Notes& Queries 2009

More Scottish Town Pipers

Supporting evidence for town pipers at Brechin, Dysart, Kilbarchan, Peebles, Dundee, Dalkeith, Jedburgh, Lanark, Aberdeen, Perth, Edinburgh, Arbroath, Glasgow, Dumfries, Dumbarton, Bridgeton, Biggar, Keith, Glenluce, Falkirk, Linlithgow, Galashiels, Kilbarchan, Crail, Musselburgh. The six previously unknown ones are in bold.
Alan Radford

Brechin – a meeting of the Brechin Town Council on the 20th June 1688, where entered in the minutes, John Wyslie was elected town piper.

Dysart – town piper of Dysart

Kilbarchan – Every parish has produced some men whom it regards as notable, and unquestionably Habbie or Robert Simpson is the most widely known of the sons of Kilbarchan. He lived at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and was thus a contemporary of Shakespeare. In early life he was probably a retainer in the family of Craigends or in that of Johnstone, and tradition, supported by the emblem on his reputed tomb-stone, asserts that in later life he combined the occupation of butcher with the office of town-piper.

Peebles – It was the custom of James Ritchie, the town piper of Peebles, who was among the last of his order, to make his rounds annually on Handsel Monday, or the first Monday of the year, for the purpose of receiving a gratuity from the different householders. His uniform consisted of a pair of red breeches and coat, of an antique fashion, with a looped-up cocked hat, and, till the last, he wore a plaited queue.

Dundee – At Dundee the town piper was paid twelve pennies yearly by each householder in the town.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975), ISBN: 0710079133.

Dalkeith – Geordie Syme, the piper of Dalkeith, was allowed, beside a small wage, a suit of clothes: this consisted of a long yellow coat lined with red, red plush breeches, white stockings and shoes with buckles.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Various – In Dundee, Jedburgh and Lanark, the piper’s round started by official edict at 4 a.m. At Perth and Dalkeith it was 5 a.m.. The evening round varied from 6 p.m. at Lanark and 7 p.m. at Perth to 8 p.m. at Dalkeith and Jedburgh.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Lanark – payment to Johne Watsone the town piper of Lanark in 1566-7 of vjs viijd for the landmuris; to play his pipes at the town’s horse races and fairs..
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Aberdeen – Until 1630 Aberdeen had its town piper. Then “The Magistrates discharge the common piper of all going through the town at nycht, or in the morning, in tyme coming, with his pype, it being an incivill forme to be usit within sic a famous burghe, and being often found fault with, als weill by sundrie nichtbouris of the toune as by strangers”
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Perth – Perth had a town piper as late as 1831, and his death was much lamented: “the music having an effect in the morning inexpressibly soothing and delightful.”
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Edinburgh – the office of town piper was revived in 1660 with the appointment of John Johnstone “to accompany the town’s drummer throw the town morning and evening”, paying him his salary and livery as in former years.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Various – The following are some of the Scots town and burghs which are mentioned in various sources as having their common piper and ‘menstral’:

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth, Dumfries, Dalkeith, Dumbarton, Bridgeton, Biggar, Keith, Glenluce, Falkirk, Lanark, Linlithgow, Peebles, Galashiels, Dundee, Jedburgh and Kilbarchan.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Arbroath – the town piper of Arbroath, John Sinclair, served as piper in Ogilvie’s Regiment at Culloden.From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Crail, Fife – On 13th October 1568, the Town Council granted that, “ Charles Mercer, our Common Menstrall, shall play throughout the town, evening and morning ilk day.”

Musselburgh – Even the town-piper of Musselburgh, James Waugh by name, while playing at the head of the troop, and thinking of no harm, had been carried off for a soldier.

Town Pipers Up North

I’ve just been perusing Brian McCandless’s article on town pipers in Scotland and the Borders which he revised for the Pipers Convention in 2006, and on line at He assumes “piper” means “bagpiper” throughout, which James may choose to question, but they are town pipers nonetheless, regardless of what wind instrument they played.
In his list on page 12, he includes named Town Pipers, with dates, for a number of towns and cities, some new to our “Where Waits?” list, including some already known to us such as Geordie Syme and Habbie Simpson. So that’s another nineteen to add.
Alan Radford

[These and others have now been incorporated into the “Where Waits” page. Chris.]

“Dance to the Piper – the Highland bagpipe in Nova Scotia” by Barry W. Shears, in its table of contents on line at, identifies the MacLennan family as town pipers of Inverness, so there’s another town to add.

