Notes& Queries 2008

Crawshaw Memorial

Chris et al,
Attached is a photo of the new memorial stone to Thomas Crawshaw that we are dedicating on November 15th. It’s already in place on his grave, but not yet “officially” there. The oval at the top is of course a Leeds Waits badge, which I thought it only right that he should have back after all these years.
Feel free to put it on the website.
Alan Radford

Good idea. We could do this elsewhere. I fear commemorating all of my York lot – as I’d like to – would cost a fortune, but maybe a single memorial to them all? Like a war mem.
James Merryweather

Fortunately (for this purpose) I only know the names of four of mine, and the grave of only one. That’s a pretty poor state of affairs for a band which existed for at least 300 years. My memorial stone cost £200 + vat, a small investment.
If you erected a memorial the the York Waites, where would you like to locate it? Presumably somewhere where they played and somewhere it would be seen by lots of people.

Retiring Leeds Waits

Hi Chris,
I’d just like to put on record the retirement from the Leeds Waits ofPat and Chris Butcher, two of our founder members, after twenty-fiveyears service.
Alan Radford

Wigan Gaitwaits

I’ve just found these records for 17th century Wigan: ../history/wigan.html
Here are Gaitwaits (!) who seem to have some sort of guard duty, in specific places, possibly actual gates; and also Waits, who roam the streets on winter nights, and whom the council seem to be happy to accept even if they’re self-appointed and poaching on the territory of the official waits!
Does any of this make things clearer, or more confusing?
Chris Gutteridge

Dear All,
Well done, Chris!
I’ve not come across gaitwaiters before. These are not the Waits (who are listed in the petition of Michaelmas 1609) but two men for each ward. Wallgate, Hallgate, Standishgate and Millgate will be streets (as in Coppergate, Sadlergate, etc, in other towns), not gates as in entrances. (I’ve found some of these streets on a map, but not all.) These are the wards, I guess, with two men in each detailed for a particular duty. The duty could be civic security (unlikely at this date, though perhaps in the wake of the revolution?), or perhaps the collection of money to pay the Waits.
The petition of Michaelmas 1689 seems to have been by the previous Waits (who perhaps weren’t doing a very good job? – and was their office rather informal?) to carry on with their winter perambulations. NB this is a perk, not a duty (though it might be both, I suppose) – i.e. they want to do it because it carries a cash reward. The petition is quashed, allowing Holecroft and Co. to do the job (and earn the money: perhaps they did a better job than the previous guys).
As ever,
Richard Rastall

Sorry, I hadn’t taken proper note of the dates:
The gatewaiters are unlikely to be civic security guards in 1637 or 1664, and they certainly came into contact with the general public (see Richard Ascroft, late gatewaiter, being abused: he retired hurt from the post, perhaps). My guess would be that they were tax-collectors, getting in the cash ?for the Waits (and also for themselves).

Ah, the miracles of modern technology! Wallgate, Hallgate, Standishgate and Millgate all still exist and can be located with Google Maps. I suspect that they are also the names of wards of the town through which the streets run.
Map of Wigan from Google Maps attached, naming Millgate, Hallgate and Wallgate. Standishgate is marked “A”. They are clearly the main streets of the old town, radiating out from the market place.
Alan Radford

I thought I’d said that (streets giving their names to the wards), which is a normal way of naming them. Sorry if it wasn’t clear!

The more I think about this, the more I’m inclined towards Al’s suggestion, that the gatewaiters would be collecting the general taxes, not just the 2d (or whatever) for the Waits. It was evidently a responsible job, and it doesn’t seem likely that they would be appointed just to collect the extra cash for the Waits’ winter perambulations.
On the other hand “gate- ” as “street- ” doesn’t really suggest tax-collection. The OED doesn’t give “gatewaiter”, but does give a meaning for “waiter” that would include a security watch in a town. Thus “gatewaiter” could be “street-watcher”. This raises another possibility: that they were the local watchers for trouble (such as curfew-breakers, thieves, fire, etc.). In some towns the Waits had done this during winter nights, not in an exclusive way but to be on the lookout when they were in the streets on musical business. Maybe the gatewaiters were more serious security guys? In any case there’s really no reason to connect waiters with the Waits, which is probably a red herring …
Reading my last message, I see that it looks a bit cross. Apologies if that was the impression given – it wasn’t intended. However, I realise that I was assuming that you guys would know that wards were often named after their main streets, but that maybe you haven’t come across this. Anyway, that’s the fact, though wards could also be named in other ways – e.g. after a feature such as a mill or a bridge.
As ever,

I agree with Richard that these were probably watchmen, not associated with the musical Waits. This seems to tie in with Al Garrod’s 18th century Lincoln watchmen – see Lincoln Watch.I think I’m right in saying, from memory, that he found instances of the musician Waits acting as watchmen on some nights of the week, but I would assume this was separate from and in addition to their musical duties. I see this gaitwaiting as being a rotating civic duty for certain classes of citizens, as in Dogberry’s watch.
The Dublin City Music seem to have carried out some sort of mysterious watchman duty, referred to as “The Waits”, on certain nights – see Grattan Flood’s article: Dublin City Music
For an instance of the word Wait being used in the 18th century in the sense of non-musical watchman, see the King’s Lynn Waits of the Custom House.
As to what the musical Waits were doing on winter nights, I’m not sure I agree that they were collecting money, and that this was a perk, not a duty. It seems to me that one of the important duties of musical Waits, as mentioned in the King’s Lynn records, was to play their instruments through the streets on dark winter mornings to rouse the citizens. At Christmas, they would combine this with collecting their “Christmas Box” in some places – sometimes officially, as part of their fee, and sometimes as an additional perk, and I feel this practice of collecting Christmas Boxes was at the root of the behaviour of those notorious Victorian buskers, the “Christmas Waits”.

At that time, the Lincoln Council decided NOT to appoint any man to the musical Waites UNLESS he would do the Watch too. I believe that this may have been a result of too many Lincoln men dreaming up reasons to avoid their turn.
Many men in Lincoln still require more beauty sleep than they actually get!
Al Garrod.

Marching through the streets at night during the winter months, for extra payment, might be a perk, a duty or both – it depends how you look at it. It probably made a big difference financially, so the waits would have wanted to do it. They are also known to have played at the doors of certain important citizens: this could hardly be done without payment – the whole tradition of playing outside someone’s door (at Christmas or New Year, for instance, and NB this was trumpeters in domestic circumstances) is tied to the idea of reward.
This matter is discussed in my thesis, pp. 221-6. I can’t improve on that discussion at present (and I haven’t yet seen the evidence that would allow anyone to do so). We have to hang on to what we know and keep an open mind about the gaps, I think.
As ever,

There’s something odd here. In the Wigan Court Rolls, year after year they list borough officers, e.g.

Box 1 Roll 67 Michaelmas Leet October 3rd 1691
Mayor Thomas Cooper
Benchers Ralph Markland
Robert Letherbarrow
Recorder Bertie Entwistle
Town Clerk Ralph Bancks
Bailiffs Gilbert son of James Ford
Richard Blackburne
Attornies Robert Mason
Richard Letherbarrow
Serjeants William Finch
Robert Baldwine


Market Street Thomas Winstanley
Edward Burdikin
Wallgate William Ashton
Henry Winkley
Hallgate John Fairclough
William Deane
Scoles James Pemberton
James Delroy
Standishgate William Farbrother
Edward Eldersell
Millgate Henry Kerbie
William Harvie
Woodhouses Henry Whalley
Thomas Leyland
Surveyors of
Bread and Beer
Ralph Wood
Adam Battersby
Surveyors of
Flesh and Fish
Thomas Edelleston
Gilbert Leigh
Treasurers William Scott
Adam Bancks
Church Clerk Gerard Bancks
Searchers and Sealers
of Leather
Roger Scott
Thomas Mortt
Bellman John Laithwaite

What’s odd is that there are no aldermen/councillors/assistants or similar. The list includes all the other expected major and minor appointed or elected officials. Are the gatewaiters actually the councillors? They certainly hold an office which requires them to take an oath, so it’s not a minor office. They are also clearly held accountable, sometimes violently so, for their activities. Hence I suggest that the gatewaits are in fact the two “councillors” from each of seven wards.

The mayor and officers were elected or appointed yearly. Wouldn’t the aldermen have been elected more or less for life?

Were the “Benchers” the aldermen? In Leeds the mayor and aldermen sat on the bench at the assizes. Unless my theory is correct, who were the assistants/common councillors?

As far as I have seen, the usual system was a group of Aldermen who were senior merchants in the town, and who were elected for life, from whom the mayor was elected each year, and beneath them, a group of Common Councillors, of lesser rank, who were elected yearly or similar, and from whom vacancies amongst the aldermen were filled. I think that’s how it worked.

Yes, just like Leeds, but where are they in the Wigan listings? Surely they’d be on the list if such minor officers as the ale-surveyors and leather-searchers were? Hence my suggestion that the “benchers” were Aldermen (and Magistrates) although few in number, and the “gaitwaiters” was some strange Wigan-specific term for Councillors/Assistants.

I was assuming they weren’t mentioned here because they were still the same people as last year.

it doesn’t look as if that’s how the list works.

Military Whifflers

From “The History of the Honourable Artillery Company” by Captain G. A.Raikes. Published 1878.

“The Wyffelers and Minstrels were all in white, (Muster of the Cityforces before Henry VIII on 8th May 1539.
Wyffelers.-Fifers. It isevident, however, that they were not mere bandsmen, but were more akinto the Buglers of the present day. They also seem to have acted as”markers,” and to have taken part in drill and evolutions generally.”

