Notes& Queries 2006

Tuam Waits

Hello Chris from Galway City , Ireland.
Enjoyed your Web site on WAITS
There was WAITS in the Town of Tuam, County Galway , Ireland , where I was born and reared.
These were not mediaeval. But came into prominence in Tuam Town, for an entire week before Xmas.
4 men played music and shouted out Xmas greetings at 1.30 to 2.30 am as they walked the town streets.
They were men from a poorer district of the town. On Xmas Eve, they went around to the local shops and attracting the attention of the owner asked for a contribution for the Waits. Their identity was kept secret, as much as possible.
I understand that they only lasted from say 1958 to 1970 and then died away as these men got older, all are dead now.
They played Xmas carols and other Irish ballads.
One did all the greetings and we looked forward to hearing our family (we were Drapers/Clothing Store) name mentioned.
In those times it was very dark on the streets at this time as the electricity lights went out at midnight.
With the coming of more cars on the streets, opening of Fish and Chip shops and electricity staying on all night, the custom died.
I, for 27th year this year, lead a similar group on Boxing day called Wren Boys. We call to 9 public houses over a radius of 15 miles and as a group of 13 Musicians, Dancers, Singers, Recitation of the spoken word, we perform for 25 mins before moving on. This custom is also called The Mummers.
We donate all money given to us last year 1,880€ to the Alzheimers Association, here in the West of Ireland.
I spent near 17 years in Toronto Canada, and formed the Irish Canadian Mummers and Wren boys. Now that I am back here in my native Ireland, the custom is hanging on with a thread in Toronto, with the number of stops down from 14 to 1, while my new group of 10 years is going strong, until I myself cannot go on doing such in this world.
Bye now, Henry Geraghty.

Consell de Mallorca’s ministrils band

Dear Chris,
I’m writing from Palma de Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain) because I’m very interested in diferent pieces from your website.I’m a graphic designer and I working on a book about MINISTRILS (ministrees) from Mallorca.Pep Rotger is the author of this first credible study in spain about these themes.He is conservatory professor, specialized in classic, old and traditional instruments and director of Consell of Mallorca ministrils band.These group function since s.XII to actuallity. Well no certain completly; He’s recuperated this group and works for a regional instituation (Consellde Mallorca) like consultor and musical director of this traditional band.We need three pictures to include like visuals complements which appears in your web.I’m sending to you two other pictures about Consell de Mallorca’s ministrils band.

Thanks again for everything.
toni fiol torrens

Dublin’s Fair City

I just discovered the item below in Grattan Flood’s paper on the Dublin waits. If only we got paid like that these days!

“On 7 July 1591 regarding the city waits of Dublin, it was unanimouslyagreed by the city corporation “that every alderman shall pay eighteenpence yearly; every of the number of XLVIII shall pay twelve penceyearly; and every of the four score and sixteen shall pay nine penceyearly; and every house in the city other than the houses of the saidpersons shall pay four pence yearly; the same to be paid every half yearduring our good liking of the said musicians.”

Alan Radford

Mr Mayor?

Dear Charles,
The following dialogue has just occurred between us in waits research and I wonder if you’d be prepared to write a brief overview of Mr vs Lord Mayor?
James Merryweather

Lincoln’s Mayor is still “Mr” today, not “Lord”.
Al Garrod

Really? Normally, a city has a Lord Mayor, whereas a town only has a Mayor.
Chris Gutteridge

The rules have changed a bit, (as I understand it – and that is a tad loosely) but it’s not a town-city division. It used to be that only London, York and Bristol were allowed to call their mayor ‘Lord Mayor’. Some cities now illegally call their mayor Lord Mayor and common usage has meant that the meedger in their ignorance habitually default to ‘Lord Mayor’ whether or not it is appropriate. Good old Lincoln, sticking to ‘correct’ tradition. I think Mr Mayor sounds very grand!
This is worthy of some more authoritative discussion (e.g. by Charles Kightly who carries the ‘Auncient’ at the head of York processions) and posting as an aside on the website.
James Merryweather

Dear James,
I don’t think there ever was a hard and fast rule about who could use the title ‘Lord Mayor’–although NOW it is usually said that cities [i.e having a cathedral] have Lords Mayor.
Likewise in York at least there was no set time when the title “Lord Mayor” began to be used: certainly its use did not begin in the late 14th century when Richard II gave the sword and made York a ‘city and county’. By the later 15th century the mayors of York were sometimes being referred to as ‘my Lord the Mayor’, and by the later 17th century the title was being usually [but by no means always] used. I am not sure, but I think the formalisation of the invariable use of the title was [like so many other bits of civic lore] later 18th century or even Victorian. Nowadays we like to schematise everything, but we must not project this passion backwards onto our ancestors!
Hope this helps
Best wishes
Charles Kightly

Leeds Waits, fire-spotters

What did the Leeds Waits do? I thought you’d like this one…

“In the night between the 5 & 6 December 1725 Mr Robert Green’s workshop in Kirkgate was burnt down but no more damage done, the fire being timely espied by the waits.”
From the Memorandum Book of John Lucas, a local schoolmaster.

Alan Radford

I’ve added it in to your Leeds Waits page in the history section.
It would be nice to know whether fire-spotting was accepted as being one of their duties, or whether it was a happy coincidence, as they went out in the early hours ready to wake the citizens of Leeds on a dark December morning.