Chris,  The McCandless article states that “Sour Plums of Galashiels” (see the music section of this site) was played bythe town piper of Galashiels, so we should add it to the specimens of musicplayed by waits and their equivalents.

I read lan’s email and noted that he’d been reading Brian MacCandless’s article. I read it long ago and corresponded with him for a while, intrigued by his info about Union Bagpipes being played in the London theatre in the 18th c., the origins of the Irish bagpipe (misrepresented by Gratton Flood) and, later, Union pipes in Inverness museum (beautiful, lovingly worn 18th c originals – e.g. attached, let me hear you say Wow! – some with reeds, one with a singular homemade leather bag/case).
Yes, MacCandless does allow pipe(r/s) to mean bagpipe(r/s) and then goes on to reach conclusions based on that misconception, but he’s far from the worst exponent of the error (I’m planning to write on the subject again).
Now, these toon pipers: it’s a while since I did anything on them, but the lowland ones seem to have been attached to towns and it need not be a huge research leap to confirm that they were the one man, one instrument equivalents of waits (so far only known from Edinburgh, I think). We have Habbie Simpson in Kilbarchan, Geordie Syme in Dalkeith and John Prinlge of Lauder, also south of Edinburgh (good coffee shop The Flat Cat there today). Some of my info is already on the website I think, if it can be found and of course Pete Stewart can probably contribute a lot.
So if we want to delve into the subject, there’s material there to be had, but all in need of as much research as any English town’s waits. I could follow up the Inverness info. perhaps – depends how good the archives are, if any, but the rest are at least as far from me as Exeter is from you guys!
James Merryweather

Weird Words

Hi Chris!
I forward this to you for your entertainment. Scroll down until you find the bit about Waits. Tony Pearson

I’ve seen much less accurate descriptions of Waits! And it contains an interesting reflection of the problems Christmas Waits found in collecting subscriptions which I have included on the Christmas Waits page.

Cornish Waits

Bodmin churchwardens’ accounts for 1503/4 has 4s. paid to waits. Also “in the earldom of Cornwall, they who held their lands by the tenure of keeping watch at the castle gate of Launceston … owed suit to a special court, in the nature of a court baron, called the ‘Curia Vigiliae’, ‘Curia de Gayte’, or ‘Wayternesse Courte’, of which many records are still extant in the offices of the Exchequer, and among the records of the Duchy.”[1]

[1] Smirke, E., Wait Service mentioned in the Liber Winton, or Winchester Domesday, (Archaeological Journal, No. 12, Dec. 1846) quoted in Chappell, W. Popular Music of the Olden Time, Vol. 2, p. 547. Smirke was president of the Royal Institution of Cornwall from Nov. 1861 to Nov. 1863 and from Nov. 1865 to Nov. 1867.

Mike O’Connor

Thanks Mike – another couple of pieces for the jigsaw! Unfortunately, I don’t think we can claim this as proof that Bodmin had Waits. It looks to me more like a payment to someone else’s Waits for a specific performance. Nevertheless, it’s all important, as is the other reference to Castle Waits. Our patron Professor Rastall has spent many years disentangling castle and town Waits, and the picture is still somewhat unclear, so any leads are very helpful.
Chris Gutteridge

Dear Chris,
Cornwall provides little evidence of Waits in general.
The ‘major’ towns in late medieval Cornwall were Launceston and Bodmin and neither were very large. Launceston was walled in the 13th century. The Norman castle was in use (latterly as a jail) into the 16th century.
Churchwardens accounts at Bodmin give a good if not quite contiguous record. So a one-off payment to waits poses as many questions as it answers. However, the payment of 4 shillings looks quite large to my untutored eye, and could perhaps represent either a single event by several waits or for a period for two waits. (??)
The quote from REED is this:

Page 470, line 12

General Receivers Accounts CRO: B/Bod/314/3/20

single mb (4 October – 4 October) (Payments)

Item 1 payde in Rewarde unto the waytes iiij s.

where CRO is Cornwall Record Office.

I’m afraid I have no more on Mr Smirke’s remarks, and would welcome any info myself!

Aha! The fact that it says paid to the waits might be significant. It might imply that these are the Bodmin Waits, rather than some other, passing Waits. Maybe a one-off payment for helping with an important church service?

