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


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

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"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.

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.


A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6 (1962)
Appointments of lesser city officials were only occasionally recorded. Three minstrels were regularly paid for livery in the 15th century, and were allotted a dwelling place in Rollestone in 1479. Their successors were no doubt the four waits who had silver chains in 1572.

1744:   The festival [St. Cecilia's Day] was held on Thursday, July 25th October for the benefit of the Town Musick.

1746:   The meeting took place on Thursday, 17th October, the Town Musick again receiving the benefit.


From The London Gazette (1688)

Scarborough, 3 July [1688] - On Sunday last, the day of publick Thanksgiving for the Birth of the Prince, Mr. Mayor, with the Aldermen and Commons, were in the Evening invited to the Castle by Capt. Wolsley, who commands in chief there, where they were, with divers Gentlemen, very generously entertained; the great Guns firing, and the Soldiers giving Vollies at the drinking Their Majesties' and the Prince's Healths: After which the Officers and the rest of the Company went with Mr. Mayor to his House, (the Town Musick playing all the way before them,) where they repeated the Royal Healths:

[This was of course the birth on June 10th that year to King James II and Queen Mary of a Catholic heir, James Francis Edward Stuart, subsequently to be known as The Old Pretender - Alan Radford.]


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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