Alan Radford

See Whifflers below

Christmas Waits’ Bill

I am trying to date a Victorian(?) notice (or bill) “To Prevent Fraud: The Original Christmas Waits” by Messrs Brooks (Octave), G.Buckland (Clarionet), H.Buckland (French Horn) & Hidey (Violincello) who from the text are concerned that others are collecting their money by calling themselves “The Waits”. They intend to call on Boxing day with Bills and Medals toi show they are the genuine group.
I wonder if your historical records might throw any light on when this group existed and where they played. The notice is printed by Bird of New Compton St., Soho so I guess they may have played in London.
Any information would be gratefully acknowledged.
Paul Embleton

Dear Paul,
The Christmas Waits seem to have been a public reaction to the abolition of the ancient and official town/city waits in 1835 (Municipal Corporations Reform Act). It seems people missed the waits, especially at Christmas, so they set up their own little bands of musicians and carol singers to fill the gap. Some, perhaps many, were incompetent and I expect a lot a riff-raff decided here was source of easy pocket money, getting the more respectable carollers a bad name. A trip through editions of Punch from 1843 to 1943 (a delightful cartoon by the great Roland Emmett is the last I could find) show that they were well known around London (probably in other cities) and often constituted a nuisance. I once gathered this stuff and could dig it out for you if you wish to take the project further.
Meanwhile, if you Google search “christmas waits” on the waits website home page, you’ll see the snippets in which we have mentioned them so far (with quotes and citations), though we have yet to publish an article dedicated to them.
So, when it comes to dating your bill, it must be post 1835, but you will need to find other data to help decide a latest possible date.
If we can be of any further help please ask. This is a subject that fascinates some of us, but we have yet to attack it properly.
Best wishes,

Let me echo all that! Is there any watermark in it that might be datable?
Richard Rastall

Dear James,
Thank you very much for your help. I thought you might like a scan of the item for your records.
This notice was in a job lot of early Victorian ephemera I bought but it is an unwanted item that will find its way onto ebay in due course. I always like to date and do a little research on an item before I dispose of it. I actually have 2 copies of this notice so if you keep a physical archive of such things I’d be happy to send you the duplicate.
Best wishes
Paul Embleton

Thanks very much for that, Paul – it’s a fascinating insight. Either James or myself would be delighted to accept your generous offer of the duplicate for the Guild’s archives.
Best wishes,

Dear Paul,
We have little original material about waits or Chritmas Waits (it’s all in numerous civic records and official archives around the country) and have not yet begun an archive. However, that is something we ought to bear in mind for our notes and files and the few documents we do own between us (for instance, I have a copy of Thomas Kilvington’s published dance music, he being a late 18th c. wait in York).
The scan is a great addition to our digital collection and I’m sure the real thing would be a welcome ‘starter’ to an archive. Therefore, any donation would be most welcome.
The more we share our knowledge the better we get to understand the activities of our favourite musicians. Thank you.

When I went to send the duplicate I realized that in fact it had a different typeface and that Boxing Day fell on a different day of the week so not a duplicate as I had thought at a quick look. Given that these must be post 1835, the Saturday notice could be 1835 or 1840 and the Tuesday notice 1837 or 1843. Given the print style I don’t think they will be later, indeed but for your information I would have dated these somewhat earlier.
I found your website fascinating given that I have never heard of waits until a week or two ago. As you haven’t yet established a physical archive, I thought doing a copy of both would be less satisfactory than sending scans of these for your website. I have scanned both these at a high resolution and hope that you will find this satisfactory.
Best wishes,

Am I right in assuming that Mr. Brooks, leader of the quartet of Christmas Waits, was playing upon the octave (flute) or piccolo? I have met the expression related to flutes in nineteenth century texts.
Alan Radford

A very reasonable assumption. I know of no other set of instruments offhand that comes in octaves.

Images of the Waits’ Bills

REED available for download!

We’d better let all waits researchers know about this site. Looks like all REED vols are up for download!


No Waits at Christmas?

On Christmas Eve 1667, Pepys went to the Queen’s Chapel to see how Catholics celebrated Christmas Mass. He left there at 2 in the morning, and on the way home, stopped off for a drink:

24th December 1667…and so I stopped…and drank some burnt wine at the Rose Tavern [in Russell St, Covent Garden] door, while the constables came and two or three Bell-men went by, it being a fine, light, moonshine morning…

On this of all nights of the year, we would expect the Waits to be out playing. There were constables, presumably looking out for wrong-doers, and there were bellmen, who would be out crying the hours and the weather (Pepys refers to a bellman doing this under his window in an entry which I have temporarily misplaced), but if the Waits were out as well, Pepys didn’t come across them. It seems from this entry that if they were playing about the streets, they were not crying the hours or the weather.

Chris Gutteridge

So Pepys does not mention them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there. You can’t prove that negative unless you KNOW the Waites were somewhere else.
What time would the Waites play anyway? All night? Surely that would be most annoying? Or perhaps just to wake men to arise for work? If the latter, 2am is a bit early isn’t it?
On second thoughts – it was 24th December. Perhaps the Waites were indoors of some great Inn, performing music (and perhaps the odd rude song) for the Mayor and Councillors, as they celebrated Christmas – and assisting them in drinking those vast quantities of alcohol that local councils once provided for its most loved servants.
Al Garrod.

You’ve slightly missed my point. The Waits may have been out and about (although Pepys never mentions London Waits in the whole diary), but they certainly weren’t calling the hours and weather, which is often portrayed as part of their duties, and particularly in the song, “Past Three O’clock”, which is also called “The London Waits”.
Pepys left Whitehall at 2am, and gave another couple a lift in his coach, so the time would have been pushing on towards 3 by the time he stopped for a drink in Covent Garden. His entry gives me the impression that the “two or three bell-men” were just dispersing to start their rounds – there would surely be no need for several bellmen to be patrolling the same area.
Certainly in later times (late 18th and early 19th centuries), one of the last remaining Waits customs, reported all over the country, was to go from house to house all night long on Christmas Eve, collecting their Christmas boxes. It is from this custom that the Victorian idea of Christmas Waits emerged.
We can often learn as much or more from what isn’t reported as from what is.

More on Pepys

Barnaby’s bellows

I have been looking at your piece on Drunken Barnaby; I am concerned about the translation of the hanged piper and his ‘bellows’; the translations I have do not mention bellows and the Latin just has ‘tibia’; can you give me a source for the ‘bellows’ translation? If it’s contemporary with Braithwaite then it is of great interest!
Pete Stewart
Lowland and Borer Pipers’ Society

Hello Pete,
I understand James Merryweather is now in correspondence with you on this fascinating topic. Thanks for your very valuable contribution. If you have the original latin, and any other translations of it, that you would be happy to share with the world, I would very much like to post them on the Waits Website.
Best wishes,

Hi Chris
Well, we’re all hooked on this now. The original source came from Paul Roberts, who also emailed at the same time as I did; he sent me the bellows translation, and I sent him back the other version and the Latin; since then ….
I’ve attached the non-bellows version and the latin, plus Paul’s summary of what we know; he’s still looking, but I’m afraid I’ve a book to finish; I take it as fairly certain that the bellows translation is not a 17th century one but who knows?
As far as I‘m concerned, I’m happy for what’s here to be put before the world; Incidentally, I’ve been looking at the records of the Edinburgh waits, those from the end of the 17th century and may have a project coming up. AFTER I’ve finished this book ….

I am attempting to find the origins of this translation from Richard Brathwaite’s “Barnaby” which appears on your website on the page…..

“Here a piper apprehended,
Was found guilty and suspended,
Being led to fatal gallows,
Boys did cry ‘Where is thy bellows?’
Ever must though cease thy turning,

This could be the earliest reference to bellows bagpipes in Britain.
A similar (not quite the same) version was quoted by Baring Gould in 1874, but no source cited.
“Barnaby” was originally published (in Latin) in 1638, but there have been many later versions up to at least 1822 with various translations from the Latin along the way. The 18th/early 19th century versions I have seen all vary slightly but translate the piper as ceasing his “blowing” – no bellows.
As you can imagine (or maybe not!) It would be useful to know where the “bellows” version came from. My gut feeling at the moment is that it is a Victorian modernization of the first edition, but gut feelings are not enough to go on!
Anyway, if you can tell me where and when your version came from, or perhaps put me in touch with the author of the page, that would be an excellent start!
Sorry to bother you, and hoping you can help
Paul Roberts

Hi Chris,

Just when you thought it was safe:

“Why thou Sot thou, dost thou talk of Love, and say thou hast no Pox; why I will not give Six Moneths purchase for an Estate during the term of thy Natural Nose! I shall live to see thee snuffle worse than a Scotch-Bag-Pipe that has got a flaw in the Bellows.”

From Shadwell, T. The Humorists, Act the first, 1671

Not quite 1630, but definitely bellows!


I’m beginning to get the feeling, though, that such a quote, from a non-bagpiping person, is not conclusive – they might be referring to the bag as bellows? Especially if bellows-blown pipes hadn’t been invented at the time?

Hi Chris,
Personally, I think this is pretty definitive bellows, but I suspect it’s a smallpipe we’re talking about, largely because the bellows-blown smallpipe gets older every time I look. 1595 is a definite, but I’ve seen quotes which might suggest much earlier, even into the 15th century. The phagotum, dated 1515 -1520? was certainly bellows-blown.

What’s all the fuss about? In “Syntagma Musicum”, Praetoriusillustrated a set of pipes with bellows and shuttle drones in 1618. See
Alan Radford.

Early Shrewsbury Waits


Soluta pro liberata ministrallorum vocatorum Wayts, quilibet eorum.

Soluta pro conductu unius ministralli vocati Wayt a villa de Norhampton usque Salop.

Pro liberatura communium histrionum vocatorum le Wayts villae.

How’s your Latin? Mine’s a bit rusty.

Alan Radford

Good stuff! My latin (other than for prescriptions) isnon-existant, but with the help of a Collins dictuionary, I make it something likethis:

Soluta pro liberata ministrallorum vocatorum Wayts, quilibet eorum.

Payment for salary of all the minstrells fulfilling the duties of Waits of this place

Soluta pro conductu unius ministralli vocati Wayt a villa deNorhampton usque Salop.

Payment for hiring every one of the minstrells fulfilling the duties of Waits from the town of Northampton and also of Shropshire (what, the whole of Shropshire??)*

Pro liberatura communium histrionum vocatorum le Wayts villae.

For salary of the group of performers fulfilling the duties of the Waits of the town


*Your comment `What the whole of Shropshire?` is not as alarming as it seems. Salop means Shrewsbury… Floreat Salopia being the town inscription.
Steve Blyton
Ludlow Waits

Ludwig Sennfl

Hi Chris,

Over the last few years, Kathleen Berg (a member of the City of Lincoln Waites) has undertaken extensive research into the life and times of the Swiss renaissance composer, Ludwig Sennfl. Kathleen’s book will be published in autumn 2008.

The book promises to be very entertaining because, as well as the academic content, and the reams of Sennfl’s music included in it, Kathleen tells the quirky biographical detail of Sennfl’s life. Most of the pieces of music included are Kathleen’s modern editions taken from original manuscripts – and was previously unpublished. The sheet music will also be available separately for performers.

I have attached some pictures of the hofgarten in Munich and of Augsburg Cathedral (some of Sennfl’s haunts).

More info about the book can be seen here –
It can be ordered from Kathleen at [email protected]

Kathleen’s next project is to create modern editions of Sennfl’s religious music (tons of which has never been published either).

Al Garrod.

I was fortunate to be at the modern premier of some of Kathleen’s finds at the Cambridge Early Music Summer School concert where Lizzie (of Colchester Waits) was shawming – all very exciting!

Thanks for this Al!
I expect that you already know about this link:
Tony Pearson

Thomas Curtois

30 September 1801 – “Paid Thomas Curtois for assisting the Waites on Michaelmas Day – 5s”. (ref: L1/4/1/2)

Could Curtois have been paid the 5s for assembling singers – perhaps to sing the songs of the day – for Mr Mayor’s delectation – accompanied by the Waites on their instruments?
Five shillings seems quite a large sum for one man, for one event. Maybe he was an outstanding musician, who saved the day? The entry certainly suggests that the Waites were in great need of him. It also suggests that he knew their repertoire well enough to be able to play, even if he was not a regular member of the Waites band at this time. Or if he was singing – the Waites knew HIS repertoire?!?
The phraseology seems odd to me – “assisting” the waites…? Which I orginally imagined was suggesting that Curtois played an instrument like the Waites, but the records do not confirm that.