Dear Chris
Sure! At this point we shrug our shoulders sagely – note the evidence, and hunt for more!
I have been able to view the 1846 Archaeological Journal. Just for the record the quote is:

“In the earldom of Cornwall a very remarkable example occurs of a class of tenants who held … their lands as of the castle of Launceston, by the tenure of keeping watch at the castle gate. The tenants thus bound to perform vigilias ad portam castri also owed suit to a special court in the nature of a court baron, called the curia vigiliae, curia de gayte, or wayternesse court, of which many records are still extant in the different offices of the Exchequer, and among the records of the Duchy.”[1]

[1] Smirke, E., Observations on the Wait Service, (Archaeological Journal, Vol 3, 1846) p. 341.

There’s nothing immediately obvious in the Cornwall Record Office, so I suspect the records he mentions may be in the Duchy Office in London, which I don’t think has an online catalogue. I will pursue this in slow time. We should remember the Earldom as such ceased when the Duchy came into existence in 1337.
All the best

Dear Mike,
it’s very important not to take the Bodmin entry out of context. Chris is right that it doesn’t necessarily imply town waits at Bodmin, but the question is more complex. What is the exact wording? and What does that wording imply to the accounting-clerk concerned?

If the entry in question is that on p. 470 of the REED volume, then the wording is
Item I payde in Rewarde onto the waytes      iiij s.
and I’d say that this probably does imply the town waits of Bodmin (it’s “the waytes” rather than “waytes”). But confirmation from other records is needed: this entry isn’t quite conclusive, and we do need to know the normal practice of the scribe(s) concerned.

The Launceston entry is well-known and clearly indicates domestic vigiles. As Chris notes, the precise relationship between domestic waits and the French-style gaytes of the castle walls isn’t yet clear. However, this entry certainly has nothing to do with town waits.

Onward and upward!

Music Stand

Just thought I’d share this with you – in case anyone is thinking of buying a new music stand. Paul Webb does a very nice line in wooden music stands. Very nice for early music. This is a description of mine…

Oak –
Height and angle are both adjustable –
Takes apart for carriage or storage –
Parts assemble with wooden pegs –
No tools required –
No metal parts, no nails, no screws.

I wanted a special design for the foot assembly – Paul’s original design did not take apart. I sent him a couple of pictures and a description of what I wanted and he came up with this. I am delighted with the workmanship and the design, and he is such a nice man – it’s a pleasure to do business with him. He listened and took notice of what I asked for. I highly recommend him. No, I’m not on commission!

Paul Webb
Woodturner & Furniture Maker
The Tithe Barn Craft Centre
Brockworth Court
Court Road
Phone: 01452 862020
Email: [email protected]

Allister Garrod

Thank you for this, Al. It’s very useful to have recommendations of this type, and especially to know that the maker can be flexible if special needs are in the offing.

Can I ask
(a) what the timescale was; and
(b) ballpark figure for cost?

As ever, Richard Rastall

Lead Time = 10 weeks (he hurt his back on holiday – now he is a bit better – so a new order might be fulfilled in less time)
Cost = (I think he is too cheap)… £73.00 plus £13.50 delivery = £86.50 total

many thanks, Al – that’s useful to know. His website is not as informative as it might be, but I guess he prefers to talk on the phone so that he gets a good picture of the customer and his/her needs.
As ever, Richard

His web site was a little strange to navigate round, but there is a full list of stands, photo’s and prices (use the menu at the side) prices are ridiculously cheap, particularly in pine.
Roger Offord

I have met this style of “mystery meat” navigation before. Using a java menu system with frames like this is renowned for baffling visitors. Poor website. Great stands.
Does this link help? The designs are just examples. He is good at transforming your ideas into new designs.

Johannes Pezel

Henry G Farmer, in his book “Military Music” (1950), describes JohannesPezel (Petzold, Pezelius, 1639-1694) as being the leader of the BautzenStadtpfeifer, and composer of much music for a group of 2 cornetts and 3sackbuts – the typical late seventeenth century stadtpfeifer ensemble,including a variety of dance forms – allemandes, courantes and sarabandes. According to Wikipedia, he lived in Leipzig from 1661-1681 where he was astadtpfeifer, and where he converted to the Protestant faith in the middleof his time in Leipzig. Between 1669 and 1686 he published ‘Musicavespertina lipsica’ (1669), ‘Musicalische Seelenerquickungen’ (1675),’Deliciae musicales, oder Lustmusik’ (1678) and ‘Musica curiosa lipsiaca'(1686). I wonder if the conversion led to a significant change of musicalstyle?
Alan Radford