James Wallace

I have discovered some information you may find of interest.
On researching my family tree I was led to an ancestor, James Wallace (Wallis) who was the last official Town Wait of Berwick Upon Tweed. He is mentioned in the town’s Berwick Advertiser, in the issue dated 22nd March 1845. This records his death at 85 years of age.
“On the 15th James Wallace, Musician, in his 85th year.”
It goes on to state that he was the town’s last surviving Town Wait. He had been appointed 50 years previously, but 20 years prior to that he had practised as a musician in the Castlegate/Greenses area of Berwick. It also mentioned that he had been blind from an early age.
His son Paul moved to Edinburgh where he had a large family of whom most became music teachers and/or professional musicians. Paul being described as a Professor of Music.
I am glad to say that this trait has continued in the family as each generation since then has displayed a great fondness for music and a more than average musical ability in some form or other.
I hope that his information is of some use to you and can possibly add to your records. I thank you for producing a most readable and informative website. It certainly enabled me to absorb the flavour of these hard but more simple times. If you do in fact have any further information on this individual I would be glad to hear it.
Thank you once again, Gerry Wallace. (Glasgow)

Thanks for this Gerry. We are aware of your man (see Pictures) but that’s not to say we have the lot, so any info is welcome.
This is a good time to make us think again about Wallace, because our colleague in Lincoln is researching the last of his waits. The end of the waits is far from clear cut and we are interested in certain waits who seem (maybe) to have continued in their post after abolition by act of parliament in 1835.
Keep digging.
See also here.

Ravenscroft Relations

John Ravenscroft (? – 1745)
Any idea if he is related to…

Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1582 or 1592 – 1635)
“an English composer, theorist and editor, notable as a composer of rounds and catches, and especially for compiling collections of British folk music.”

Edward Ravenscroft (1654 – 1707) English dramatist.

Also: “Ede and Ravenscroft” are the oldest tailors in London, established in 1689.
And: Isn’t Ravenscroft the real surname of the legendary English DJ – John Peel (1939-2004)?
Al Garrod.

We don’t yet know of any relationship. An avid genealogist might soon find out ………………
James Merryweather

What it is to be English

“What is it to be English? It is a very serious question. The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done. Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, ‘Let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains’. A failure to rediscover English culture would fuel greater political extremism.”
Dr John Sentamu speaking before his enthronement as Archbishop of York, November 2005.

Regimental Bands

Dear Chris,
I was browsing through the Waits’ website recently, and I noted that in hisresponse to the reference to the Cambridge Waits in 1727 (which I sent to you in April), James Merryweather was bemoaning the fact that he had emasculatedan 18th century picture of a regimental band, by deleting the horn-players.
I enclose a copy of the complete picture. Or rather, the section of the picture showing the complete band. I have never seen a copy of the complete picture, which I think shows The Changing Of The Guard, or a parade, in London. Perhaps the original is in the National Army Museum, The Museum Of London, or the RoyalLibrary at Windsor. In Farmer’s “Military Music” the band is specifically named as that of the 1st Foot Guards; in all other sources which I have seen, it is identified only as a Guards’ band. The uniform would have consisted of a scarlet coat and waistcoat, with blue breeches, and blue facings (which would only show at the cuffs, as the coats are collar less).The elaborate lacing would have been gold, although (as in later years) The Coldstream Guards band may have worn silver lace. The instrumentation is of course the standard wind octet of 4 oboes, 2 horns, and 2 bassoons. A modernpicture of the Coldstream Guards in the 1750s (using this picture as its source) is included in the band history section of the Coldstream Guards website – although it is poorly reproduced. The website details are
I also enclose two pictures dated 1751, showing the bands of the Swiss Guard and the Holland Guard (both in the Dutch/Netherlands army). Again, these bothhave the standard wind octet instrumentation (before the introduction of clarinets) of 4 oboes, 2 horns, and 2 bassoons. The picture of the Swiss Guard’s band provides a “double-take”, as there seems to be a cornett player in the front rank; indeed, the text refers to the instrumentation including a “Zink”.However, closer inspection shows that the instrument has a long conical mouth­piece, identical to the (other) horn, rather than the usual small cornett mouthpiece. Although indistinct, you can just make out the bell of the horn obscuring the wrist of the other horn-player. It seems that the artist tried to avoid making this section of the picture being too “busy”, by unusuallyshowing this horn edgeways on. I have never come across an instance of the cornett being used in a military band. In this case, 1751 is rather a late date for the use of a cornett; and with 4 oboes in the band, there would seem to be little reason to have an additional soprano instrument. If you were going to replace one of the horns, I would have thought that a “Lizard” would be a more logical choice (but of course that was long gone)! I’m intrigued bythe footwork of these two bands. Instead of marching in step (like the English band), they seem to be strolling. This is more evocative of a civilian band in a procession, rather than a Guards’ band used to the parade ground. I know that civilians were engaged as regimental bandsmen – but there are limits!
Kind regards, David Jackson.

Great – at last. The pictures of the Dutch bands are marvellous too. You could almost say that the bassoons are by Jean Hyacinth Rottenburgh.

Regarding the recent correspondence on regimental bands, although I don’t have a picture of the occasion, according to a report in the Leeds Intelligencer, in July 1788 “the Town Band (of Leeds) performed with the band of the 44th Regiment of Foot on the occasion of the passing of the Bill to prevent the exportation of live sheep and wool.”
Regards, Alan Radford.

Bismillah Khan

I notice that India’s greatest shawm player, Bismillah Khan, has blown his last note at the age of 90 (,,1855450,00.html). Fellow shawmists everywhere should mark his passing.
Alan Radford

Stadpfeifers of Germersheim

I happened to see a picture of myself on your site as one of the Stadpfeifers of Germersheim.
I’m the second from the left and am playing alto shawm. Our group existed from 1990 to 2005. The drawing was probably done by a Frenchman from our twinned town, Tournus/Burgund at a concert which we gave in the “Hufeisen” Arts Centre in 1993.
I have enjoyed your website very much.
Many thanks,
Ansgar Mohr
Germersheim am Rhein

Nocturnal Musicke

Have a look at this It struck me that if the researchers (at the Uni. of the West of England) are serious, they need to be alerted about nocturnal music in the past (bet they’re not on to it yet).
I’m trying to hunt them down, but could do with some help. If we can find out who’s behind the research I could send them a narticle I’ve sent of to This England magazine.
On R4 they mentioned an ‘artist’ called Luke Jerram/Gerram.
James Merryweather

Good for the Health

“The entrayles which undernethe the myddreffe, be exercysed by blowynge, eyther by constraynte, or playenge on the Shaulmes, or Sackbottes, or other lyke instrumentes whyche doo requyre moche wynde”.
Sir Thomas Elyot, “The Castel of Helth” 1534

Chris Gutteridge.