Al Garrod.

I suppose the big question is, “assisting the Waits with what?” Do you know exactly what they were doing?


Michaelmas being a quarter day, the waits should have been out doing some serious civic ceremonial processing.

Alan Radford.

Surely it means playing with the waites – they could have been a man down and booked a sub!

Kathleen Berg

Dear All

I wonder if this is a lead? Although John and Rowland seem to have been the main family names rather than Thomas. After being in the wool trade the C of E seems to have become a family trade for the Curtois family. Perhaps they are still around since their name is given to a new gallery in Lincoln (’S%20NEW%20CABINET%20OF%20WONDERS%20OPENS) – if they are well fixed perhaps possible patrons for the Lincoln waits?

Close to home for Al
“The schoolroom was originally added on in the 1830’s specifically for the use of educating the children of the parish as the inscription on a small panel high on the east end of the building still shows. It reads:-

“This building was erected by the Revd. Peregrine Curtois for the sole purpose of educating the children of the Parish of Branston in the principles of the ESTABLISHED CHURCH. A.D.1836.” “

Below are some genealogical pages that may be of some or no interest. However, if Thomas Curtois held a cathedral office perhaps there was a connexion between the Lincoln waits and the church so there might be some waits evidence in the cathedral archive (although if as Kathleen suggests he was only a sub it could mean nothing at all)

Perhaps “Curtois” is a variant name spelling? Al. has a Thomas Curtis asa Wait – of Lincoln Waites Thomas Curtis – City Wait 1835-18361835Thomas Curtis is listed in Council Minutes (ref: L1/1/1/9) as beinga Wait in 1835/1836.

The other waits seems to have been pretty ancient by the 1830s.

Frank Davies

Thanks for your responses.

Chris –
As Al (Leeds) said, Michaelmas was the time of the great dinners held by the Mayor. Sumptuous foods, and a wide choice of liquor. Records in other towns suggest that some of these feasts went on for a few days. There are other records of Lincoln Corporation engaging singers for Michaelmas as well as Waites. On 3 February 1810 the bill for grapes for Michaelmas Dinner was £3.3s – three times the half-yearly salary of one of the Waits! (ref: L1/4/1/2)

Frank –
Yes I have confirmation that Thomas is one of the ecclesiastical family “Curtois” AND that some of them used the variant “Curtis” from time to time. You are right about the Branston connection too – and – but Thomas seems to be from a different branch of the family. Rowland Curtois was Mayor of Lincoln in 1670.

Kathleen –
Yes, my first though was that Thomas Curtois was an instrumentalist, but he appears to have been paid too highly.

Another idea –
Another possibility may be that he was one of 4 or 5 additional musicians that bolstered the Waites, and that the Council paid the fees to him, for him to distribute amongst his fellows?



Just a quick thought. Certainly in earlier times, trumpeters were of higher status than us mere waits, and this might have persisted through the eighteenth century. Do you think he might have been paid such an exorbitant sum because he was a trumpeter, hired to play grand fanfares?


But trumpeters were not allowed by their guild to perform with Waits. See Trumpeter’s Guild



Chris & James –

Jamie Savan (of His Majesties Sackbuts & Cornetts – was saying to me today that, of the surviving examples of the Cornett, about 50% were left-handed and 50% right-handed.
He says the reason for this is that Churches often had split musician’s galleries, one on the left and one on the right. They needed both left-pointing and right-pointing cornetts to project the sound from both galleries towards the centre of the church. Would this explain (or at least be a reason for the seeming confusion in the artists minds) some of the questions we were asking each other about pictures of left-handed cornettists a few months ago?

Al Garrod.

Sounds plausible, but as all woodwind instruments with a little finger key at the bottom were made ambidextrous, with a lyre-shaped key head, I would have thought it would make sense for a cornett maker to make equal quantities of left- and right-handed instruments so his customers could play whichever way round they preferred.


Thoughts – ditto

I was looking again at the Notes and Queries entry on cornetts, and the thoughts therein on left and right curving instruments. Loath as I am to disagree with Jamie Savan, the comment attributed to him about surviving curved cornetts showing approximately equal numbers of left and right handed instruments is not quite right – the catalogue by Tarr ( Tarr, E., ‘Ein Katalog Erhaltener Zinken’, in Reidemeister, Peter (ed.), Basler Jahrbuch Für Historische Musikpraxis, v: Zink und Posaune (Winterthur: Amadeus Verlag, 1981), 11-262.) shows a roughly 2:1 split, i.e. half as many ‘lefties’ as ‘righties’.
This is still a much higher proportion than one would expect based simply on ‘handedness’ among people. I’ve heard the suggestion about choosing the curvature based on which side of the church one is playing too, but I’m not wholly convinced that any directionality in the sound projection would have a noticeable effect in a resonant church large enough to have galleries.
Another intriguing thing about the L/R issue is that the choice of which hand is uppermost varies a lot, and you can find pictures with either left or right hand at the top, on both left and right curved instruments. Whilst this might seem counterintuitive given the stretch of the hands for most people on modern copies at A=440Hz, it is important to remember that most of the surviving instruments are at a rather higher pitch than this, often around A=465 or even A=490 Hz, and are correspondingly smaller. On these higher-pitched instruments, practical experiment shows that it would be feasible to play with either hand uppermost.
Yet another possible issue is that we might expect players with a left-side embouchure to prefer a left-curving instrument, and so on, but again the iconography is not consistent. I’m attaching for your interest a detail from a ceiling painting in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, dated around 1635, showing the msuicans of Christian IV. The two cornettists both appear to have left-curving instruments, and one has a right-side embouchure, the other, a more central placement, and their hand positions are reversed!
I suspect that, whilst factors such as natural ‘handedness’ and mouthpiece placement (which might also be influenced by dental formation, as Speer says) were part of the equation, ultimately the choice of left or right curvature came down to personal preference, and what ‘felt right’ to each player.
Many thanks for the site – it’s a great resource, and always thought-provoking.
Best wishes,
David Jarratt-Knock
[email protected]

This all makes sense to me, especially in view of the lyre-shaped little-fnger keys mentioned by Al Garrod above. A word of wrning, however – one only has to look at modern artists’ interpretations of modern musicians and their instruments to realise tat artists are unreliable witnesses! I have, for instance, seen many pictures of flutes held the wrong way round, and even with the hands crossed in an impossible playing position. I would particularly say that any artist would consider he had the right, using artisitic license, to portray a pair of cornettists with opposing curved instruments to balance his picture!

Lincoln Waits’ Badge of 1710

Your views would be much appreciated…

Do you know if this –
is a genuine reproduction or a modern invention?

Although the only surviving Lincoln Waites’ badge was made in 1710, and the Armada medal is dated c.1589, the Armada medal still reminds me of Lincoln’s Waites’ Badge. The Lincoln Waites Badge is also two sided – I don’t think any other Waites’ Badges in England are two-sided. The Lincoln Waites’ Badge bears The City of Lincoln’s Arms on one side and the Royal Arms of the House of Stuart on the other. (Which side is the obverse and which is the reverse? Surely the Royal Arms take precedence? Does that suggest that wearing this badge transforms a Lincoln Waite into a Royal Waite?)

Could it be that in 1710, the Arms of Queen Anne, the last Stuart ruler, were used on the Lincoln Waites’ Badges to commemorate some event, or to celebrate the continuance of the Stuart line to the throne (after the plight that met Charles I and the restoration of Charles II)? Is 1710 an Anniversary of a previous event perhaps?

My knowledge of historical events fails me, but I have an overwhelming feeling that the presence of that Coat of Arms on the Lincoln Badge bears a significance that we have yet to discover.

The Lincoln Guildhall consists of a 1st floor chamber built over an open archway that spans the High Street. Over this archway the Stuart Coat of Arms is emblazoned again. As the building is 16th century, the Arms are clearly an embellishment added later. Could the reason for the Arms being placed on the “Stonebow” be the same reason they appear on the Waites’ Badge?

I am hoping that one or two of you, who are far more knowledgeable historians that I, may be able to help me work this one out?

Al Garrod.

Dear Al,

I can’t put any knowledge to work here, but

(a) their sentence “Our brass reproduction gives the look of the bronze original” should mean that at least one original survives. Have you tried a Google search?

(b) I would expect the Lincoln side of the badge to be the immediately relevant one: but your question about the purpose of the Stuart arms is important (and I don’t know the answer).

All good wishes,
Richard Rastall

Dear Al,

there doesn’t seem to be anything in 1710 that would by itself suggest a reason for the Stuart arms in Lincoln. The queen managed to stabilise her relations with the Marlboroughs that year, and she won for herself a certain amount of freedom which allowed her to choose her own ministers and household officers – all a great relief to her, I expect, but not obviously a reason for celebrating by putting her arms all over the place. That year she also seemed to favour The Prince of Wales (later The Old Pretender) as her successor, but unless Lincoln was strongly Catholic (which it wasn’t) that wouldn’t be a reason either.

Is there anything in the Lincoln archives about putting the royal arms on the Stonebow? One would expect an order in Council or something, and any such ought to tie up with something in the domestic state papers around 1708-10. It would be helpful to know when the arms were added to the Stonebow, but I expect you’ve already looked for that without success. Have you tried a search in the National Archives? – you can do it on-line.

As ever,

Was this a time of widespread public demonstrations of loyalty to themonarch? There were tensions regarding the Jacobites, and also we wereat war with France until the signing of the Peace of Utrecht in 1713.The Leeds Waits took part in the civic celebrations for the peacetreaty.

Also in Leeds in 1713 Alderman Milner provided the marble statue ofQueen Anne for the facade of the Moot Hall as a demonstration of hisloyalty; a statue, or a coat of arms, of the monarch would suggestsimilar sentiments/motives. There was tension in this period betweenthe Whigs, who supported the legacy of the Glorious Revolution and powerof Parliament, and Tories who supported the monarch and the establishedchurch. Who authorised and paid for the coat of arms on the Stonebow?Was the design of the scutcheons minuted?

Just a year later in 1714, when the Queen died, Ralph Thoresby, aleading citizen of Leeds, recorded in his diary that he feared a”dreaded invasion of the Pretender with an army of French and Irish”.Certainly there were some Jacobite sympathisers amongst the Toryestablishment in the town and corporation, including the mayor, SolomonPollard, who said that taking the oath of allegiance to George I was”the bitterest pill” he had ever swallowed.

Alan Radford

“Light Night” in Leeds –
a bizarre experience!