Dresdner Stadtpfeifer

Good evening,
if that’s possible, I’d like to see my ensemble added to the link list at (more musicians):
Ensemble name: Dresdner Stadtpfeifer
The repertoire of the Dresdner Stadtpfeifer (“Dresden Waits”) spans the Renaissance, beginning with the invention of the sackbut in the second half of the 15th century, and extends to the early Baroque period. The Dresdner Stadtpfeifer play on period instruments. The loud band, or alta capella, employs instruments such as the cornetto, sackbut, shawm, crumhorn and dulcian. The soft band, or consort, employs recorders and viols. Sometimes the alta capella and consort join to form a larger ensemble with a choir and vocal soloists.
city and country: Dresden, Germany
Thank you very much
Reinhard John

Dear Reinhard,
Your email was a wonderful surprise. Yes, of course I will provide a link to the Dresdner Stadtpfeifer from
I have copied this email to my friends, the International Guild of Town Pipers as I am sure that they will wish to contact you.
Your website looks very good.
Al Garrod

What a wonderful Christmas present! We know well of German stadtpfeifer and their repertoire in history, but to find a revived group in your country is indeed a wonderful surprise. Welcome to the fraternity of waits in The International Guild of Town Pipers, and to our website. We look forward to meeting you and playing with you in the not too distant future, at our next international festival if nor before.
Alan Radford

Good evening Chris Gutteridge,
today I saw the picture on your website. That’s of great interest for us: If these are the town pipers of Dresden, so we could say that it’s a picture of our band. But I’m not shure: There was a “Grosser Aufzug zu Fuss und zu Pferd” in 1709 in Dresden, but that was an event of the court. So probably in the pictuare is the “Dresdner Hofkapelle”, but not the town pipers.
I’d like to know more about it and so I looked for the painting in the catalogue of the “Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden”. But I couldn’t find it. Could you (or the person who put the picture at the website) please tell me more about it? What’s the name of the painter? It looks like scanned from a book. Wich book was it? Or is there any further information in the www?
Thank you, best wishes
Reinhard John
Dresdner Stadtpfeifer

Good morning Reinhard,
The picture you are asking about is an illustration from a book, and has been on the web site for several years. I have made enquiries with Dr James Merryweather, who, I think, sent me the picture originally, but unfortunately he doesn’t remember anything about it, and at that time I kept no records of where pictures came from. I am very sorry that we can’t help you with this. I will post your message on the site in the hope that someone will give us more information.
Very best wishes,

Shawm Case

Hi Roger,
You asked me to send you a picture when my shawm cases arrived. Here it is.It’s a double case for alto and soprano shawms. The shared lid slides upthe straps so it cannot fall off and be lost. The leather tubes are sewntogether to make a fixed double case. Mark’s workmanship is excellent, andfor a handmade leather case, I think £70 was very reasonable. I just needto change the buckles for something more C15 now.
He originally estimated a completion date of 2 weeks, but it took me 12weeks to get him to finish them. He viewed my job as low priority, giving abetter/quicker service to his equine trade. I suspect that most local Saddlers wouldtreat us the same – their equine trade is more important to them.
If you are thinking of having something similar made, I would suggest thatyou contact a local Saddler. I don’t think it is worth you travelling fromDoncaster to Grantham especially to see Mark. Whoever you go to, expect along wait, whatever they tell you!
I have another chap in mind, to test out on similar cases, so I’ll let youknow how I get on with him.
Al Garrod

Ludlow Waits

Hi All.
I am researching the evidence with regard to the existence of Waits in LUDLOW. So far I can find various references in the Shropshire set of Records of Early English Drama. It may be that some waits were also employed by the Lord President of the Council of the Marches at Ludlow Castle, as he certainly employed musicians (ref: Milton’s Maske “Comus” in 1634).
If anyone has any knowledge/information/suggestions, please get in touch with a reply.
We have a band that is preparing to re-establish Ludlow Waits, and it would be good to know our provenance.
Steve Blyton

Dear Steve, Thank you for letting us know about this: it’s good that someone’s researching Ludlow, and especially that you are about to reactivate the Waits of Ludlow. As you’ve looked at REED Shropshire you know as much as the rest of us about the historical record: there’s apparently nothing in the other REED volumes (though I haven’t searched the indexes of all of them), and nothing in Chambers, Woodfill or Percy either.
It wouldn’t be usual for town waits to work for a local landowner or administrative official, so the Lord President is likely to be a dead end. The registers of marriages and deaths might help. Other colleagues may have other useful suggestions.
Anyway, good luck with it. Can I encourage you to post any results on the Waits website?
All good wishes,
Richard Rastall

