Norfolke, then the Duke of Devonshire, then several dukes' coaches, then severall earls and lords, amongst which I saw the Earls of Macclesfeild and Warrington, then severall bishopps, amongst whom was the Bishopp of Chester, then all the judges' coaches, then severall persons of quality's coaches; all the coaches before had six horses each, and footmen and laques going by.

Items from the City of London Archives (A2A)

FILE - Waits: City - ref. COL/OF/02/157 - date: 1704 - 1762
Notes and Extracts relating to City Waits
Receipt for �10.15s. being 1/3 part of the sum agreed to be paid by Wm. Smith to the Lord Mayor for his admittance into the place of one of the eight waits. 18 Sep 1704.
Receipt for �2.3s. being 1/3 part of �6: 12s agreed by Richard Sleep to be paid to the Lord Mayor for his admittance into the place of one of the City Waits in the room of Thomas Sharples. 23 Oct 1711.
Assignment of three years' salary as a City Wait, by Edward Pointin to James Indall, 9 Jan 1713/4.
Admission of Charles Ballet in the place of John Jenkins and William Davis in the place of Convett Newes, for the sum of �90 each, 1/3 nd. to be paid to the Chamber. 1760 & 1762.

FILE - Waits - ref. COL/OF/02/158 - date: 15 Feb 1787
Power of Attorney given to Rich. Burnett to receive money due to Wm. Burnett one of the City Waits.

FILE - [no title] - ref. ZA/B/2/175-175v - date: 17th Dec., 1672
George Watt, musician, petitioned on behalf of himself and of the City's waits that they might have the City's livery and a yearly salary. It was ordered that there should be four City waits, that they should have liveries every three years and 10s. apiece every Christmas so long as they did not leave the City, and so long as they played in the streets morning and evening as had been the custom.
The Christmas Watch was to be duly observed by the Mayor and Sheriff's this year and every year in future upon pain of fine.

FILE - [no title] - ref. ZA/B/2/157 - date: 14th Dec., 1666
George Watt, musician, petitioned on behalf of his Company, the City's Waits, that the City's livery should be bestowed upon them. It was ordered that the Treasurers should give cloth for livery gowns to George Watt and to two others of the ancient waits and that they should wear these in the City and not elsewhere.

FILE - [no title] - ref. ZA/B/3/148-9v - date: 25th Feb., 1706[/7]
Thomas Lewis, senior, William Powell, Thomas Lewis, junior, and Matthew Trueman, the City's Waits, stated in a petition that by the usage of the City the Waits should have new cloaks at the City's charge every three years, and that the Treasurers paid them 10s. for their playing on any extraordinary rejoicing day, besides their common salary. They had had their present cloaks above three years, and had not been paid anything for the last two rejoicing days. Consideration of this petition was respited until the next Assembly.

FILE - Waits: Payments to - ref. COL/OF/02/156 - date: 1689 - 1718
Signed order of Thomas Pikington, Mayor, for payment for their attendance on the Coronation day last. Apr 17 1689. (no names.)
Signed order of James Bateman, Mayor,... at the anniversary of King Charles's restoration, 25 Jun 1717.
Order for payment to Alice, widow of Thomas Philpot, late one of the City's thumpeters. 4 Mar 1717/8.

FILE - City Waits' receipt for Court [4, 7, 12 or 15?], receipted by Theo. Fitt, 11 Aug 1680. - ref. CLA/036/02/1680/13/7 - date: 1680
1 p.

FILE - [City Waits'] bill for Courts 6,8,10 and 12, with Lord Mayor Sir George Thorold's order to Chamberlain George Ludlam to pay Mr. Meers. - ref. CLA/036/02/1720/17/2 - date: 1720
1 p.

FILE - Order of the Lord Mayor for payment to the City Waits, 3 Aug 1681, receipted by Robert Perry, 3 Aug 1681. - ref. CLA/036/02/1681/12/2 - date: 1681
1 p.

Corporation of the City of London appoint the LSO their official City Waits:
"ref. COL/OF/02/159: 1968, Appointment of London Symphony Orchestra as City Waits"



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