Simon Ives

I’ve realised we’re not doing Simon Ives justice. I just found a pile of music containing catches and fantasias by him.
There are four of the fantasias at and they start from #18! They sound lovely. I think he might have been a rather good composer. gives a brief biog. and discography link.

He features significantly on

3 CDs with Ives music available at

… and here’s a link worth following one day:

… and I got this from a href=”
        Kelly, R. The Lyra Viol Music of Symon Ives, 1600-1662 (forthcoming).
        Can’t find any more on this, but I’ll ask the Gamba Soc.

That’s enough Ives for now.


Adam Gerdler

An item for you from Henry, Lord Clifford’s accounts for Skipton Castle, 1635/6 some date between Feb 18 and Jul 12 (quoted in L. Stone, “Companies of Players entertained by the Earl of Cumberland and Lord Clifford, 1607-1639”, Collections V, pp 17-28, The Malone Society (1959/60)).

“To Adam Gerdler whome my lord sent for frome York
to act a part in the Kt of the burning pestell 00.05.00″

Not only do the Southwark Waits get a mention in Beaumont & Fletcher’s play, but a York Wait gets to perform in it! Moreover, according to the Barbara Palmer reference,
“he may be accompanied by the York waits, who are paid £5 on the same day for what seems to have been a two-week stay “when my lord Digby was here at Skipton.” Given the vocal and instrumental demands of Beaumont’s text, it is tempting to think of the York waits providing professional musical talent, although the Cliffords kept their own perfectly competent household musicke.”
Alan Radford

Lincoln Waits

I would be delighted to hear from anyone with any information about Lincoln Waits – I am trying to compile a history. Please contact me at [email protected] or by telephoning 07896 005598.
Thanks. Al Garrod.
See Al’s new website

More on John Ravenscroft

Look what I got whilst checking my scanned text of Bridge. Amazing what you pass by or forget.

Hawkins has left us an interesting sketch of a Tower Hamlets Wait – He says :­-

   “John Ravenscroft was one of the waits of the Tower Hamlets and in the band of Goodman’s Fields playhouse was a Ripieno violin, notwithstanding which he was a per­former good enough to lead in any such concerts as those above described, and to say the truth was able to do justice to a Concerto of Corelli or an Overture of Handel. He was much sought after to play at balls and dancing parties, and was singularly excellent in the playing of Hornpipes in which he had a manner that none could imitate. It seems that this was a kind of music which of all others he most affected; so that by dint of a fancy accommodated to these little essays, he was enabled to compose airs of this kind equal to those of the ablest masters; and yet so little was he acquainted with the rules of composition that for suiting them with basses he was indebted to others.[1] . . . . . . Ravenscroft was a very corpulent man, a circumstance which made the neatness of his performance the more remarkable.” He died about 1745.[2]

[1] “Burney says” I remember very well in my musical life and have heard one of the four waits of Shrewsbury vamp a bass on all occasions, being unable to read one that was written.” MS. quoted by Hill. This wait and Ravenscroft would have made a good pair.

[2] “Why a fat man cannot play well on a violin I have yet to discover!

You could add that to his tune section and to the named waits section. Haven’t we got a Goodmans Fields Hornpipe? I was wondering what it referred to (Oh, so were you too).

Who, what or … was Hawkins. Are we supposed to know? This man’s refs are impossible. But we need Hawkins &amp: Burney some day.

Ploughing on.

See below, and the music section and the Ravenscroft page.

What time in the morning?

Almost cracked it! The waits played their shawms on the night watches. This is in Bridge, and of course, no ref. – blast! One slight catch: it doesn’t say when in the morning, so we still have to keep checking. What time in the morning did they play in the Cittyes of London and Canterbury?

“Rochester, February 6th, 1640.- Edward Rolfe and John Aleworth, Musicians, were sworne this day Freemen of this Citty, and in regard their freedoms were given them freely by the Citty, they do promise in lieue thereof to play through the Citty every morning upon their lowde musicke called the weightes between Hollantide and Candlemas as is usually done in the Cittyes of London and Canterbury.”

Past three o’ clock, And a bloody noisy morning. Past three o’ clock, WAKE UP YOU LOT!

Cambridge Waits

Dear Chris,
“Cambridgeshire Customs & Folklore”, by Enid Porter. Published 1969.
Reference to the Cambridge Waits in 1727, at the proclamation of Stourbridge Fair.

I thought that you might care to have a copy of these pages from the above book.
The list gives a marvellous description of the civic procession, but it also raises some questions about the music.

When the Corporation proclaimed the fair in 1727 the processionwas composed of, in order:

The Crier in Scarlet on horseback.
28 Petty Constables on foot.
Three Drums.
Banners and Streamers.
The grand Marshal.
Two Trumpets.
The Town Music (12 in number).
Two French Horns.
The Bel1man in state with the stand on Horseback.
Four Serjeants at Mace on Horseback.
The Mayor in his robes mounted on a Horse richly caparisoned, led by two footmen called redcoats with white wands.
The two representatives in Parliament on Horseback.
Twelve Aldermen according to seniority on Horseback (three and three) in their proper robes, the six seniors having their horses attended by as many Henchmen or redcoats with wands.
The Twenty four Common Councilmen three and three according to seniority.
Eight Dispencers in their Gowns (two and two).
Four Bailiffs in their habits (two and two).
The Gentlemen and Tradesmen of the Town.
C. H. Cooper: Annals of Cambridge, IV, 195.

It is not, perhaps, surprising, that this procession was, after 1758, curtailed ‘owing it is said to the trouble and charge of keeping it in a suitable condition’.
Bowtell MSS. in Downing College Library.