Sorry – I don’t know anything about Ludlow.
Richard Rastall is the man to talk to regarding the difference between Town Waites and Household Waites.
Most (but not all) Town/Borough Waites were disbanded in 1835/36 as a result of Councils cutting back spending on ceremonial in order to limit their activities to the function of government. This happened as a direct result of a law concerning the reform of local government called “The Municipal Corporations Act (1835)”. Because of this, I started my research for Lincoln at 1860 and slowly worked back in time – – and it isn’t finished yet – I’m not sure that it ever is!
Unless you are already skilled at reading old scripts, it is a good idea to start with the most modern documents, as these will be the most easily readable.
To check whether there are records of Town Waites in Ludlow, my suggestion is that you visit your county archives and start with (a) accounts (books and or rolls) for Mayors and Chamberlains, (b) council minute books and (c) ANY other documents you can find from the same time period. A blanket approach is best. Dismiss nothing. Read everything that comes your way. The very document you dismiss WILL always be the one you should have examined. I have read books of over 1000 pages to find two lines of script that refer to Waites – but when you do find those two lines it is positively orgasmic. How ever long it takes, how ever many documents turn up nothing NEVER give up.
This is such a rewarding pastime.
Welcome to the fold!
Allister Garrod

I can’t give you better advice on sources than Richard and Al. All I know is that working in archives is dusty, hard on the eyes, time-consuming, but VERY rewarding when you hit pay-dirt! Although we are reviving groups that haven’t existed for nearly two centuries, that link with past members is important to us, so happy hunting.
My main reason for contacting you is in my role as Chairman of the Guild, to welcome you to our merry company. We look forward to seeing you at future events, and also to seeing reports of your activities and historical discoveries on the website. Simon Pickard (Gloucester Waites) is your nearest extant practitioner of our dark arts, but we’ll all be as helpful as we can.
Finally, having myself played in Ludlow a few years ago, I’m very jealous of the wonderful setting you have for your nascent waits, with your castle and relatively well-preserved town centre.
Good luck,
Alan Radford, Chair, IGTP

Thanks for the guidance – it is a long while since I did any historical research and it is good to be pointed in the right direction. My starting point is the Shropshire REED and local historians, but the whole thing is complicated by the Council of the Marches. Through my National Trust work I am in contact with the Croft family whose ancestors did exciting things like being committed to the Tower in 1554, and being Comptroller of the Household for Elizabeth I. There is a Chamberlain’s record showing a payment for a Drum from Croft, and I am following that lead.
Regards and renewed thanks.

Progress on the research!!
Shropshire REED shows a major procession and pageant in November 1616 with the Lord President of the Council of the Marches, and just about every noble Lord and”worthy gentleman and persons of good account of the counties of Salop, Hereford, Denbigh, Mountgogomery (sic), Caernarvon, Merioneth, and other counties adjoining to the number of many thousand persons” This was to celebrate the prince of Wales, and Ludlow being the governing seat of Wales at that time.
“Having before them the Towne Waites, and other lowd instruments of Musicke, and before the musicke marched a long the number of two hundred souldiers…….” “….and having before them another company of Waites and good consorts of Musicke, as cornets, sagbuts and other winde instruments playing and sounding all along the way before them….”
Certainly town waits but with a whole panoply of military noise and music as well. This contemporary report covers 9 pages of the book, and is extremely detailed. (pp95-104)
Steve Blyton

I am making progress with research, 2 names of appointed Waites in 1706, plus quite a bit on the Lord President of the Council of the Marches employing musicians – but mostly for `internal` consumption – and with the Earl of Bridgwater in that title, the entertainment of his “beautiful lady daughters”….steady now!!!

I would be very interested to hear what documents you are consulting? Have you started looking at Council Minute books or Council accounts yet? It is always useful to hear from a fellow researcher – to share ideas for both method and for possible sources.