Dear waits,
I’d like to nominate the following as the oddest waits’ gig ever:
We played for “Light Night” in the middleof Leeds on October 12th 2007, in an evening of music at St. John’sChurch, New Briggate. All the other groups on the programme were indierock bands (Fran Rodgers, Mother Vulpine, That Fucking Tank, the FolkTheatre Partisans, and The Butterfly under contract to On The BoneRecords), but we’d been asked to play so we did. In that company it wasuncompromising loud band territory, so it was out with the shawms,sackbutt, curtal, bagpipes, nakers and tabor for an up-tempo set. Wehad them dancing in the aisles, so they recognised that we were playingdance music, sixteenth rather than twenty-first century, but still dancemusic! I must confess that the event was somewhat surreal, but weclearly communicated with an audience atypical of our usual listeners.
By the way, after the first band started playing forty minutes late asit took them that long to get their amplification working, our acousticband’s ability to just pick up instruments and play was a good start.This electricity stuff will never catch on – it’s unreliable, and alsopotentially dangerous.
Alan Radford


Chris et al,

I have been wading through some Louth documents but the records are scant. I had the mad idea that I might replicate the degree of research I have done in Lincoln, for Louth, but I don’t think it’s possible. Anyway, here are my findings so far, you are welcome to use them on the Waites website. The notes about musicians in Louth are so few that I have decided not to use them elsewhere.

James – the Bradley name is mentioned, but nothing really to get excited about.

The Louth Accounts run from Pentecost in the current year to Pentecost in the following year. I haven’t found any mention of Michaelmas as at Lincoln. Pentecost is the 50th day after Easter Sunday – making it late May – mid June, depending on what date Easter falls. This is a departure from our modern accounting years, which follow the more normal Michaelmas pattern. Perhaps Richard has seen this method of dividing accounting years before?

Aside – In 1816, the poet Tennyson, went to school in Louth

I’ll plough on – but as I said – it’s very sparse. Chris – I am not retaining any notes on Louth after forwarding to you, as I have trouble enough keeping my Lincoln notes in order. So if there is anything you wish to re-use, please hang on to my emails!

As far as more “in depth” research goes – I am of the opinion that It is probably not possible to research Louth Waites in these later years – for lack of surviving records. Boston, however is a different matter – could be as much as there is for Lincoln. A full set of minute books have survived and are sitting in dusty boxes in the archives in Lincoln – more research waiting to be done on other rainy (and not so rainy) days.

Al Garrod.

See Louth in the History section for the results of Al’s labours.

Well, the Lynn, Louth and York Bradleys were late 16th and early 17th C, so if your Wm Bradley is a wait in the late 18th, that’s quite a dynasty. Just need that little hint …


Crumhorn Players 1551

On this page –
“Crumhorn Players, 1551
(NB same date as publication of ‘Dancerye’).
These chaps have livery cloaks and badges so, surely, they’re stadtpfeiffer? JM.”

Can I ask you to look at this picture again?Do I see something different than you?Do they all have cloaks?Are the cloaks all the same length?When I look I see the man in the middle and the one on the right wearing cloaks (calf-length).The one on the left seems to have sleeves in his cloak. And it’s quite a bit shorter. A casaque?

See –

And around his upper arm and chest – is that the edge of a mantle or is it a wait’s chain?
Also – why are they outside without hats?

Al Garrod.

Whose is the sword? If it belongs to the man on the right, he’s right-handed, and he is playing right-handed, so it could be his except that the other two are playing left-handed, so the sword might possibly belong to the middle man. If one was a gentleman, one did not appear outside without a cloak unless one was wearing a sword. If you were a professional musician, at that time, I would have thought it highly unlikely that you’d wear a sword at all (I’ve had this confirmed in no uncertain times by Tony Barton). So can we believe anything in this picture? When did casaques first come in? I thought they were 17th century, but not sure.


Yes, the casaque per se is associated with civil war, but I believe they were about earlier – an adaptation of an earlier Spanish garment. It definitely has sleeves, which the wearer has half fastened so that the sleeves dangle from the elbow.
Might this be some kind of copy of another picture, the background changed to outside, when the original depicted musicians inside a building?


The livery garment looks like either a schaub (the Germanic precursor of the academic gown, dating back as far as the fifteenth century) or a casaque of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries – a garment which can be buttoned in alternate ways to produce a sleeved coat or a cloak. If it is a casaque, this has caps over the top of the sleeves, and I think that would be the line around the upper arm, not a chain of office. The livery badges are on left chest, so wouldn’t require a chain anyway. As for the length, be they schaubs or casaques, they are probably all the same size, so would appear different lengths on players of different heights.

Alan Radford

p.s. The crumhorns in the picture have a slight flare on them, characteristic of early instruments imitating the real horn bell, more like those shown in the pictures of “The Triumph of Maximilian” (1516) than the copies of the later cylindrical Berlin and Brussels instruments by Moeck and EMS that we tend to play these days.

Waits’ Travels

Has anyone seen this paper?

Brayshay, M. (2005) Waits, musicians, bearwards and players: theinter-urban road travel and performances of itinerant entertainers insixteenth and seventeenth century England. Journal of HistoricalGeography, 31: 430-458.

He’s using resources largely known to us already, but he’s an economichistorian rather than a music/drama historian so his perspective isdifferent.
Alan Radford

Dear All,

Many thanks to Al for bringing this to our attention. I’ve now read this article and concur with his assessment. On the whole he uses rather old sources, and it’s not always easy to distinguish what’s obviously wrong from what just might be right without doing some intensive reading. For instance, he relies heavily on Woodfill (OK up to a point) and uses some REED volumes (also OK up to a point) but doesn’t use either critically, as far as I can see. When someone just brings out the old saw about Henry III founding the London Waits in 1253 (p. 436 and no. 38) and implies that magnates didn’t commonly employ household minstrels until the time of Henry VIII, one’s bound to be a bit suspicious about other statements that he makes, especially as it beomes clear that he hasn’t talked to anyone who really knows about – for instance – normal levels of payments to minstrels in the late Middle Ages.

There are things that he probably does well: I’m not in a position to fault his statistical analyses, and his comments on, for instance, bearwards are very interesting and set off trains of thought that might not otherwise have occurred (to me, at any rate). I’m not sure how important a statistical survey is, though, to us. What we need, I think, is some hard information about the payment of entertainers at as many centres as we can manage: average or “normal” conditions at a selection of centres are much less helpful. I confess that I had hoped for a detailed discussion of itineraries, and perhaps some comment on the roads used, the roads that got people from one place to another best, and how those affected the routes taken. What’s very interesting indeed, I think, is his maps of the journeying of the Queen’s Men in 1591 (p. 449), which shows a most extraordinary itinerary throughout the southern half of England, going in circles, back-tracking and revisting places already worked. The effect is of a completely unpremeditated journey, and one would like the answers to questions that he doesn’t even ask: Why did they go where they did? Why did they go there when they did? Why did they go to those places at all, and at what stage did it become clear to them that those places were worth going to? These maps completely negate our (or at least, my) conception of an orderly annual itinerary, worked out in advance, that would be most efficient in providing returns for the milage travelled.

These maps also call into question his insistance on minstrels and others travelling on foot. No doubt some did, but I find it hard to believe that a journey such as the Queen’s Men took in 1591 would be so haphazard if they had to walk. Besides, there is evidence that the better liveried entertainers did have horses: there are payments in the account-books. As for the cost to the men themselves – his great argument against the use of horses for travelling – what does he think patrons were for? …

I’ll be interested to hear others’ views. I’m happy to send my hard copy round if necessary, as long as it comes back to me with my markings intact!

As ever,
Richard Rastall

Shawm Wax

How much of a problem is the running stain in Hanchet’s shawms? Would a wax topcoat seal in the colour? Something like Carnauba wax?
See link –
Know anyone who has tried putting an oil or wax on their instruments?
Al Garrod.

I’ve done everything with my instruments. Even stripped a Moeck curtal to the wood, acid stained and waxed it. It came out a rather startling yellow, but that was better than the thick purply-black varnish Moeck did it up in. Next, I did a Hanchet tenor shawm. It took years to recover. The acid seemed to remiain in the timber for ages turning the unfortunate player’s fingers yellow and tarnishing the brasswork for ever. Twentyish years on it has recovered and has a satisfying mellowness about it.
So, just waxing an instrument is a doddle. You can do it with warmth softened beeswax and a lot of elbow grease (quite satisfying) or a polish in which beeswax has been rendered runny by dissolving it – and a lot of elbow grease. The gentle shine you get is very pleasant and the cloud of honey scent you’re working in, delightful.
If you want to use oil, it seems that linseed is not the good idea it once was. It’s sticky for quite a while and then sets rock hard. That’s UK outside, but inside and instrument’s bore you can get hard lumps if you’re not careful if you fail to smear it thin and even. We’ve used almond oil (you can get it from Culpepper’s) for bores (and oils could be used on the outer surface too) and recently, when I asked Bob Cronin what he uses for his shawms: Danish Oil. You can get it from the iron monger.

I might as well add my two-pennorth. Lizzie says it’s not a serious problem the stain running. It only happens in wet or very cold conditions and you only get orange fingers the first time. She treats hers inside and out with almond oil.
Christopher Monk, the reviver of the serpent, treated the inside of his instruments with teak oil. My lysard was very dry indeed on the inside when I got it and I treated it with teak oil. It hasn’t needed doing again. I suspect it has tendancies towards the same problems as linseed oil. Keith Rogers, who took over Christopher Monk’s business, used palm oil for the insides of instruments, very sparingly.

Thanks all – Carnauba comes from a palm – wonder if it’s the same thing Keith used.
Anyone tried coconut oil?

Just a thought we might care to consider: palm oil comes from the oil palm which is at present being grown in huge quantities on land cleared in tropical rain forest. I know that a few drops for a shawm is a p*** in the ocean compared with quantities used for biofuel, but it’s the principle that matters.
I’d prefer to find an alternative myself.
Happy memories of Middleham 1986, playing in the rain all day for a Richard III event hosted by Russell … oh, who was that Yorkshire chat show host who went to Giggleswick School? [Harty] Well, any road, his ice cream trickled all over his fingers making him cross and our instruments first got wet & slippery, then the stain began to seep out over the fingers and we just soldiered on. We were sort of dry, heavy with water, but certainly not cold because we dressed entirely in wool. The poor instruments took months to recover. Their joints shrank and nothing fitted (or worked) until we had given every joint a lot of TLC. We wuz ‘appy though.

Tom Paine

What do you think this is about?

12 Dec 1792 Paid for the execution of Tom Paine – £19.17s. L1/4/1/2
12 Dec 1792 Paid for the jury – £4.4s. L1/4/1/212 Dec 1792 Paid for the City Music – £1.1s. L1/4/1/2

I thought THE Tom Paine was in France then (and imprisoned by Robepierre in 1793?).
A theatre show?
A different Tom Paine?

Al Garrod.

Old Wait

Chris –
Another possible entry for the “Longest Serving Waits” section.

