History

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



Newcastle Waits

NEWCASTLE WAITS REFERENCES number 1

1.   Madeleine Hope Dodds ‘Northern Minstrels and Folk Drama’ Archaeologia Aeliana (1925), 4 series, v1, p.121-146

Earliest mention of minstrels from Ncle in Durham Priory Account Rolls, which mentions rewards given to them in 1278, 1335-6, 1360. Also town waits at Darlington in 16th century, at Gateshead in 17th century, Alnwick waits survived till 19th century.

2.   John Brand ‘History and Antiquities of the Town and County of the Town of Newcastle upon Tyne, v 2, (London: B. White, 1789)

Pages 353-354
'The ordinary of this society, citing an ancient one that had been lost, and dated September 18th, 1677, appointed them a fellowship with perpetual succession; enjoined them to meet on the feast of St James the Apostle, and choose two stewards who might sue and be sued, &c. within the courts of Newcastle; that the admission fee should be ten shillings, but to those who came in by patrimony only six shillings and eight-pence; that none should teach music without a licence from the mayor; that no stranger should be suffered to play at weddings or feasts, unless allowed by the mayor, under a penalty of six shillings and eight-pence; that no fiddler, piper, dancer upon ropes, or others that pretended to skill in musick, or that went about with "motions or shewes", should practice in Newcastle without licence from the mayor, on pain of forfeiting ten shillings; that at marriages where music should be chosen, the waits should be preferred; and if any other musicians, who had the mayor’s licence, were called, their fee should not exceed three shillings and four-pence, under a penalty of ten shillings. [Source footnote: From the book of inrolments in the archives of the Corporation of Newcastle. - In a list of the salaries in the time of Queen Elizabeth (ie 1558-1603) ibid. the following entry occurs: "Five waites sallary 20l."]
By an order of common-council, November 4th, 1646, the waits were commanded to go about morning and evening, according to ancient custom.’

Page 717, Appendix
'Waits' Ordinary 1677' gives the full text where the society is described as 'fellowship or company of waites and musicioners' and the petition is signed by the following members:
Robert Word, John Bell, Thomas Moore (Steward 1677), Edward Herbert (Steward 1677), Edward Sweeting.

However, it should be noted that members of the company were not Freemen of the Town.

3.   Extracts from The Municipal Accounts of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Newcastle: M.A. Richardson, 1848)

Page 10
1561,    November, Item, paid to Mr. Maior [ie Mayor] that he gave to two Skottes minstrilles in rewarde, 2s.

Page 11
1561,    December, Item, paid mor to Mr. Maior that he gave to two mynstrilles on Saint Thomas' daye, 2s.
1561,    Jan. [ie 1561/2] Item, paid to Mayster Maior that he gave to the mynstrilles of this towne and to other mynstrilles of the contrathe [country] in Chrystemmas, 13s 4d.

Page 12
1561,    Feb. [ie 1561/2] Item, paid to Mayster Maior for that he gave to Sir Henry Persy [ie Percy] mynstrilles in rewarde, 6s.
Item,    paid more geven in rewarde to the wayttes of Ledes, 4s.
1561,    March [ie 1561/2] paid by Mr. Maior to the wayttes of Thriske [ie Thirsk], geven them in rewarde, 3s.
Item,    paid mor geven in rewarde to the wayttes of Carlell [ie Carlisle], 3s.
Item,    paid mor geven in rewarde to the wayttes of Darnton [ie Darlington], 3s.
Item,    paid in rewarde to the Skottes mynstrelles, 2s.
1561,    June Item, geving to the waytts of Cockeremouthe in rewarde, 3s.

Page 15-16
1565,    Octobar Item, paid to Mr. Maior for that he gave in rewarde to jesters and mynstrilles for this yeare, as apperythe by the bucke [ie book] of orders, 5l.

Page 17
1568,    Maye The charges of the boner of the play - including ‘to the waites, for playeing befor the players, 2s.

1568-1574 some books missing


Page 19
1579, July Geven to the waittes for playing on Midsommer even, 12d.

Page 20
1590,    October Paid to the mynstrilles of Whickham [County Durham], in rewarde, 3s 10d [for court day there].

Page 27
1593,    October Paid to Mr. John Oldam att London … for 16 iiardes 3 quarters [of broadcloth for liveries] for the waites, the plumer, and the paver, at 7s. 6d. per iiarde, 8l. 5s. 7d.

Page 30
1593,    November [Coronation celebrations] Paide to Will. Lassles and Ro. Askew for playing one the drum and floote, with the gunners, the 17 daie of Nov. for their paines, 5s.

Page 35
1594,    October Paid for a banquet to the Staites [ie soldiers of Flanders coming from Scotland], in Mr Maior’s … the waits playinge musicke, 10s.
Paide to Ro. Askewe for playing with his fife before the drume, 16d.
Paide to the waites for playing musicke at the audit dynner, 5s.

Page 50
1647,    Aprill [for Coronation day] to the gaurds [sic] and waits, 10s.

Page 53
1657,    August Paid which was given to the waites and trumpetters … 40s. [on proclamation of the Lord Protector]

Page 54
1658,    Ocotber [proclamation of Lord Protector] Paid … to the waitts … 33s.

Page 55
1658,    Nov. [for 5th November celebrations] Paid which was given the waites … by order of Mr. Maior, 20s.

Page 57
1660,    19 May [proclamation of the King] Paid the waits by order of the deputy mayor, 20s.


Supplied by Margaret Maddison



NEWCASTLE WAITS: a list taken mainly from parish registers arranged by active date

While checking the Newcastle parish registers from the earliest date to 1690 for another topic I have recorded the waits and musicians so named. There are a few others picked up from other sources (eg Municipal Accounts) or later dates in the registers.

  • The parish registers are as follows:
    All Saints commencing 1600
    St Andrew commencing 1597
    St John commencing 1600 (almost no occupations after 1675)
    St Nicholas commencing 1558 (occupations do not start till 1575)

  This will by no means be a complete list. There are many missing registers and smaller gaps (eg the plague years 1635-6) or illegible sections in the registers. There are many registers in which the clerk has listed no occupations at all and others where they are infrequent or only given for guild members. Some clerks use the word musicioner, others use musician or practitioner in music when clearly all mean the same as they refer to the same people - I have used the word musician for all of these, except the 'waits & musicioners' recorded in their 1677 Company Ordinary (the only record of the Company to survive).


Open PDF version of list
Open Microsoft Word version of list

Margaret Maddison



22 October 2009, An addition for Newcastle records, Regards, Alan Radford.

New-Castle upon Tyne, Octob. 16 [1665].

On the 14th instant His Majesties Birth-day, Sir Henry Brabant our present Mayor, having summon'd all the Train-bands to be in Arms; He with his Brethren the Aldermen, accompanied by a great number of the Gentry, both of the Town and Country, and preceded by the Town Musick, went in their formalities that Morning to Church, whence (after having heard Divine Service) they returned in like order to the Mayors House; where there was a very noble Entertainment, at which Their Majesties, and Royal Families Healths were drank, with several discharges of Cannon, planted for that purpose, and from Ships in the River.

John Peacock was the Piper of Newcastle upon Tyne, circa 1775. Source: McCandless


www.newcastle.gov.uk/wwwfileroot/legacy/educationlibraries/tbp/historyofmusic.pdf contains some info on the Newcastle Waits, including their livery of blue coats and tricorn hats (that dates them), and their survival until their discharge in the 1790s.



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