As you will see, three drums, two trumpets, the town music, and two French horns are all listed separately. Apart from the drums (which are slightly separated from the other musicians), the rest are all marching together. I suppose that it is possible that they formed a “massed band”; but if this were the case, it would be more sensible to have the drums next to the rest of the musicians, not slightly away from them.
Another option is that the trumpets (possibly with the drums) performed separately, taking it in turns with the Waits, allowing each group to “take a breather” as the procession went along. This ties in with the royal music up to the early 19th century, when the corps of state trumpeters was a completely separate ensemble from the royal band. No doubt the trumpets were regarded as the providers of grander, ceremonial music (including fanfares).
But the reference to the French horns separately is very interesting.There is the very specific reference to “The Town Music (12 in number)”. Were the Waits an oboe band, and the horns had been specially hired to augment them? A band of 12 at this time naturally suggests the influence of “Les Douze Grands Hautbois Du Roi” (the contemporary French Royal oboe band). In the 17th century, Charles II (at his Restoration) set up a royal band, based on the French “Twenty-four Violins of The King”. I’m not sure if he also established an oboe band; but similar bands were in existence in London in the late 17th century, and Cambridge is of course close enough to the capital to be influenced by its fashions.

By the 1740s and 50s, the normal regimental band was either a sextet or an octet 2 or 4 oboes (later clarinets), 2 French horns, and 2 bassoons. But no-one has found a date when horns were added to the existing oboe bands, apart from knowing that it happened sometime in the first half of the 18th century. So it seems possible that the city fathers of Cambridge were in the vanguard of this change in the instrumentation of wind bands – either taking their lead from military bands of the time, or following the latest London musical fashions.

Kind regards, David Jackson.

This Cambridge stuff is even better than you thought. There’s a parallel in York, see York Music p. 111-112. Declaration of war with Spain in 1739. Wait (5) with oboes & bassoons plus horns and drums of General Barrell’s regiment. The same question: did they and the waits play together. There’s that picture I used a couple of times in YM. There are 3 oboes & two bassoons, but I’ve chopped off the horn players. Those were the days when I didn’t keep a full record of my sources!
James Merryweather

Pied Piper of Hamlin

Why is this chap universally assumed to be someone who plays some sort of wind instrument other than bagpipes, when the ignorant usually assume that “piper” means bagpiper?
As it happens, being a solo performer, I would have thought bagpipes would be more appropriate?
Chris Gutteridge

Odd, innit.
Similar with Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son. Sometimes he plays a simple pipe and sometimes he has a tartan-covered bagpipe with no presumption he’s Scottish.
People is queer some times.
James Merryweather

Dunmow Flitch

What about this? (click here)
I’ll tell you more anon. You’ll be asking about it!
James Merryweather

Could have been the Lynn Waites, in their present line-up, with lysard, bagpipes and pipe and tabor – but what on earth is the character at the far end playing? Tell me more!
Chris Gutteridge

Don’t know. Far chap seems to have a ‘pipe’ of some sort. Taken literally, it’s thin, like a tin whistle. Allowing for artists’ lack of musical knowledge, and from the way it’s held, it could be a small shawm. True answer – no idea.
The bagpipe is particularly well depicted.
Why lysard? Why does it seem to change to double bore towards the bell? What did the artist see and what did he intend to depict?
Where did the artist get his ideas? What date?
Well, looking at the cozzies, they’re a mixture. Several of the men are in something like early to mid 17th c. with bits that suggest later 17th. The hats with the occasional ostrich feather suggest Victorian or Hollywood (Three Musketeers standard). The lady on the horse is pure Jane Austen. The wall adornment on the left could be 17th but more likely to be 18th century. I think this is, or is copied from a painting of, early to mid 19th c. Agreed? If only we had more information to help see if we can find the original, be it this print or a painting. I googled Dunmow Flitch for pictures and didn’t get this.
Was this ortiginally another story whith the Dunmow Flitch added. The flitch doesn’t look additional.
Where did they get the idea for the band? The bagpipe and lysard are completely out of period if 19th c. and, if 17th, the lysard is still 50-100 years too early (?) and the bagpipe looks very medieval.
I end up ???????????
Any thoughts yourself?

Yes, well! It looks as if someone’s been dipping into the dressing-up box, doesn’t it? To me, the overall impression of the whole picture, viewed through half-closed eyes, is 18th century. I’d hazard a guess at an early 19th century bad copy of an 18th century bad original! And I’d say the original was of an imagined scene. The lysard split bell-end (ouch!) is, I think, a confused attempt at misrepresenting the octagonal shape of the instrument. Lysards did linger, certainly on the continent, well into the 18th if not the early 19th century – see the Prague stadpipers. The Norwich Waits one is supposedly made in 1608. The bagpipes are more problematic. I wonder if they were copied from a tapestry of a medieval country dance scene in some mansion? I’ve seen one or two, presumably Flemish, and got the impression it was a standard 18th century tapestry pattern. They’re certainly a quite accurate representation.
So I’d say, summing up, that it was intended to be set in the 18th century, and that the band is a depiction of a generic “country bumpkins” band of ill-assorted old-fashioned instruments. I suspect that there was supposed to be humour in the fact that they are playing museum pieces.
I still can’t make anything of the far man’s instrument – it looks as if he’s chewing on the stems of a bunch of flowers to me!

Thanks for those wise insights, our Chris. A problem shared is a problem complicated. I’ll for ward this to Julian [Goodacre] for him to consider. He, of course, is much taken with the bagpipe which is not so different fom his English Greatpipe, based on the 14th c. Ellesmere ms. Chaucer Miller.

Gunnar Gunn

I Googled “Gunnar Gunn”. Not much, and what there is I can barely understand. Three bits below. I wonder if we have any Scandawegians that visit the Waits Website and could help with translation. I think ‘Født’ means born whereas ‘Børn’ is probably equivalent to our N. English (ex Norse) ‘bairn’, though I recall that the usual Norwegian for child is ‘barn’. Maybe ‘Børn’ is its plural. ‘Alder’ is obviously related to old and elder and I therefore suppose it means ‘age’, and I think it might be reasonable to presume ‘Ægteskab’ means ‘married’. So, our favourite Vekter or Vekteren is heading for his 80th birthday. If we could find him we could send a card from all the Waits!

