Durham Waits

The earliest reference to Durham waits that we have found is of their visit to Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham on 11march 1617/18, a few months before Ben Jonson’s encounter with them in that summer. (Dr Alan Radford via Walter Woodfil)

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)

Blenkinsop, Peter d.1778
Bone, Peter fl.1788
Burlingson, William fl.1778
Young, Philip d.1788

“Four named eighteenth century Durham Waits for the record:
Abraham Taylor
Peter Blenkinsop
Peter Bone
Philip Young.
The source is “Music-making in north-east England during the Eighteenth century” by Roz Southey (2006), pp.63-64, available online from Google Books.”
(From Dr Alan Radford, 8 Aug 2013).

On 6th August, Dr Anna Groundwater contacted the IGTP regarding a reference to Durham Waits that she found during the course of her research into the exploits of Ben Jonson (http://www.blogs.hss.ed.ac.uk/ben-jonsons-walk/). Durham Waits played for Ben Jonson in Durham during August 1618 – from the manuscript it is: “the weightes and cornets came to our lodging”. According to Dr Alan Radford – “In context, as it is waits and cornets rather than waits with cornets, I assume both refer to instruments, “waits” being shorthand for “wait-pipes”; hence Jonson was wakened by shawms and cornets, and we may reasonably guess that they were played by the City Waits of Durham. Waits in many towns and citiesmade a significant income by greeting visitors.”
We are grateful to Anna for bringing this information to our attention (Dr Anna Groundwater, Ben Jonson’s Walk to Scotland, English Literature, University of Edinburgh.

From Alan Radford, 23 Feb 2015.

The Mayor of Durham’s account books contain many payments to waits but do not record their names, not the events for which they were employed.

May 1789, ‘the Banners Waites and Drums’ received 19s 6d for their services on the Thanksgiving Day. Also 3 Waites and 3 Drums were employed to celebrate the [35th anniversary of] King George III’s accession.

Names of Durham Waits in the 18th Century

From Roz Southey’s book on 18th century music in the N-E

Blenkinsop, Peter, ?-1733
Blenkinsop, Robert, 1705-1725
Bone, Peter, 1788-?
Burlingson, William, 1778
Gelson, Carnforth, 1747-1751
Taylor, Abraham, c. 1730
Young, Philip, ?-1788