James Merryweather
First published in Chanter Spring 2004 18-20

A few issues ago, Chanter contained mention of a piper in Liverpool named Henry Halewood and I immediately did my best to satisfy myself that, yet again, here was a reference to a piper, but not a bagpiper. It was around the time I was banging on about the hazards of leaping to such a probably erroneous conclusion, a campaign that upset a couple of people a great deal, though it accrued more approval than dissent. A possible alternative to bagpiper I gave, with extensive reasoning, was a town or city wait (official musician) who was sometimes referred to as a piper, particularly in fifteenth and sixteenth century records. [e.g. “Thomas Brookfelde a pyper beinge admitted a wayte of this Towne”. Liverpool, 1595] This is not to say that there are not plenty of quite early references in Scottish records to town pipers who could well have been and probably were bagpipers. A fine picture of one of them, Geordie Syme of Dalkeith, appeared in the last edition of Chanter, but Syme and his contemporaries were late in bagpipe history and if we look at earlier records, even in Scotland, I continue to warn that bagpipe should not be assumed.

However, I feel sure that in many small northern border towns like Hexham, where the council supported a single wait, he might well have been a bagpiper, but no evidence has turned up yet. We have yet to study the Berwick-upon-Tweed records, from which we could learn a lot about official music in a city on the border, but we do know that Newcastle had up to six waits, and it is unlikely that they were all (or any of them) bagpipers, perhaps until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, long after their heyday and progressively fewer in number. Only then do we discover John Peacock (1754-1817; Peacock’s Tunes), wait and bagpiper. Alnwick had its waits, but the only instrument we know they had was the ‘cello.

If we turn our attention southward into England, we have waits all over the place playing shawm, saggbut, cornett, lysarden and other wind instruments, but rarely bagpipes. There are really very few references and allusions to English bagpipes at all, and it seems likely that, after the Middle Ages, they were relatively uncommon, though perhaps widespread. I won’t reel off all the references to Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire bagpipes here, for many can be found elsewhere (in e.g. articles by Roderick Cannon) but will move swiftly to mid sixteenth century Liverpool. Here, at last, we find a bagpiper in a city which can hardly be considered to be under the influence of Scotland’s bagpipe culture. Most large cities maintained a band of 4-6 waits to help proclaim their importance, but from 1557 until well into the seventeenth century, Liverpool had only one (two, for short periods). We know the instrument played by only one of them, Henry Halewood, and to our great satisfaction, we discover that it was neither pipe nor pipes but, unequivocally, the bagpipe. What would we have made of the 1591 and 1592 entries: “Henry Hallwood for piping before a wedding” and “henricum hale de leuerpoole for pipinge appon the saboath Day”? Halewood could well have been a wait piping upon his shawm or fife, but we can fairly presume otherwise because of a single reference in 1571 to: “henrie halewod bagpiper”.

What did the other named Liverpool waits play: bagpipes? If they were employed one at a time and were, therefore, obliged to play alone, the bagpipe would be a reasonable guess, particularly with the knowledge that one of their number was a bagpiper. Unfortunately, the absence of evidence means that no firm conclusion is possible. However, if evidence were to come to light, there are bits and pieces in the Liverpool records that might help with the case, so I have included all references to waits in Liverpool (not a lot) extracted from the Records of English Drama (R.E.E.D.) volume for Lancashire edited by David George, University of Toronto Press, 1991 (ISBN 0-8020-2862-4). If nothing else, you can see for yourself how scant even such good evidence can be, and how easy it would be to extrapolate from fact to presumption and then, if you are reckless, to fiction. If you present fiction as history in print, readers trust that it is the truth and it is likely that somebody will continue to extrapolate to create the complete, but erroneous, history of the English bagpipe (just as Grattan Flood did). No thank you.

