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

Crowland (Lincolnshire)

Music and Society in Early Modern England, C. Marsh (2010)

n.b. Crowland did not have waits, but this quote is quite delicious! (Alan Radford)

“In 1635 Lieutenant Hammond spoke most rudely of the fenland town of Crowland, where the local drink reputedly put the inhabitants ‘into a drowsy and dead sleep, which they hold very convenient and necessary to avoid the divellish stinging of their humming Gnatts, which is all the Towne Musicke they have’.”


From “A Journey to Edinborough and the North of Scotland”, Mrs. C R Cotton, 1831
“We arrived at Dunstable in Bedfordshire about two in the afternoon, and sett up at the Redd Lyon; we din’d here and were entertained by the Town Musick.”


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

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, Aldermenand Magistrates regarding the payment of waytes.


READING WAITS (moonlighting at Oxford) in 1607 – “Christmas: its Origins and Associations”, W. F Dawson, 1902
“At this time, as on all other Holy-dayes, the Princes allowed Musitions (which were sent for from Readinge, because our owne Town Musick had given us the slipp, as they use to doe at that time when we had most need of them) played all dinner time, and allso at supper. The Prince as ofte as hee satt in the Hall was attended on by a Commoner and Scholler of the Colledge in tafaty sarcenett.


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.]