10 August 1710
“Proposed that William Andrews, Green of Newarke, Robert Rodgers and Joseph Roe be the City’s Waites and that Geo. Udall be allowed 2s 6d a weeke – for his life” (L1/1/1/6, p657)

The pension given to George Udall suggests that he may have given long and loyal service to the City as one of Lincoln’s Waites. Certainly, if this is the same George Udall who was a Wait in 1662, he served in Office for at least 48 years.


(1) Perhaps there should be a home for old Waits – something like the Royal Hospital, Chelsea???

(2) I wonder how old Udall was when he retired? If he was 18 in 1662, he would have been 66 in 1710, although he may have been much older.

(3) In 1710 Udall’s pension was 2s.6d a week. this works out as £6.6s a year. Not sure what Lincoln Waits salaries were in 1710, but 55 years later, in 1765, they only received £2.8s.6d each (£2.2s wages each, 4s for crying four fairs a year, and a Christmas bonus of 10s between them – L1/4/1/1). If Udall needed a pension of 2s.6d in 1710, would a Waits’ salary of £2.8s.6d, in 1765, be enough to live on? Perhaps this is more evidence that being a Wait was more of a hobby, rather than a main occupation?

Al Garrod.

Drummers’ Duties

Hi all,
In 1766, what would have been the duties of the City Drummer?
Lincoln’s Drummer has the same surname as the Gaoler at that time – Haselwood.
He appears unconnected to either Waites or Militia.
Al Garrod.

G F Bach

Chris/James – another Bach? Gottlieb Friedrich Bach (ca. 1750) – ?an artist? or was painting just a hobby?
Al Garrod

Dear All,
The New Grove lists Gottlieb Friedrich Bach (born Meiningen, 10 Sept 1714, died Meiningen 25 Feb 1785) as court organist and painter (Kabinettsmaler) in Meiningen. All his relatives were musicians, too, and he was probably a distant cousin of Johann Sebastian (some of the lines of ancestry aren’t clear, so we don’t know the precise connection between GFB’s part of the family and the rest).
As ever,
Richard Rastall


“A small wooden pipe, having six or more holes, and a mouthpiece inserted at one end. It produces a shrill sound, softer than of the piccolo flute, and is said to have superseded the old recorder.”!!!
This flageolet blowing Wait now stands tall amongst a sea of recorder players 😉

Al Garrod

Hi Al
was it the same flageolets?
Charlie Wells [of The Doncaster Waits – I believe he’s retired from instrument making now – Chris] makes the French sort
Frank Davies

Music and the Interregnum

I wonder if this might shed any light on waites’ disappearance during theInterregnum? I can’t view the document – you might be able to?

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
PEPYS, THE MUSIC-LOVER. No one rejoiced more than Pepys when theRestoration brought about. a revival of interest in music. Had a Puritan,who knew England … – Similar pages

Al Garrod.

Dear Al,

I’ve had a look at this article: it’s short, very general, and unspecific in terms of actual diary entries, though perhaps a good introduction to Pepys as a man with musical interests. It might be worth looking up “Waits” in the index to a good edition of the (complete) Diary.

it occurs to me also that the authorities must have enacted legislation early on in the Commonwealth to deal with matters like town waits and other musical institutions. I have no experience with acts of Parliament, I’m afraid, but presumably the records are easily available and could be searched. (Pray for a good index!)

As ever,
Richard Rastall

I own the Latham and Mathews Pepys, and have looked in the index. The results of that, and my own reading of the diary, are on this website atThe Waits in Samuel Pepys’ Diary – Chris.

Thank you, Chris – an interesting read!
In haste,

Hi Chris,
Did you find that Pepys named any tunes or songs in his writings? Isn’t it likely that any popular music of the day would have been played/sung by waites? Have you ever thought of referencing the tunes/songs as part of your notes on the website? Even including the written music and the lyrics?

Yes, he did – frequently. Off the top of my head, the song, “From shitten comes shit” caused him great amusement when he sang it with some friends and he was so proud of his own arrangement of “Beauty Retire” that he had the manuscript included in his portrait, and made the artist make it readable, even though it then didn’t look realistic. The trouble is where do you stop? I don’t think, unless we find strong evidence of Waits performing or composing a piece, we can justify inclusion on the site.

I don’t know – maybe you never stop.
I completely agree that if a song or tune is linked to Waits through some kind of documentary evidence – then we are on firm ground. On the other hand, can we rule out pieces, simply because they don’t get a mention?
In many cases, wouldn’t the “usual” not be mentioned at all, because it was considered commonplace, but the “unusual” was mentioned because it required explanation? If everyone knew about a song or tune because it was VERY familiar, it may not have been considered important to reference it at all. Isn’t that how so much as been lost? Also… Waites absolutely MUST have performed hundreds more tunes than we can ever prove were linked to them?


John Bannister

Bridge states that John Bannister was the son of a Wait of St Giles in the Fields. Here are some links, found by Al Garrod, which tell us something of his achievements.


Gloves & breeches

1753 – George Kerton was a breeches maker and glover.

Logically thinking…. the gloves would be leather? So could the breeches be leather too? Or some kind of split hide? That would make sense – as any tailor could make normal breeches (could they?) but a tailor might not be able to make leather breeches. Just rambling. What I present as logic may well be full of historical inaccuracies. But could it be possible?

Al Garrod.

Not sure.
In the 18th century, good breeches were skin tight – in other words, they fitted like a …glove! So perhaps they were a higher grade of tailor who could make skin-tight attire for thighs and fingers…

P.S. And of course, the gloves might not be leather.

Sir John Reresby

I’m sure you’ve already got this, but just in case:

‘I was accompanied with all the officers of the garrison to Merchant Taylors’ Hall, where the retiring and incoming Lord Mayors, all the aldermen and common council, received us with the waits of the city at our entrance into the hall, and treated us to dinner very splendidly, where we debauched a little too freely.’
Sir John Reresby, in 1687


NO. This is a new one.
Have written to the owner of the website (anon.) asking if there is any way in which we might co-operate. If only the York waits story were in a form like Al’s done for the Lincoln lot, a simple link would suffice. But York’s in a book plus lots of oddes & ends.


Bagpipe Corbel

Have you seen this? This guy found my address while looking for some information with which to caption this image for a website celebrating the 900th anniversary of Wymondham Abbey.
Aron Garceau

Just thought you may be interested in the attached image. It shows a bagpiper corbel from the roof of the north aisle of Wymondham Abbey church in Norfolk, UK. Date, 1440s. I can send you a much larger image if required.
WYMONDHAM ABBEY is 900 hundred years old in 2007. Please let us know if you’d like a copy of our list of celebratory events and exhibitions.
Richard Barton-Wood

Dear Richard,
I have been prompted to write to you by receiving a copy of your e-mail to Aron Garceau with the picture of your bagpiper.
He is very unusual – one of around thirty out of hundreds of bagpiper carvings in or on British churches – because his intrument has two chanters. I have made a special study of these and am very excitied to have another one arrive, particularly one that has little of the artists’ whim and inaccuracy about it and is not severely eroded.
I would cautiously date him around 1480 (could be wrong), partly due to the narrow time window into which all these carvings seem to fit: generously c. 1450 – c. 1550 as well as his ‘hat’, which is very looks very like a rolled up hood. I have worn hoods this way myself when dressing up and it works very well and looks extremely elegant. You roll the face hole back on itself until you have a circular turban, then stick your head in the hole and spread the other bits, that now emerge from the crown, around your head in whatever way you feel looks best, just like the chap in the carving. Fashionable gentry took it to extremes by mimicking the roll with a custon-built ‘doughnut’ to which flourishes representing the gorget (the shoulder covering cowl, which in your carving is the plume) and liripipe (the extended peak of the hood which could be very elongate and swung elegantly over one shoulder) were attached.
The important bit, of course, is his instrument which has a pair of slender chanters which would each have had just enough finger holes for one hand, splitting the musical scale and permitting the performance of tunes with harmony as well as a constant drone on the bottom note of the scale from the pipe over his shoulder. If you’re interested to know more please visit my website This study is constantly developing and several sets of eyes are now out keenly focused on 2-chanter bagpipes. Bagpipe makers, in particular Julian Goodacre, now make reconstructions of these bagpipes so we are now able to explore the possibilities of their (entirely lost) music.
If possible, may I please have a higher resolution image of your carving? Thank you for alerting us to its existence. To us he is very important.
Best wishes,
James Merryweather

The Lincolnshire Farmer

Found this in the Bodleian. Quite amusing. Reminiscent of a fiendish pied-piper. There is no printer’s name etc on the broadsheet. Any ideas on what date it might come from?

Al Garrod.

The Lincolnshire Farmer

A Lincolnshire Farmer who had a fair Wife,
The Clerk of the parish lov’d her as his life,
In pleasures of love they would frolic and play
Till her kind loving husband grew jealous they say.

Then unto a Conjuring man he would go
To know whether he was a Cuckold or no:
He told his fair wife he must ride out of town,
With a sorrowful sigh she began to look down.

As soon as he was gone, for her gallant she sent,
To triffle all night in joy and content;
Before the next morning there came a sad rout
Which the Conjuror had by his charms bro’t abut.

Then unto this Conjuring man he did go
To know whether he was a Cuckold or no:
Says the Conjuring man if my counsel you’ll take
Tomorrow I’ll please, and good sport I will make.

There’s an old hollow oak half a mile out of town,
And to keep yourself warm, take your cloak and your gown,
And in this same oak, you may lodge all the night,
And tomorrow I’ll show you a delicate sight.

This Conjuring man he got in by his skill,
Where, there he lay snug as a thief in a mill;
He fix’d his charms on the piss-pot at last,
Whoever should touch it, was sure to stick fast.

The Clerk in the night, to make water did rise,
The piss-pot was soon lock’d between his two thighs:
The farmer’s fair wife rose up in her shift
To help her true lover out of his dead lift.

His delictesse-dil in her right hand she took,
With her left hand she seiz’d on the side of the pot;
She lugg’d and she pull’d till her arms did ache,
But they both stuck as fast as two hairs to a stake.

Then with her foot for her daughter she knock’d,
Pretty Nancy immediately rose in her smock;
O come loving daughter and make no excuse,
For the piss-pot’s bewitch’d and we cannot get loose.

Pretty Nancy endeavouring to set them free,
As soon as she touch’d it they stuck fast all three;
He open’d the door, it then being day,
With his Conjuring pipes he began to play.

Stript nak’d to their shifts, down streets they did prance
Till they met with a hasty, bold taylor by chance;
Who would break the piss-pot, being lusty and strong,
But as soon as he touch’d it, went dancing along.

With piping he led them along the high-way,
Till they came to the place where the old farmer lay;
Who, hearing the noise, peep’d out of the oak,
Like a man sore affrighted, those words then he spoke.

Is it you my friend Richard, our good parish Clerk,
Is it you that’s been kissing my wife in the dark;
And for the offence I’ll be now satisfied,
Or I’ll instantly cut off your nutmegs, he cry’d.

The Clerk then he offer’d to give him ten pounds,
He says it’s a trespass I owe on your ground;
But the farmer no less than one hundred would have,
And the other would give it, his nutmegs to save.