Norsk musikkhistorisk arkiv
Maud Hurums operaoversikt

bass – studerte med Waldemar Johnsen, Nanny Larsén-Todsen, Luigi Ricci og Anne Brown og debuterte i Oslo i 1958. Han var ansatt ved Malmö Statsteater 1956-57, Landestheater i Salzburg 1960-61 og gjestet Tyskland, Belgia og Spania. PåDen Norske Opera var han bl.a. Sparafucile i “Rigoletto”, Mefistofeles i “Faust” og Sarastro i “Tryllefløyten”.

This has to be him.

Gunnar Gunn
Født : 13 Jul 1926

Alder : 76

Ægteskab 30 Dec 1964 – Ristil Ingeborg Skovgaard

Børn 29 Sep 1970 – Ingrid Margrethe Gunn, senere Skovgaard
13 Jun 1972 – Øyvind Gunn, senere Skovgaard

This might well be him (and wife and children?). That makes him 80 this July.

There’s a picture of him here – date?

James Merryweather

I am a norwegian. Actually I am a relative of Gunnar Gunn, although I’vebarely seen him all my life. I am doing a bit of family research, andtrying to find information about him through the internet as a first step.Which is how I ran into your site.

“Født” means “born”.

“Børn” is either dialect or danish.
The most common dialect (bokmål), which is what I speak and what anaverage spellchecker will use, has “barn” as the word for both “child” and”children”. But if a norwegian said “børn” to me, I would immediatelythink of it as dialect for “barn”, in other words “child” or “children”.

(As a curious coincidence here regarding which words you’ve come across,”born” is actually a norwegian dialect word for “barn” (“child” or”children”) that is much more widespread than “børn” (which I am not evensure is norwegian). In other words, if you read “Born: August Andersen” ona norwegian page, it is most likely in nynorsk dialect, and it is intendedto say that August Andersen is a child of the person. Not that it is theperson’s birth name or that he was born in August.)

“Alder” means “age”. No ambiguety here.

“Ægteskab”, like “børn”, is either dialect or danish. It might be a bit ofboth, and might indeed be both, as Norway was for some time under danishrule, and a danified version of norwegian became widespread (this, alongwith the natural evolution of language, is the main reason why norwegianis different from icelandic even in written form).And yes, you are correct again, it means marriage. The bokmål dialect(most widespread) word for it is “ekteskap”. I guess if you want to guessat its etimology, you might say that a naive translation would be”realness”, from “ekte”, which means “real” or “genuine”, and “skap”which, apart from meaning “closet” in modern norwegian, is a suffix toindicate something like a trait, as in “dårskap” (an antiquated word for”foolishness”).

So that is 4 of 4 correct, right on. 🙂

As far as I can tell from your webpage, you are a bunch of musiciansinterested in old city life in Europe. What is your relation to GunnarGunn? And was he in good health the last time you saw him? Is his voicestill holding up at 80?

Øyvind Elgstøen

See also Trondheim below.

John Ravenscroft

I’ve found a load of tunes by or attributed to Ravenscroft.
One source points at Thomas, but since others have plumped for John who was one of the Tower Hamlets waits and one of the tunes is, probably not coincidentally, Tower Waits Hornpipe, I think we might reckon John. I think the argument is strengthened by the knowledge that most (all? I haven’t checked) were published by John Walsh in 1731, during the lifetime of John (d. ca. 1745) and yonks after Thomas (fl. 1609-11).
The great thing is that we have a greater probability than usual with tunes claimed by Bridge, Langwill etc. to have been waits’ tunes, that these were for a wait (John Ravenscroft, admittedly it is possible as a freelance fiddler) or a band of waits (Tower Hamlets) to play. If I’m honest, the evidence is still a bit loose. Do you think the argument can be strengthened?
We live in exciting times (for waits, anyway).
James Merryweather.

See Ravenscroft in the music section, and above, and the Ravenscroft page.

Hadland 1915

Here’s a good ‘un: instruments and music. It’s from Hadland 1915 which I’m scanning so others can get at it. Tom-a-bedlam is also the rare Rat Catcher (on Switter-swatter, I think).

In 1677. Sir Francis Chaplin, Knt, Lord Mayor. “The several companies adorned with streamers and banners, and fitted with Hoe-boyes, Cornets, Drums, and Trumpets, moved by water towards Westminster. . . . His Lordship and the guests being all seated, the City Music are in preparation to exercise their delightful science and finger their instruments with good skill and excellent humour, but (after some suits of Ayres being played) a person of good fancy with a well composed voice begins a new song of entertain­ment, one of the City Musicians being attired like to New-Bedlamite with appropriate action and audible voice singeth the second song to the tune of Tom-a-bedlam.”

James Merryweather.

According to Sabol’s “Four Hundred Songs and Dances from the Stuart Masque”, “Gray’s Inn Masque” originated as an antimasque dance in Beaumont’s “Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn” performed at Whitehall on 15 February 1613 to celebrate the marriage of the Elector Palatine and Princess Elizabeth, and was probably composed by John Coperario. He cites the tune’s first use for the song “Mad Tom o’Bedlam” as John Sturte’s Lute Book (circa 1615), and he says the song retained its popularity through to Restoration times. The tune finally appeared in the 7th edition of John Playford’s “Dancing Master”, in 1686.

Alan Radford

More Googling

James Merrweather’s comments on the results of Alan Radford’s latest finds on the internet.

This is splendid stuff. Grist to the mill. A couple of thoughts:

Do we have the ‘Town pipers in J S Bach’s orchestra’ in its original German? Translation can create lots of pitfalls and this is an important one for us to get right. If we want at some point to make our presence really felt, the more Bach refs. we can get into our argument, the better the impact. (see the new Bach Family page.)

Bruges Town Hall also has on display one of a set of three tool-decorated, black waits’ instrument cases by Pieter de Veughelare, 1532. The other two, plus another slightly different, are in the Gruuthusemuseum. They’re very like the one at the feet of the trumpeter (click here). Time I collated my small collection of cases for the website.

The York Robinson ref. has had me thinking. 29th May: a Playford tune 1668 and “All things bright & beautiful”. Your source mentions the suppression of the Jacobite Rebellion in respect of 28-29 May celebrations. Claude Simpson refers it to a) The birthday of Charles II and, with more emphasis b) his homecoming in 1660. Well, the tune pre-dates the Jacobite rebellion, so I guess Simpson is right. Thoughts?

