Notes& Queries 2005

Alnwick Waits

This morning I followed up dead ends I incountered in Alnwick on the way home last Wednesday, but I did have a couple of phone numbers.
In a short while I was talking to the Town Wait of Alnwick!
Adrian Ions reinstated the post a few years ago (to go alongside the already reinstated bellman) and has never heard of any of us. He is as excited as I am about this encounter, and we all might be at the prospect of his joining the Guild. He has all the history because he’s Alnwick’s local historian. He doesn’t do computers, so he’s not heard of our website. He’s not a musician, but has friends who help in occasionally in that department, and tells me that Thomas Coward and his son, the 2 waits towards the end, perambulated with fiddle and Northumbrian bagpipe (bingo!).
He is very keen on historical research and I’m certain we’ll soon have a pile of stuff from him. There are two badges (I think Jewett & Hope mentions one) and he has a replica.
James Merryweather.

On a website on the history of the Northumbrian pipes at I found the following in a list of official pipers to the Percys of Alnwick:

1746-7 James Allan played for the Countess of Northumberland
1752 Walpole records that “the Countess has her pipers”
1760 James Allen accompanied the Countess to the Coronation of George III
1766 In the publication “The Life of Allan” it states that James Allan wore the Percy’s crusade trophy on his right arm
1769 James Allan appointed town waite by the Chamberlain of Alnwick
1769 James Allan dismissed as town waite of Alnwick and from the castle for stealing
1803 James Allan convicted at Durham Assizes of horse stealing. He escaped hanging and deportation, and died in 1810. His pardon, signed by the Prince Regent, arrived two days after his death.

Was he the waite because he was a piper, or was that irrelevant?
There’s more on James Allan at$193 including a picture and details of the biography mentioned above.
Alan Radford.

I found the following quote in “Patronage, politics and the modernization of leisure in northern England: the case of Alnwick’sShrove Tuesday football match.”, English Historical Review, Nov, 2002,by Neal Garnham.

“In February 1828, perhaps anticipating trouble, the AlnwickCommissioners and magistrates issued a series of handbills warning ofthe consequences of playing football through the town’s streets, anddirecting would-be players towards the castle demesne, where a matchwould be contested for a prize of five sovereigns. The game thenproceeded in the relative isolation, and some splendour, of the castlegrounds. The two sides, composed of the married and unmarried Freemen,first assembled in the town hall before marching in procession to thecastle. The procession was headed by a large flag, a laurel wreath, anda gilded ball, all surmounted by the Percy family crest. The Boroughwaits led the way. A crowd estimated at 5,000 watched the proceedings,including some `of the most respectable inhabitants’ of the town. A`close and vigorous contest’ of three hours’ duration followed, in whichthe unmarried men triumphed. The teams then paraded away from the field,back to the town hall, where the evening was `spent in true rusticrevelry’.”

We’d better let Adrian know.
Alan Radford

From Charles Hindley’s description of Alnwick in the late 18th century:

“The streets offered but few attractions; they were badly paved, and theflagging of the footpaths was in a wretched condition; they were lightedat nights by a few lamps of an antiquated description. At this time manyof the feudal customs were in great repute. The stocks, bull-baiting,cock-fighting, the kicking of football in the open streets, were alwayssure to draw together a gazing throng. At nights the streets wereconsiderably enlivened by the strains of the borough waits.”

London Waits’ Instruments

A few details on the use of new instruments by the City of London Waits, from “Apollo’s Swan and Lyre” by Richard Crewdson:
The Court of Aldermen purchased for the waits the following instruments to augment their shawms:

sackbuts in 1526, 1555, 1559, 1581 and 1597
“certain instruments called a set of vialles” in 1561
“a whole set of recorders” in 1568
a curtal in 1597

Alan Radford.


I’ve been in St John’s Church, Leeds on many occasions. Recently they improved the lighting, and Pam and I were playing there last night. Then I noticed for the first time that about half of the decorated plaster ceiling sections contained within the design two lysarden players. The church was built in 1632-33, but I’ll have to check if the ceiling plasterwork is original. I’ll try to get you a photograph.
Alan Radford.
The custodian of St. John’s Church assured me this morning when I dropped in to take a photo that the ceiling plasterwork is 1632-3.