From the language, I’d say no earlier than 18th century, and from the content no later than pre-Victorian.


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Fond Boy (tune used for ‘the Enchanted Piss Pot’ aka The Lancashire Cuckold; or The Country Parish-Clerk betray’d by a Conjuror’s Inchanted Chamber-pot, Claude M. Simpson (The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966) gives the melody for Fond Boy, as published in the Thesaurus Musicus of 1693 and credited to Thomas Tollett.)

Tollet? Dublin Wait?
Link to the tune –

Could this be one of your Dublin waits’ tunes? An old tune used for new words, or perhaps an earlier lyrical idea, but modernised? Reminds me a bit of a folksong called the Crockeryware (Martin Carthy).
Any further thoughts?


Yes, T Tollet, Dublin Wait, did write Fond Boy.
This is typical of Broadside ballads, which were often, if not usually, written to fit an existing, well-known tune. Looks like I dated it about right.


New Old Waits

In “REED – Gloucestershire, Cumberland and Westmorland”, on page 28, among the waits listed as appearing in the Carlisle, Naworth and Lowther accounts are the following eleven or twelve groups not currently included in the “Where Waits?” page:
Appleby, Askrigg, Barnard Castle, Bradford, Keswick, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Thore, Knaresborough, Middleham (is this “Midlam” in the present list?), Millom and Orton. Could some of these have been castle waits rather than borough waits?
Alan Radford

Impressive! Middleham probably is Midlam, or Millom is Midlam, I suppose(?!). As to Castle Waits, what date are we talking? Any clues? Although we still haven’t nailed this point, I get the feeling that Castle and Town Waits didn’t co-exist, so broadly speaking, if they’re 15th century or later they’re most likely Town Waits, I’d say.

These accounts are late 16th and early 17th centuries. Actual payment dates in accounts for some of the waits are:
Orton 1634-35
Barnard Castle 1618-19
Knaresborough 1613-14 and 1614-15
Bradford 1634-35
Middleham may be Midlam, but Millom is a small town north of Barrow-in-Furness.

Then I’m happy calling them Town Waits, unless Richard wants to add a rider to that?

Agreed: I don’t think we have a sensible alternative at present.
Richard Rastall

Barbara Palmer (2005) Shakespeare Quarterly 56: 259-305 cites several previously unrecognised groups of waits:
Waits of Pocklington, Ellerton and Malton playing at Londesborough
Waits of Stony Stratford, Dunstable and St Albans playing for the Cavendishes on journeys between Hardwick and London.
Six new groups brings the count up to 150.

Inspired by this morning’s discoveries in Barbara’s article, I’ve done a systematic search through the more recent REED volumes. Below, by volume, are the latest re-discoveries.

Bodmin 1503-4, 1519-20

Calais 1539-40, 1540-41
Faversham 1561-62, 1572-73
Hertford/Harford 1538-39, 1539-40, 1540-41
Lydd 1517-18
New Romney 1527-28

Newcastle-under-Lyme 1639, 1640, 1642
Southam ? 1616


Wells 1600

Bridgnorth 1551-2
Ludlow 1614-15, 1615-16

The above all specifically identify “waits of town X”; I have omitted any that merely refer to “musicians of town X”.
I think that now makes 162!
p.s. There’s a Southam about 10 miles south of Coventry, so that makes geographical sense.

Now we’re up to 162 towns with waits, I can’t think of any more obvious sources, apart from going round to individual archives (until more REED county volumes are published), so the number will probably stick at 162 for some time yet.
I’m still surprised that, with even some little villages having waits, my home town of Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, had none. In 1562, they even imported the Bristol Waits for a major pageant! They just don’t seem to have been too common in Essex, as the list only contains Colchester and Hadleigh.
Maybe I’ll visit the Essex Records Office next time I’m down that way and check.

Hello Alan,
Lizzie and I spent a very profitless day in the Essex archives, when she was hoping to find an alternative to Colchester Waits, in spite of the enthusiastic help of a very interested chief archivist. Town records for Essex in general seem sparse, and Colchester is the only one they have recorded as having Waits. Never mind Chelmsford, I was expecting to find something for Maldon as it was such an important port in its day. The best thing of the day was finding William Byrd’s (Elizabeth I’s composer, not the beligerent Cambridge Wait of the same name) signature on a legal document.
Not to say that you might not turn up something new!

Byrd spent a lot of time sheltering at Ingatestone Hall under Petre’s protection. It’s well worth a visit.
Yes, I’m surprised about Maldon too – one of the later Cinque Ports. Come to think of it, is the Hadleigh in James’ list the Essex one or the Suffolk one?

I hope the inclusion of Calais as a “British” town with waits doesn’t cause a diplomatic incident. It was at the time English, only falling to the French a few years later in the reign of Mary.

Pepys and the King’s Trumpets

This is interesting. Waits weren’t the only musicians expecting payment for waking people up at Christmas:
Samuel Pepys’ Diary
27 December 1666 Up, and called up by the King’s Trumpets, which cost me 10s.

More on Pepys

Dear Chris,
There would have been good precedent for this 200 years earlier: perhapsthere was an unbroken tradition through Charles II’s exile in Paris?
Assuming that the king’s trumpeters were on their way to wake the king, or on their way back, where was Pepys sleeping, and where was the king?
As ever, Richard Rastall.

Pepys was at home, at the Navy Office (near the Tower) and the King was at Whitehall. Many royal servants, especially musicians, had been without pay for months if not years at this time, which I suspect explains them busking!

Not bad payment, either, though there can’t have been too many people with 10/- to spare for an alarm call!
3 trumpeters at 3/4d each? 6 at 1/8d? Just possibly 4 at 2/6d?

Edward Blankes, London Wait, 1582-1594

I don’t think this fella is mentioned on the Waits Website…? 6 pieces of his music are included in this: Early Music Library number 83, London Pro Musica (Bernard Thomas), EML183 (6 fantasies for 3 instruments). This music was spotted by a friend of mine – Mr Chris Barlow.
Al Garrod

He wrote sacred music too, if it’s the same bloke. He’s mentioned in Woodfill (and NB a mention on p. 45 that isn’t in the Index).
I’ve just been looking at Robert Tailour’s Sacred Hymns (1615) on EEBO. One doesn’t think of Waits as writing sacred music, but some of them obviously did (again, if it’s the same man). Remembering James Hewitt in Coventry, mid-16th cent., I wonder if any London Waits helped out at parish churches with the singing of the psalms?
In haste,
As ever,
Richard Rastall

Cor. Missed this one!
TYW used to play something we knew only by the name ‘Blankes’ yonks ago but I don’t think we cottoned on to his having been a wait or we’d have paid him a lot more attention. Maybe we used this LPM edition but none of us read the commentary.
A good find to add to the collection.
A quick Google brought this recording up.
I have it. It’s very, very good (if there weren’t so many, this would be one of my desert island eight) and includes a Blankes fantasy.
James Merryweather

According to Woodfill’s “Musicians in English Society”, Edward Blanq aka Blanck served as a London Wait from 1582 to 1594, replacing John Baker (1569-82), and being in turn replaced by William Pryne (1594-1613). Both spellings of his name suggest that, if not himself an immigrant, he had continental ancestry. His work as a composer is, according to Woodfill, “conjectural”.
Blanq is not mentioned in Crewdson’s “Apollo’s Swan and Lyre”, his history of The Musicians’ Company of London.
Alan Radford.


Having visited the Waits Website for quite some time now, I’d like to share with you some of my research efforts in the area of Germany’s Stadtpfeifer. Of particular interest would be my article published in Cross Accent (Spring 2003, pp27-38), the Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, titled “Hora decima: The Musical Theology of the Stadtpfeifer.” This article explored the repertoire of the Stadtpfeifer and its socio-religious background. Another article, published in the Galpin Society Journal (April 2000, pp.51-59) titled “‘Of the Differences between Trumpeters and City Tower Musicians,’ The Relationship of Stadtpfeifer and Kameradschaft Trumpeters,” explored aspects of the instrumentation associated with the Stadtpfeifer. Portions of these articles are incorporated into a monograph I am currently preparing titled Germany’s Stadtpfeifer From the Reformation to the End of the Baroque.
All the best,
Timothy Collins
Cleveland, Ohio

Re-established Waits

Yesterday evening, Richard Rastall raised with me the question of when our various groups were revived. I’ve checked websites this morning for dates of re-establishment (establishment in the case of Ely and even re-re-establishment for Colchester) and came up with the following:

Canterbury 1970
Colchester 1973/2007
York 1978
Leeds 1983
‘s-Hertogenbosch 1984
Norwich 1986
Doncaster 1992
Kings’s Lynn 1999
Oxford 2000
Winchester 2002
Gloucester 2006
Lincoln 2007
Ely 2008

Alan Radford

To the best of our memory we adopted the name Doncaster Waits in 1992, though we were playing together as a group called Sirius for many years before that.
Roger Offord, Doncaster Waits

Colchester Workshop

Following the success of their workshop last year, Lizzie Gutteridge’s new Colchester Waits Shawm Band is holding another Loud Winds Workshop – this time for people who already play Renaissance Loud Winds – on Sunday 21st September. It will be an all-day workshop, starting at 11am, followed by a public concert by the combined Colchester and King’s Lynn Waits at 7.30pm, and will be held at the Headgate Theatre, Colchester. More details will follow soon. If you’re interested in attending, contact Lizzie at [email protected] or on either 01206 212466 or 07762 015645.

Loud Wind Workshop

I’ve organised a loud wind day with Tim Bailey on 7 June. It will be at Kelmscott Manor, near Lechlade (between Swindon and Burford). Is it possible for you to send out information to other waits groups to let them know about this? I’d like to increase numbers somewhat. Anyone interested should contact me by phone 01242 579016 (not by e-mail – my set-up disallows any incoming mail unless I know the sender’s address already).
Simon Pickard, Gloucester Waits.

Ely Waits Launch

Hi Chris!
I collected our liveries from Sally & Henry Green this week. We are having embroidered insignia which is being manufactured. We have the last rehearsal today before we inflict ourselves upon the good burghers of Ely.
Although our official launch is on Eel Day – 3rd. May, we are actually playing for the first time next Sunday 27th. April, outside the Lady Chapel at the Cathedral, as people arrive for a reception and Charity Auction, prior to a charity screening of “The Other Boleyn Girl”. A hundred years before our target year, but who cares!
I really can’t believe that this is all actually happening , considering I only had the idea last May, so its all happened in less than a year – less if you consider that the money for the instruments was not forthcoming until 22nd. November, so that’s only 6 months to learn new instruments and be able to perform on them.
I will very shortly be organising a Website which will be full of pictures. We are fortunate to have a lad in the village who is a very good photographer and he is going to photograph all the things we do.
I attach a list of what we are up to in case you are interested.
Many thanks to you and others of the Guild for all the help and encouragement I have received in setting this up.
Tony Pearson

SUNDAY APRIL 27TH.      Reception in Lady Chapel Prior to Charity Screening of “The Other Boleyn Girl”
SATURDAY MAY 3RD.      Eel Day approx. till 12.noon.
MONDAY 12TH. MAY      Mayor Making. We play from – outside the door as people arrive, then inside and -play a Fanfare when the Town Crier welcomes the new Mayor.
MONDAY 26th. MAY      Re-launch of Oliver Cromwell’s House in Ely. We will play late afternoon outside the front door. probably on and off between 3 & 4 pm.
SATURDAY 20TH. JUNE      Waits’ Supper in Almonry Restaurant.
SUNDAY 21ST. JUNE     &nbsp am. St. Etheldreader Procession.