James and Chris,
Regarding the perils of translation, I think the following is quite unambiguous:Richter, Bernhard Friedrich, Stadtpfeifer und Alumnen der Thomasschule in Leipzig zu Bachs Zeit. :, BachJb, Vol. 4 (1907), 32-78.

And how about:
By the 15th century, most German civic authorities maintained a wind band, its principal instruments were by the 16th century the cornett and sackbut, but each player mastered many instruments. The Leipzig Stadtpfeifer probably reached their peak during the time of Kantors Knüpher, Schelle and Kuhnau; Bach’s complaint in 1730 that they were partly retired, and partly nowhere near in such practice as they should be, undoubtedly reflects a decline which took place after 1720. In the second half of the 17th century, the Stadtpfeifer were an uncontested élite among professional musicians: they enjoyed significant privileges and almost total control over their string-playing associates (the Kunstgeiger) in the Ratsmusic, or civic musical establishment. Indeed, nearly all Stadpfeifer began their careers amongst Kunstgeiger and were later promoted to the more prestigious wind band.

And then there’s:Two sisters of Anna Magdalena Bach, themselves daughters of a court trumpeter at Zeitz, married court trumpeters at Weißenfels, and both Gottfried Reiche, who served J.S. Bach as senior Stadtpfeifer in Leipzig, and I. E. Altenburg (1734-1801), who published an important history and tutor for the natural trumpet in 1795, came from Weißenfels.

and:Since the end of the fourteenth century, most good-sized German towns had supported a small ensemble of Stadtpfeifers (city wind players) and Kunstgeigen (skilled string players). Often these people were one and the same. They provided music for every conceivable kind of civic event, from piping the hours or marking the comings and goings of eminent personages, to playing for the inevitable weddings, banquets, and funerals. A first-rate town band was an important symbol of affluence and status; German instrumentalists were renowned and coveted throughout Europe during the Renaissance for their virtuosity and versatility. In Hamburg in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, the city’s music was led by the great English composer William Brade and the violin virtuoso Johann Schop. By the century’s end, however, the band had deteriorated, suffering from cronyism and other kinds of corruption. The town council abolished it sometime after 1695. In Leipzig, the Stadtpfeifer survived into the eighteenth century, although J.S. Bach remarked on their uneven abilities in one of his many contentious memoranda to the town council. The privileged position of the Stadtpfeifer was undermined by the emergence of another sort of ensemble, the collegium musicum.

Lepers Festival, Amsterdam, 1604

Here’s something interesting for you: 1604, the Lepers festival (or should one say in aid of the Lepers) with what certainly appear to be the Amsterdam Stadpeipers. The Livery is apparently the Citie’s (note the XXX upon the Lace, the main charge on the City Arms). This is the first time I’ve seen this: it’s in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. I would imagine that the music on the Portable stand might be almost legible in the original, though it’s apparently very small, this group being a mere detail in a much larger painting. Don’t think much of the Trumpet, if that’s really what it is, though the banner is in the expected colours. What is curious is the lack of other instruments: but perhaps on this occasion they merely sang?
Tony Barton.

Marvellous. I think there’s a lot to get out of this if we look hard (and don’t over interpret). It looks like the man on the right also has a trumpet, so are they all trumpeters? Dual purpose stadspijpers with trumpets and other instruments? Why have the dots if they’re only trumpeters? A new fanfare or something to keep the apprentice occupied? He evidently is “ther boye” and I’m not sure we’ve seen one before, though often read about them in the records. The little children are looking up to and reaching out to the great men. They are, I suppose, familiar and possibly much loved regulars at social events, just as we’ve tended to presume was the case with our waits. I suppose this is also the first illustration we’ve seen of a waits’/trumpeters’ music stand, and portable at that, assuming you have a boy to hold it. I wonder if these are portraits? What do the records say for 1604: four names and an apprentice?
Lots of answers and even more questions. Just as it should be.
James Merryweather

Tony Barton is an expert historical costumier, and one of The York Waits.

Named Waits

What I’ve discovered is that north of the Humber, because waits tended to be bagpipers, they crop up in the historical information on Northumbrian pipers’ websites. Hence I’ve discovered named waits in Newcastle, Morpeth, Alnwick, Hexham, their interconnections, etc.. If only there was some continuity of heritage we could similarly exploit to find our brethren south of the Humber.
Regards, Al.

A few more trawlings from the web:

“There are town pipers, or Waits, recorded in Alnwick (1680s), Hawick, Jedburgh (1500 onwards), and Hexham (1665–80).”

“John Peacock, the last of the Newcastle Waits, and reputedly one of the best performers of the time.”

“John Peacock was a legendary Northumbrian piper, credited with extending the range of the instrument through the innovation of adding keys to the plain chanter. Although renowned in his time, Peacock fell on hard times toward the end of his life, and had to rely on the generosity of others in the piping community. “…Peacock (was a) celebrated Northumbrian piper, who came to Newcastle originally from Morpeth, and was perhaps the best small-pipes player who lived, although not a scientific performer. He was one of the Incorporated Company of Town Waits in Newcastle, and in 1805 in conjunction with William Wright, published a small oblong book of Tunes for the Northumbrian Small Pipes, of which only two or three copies are now known to exist” (Bruce & Stokoe). Peacock lived from 1754(or 6) to 1817 and was taught by William Lamshaw at a time when the smallpipes were just beginning to decline in popluarity.”

“Three Youngs are known to us, all living in Alnwick. One, John, was dismissed in 1749 as the last of the Town Waits. The other names are George, and James, his son. The family were pipemakers, James supplying Robert Reid’s father (also Robert) with his first set of ‘large’ Northumbrian pipes. Little else is known of them.”