New Wait

By accident I got another wait by name: Richard Avison, father of Charles Avison (1709-1770). He was one of the Newcastle waits, but I don’t know much more than one sit reckons: “He was paid the very small sum of £4 per annum (plus a uniform – valued at £5 when a cash substitute was offered) which he presumably supplemented with teaching.”
Well, £4 sounds exactly right for a wait in many towns & cities, that made up with many other forms of income which might well have included teaching.
Interesting how we know of so many waits because of their sons’ successes and a pity so many commentators skim over the father’s profession which, at the time, was pretty hot.
Can we find more about Avison? He’s just one of hundreds of waits post REED who need ‘doing’.
P S We ought to add John Peacock, who I (we?) have taken for granted, just because he’s well-known as a Northumbrian bagpiper. I’ll try and dig out more than just that he was one of the last Newcastle waits – oh, you haven’t heard of him or Peacock’s Tunes?

Music in Dalkeith

I think we ought to have a link to this!

Ljubljana castle

I’ve been surfing again. Go to
I’ve sent an I mail to see if they still have any Pipers? They do have a medieval festival in September with medieval & Renaissance music!
Roger Offord.
P S Unfortunately the Slovenian Tourist Board has confirmed that there are no City Pipers left in Ljubljana. A shame really as I quite fancied a trip there!

Johann Pezel

Dear Chris,
This morning on Radio3 I heard a performance, on modern brass, of a suite of pieces by Pezel. My attention was grabbed by the announcer saying he was a town bandsman in Leipzig. Here’s what I’ve managed to find out about him to add to our collection of real waits. No doubt it’s not all true or accurate, and some might have copied from others. Can somebody look him up in Grove? My four odd volumes don’t include ‘P’.
No pictures in my google picture search, but he made me think of his contemporary Gabriel Schutz, the cornettist-stadtpfeiffer we do have on the website.
James Merryweather.
See Miscellanea section for more.

Gloucester Waits

Announcing the birth of a new member of the brotherhood – The Waites of Gloucester, contact Simon Pickard, ]]>
Click here for picture.
Alan Radford.

Drummers & Waits

We are in the habit of thinking that drummers performed with waits on certain occasions, but were not themselves members of the waits.
In “Apollo’s Swan and Lyre – Five Hundred Years of the Musicians’ Company” by Richard Crewdson (sometime Master of the Musicians’ Company of London), The Boydell Press (2000), the author discusses the close association between the Musicians’ Company of London and the City Waits. He notes that freemen of one London company could practise the trade or craft of any other, and among examples cites the following members of such other Companies who nonetheless became members of the City of London Waits:
1597     Arnold Pinckney, a member of the Joiners’ Company admitted to the Waits as drumster
1598     John Molde, a member of the Clothworkers’ Company, admitted to the Waits as drummer
Alan Radford

Interesting. I’ll put it in “Notes & Queries”, and put the book in the biblio.

The book is a mine of information on the City Waits, including an item about one of their members circa 1600 taking a small girl from Christ’s Hospital as an apprentice.

Hi Al.
In York that was certainly the case and I don’t think I have ever found a wait-drummer elsewhere. I’d have to consult my files to be certain, but I think it is among the Kent records there is a town or city where the distinction is very, very clear. Your two Londodn cases are, I think, unusual if not – er – I was going to say unique, but there are two (bi-ique? tandique? duique? dualque?).
This is a discussion worth pursuing and publishing (on the waits website or copying to it). The York Waits have never apologised that one of their number played drum because it adds so much to the sound, and in a procession it keeps everybdy moving at a sensible and steady rate. Of course, where we have records of processions, drummers are always present but, as you suggest, they were never waits.
Ditto trumpeters – another useful study for somebody with not enough to do!
Anybody volunteer for either? I can supply data or references. If somebody would like a working break in the Highlands I could offer accomm. and a reasonable specialist library.
James Merryweather

Drunken Barnaby

Dear Waits,
I’ve recently come across this which almost certainly refers to waits somewhere – possibly in our region – and could be a valuable quotation:

At great feasts they are to play upon shagbut, cornetts,
shawms and other instruments going with wind.
Richard Brathwaite, 1621


I haven’t got any of Brathwaite’s books and I’ve ‘Googled’ as far as my patience will allow but can’t tie it to any of his works, though Drunken Barnaby’s Four Journeys to the North of England would seem to be the obvious place to look first … except that it was published in 1638. Dates are apparently movable. Brathwaite tells the famous tale of John Bartendale, the hanged piper (good idea, some would say) and gives the date 1643, five years after Barnaby was published!
I’ve attached a document of what I’ve got so far. Can anybody shine a light on this puzzle?

Barwick Waits

Lynn Hulse, in her Ph D thesis in the early 1990s, cites the BarwickWaits as being paid for playing at Londesboro Hall. She identifiesthese as probably from Barwick-in-Elmet (near Leeds), not fromBarwick-upon-Tweed.
Dr Alan Radford
School of Biology
The University of Leeds