Congratulations to our latest recruits, the Waits of Ely. Welcome toour fraternity, the Guild of Town Pipers. It was only a few months agothat Tony had the idea of forming a group, and here they are, out thereon the streets, performing with proper instruments and kit! And unlikemost of us, they are fortunate in knowing their original year offoundation – 2008 🙂 The down side is, I suppose, that there is nofascinating history to research in dusty archives.
Alan Radford

Nice pictures of our newbies from Ely in their authentic-looking kit.That’s Gloucester in 2006, Lincoln in 2007 and Ely in 2008. Who will be next? Alan

Not forgetting the new Colchester Waits Shawm Band in 2007 as well! Chris.

You mean the revived, revived Colchester Waits! That’s three lives used, only six more to go. Alan.

Are we the first town ever to boast two concurrent bands of “Waits”?…. The previous incarnation still exists, it’s just they never got as far as playing the shawms etc. Lizzie Gutteridge, Colchester Waits

Leeds Waits 25th Anniversary

This is a significant month for the Leeds Waits. On April 30th 1983 wegave our first public performance, so in April 2008 it’s the SilverJubilee of our recreation. It was a performance with the CapriolHistorical Dance Group at the waggon staging of the Chester MysteryPlays on the University of Leeds campus. We still play from time totime for some of the same dancers.
Alan Radford

Well-timed reminder, Al! Many congratulations, and many happy returns of the occasion, to the Leeds Waits. There ought to be photographs of the Chester Cycle with the Leeds Waits in, and if so it would be good to look them out.
The Leeds Waits pages on the Waits website make it clear that the Leeds Waits started in 1983, but there’s no specific statement about the quarter-century. Perhaps Chris would put a Silver Anniversary message on the home page? – not just to give the Leeds Waits a puff, but to confirm the strength, stability and continuity of the waits movement in the late 20th century and beyond.
This evening I shall raise a glass to your next 25 years!
As ever,
Richard Rastall.

Music Of The Waits

Dear Roger and Andrea
Thanks for all the organisation for the workshop, which was a real pleasure to direct. I feel standards are rising and we are producing sounds that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. Strong showing from you Doncaster Waits. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to attempting a similar standard in June.
Best Wishes
Tim Bayley

Dear Tim,
Many thanks for your kind words and on behalf of the guild and those who attended, I would like to thank you for making the event such a resounding success. I should of course also include William in my thanks whose contribution did not go unnoticed.
We have all received messages from those who came expressing how much they enjoyed the event and there is no doubt that there will be a demand for another one sometime in the future. Attached is a photograph which perhaps sums up the day!
I must however correct you on one point, it was Alan Radford’s idea to run the workshop and he in fact carried out the bulk of the organisation. I just found the venue.
I would also like to thank you for volunteering to lead the Big blow at Lincoln, at present we have had signs of interest from about 40 musicians from 7 bands including York. The blow is intended to last around half an hour from 12.15 to 12.45 on Sunday the 29th and will take place in Castle Square in front of the Exchequer gate. If wet we will use the adjacent church, I believe we are expecting the mayor of Lincoln to attend. Your idea of having a few pieces we could all play on the procession on Friday is also a good idea and we would be grateful for your ideas on music as soon as possible so that we can distribute them to those concerned.
We did record the last spot on Saturday how ever on listening to the “unimaginable” sound, we perhaps think that memory is the best record!
Best wishes
Roger and Andrea and all those involved on Saturday.
Report and photos of the workshop

Minstrels’ Court

Dear Chris,

I’m writing to let you know of an event taking place on Saturday 21st June at St John the Baptist Church in Chester, (the church near the Roman amphitheatre). From 11am to 4pm there will be a celebration of the old tradition of the Chester Minstrels’ Court, in which all those wishing to perform music in the county of Chester had to obtain a licence each midsummer at St John’s Church. The earliest record of the court is from 1477 and it continued into the 18th century. However there is a traditional origin of the Court which, if it is to be believed, would push the date back for the first minstrel’s court in Chester to the early 13th century. This derives from a story told that the Earl of Chester, Ranulf Blundeville, was besieged by the Welsh in Rhuddlan Castle. A request for help was received by the Constable of Chester, but few soldiers could be gathered to assist the relieving of the siege. It happened to be the time of the Chester Midsummer Show and so players and musicians were instead rounded up and led off into Wales. As they approached Rhuddlan their noise so terrified the Welsh that they fled and thus the siege was relieved! In memory and gratitude of this musicians and players were given a year licence to perform in the county each midsummer.

The event running on the 21st June 2008 will include recitals of medieval music by Richard York which are open to everyone to join in. There will also be storytelling, dancing, mummers’ plays and even a dancing bear, (no harm to real bears – just a very lifelike costume!). Some street theatre from the 2008 Chester Mystery Plays will also be happening and during the afternoon the annual recreation of the Chester Midsummer Watch Parade will also be passing through the city with some of those involved in the parade ending up at the Church for the Minstrels’ Court event.

Local museums, community groups and the church are all working together on this project and we are inviting any musicians with instruments of the 15th-17th centuries to come along and join in if they wish. This is, we think, the first time the Minstrels’ Court has been recreated in modern times and we hope that it will be the first of many, perhaps even leading to the re-establishment of the Chester Waits.

I will let you know of further details as they become known. As several groups are involved, there is perhaps no one website to refer people to for all the information. However I will endeavour to make details known on my website as the event approaches.

With best wishes
Tom Hughes

Counterpoint, BBC Radio 4

Monday 31 March 2008, 1.30 pm (repeated the following Sunday at 11 pm)
I can divulge that the result wasn’t shameful and I won’t mind if word gets round.
James Merryweather

Listen again

City of Lincoln Waites

Amendments and new information added to the following pages of the Lincoln Waites website
Regards, Al Garrod.

Dear Al and All,
As usual when Al sends out notification of expansion it’s a lot to take in, but I’ve been back for a butcher’s at the Lincoln waits. It’s very easy to visit a website in its early days and then assume it will look after itself as far as you’re concerned. I’m pleased I visit this one from time to time as well as today.
It’s worth saying that this is one of the best websites I’ve seen and, since it’s about my subject, therefore, the best there is (apart, of course, from; but then I’m biased and likely to incur the wrath of my co-host if I wax over enthusiastic). The colour scheme and design are excellent, and navigation simple, practicable and fun. It’s already pretty comprehensive and, knowing the way it’s been building up, will become even more so by stages.
I need not comment on the expansiveness and quality of what lies beyond the ‘Research’ button, though the word ‘comprehensive’ springs readily to mind.
I feel it would be wonderful to sit down and do likewise for York but the very idea brings on a severe attack of weariness.
Will (with N.B. its little arms of Lincoln at the start of the status line – can we do something like that, Chris?) remain the sole exemplar or will somebody in another town take on the next challenge? It’s what waits history needs.
Somewhere on the waits website we have Columba’s exploration of words cognate with waits. It includes GAUNTLET which, I would say, Al has placed decisively in the ‘down’ position!
James Merryweather

Gunnar Gunn 1926 – 2008

I’m writing to you to let you know that my beloved father, Gunnar Gunn, passed away here on the 14th of February. Gunnar Gunn from Norway was the “Vekter of Trondhjem”, among many other watchmans / waits’ assignments, such as e.g. at Baerums Vaerk. He was born 12.07.1926 and became 81 years old.

I know you have been in contact with him several times, and that he visited you in York sometime in the 90’s I think.He talked about you and the York Waits several times, and was very proud and cherished deeply the connection and relation to you.

He has been struggling for some years with a very bad hip, which though didn’t stop him working as “Vekter” and generously singing out with his beautiful voice until he had passed 80. He loved this work in all its aspects!

The last year he has been often very ill, and especially since Christmas, but the doctors didn’t know what was wrong. Here, almost 4 weeks ago they found out that it was liver cancer. I have been with him almost every day since we was told about the cancer, and both me and my brother was there, holding his hand when he took his last breath.

The funeral will be on Friday the 22nd at 12 o’clock at Tanum Kirke (Tanum Church), Nedre Ås vei 36, 1341 Slependen, Norway (I think this is the adress).

Yours sincerely

Ingrid Skovgaard
Gunnar Gunns daughter

For more on Gunnar Gunn, visit here.

Punch Cartoon & Whifflers

Dear David,

Many thanks for the cartoon which I have put on the Waits Website. Speaking of Whistlers and Waits, I was recently directed towards these curious characters – I see that at least one of them is a Morris Dancer. Maybe you’ve already come across them?

All the best, Chris.

Dear Chris,
I’m glad that the Punch cartoon was of more than passing interest.

I was aware that some years ago Kemp’s Men Of Norwich had persuaded The Lord Mayor of Norwich to let them revive the ancient posts of Whifflers. I’m pleased to see that “Snap” (Norwich’s ancient ceremonial dragon) has also been revived. Their costume are based on the Tudor-style outfits which earlier “revival whifflers” had worn in the Norwich Guild processions in the 1830s. I suspect that Kemp’s Men (or the Lord Mayor’s office) went to a dress-maker rather than a tailoress, or historical costume maker. This has resulted in costumes with modern colours, and lightweight satin, rather than good broadcloth. The correct colours are shown in a set of postcards published by Norfolk Museums, showing the whifflers, pikemen, “Snap” dragon, & “Tom Fool” (copied from a contemporary stained glass window in Norwich.)

When I first came across the whifflers (many years ago), a columnist in the Eastern Daily Press referred to them as “municipal cosh-boys”! They originally walked in front of medieval mayoral processions, clearing the way through the crowds with judicious use of staves. As the years passed, the staves were flourished with great panache (rather like Italian flag-throwers in similar processions).

I thought that perhaps the name whiffler had come from a mistaken interpretation of Whissler (with the long S). But it seems that “to whiffle” (and probably “to whistle” also) is a reference to the sound of the staves being swung through the air.

I completed notes on the history of bands in Fakenham, which I had promised to the Fakenham Town Band. I suspect that I had found a few more details than they had. From the Waits’ website I found the 17th-century reference to The Fakenham Musick (in the Malone Society records). Fakenham didn’t have a Corporation, so presumably this was a private ensemble, acting in lieu of Waits. Another band was that of the Norfolk Yeomanry, which was apparently based in Fakenham during the 1830s and 1840s, until the Corps was disbanded in 1849.