Alan Radford

London’s Triumphs

A book with a singularly long title, for the bibliography perhaps:
Londons triumphs illustrated with many magnificent structures & pageantson which are orderly advanced several stately representations ofpoetical deities, sitting and standing in great splendor on severalscenes in proper shapes : with pertinent speeches, jocular songs (sungby the city musick) and pastoral dancing performed October 29, 1677 forthe celebration, solemnity, and inauguration of the Right Honourable SirFrancis Chaplin Knight, lord mayor of the city of London.
author: Thomas Jordan, published by John Playford, London, 1677.
Alan Radford

Town Drums

Dear Chris,
On “Flog It” (BBC2)they had a section between the antiques when they visited a museum. I was cooking my tea and missed the introductory bits, but my attention was grabbed when the presenter and the curator examined an 18th c. TOWN DRUM (Gorgeous). They talked about its known uses which were, of course, very like or overlapped some of the English waits duties. The programme came from Aberdeen which – in relative terms – is near Auchtertyre (only 4h.) and the museum, I think, was the Toll Booth. (It should be noted that the auction was – I think – in Edinburgh, so the museum might not be in Aberdeen).
I went straight to the www and googled everything I could think of, but could get nowhere. Even the programme’s website was of no help at all. Can you try?
James Merryweather

Would this be the one? (perth Town Drum)

Don’t know, but it could be worth collecting. Let’s start a collection of town drums. I tried “toll booth” in the search window at that site and there was no reference to a museum, but look what I did get – a procession you can’t enlarge. Again might be worth following up.

Googling for Waits

The following factual and literary snippets are from a bit of Googling. It includes the discovery of extant Estonian waits from Viljandi.

“William Lamshaw 1712-1798, an innkeeper at Morpeth, and one of the Town Waits, became the Duchess’s piper in 1775, was John Peacock’s first teacher, and his family is remembered in the tune Lamshaw’s Fancy.”

“John Peacock was a celebrated Northumbrian piper, who came to Newcastle originally from Morpeth, and was perhaps the best small-pipes player who lived, although not a scientific performer. He was one of the Incorporated Company of Town Waits in Newcastle.”
“John Young was dismissed in 1749 as an Alnwick Town Wait.

“Georg Abraham Schneider was born in a small village near Darmstadt 19th April 1770. Because of his poor parents, he did not receive a good school education but was soon sent to the town waits of Darmstadt. There he learnt playing a number of instruments.”

Waits in Estonia? contains “Tarmo Tabas studied singing at Tartu College of Music, and has sung in the early music ensemble Via Sonora. At the same time he was for many years a member of the Viljandi Town Waits.”

Tobias Smollett, “The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker”, contains:
“Mrs. Tabitha’s favourite dog Chowder, having paid his compliments to a female turnspit, of his own species, in the kitchen, involved himself in a quarrel with no fewer than five rivals, who set upon him at once, and drove him up stairs to the dining-room door, with hideous noise: there our aunt and her woman, taking arms in his defence, joined the concert; which became truly diabolical. This fray being with difficulty suppressed, by the intervention of our own footman and the cook-maid of the house, the ’squire had just opened his mouth, to expostulate with Tabby, when the town-waits, in the passage below, struck up their music (if music it may be called), with such a sudden burst of sound, as made him start and stare, with marks of indignation and disquiet. He had recollection enough to send his servant with some money to silence those noisy intruders; and they were immediately dismissed, though not without some opposition on the part of Tabitha, who thought it but reasonable that he should have more music for his money.”

A reference for the bibliography:
“Town Waits and Country Fiddlers in Denmark”, Doris Stockmann & Annette Erler (eds.), Historische Volksmusikforschung. Studiengruppe zur Erforschung historischer Volksmusikquellen im ICTM. vol. 10. Göttingen 1994, pp. 285-294.

Newcastle, 1649. “Oliver Cromwell stayed with his army in Newcastle for three days. As he dined in the mayor’s house, he was serenaded by the Town Waits in their blue cloaks and beavers, on the little bridge over the Lort Burn near the Sandhill. He left on 20 October, but returned on 15 July 1650 on his way to the fateful encounter with the Scots at Dunbar.”

Austin Dobson (1840-1921), “A French Critic on Bath”, from “De Libris: Prose and Verse” 1908?
“One seems to see the clumsy stage-coaches depositing their touzled and
tumbled inmates, in their rough rocklows and quaint travelling headgear,
at the “Bear” or the “White Hart,” after a jolting two or three days’
journey from Oxford or London, not without the usual experiences, real
and imaginary, of suspicious-looking horsemen at Hounslow, or masked
“gentlemen of the pad” on Claverton Down. One hears the peal of
five-and-twenty bells which greets the arrival of visitors of
importance; and notes the obsequious and venal town-waits who follow
them to their lodgings in Gay Street or Milsom Street or the
Parades,–where they will, no doubt, be promptly attended by the Master
of the Ceremonies, “as fine as fivepence,” and a very pretty,
sweet-smelling gentleman, to be sure, whether his name be Wade or

Regards, Alan Radford.

Bagpipeing Waits

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

This is really good because James Allen is very well known, as is Peacock the Newcastle wait, also a bagpiper. They parallel nicely with town pipers further north, such as Geordy Sime of Dalkeith, Habbie Simpson of Kilbarchan (I went through there this summer – I believe there’s a monument but I hadn’t put two & two together at that point) and John Pringle of Lauder. I’ve got stuff on them all, awaiting collation. Pete Stewart’s book on the history of the bagpipe in Lowland Scotland has just arrived (you can get it from Julian Goodacre) and when I’ve read it I’ll know more.
Re Geordy Sime: I’ve found a set of 3 drones in Inverness Museum that are very like his in the picture. I’ve asked around and nobody knows of any other bagpipes like this. The Inverness pipes have no useful provenance information.
James Merryweather
Click here for more on Geordy Sime

Female Wait?

In “Apollo’s Swan and Lyre – Five Hundred Years of the Musicians’ Company (of London)” by Richard Crewdson (2000), he cites one City of London Wait and Member of Court of the Mucisians’ Company circa 1600, Walter Lowman by name, to whom a little girl from Christ’s Hospital was apprenticed.
Regards, Alan Radford.
(There is some evidence of another female Wait in the records of the City of Bristol for 1597. Chris.)