January 1571
This daye henrie halewod bagpiper was admittid wayte of this Towe Condicionallie & vpon pleysure, and had the Townes badge delivered to hym: but thorough his lewdnes it was takyn from all Sanct Iames fayre, to his hindrance & verie grieffe of repentance & after the fayre done vpon his repentant submission it was Lend to hym agayne of pleysure
October 1572 Jacobus Corlis Ricardus marser caliament & henricus halewood wayte admissi lure iurati burgenses xviij┬░ die octobris 1572 &c
Iames Corlis, Richard Marser, shoemaker, and Henry Halewood, wait, were admitted by law (and) sworn free burgesses on 18 October 1572, etc.
November 1572 Item & the xxiiij┬░ of novembre aforesayd Harrie halewood, wayte of this towne entried into bound of Recognisaunce for peace & good ordre kepyng which he Rechlesslie hedid and misregardyd not onlie to vile punisment of his bodie at diuers tymes in le Edibus tenebrosis & alij enormitatibus ej eventibus &c prout mor at large aperith in Recordes Cutie querularum
[ed. ” Halewood was imprisoned in ‘le Edibus tenebrosis’ or the Dark House, Liverpool’s prison.]
October 1576 Item we fynde Henrye Halewood fyneable for disobeying mayster maiors Deputie and other officers and also for breaking the plummes & syling in the commyn haule.
[ed. The ‘plummes’ were probably leads, i.e. strips of lead used to cover a roof, and the syling was the ceiling or perhaps the panelling; Halewood may have tried to break in through the roof (of the common hall).]
October 1577 Imprimis we present as fynable Henry Halewood for bloud shedd vpon Iohn Wakefield … vjs. viijd.
[ed. Halewood was restored to the freedom of the borough on 16 March 1579, when the note of 1576-7 recording his disenfranchisement was struck from the roll of burgesses and in the margin was substituted ‘Henry Halwodd was restored to his former fredome [by] at the assemblie’.]
October 1577
[ed. he appears as town wait again (inexplicably not given in REED entries).]
October 1580 Offycers chosen and appointed for this ye are till the feast- of St Luke thevaungelist nexte &c. by the said xxiiij Iurors as foloweth Haywart Iohn Hollinprest Iuratus/And henry halewood wayte/
October 1588 Item they doe agree that Henry Halewood shalbe Wayte
November 1589 Wayte – Henry halewood
October 1590 Item they presente Robert Mooney finable for drawinge bloude vpon Henry halewood
[ed. at the same portmoot Henry Clennes got the waitship again and Halewood was excluded once and for all.]
1590-1 (Walton on the Hill) Henry Hallwood for piping before a wedding in the church at the time of the offering at the wedding
October 1592 (Childwall) contra henricum hale de leuerpoole et Radulphum whitfield for pipinge appon the saboath Day & in the churchyard.
[marginal note: excommunicatio]

The Liverpool Wait (All R.E.E.D. Records)
1557-8 Thoma Wawen (wait); 1558-9 william poughtyn (our newe wayt); 1559-60 .he [sic] wayte; 1560-1 the wayte; 1562-3 Iamys Atherton (the wayte/Wayte); 1563-4 Iamys Atherton (Wayte or towns musicioner); 1564-5 Iamys atherton (Wayte/wayte Capitaigne); 1566-7 the wayte; 1567-8 Nicholas forber (wayte); 1571-2 henrie halewod bagpiper (wayte of this Towne); 1572-3 henricus halewod (wayte)/Harrie halewod (wayte); 1574-5 Jammes Atherton (wait); 1576-7 Nicholas fforber (wayte); 1579-80 henry halewood (wayte); 1581-2 henry Clennes (wait); 1582-3 Henry Clennes (weate); 1583-4 Henry Clennes (wayte/waite); 1584-5 Henry Clennes (waite); 1585-6 a waite; 1586-7 a waite; 1587-8 Henry Halewood (Wayte); 1588-9 Henry Halewood (Wayte); 1589-90 a waite; 1590-1 Henry Clennes (Waite)/Edwarde Dawson (waite); 1591-2 our waite; 1592-3 our waite; 1593-4 our waite; 1594-5 Thomas Brookfelde a pyper (wayte); 1595-6 our waite; 1599-1600 Iohn Blakedon (Wayte); 1600-1 Hugh Harpur (waite); 1610-11 Mychaell Harper (the wayte);1611-12 Mychaell Harper (the wayte); 1616-17 Mitchallus Harpurr (le Wayte); 1617-18 Michaell Harper (waite); 1618-19 Michell Harper (wheite); 1619-20 Michaell Harper (wait); 1620-21 Michaell Harper (weate); 1621-2 Michell Harper (wayte); 1622-3 Michell Harper (Wayte); 1623-4 Michell Harper (Wayte); 1624-5 Michellus Harper (Wayte); 1625-6 Michaell Harper (W ayte); 1626-7 Michaell Harper (Wayte); 1627-8 Michaell Harper (Wayte); 1629-30 Iohn Hollinworth (wayte); 1630-1 Iohannes Hollinworth (Wayte)