Kind regards, David Jackson

Thomas Crawshaw

Chris and James,
The last Leeds Wait, Thomas Crawshaw, died in 1858 and will have lain in an unmarked pauper’s grave for 150 years in Beckett Street Cemetery in November. (The stone shown in the picture in the pictures section is dedicated to two subsequent burials in the grave.) I have now obtained permission to place a memorial stone on his grave, which we plan to unveil at a civic ceremony on or near the anniversary of his death. Having the Lord Mayor in attendance is the least the city can do, having dismissed poor Thomas in 1835, knocked his house down in the “improvements” circa 1840, and let him die a pauper on out-relief in 1858.
Also in November, we will be revealing the music of the Crawshaw family manuscript book in a performance at Temple Newsam, with the waits performing some of the marches and the dances of the Assembly Rooms, and our patron Richard Rastall playing some of the keyboard pieces.
Alan Radford

At 12.00 on Saturday, November 15th, at the grave in Beckett Street Cemetery, Leeds, The Leeds Waits will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Thomas Crawshaw, “last of the old corporate waits”. In the presence of the Lord Mayor, a memorial stone will be dedicated by the Rector of Leeds. The Waits will play appropriate music at the graveside, as did the local musicians in 1858.


York Music

James Merryweather tells me that his book on the history of music in York, including his research of the York Waits, York Music, and an update on subsequent research, are available as PDFs on CD to anyone who sends him a pound. See his website for contact details. Or there are still a few copies of the book available from the publisher, Sessions of York, at £6.95 plus P&P.


City of London Waits

In Thomas Dekker’s “The Magnificent Entertainment Given to King James,” describing the arrival of James I in London for his coronation in 1603, there is a reference to a banquet with music by “The Wayts and Haultboyes of London.” Does “wayts” refer to the musicians and “haultboyes” to their instruments, or what?

Coventry Waits

For the entry of the three-year-old Prince Edward, heir to the throne and subsequently Edward V, into Coventry in 1474, he was greeted “with mynstrallcy of the wayts of the cite”.

Sir Richard Hawkins

Waits, or merely wait-pipes, at sea:

From Sir Richard Hawkins, “The Complete Seaman”
“I set sail the 12th June, 1593, in the afternoon; and all put jn order, I looft near the shore to give my farewell to all the inhabitants of thetowne, whereof the most part were gathered together upon the Hoe, to show their grateful correspondency to the love and zeal which I, my father, and predecessors have ever borne to that place as to our natural and mother town. And first with my noise of trumpets, after with my waytes and other music, and lastly with the artillery of my ships, I made the best signification I could of a kind farewell. This they answered with the waytes of the towne, and the ordinance on the shore, and with shouting of voices; which, with the fair evening and silence of the night, were heard a great distance off.

And the Admiral came upon us: which being within musket shot, we hailed with our trumpets, our waytes, and after with our artillery; which they answered with artillery two for one.”

This does suggest that wait-pipes were louder than trumpets.


Oooh, that’s nice! If Plymouth was his home town, he may have had some of the Plymouth Waits on board. There’s several references to Town Waits volunteering to go on voyages – Lynn and Norwich come to mind.

Plymouth was his home town. He was born there, and he served as its Mayor (1603-4) and its M.P.(1604). He later moved a little along the coast to Slapton, from whence he served as Vice-Admiral of Devon.

Boston Waits

From: “The History and Antiquities of Boston”, by Pishey Thompson, 1856.

In 1573, “Edward Astell, of Boston, musician, with his several apprentices, were appointed the ‘waytes’ of the borough, to play every morning throughout the borough, from Michaelmas until Christmas, and from the twelfth day until Easter (certain holidays and Fridays excepted), unless reasonable cause be to the contrary. It was, therefore, agreed by the Mayor and burgesses, that for and towards their paynes and travail in this behalf, every alderman shall pay to the said Edward yearly, so long as he shall continue to be wayte of this borough, 4s., by equal payments at Christmas and Easter, and each of the common council, 2s. annually in like manner. All other inhabitants to pay yearly to the said Edward in like manner, such sums as they shall be taxed by the Mayor, recorder, and aldermen.”

A musician with multiple apprentices? Shocking!

Apprentices as full-blown waits? What is the world coming to? I thought Boston at the time was of higher status than that.

Alan Radford

Very nice. I have a feeling that this systemn of employing a man and leaving it to him to find the rest of the band was fairly common.

Waits Workshop

We are holding a waits “mini-fest” workshop on Saturday, April 5th. It will be for waits-type loud winds (cornetti, lysarden, shawms, rauschpfeiffes, sackbutts, curtals and possibly also bagpipes) playing waits-type repertoire, and will be run by Tim Bayley of The York Waits. Because the funding comes from Yorkshire Arts, we have to hold it within Yorkshire, but we are holding it in Doncaster at the Goldsmith Centre 259 Sprotbrough Road Sprotbrough. Doncaster. DN5 8BP to bring it closer to folk from Lynn, Ely, Lincoln, Colchester, Gloucester, Canterbury etc.. It will be a joint venture by IGTP and NEEMF, as we are hoping to encourage more early wind musicians to revive other groups of waits.
Alan Radford.

Click here for details, directions and booking form.

City of Ely Waits

New Year Greetings!
I am pleased to announce that we now have a full compliment of players.
They are:

Myself – Sue Bridges – Jenny Sewell who will alternate between Shawms and Percussion
David Warham – Michael Miles playing Sackbuts.

All are experienced Recorder players and between us we also play:

Keyboard – Bagpipes – Bass Guitar (??????) – Flute – Oboe – Bassoon – Bass Viol – Lute.
We also have the offer of a consort of Crumhorns if the money stretches that far!
Our Target Year is 1650 so some of these additional instruments will be most appropriate when we give ‘indoor’ performances.
Our proposed ‘launch’ date is 3rd. May.
More anon.

Tony Pearson – Waitmaster
Withycot Ely Road Prickwillow Ely CB7 4UJ
01353 688275
]]> for email)

Thirty Years On

It is hard to imagine, but the York Waits are 30 years old this year. The York Waits have a lot to answer for, for it is their success that has stimulated a whole branch of early music that would otherwise have been overlooked. They have led to the creation of a web site, a guild and even a limited company. But most of all they have given lots and lots of pleasure to both the general public and persons interested in history, and the history of music in particular.
I first came upon them some time soon after their formation, though the exact date and place eludes me. A person of my age had been brought up on David Munrow, Henry VIII and Elizabeth as created by the BBC. This was for most of us our first exposure to “proper” early music and it had us hooked. Listening to this type of music live was difficult and the York early music festival was the place to go. At that time all sorts of amateur groups performed before the glitterati took over, and my favourite event was a whole day affair where different groups would play in the open air and you could catch half a dozen or so bands in one day. These occurred in the Museum Gardens at York and at least twice at Beningbrough Hall just north of York.
I, in particular, remember one festival where the day ended with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts playing the Royal Firework Music on the Mansion House steps, followed by a spectacular firework display which I watched curled up under a picnic blanket with my future wife; a fantastic day of sunshine and music. At the same event, the York Waits performed and we did our best to hear them as often as possible. Here was a band that for me ticked all the boxes; the sound was great, my first experience of a full shawm band. They looked great, no fancy dress costumes here, but proper clothing that had obviously been created by someone who knew what they were about. And finally, but not least, the performance; music expertly arranged, played without music, by experts who were obviously having a good time. Who can forget Ian’s twinkling eye and his youthful bounce of enthusiasm? They instantly became my favourite group. In the following years I heard them whenever I could. They played for other festival concerts, extremely lively dances and for the superb “Punks Delight” dance group, another excellent group of performers sadly no longer around.
My own progress through early music was extremely slow, relying as I did on one renaissance recorder for my repertoire! The only instrument that I felt I could afford. However I soon became involved with a group in Doncaster which my girlfriend had joined and there we had crumhorns and viols and two shawms which everybody said were very hard to play. But that did not stop me dreaming of one day being able to make a sound like the York Waits made. Eventually the group reformed and we needed a new title, something more local and historical. Why not become Waites? said I (after my heroes). We can’t do that! said they, there is already the York Waits, we would just be stealing their name! So what is a wait? Dr Merryweather’s excellent book soon educated me and off I went to the Doncaster Archives and there they were – as I often say 350 years of local music completely forgotten. James led me to the new Waits web site and we were off, the Doncaster Waites was reformed. Since then we have acquired shawms (still cheap ones) and livery coats and try our very best to behave as a good wait band should. Believe it or not, half of our band at this time had not heard the York Waits and there some was some scepticism about my glowing reports. In 2004, we were lucky enough to be invited to s’Hertogenbosch by the Stadspijpers. We were there, along with other bands on the guild website, and this was the real beginning of the International Guild of Town Pipers; the first time that all the bands met together and began to know each other. To my pleasure, the members of the York Waits proved to be charming and friendly and very patient with us lesser performers. They still left us in awe of their skills and experience and I am glad to say that my fellow waites from Doncaster were similarly impressed.
Like most groups, the York Waits have changed over the years members have departed for various reasons. Their music has also subtly changed, particularly in the past few years, as new skills have been introduced. What hasn’t changed is the quality, and for me they are still the best early music group in the world bar none!

Roger Offord

I can only second Roger’s comments on our inspiration, The York Waits.We in Leeds remember them from the early days, the early York Early Music Festivals, the Bolton Percy Gatehouse Fairs etc., and when in 1983 we assembled a group of early musicians to play for Jim Cartmell’s Capriol Early Dance Group at Jane Oakshott’s wagon staging of the Chester Cycle on the Leeds University campus, I needed a name for our group. In homage to our friends from York, it had to be The Leeds Waits; I knew such a group existed as Peter Brears had included an illustration of one of their badges in his “Leeds Christmas Book”. As with our colleagues in The Doncaster Waites, we progressed from recorders through crumhorns to shawms, cornett, sackbutt, bagpipes and curtal, inspired by the repertoire, style and sheer joie de vivre of The York Waits. In contrast to other leading early music groups who performed with expressions of intense concentration and seriousness, they were the embodiment of what Jaques Moderne had so aptly called “Musique de Joye”! As 2008 dawns, happy thirtieth birthday to The YorkWaits from The Leeds Waits.

Alan Radford


Dear Pipers,
Here’s a request we don’t get every day and, I think, would find hard to oblige. For all our safeties, I did not open the e-mail, but copied the text and then deleted the lot. If anybody can help the Bill Jim I’m afraid I’ve destroyed the contact details – oops.
Chris – does this fit under the heading of miscellanea? Should we start a misconceptions section?

Hello sir?madam
I am Mr. Bill Jim and i will like to purchase on of your Silver chains please can you email me back with the types that you have and their price range with the model so that i can decide on what to but..note that i am going to make payment with my Major Credit Card and also you will br shipping intems to west africa which will be done by my own shipping company…please tell me if you are interested so that we can proceed business…hopefull to here from you soon..
Bill Jim