Vekter of Trondheim

Here’s Gunnar Gunn, the vekter of trondheim singing his vekter’s watch song at the west end of Trondheim Cathedral. He carries his lantern and an ugly morgenstern for bashing miscreants.
Gunnar was a retired opera singer (who knew his G & S) who just loved to dreess up as and be the vekter, a well-known historical icon in modern Trondheim (also the logo of a local insurance company or suchlike). Gunnar was an avuncular figure who befriended The York Waits in (I forget the date – some time in the 90s). Apart from maintaining a jovial welcome for us throughout our stay, one evening he took us to the Vekter Restaurant where we fed on delicious elk steaks! Sometimes, apparently, there is bear on the menu.
Sadly, we lost touch with him after he sent us the words of his vekter’s song. I think mine must be in the TYW archive at the Borthwick Institute, University of York.
James Merryweather.

See also Gunnar Gunn above.

UPDATE We are pleased to say that we have been contacted by Gunnar’s daughter Ingrid Skovgaard, who has given us contact details for him, and tells us that it will be his birthday on 12th July.

Britons, Strike Home!

You will recall that some months ago I submitted details of the song as mentioned in the book Songs & Music Of The Redcoats, by Lewis Winstock (1970), viz:”It was also played in 1743 at (the battle of Dettingen) in rather quaint circumstances. As the French infantry gave way before the charge of the Life Guards, the trumpeter of the Earl of Craufurd’s troop gave an impromptu rendering of Britons, strike home, and the Earl, with old-fashioned courtesy, wheeled his horse to thank the imaginative musician.
(After the battle of Saratoga, during the American War of Independence) … Sir Henry Clinton, Howe’s second-in-command, could still afford to spend a good deal of time relaxing, and at a splendid ball he called for the band to play the well-known war song, –Britons, strike home! The American girl to whom he had been talking sweetly suggested that his tongue had slipped. “The commander in chief has made a mistake. He meant to say, Britons, go home!
During 2005, in celebration of the bicentenary of the death of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar, The New Scorpion Band toured with a show consisting of songs and readings about Nelson and his battles. One extract was taken from the journals of Captain Frederick Hoffman, RN, in The Tonnant, who stated that the ship’s band played Britons, strike home as they sailed into action at Trafalgar.
You may care to contact Tim Laycock ( about this quote, although there may be no more detail than the above extract.
Kind regards, David Jackson.

Another waits example, this time Manchester:
“Manchester, June 7th.1756 – On Saturday War was proclaimed in this town and in Salford. The Under Sheriff was attended by the Justice of Peace, the Borrough Reeve, Constables, and a considerable number of gentlemen, a body of Halbert-men, and also by the Towns musick, which played Britons strike home, before and after the reading the Declaration of War. There was a great concourse of people, who expressed their satisfaction by three loud huzzas. Soon after many hundred of the Declarations of War were given away to country people, the better to enable them to judge of the justice of his Majesty’s proceedings and the perfidiousness of the French.
It just goes to show how popular it was as a patriotic song – virtually a second national anthem. Waits other than those of Leeds and Manchester must have played it many times on suitable patriotic occasions, and I’m sure we could find other quotes if we looked. David’s examples, if I may be a little picky, don’t relate to waits, and I do wonder how one could get a recognisable rendition of the tune out of a natural trumpet.
Alan Radford

Dear Chris,
A few hours after sending you the information about performances of Britons, strike home, I came across yet another reference in my collection:
THE SIEGE OF SAVANDROOG, 10 December 1791 (2nd British-Mysore War).
This fort, with a Mysore garrison of more than 3500, was considered impregnable. With 4000 troops Lord Cornwallis besieged it on 10 December, breaching the walls a week later and stormed it on 21 December. The British did not lose a single soldier.
Brassey’s Battles, John Laffin 1986/1995.
The 52nd Foot (later The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry) were part of the British force. Their regimental band was present on the battlefield, and they played Britons, strike home when the walls of the fort were breached.
As previously advised, it was unusual for the British army to have its regimental bands present on the battlefield, mainly because the officers would have usually hired civilian musicians to act as bandsmen, and they were therefore non-combatants. The drums and fifes would have been on the battlefield; they were enrolled men (or boys), and the drums would have been used as signalling instruments. By the 19th century, it was customary to employ bandsmen on the battlefield as stretcher-bearers, not as musicians.
Kind regards, David Jackson.

A newspaper report from Cork, very similar to my own from Leeds:
“Last Saturday about 12 o’clock War was declared in this City againstFrance, which was performed in the following order. First came theseveral Societies of Tradesmen with their colours displayed; then aparty of Soldiers with Bayonets fixed; then the Drums and Feifs of thedifferent Regiments; next the City Officers, with the Silver Oar andMace; then the Right Worshipful the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, Sheriffs,Burgesses and Common Councilmen, with the City Musick playing BritainStrike Home; all being followed by the Officers of the Regiments on dutyhere, and the Hon. Sir Henry Cavendish’s Company of True Blues, in themidst of loud Huzzas and Acclamations, all striving to shew their Loveand Loyalty to the best of Kings, and their abhorrence to the French. Inthe Afternoon the Right Worshipful the Mayor gave an elegantEntertainment at the Tholsel, where a great many loyal Toasts weredrunk.”
From the CORKE JOURNAL, 3 June 1756
Alan Radford

I’ve just been idly browsing “Notes & Queries”, where some months ago there was a thread on “Britons Strike Home”: Alan pooh-poohed the idea that it might be playable on the trumpet, but a version fits rather well: so well, in fact, that it was played by a witty Cavalry trumpeter as the British Cavalry charged (successfully) at the battle of Dettingen (1743): amongst the Cavalry Fanfares in my possession is one called “Dettingen”, which is still part of the repertoire: it is quite recognisably “Britons Strike Home”. I admire his skill in playing it whilst on the move!
Tony Barton (one of The York Waits, and a natural trumpet player).

Has anyone found a full set of words for Purcell’s “Britons Strike Home” that they could kindly share with me?
Many thanksAl Garrod.

For Alan Radford’s original correspondence on this subject, click here.