As I explained previously the Ludlow situation is complicated by the presence of the Council of the Marches. This made Ludlow an attractive place for visiting bands, rather than having waites of it’s own. The civic authority was minor, and lacked the clout of the Council of the Marches. For example in 1710 the entire Chamberlain’s accounts wer concerned with cart loads of gravel, hiring labourers, digging drains – and of course the annual feast. No waits payments.
All of the Ludlow minutes are now microfiched – there are about 6000 sheets!
The town did seem to manage to pay waites in 1614 – but that was for the arrival of the Lord President of the Council of the Marches, and they were consigned to the top of the church tower.
The 1706 reference in a local publication does not match with the council minutes of that time, so I will have to trace the named waites through parish records.
Musicians know of Mr. Packyngton because of published music, he was a frequent visitor with his band in 1543-5. The King’s minstrels visited in 1466, 1522, 1528, 1530, 1533, 1535, 1545, 1546, 1550 (several times) 1555, 1556 (with the Kings’s Lyres). Hereford, Shrewsbury and Chester Waits also visited.
As well as my visit to Shropshire Archives, i have family historians for the Croft family (Croft Castle had `in house` musicians and a succession of Knights in important places) responding to Emails. I also have a lead from the present people at Ludlow Castle (Powis Estates), but I think a lot of their records are with the National Library of Wales.
Having taken your advice about reading everything, I am now having to be selective! – but thanks for your support. I suspect the (new) Ludlow Waites will be formally launched this year – we do have the architecture in the town to give us the right ambience.

All fascinating!
The gravel sounds familiar. I recall reading a few hundred pages about repairs to 3 bridges (cart loads of gravel again) in Lincoln – all very important for the infrastructure.
More Tips –
Try looking at….

(1) Wills – they tell you a lot.
(2) Minutes or other records for visits of Royalty or VIPs (dates shouldn’t be too hard to find).
(3) Records of feasts – such as those on the quarter days – or 5th November.
(4) Civic Regalia – for waites badges (scutcheons)?
(5) Payments for instruments, livery coats or cloaks?
(6) Fairs / markets
(7) Records of Guilds
(8) Archivist’s Annual Reports

When I say read everything – I mean read everything eventually. Do have a look at my own bibliographies –
here –
and here –
And I am not struggling to find unread documents just yet.
Chris – This list waitlist.html includes Ludlow. Is it from a single source? REED?
[The original list was inherited from James Merryweather, during the early days of his research before he startd keeping full records. I suspect the Ludlow reference does come solely from REED. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Chris]

Have you used the Worshipful Company of Musicians as a source of research material?I just need to know from others’ experience whether or not it is a dead end?the timing of their formation in the 16th Century looks promising. Steve

As a City of London Livery Company, would they have anything to offer you?

Take a look at Crewdson’s book “Apollo’s Swan and Lyre”. I have a copy of the book which I found remaindered, but it’s now all on line at,M1. I found a few interesting bits of information in it.

My understanding is that the Company was formed by what should be described as Waits, and included members of `The Kings Musicke`. I am following this line because of the connection with the Council of the Marches – who in turn were well connected with Livery Companies. It may be that it turns out to be `household waits`, but my interest is sparked by the concept of touring bands – and there are records of many in Ludlow. precious little on town waits though!

OK. I’m not sure if you already know that there are many documented instances of Town Waites traveling quite long distances in order to meet up with, and play (as one band) with the Town Waites of the “host” town, or simply to play in another town on their own. So some of your musical tourists may turn out to be Town Waites! We would all be interested to hear of any instances of this. For Chris’s records (and future researchers) it would be handy to send him a proper reference of anything you find, as well as the exact text. An alternative to publishing on the main WAITES website would be to publish your own site (if you have enough material to make this worthwhile. If you need advice on this, I would be happy to discuss it with you. Onwards!

Thanks for that Al.
My listing in an earlier EMail of touring bands is, i’m sure, connected with the Council of the Marches rather than the Town Corporation. However, if you know Ludlow, the castle is slap bang in the centre of the town, within the walls. Therefore any `loud musicke` employed by the Council of the Marches would impact on the town. Perhaps it was not deemed necessary for the town to consider Waites of it’s own until the Council was abolished in the 1680’s.
Most of my local stuff is based on REED, but for a fascinating account of the pageants organised by the Council of the Marches see pp94-104 of Shropshire REED, under a Shrewsbury reference STC 20159 sigs B2-D2v.
The 1706 Waites are not confirmed as my local historian’s reference seems confused, but the Chamberlain’s accounts for a few years around that time are missing from Shropshire Archives collection. Another interesting read was the oaths of allegiance sworn by council officials – Ale Conner, Flesh Taster – but no Waites.

Waytes and Measures

Message originaly addressed to Al Garrod:
I met Gwilym and Carol Davies at Chalemie Summer School last week.They’re based in Gloucestershire. Their background is more folk than early,but they are competent musicians; he plays pipe and tabor, accordion andrecorder, and she plays gurdy and keyboards. They’re interested insetting up waits with a mediaeval persona. As you’ve gone for a similarperiod, perhaps you’d be willing to get in touch and offer themencouragement and some advice on repertoire, instrumentation etc..
Alan Radford

Hi Gwilym,
Allow me to introduce myself, I am the founder of our (very new) Waites bandin Lincoln. We portray a municipal band of approx. 1460-1500. I understandfrom Al Radford that you have an interest in a similar period to us?Allister GarrodMaster of the City of Lincoln Waites

Hello Al,Thanks for your email – much appreciated. Our ideas on this are still comingtogether but our intention is to play and perform medieval music, perhapsunder a Waites banner. As Alan said, I play pipe and tabor and recorder(and various folky things) but would be interested in taking up some otherinstrument that fits in. Ideas that have flitted through my mind are – luteplayed as a rhythm instrument, cornamuse, crumhorn or tambourin a cordes.My wife has taken up the hurdy-gurdy. We also have interested friends thatplay pipe and tabor, lute and English bagpipe. So our band is just anembryo at present. We have some medieval tunes but are always grateful formore, especially those with (easily memorable) parts. Your band in Lincolnseems very much the sort of thing we are aiming at, so let’s keep in touch.We enjoyed the Chalemie week in Oxford as it was a new musical departure forus. Alan R was very helpful with information and suggestions.So all the best and let’s keep up the exchange.
Gwilym Davies

Hi Gwilym,
Good to make your acquaintance. You’ll find that I can sound fairly opinionated. Never let that offend you – whatever I say to you is always meant in a constructive way…
Waites – it is important to understand clearly (there is a difference between “clearly” and “fully”) what Waites are. That’ll be your brief.
Historically, musicians were ONLY termed “Waites” because of their connection to the Mayorality. Waites were the Mayor’s own band of musicians. As the Mayor paid them wages (or some lesser reward) and supplied them with livery, he would want them to be noticed. The key to being noticed when taking part in a Civic Procession (where the crowds of onlookers are often noisy) is to play LOUD instruments.
LOUD instruments (for outdoors) = Shawm, Rauschpfeife, Sackbut, loud types of bagpipe.
QUIET instruments (for indoors, or possibly for smaller audiences outside, but will you always know the size of audience to expect in advance?) = strings, pipe/tabor, recorders, crumhorn, cornemuse, harp, quiet bagpipes, etc, etc.
In my mind, the difference is as clear as Chamber quartet vs.. Pipe Band.
Having said this, most Waites were (and are today) multi-instrumentalists.
<gripe starts>
Personally, I am not a lover of the crumhorn – (a) To me, the crumhorn is somehow foreign – un-English (what do Alan and Chris think?), it is a curious, exotic, instrument more suited to being played by England’s enemies – like the French or other Continentals (b) there are thousands more crumhorns in existence now, than were ever made during the reign of Henry VII, Henry VIII etc. So how popular really was it? (c) they cost an awful lot of money for something that just buzzes softly. The sound produced from the business-end is poor reward for the degree of effort that goes into the little end. When I am putting that much effort in, I want a BLAST or at least a TRUMP to emit from the business-end. In short, I find them wholly unsatisfactory as a breed.
<gripe ends>
Have you decided what type of events you want to take part in?
In Lincoln, when we play for a Civic Reception, we play LOUD winds outside, as the guests are arriving (it helps them feel comfortable – assures them that they are not too early etc) then we play Recorders, Crumhorns (yuk!), Renaissance Guitar, Symphonie (the Medieval hurdy gurdy) inside the Guildhall, during dinner.
We play for a procession on the day the Mayor switches the Christmas lights on. This event usually attracts an audience of between 7000 and 10,000 people. The audience are noisy, so LOUD instruments are a must.
I hope this all helps to get you thinking!
I have a mixed background myself – brass band (horn, then trombone) since 1969, Concert bands, military wind bands, then played whistle and sang in a semi-pro Irish folk band in the 80’s, also a spell as bandmaster of the local Scout marching band.
PS: I have a rosewood cornemuse in F that I am thinking of parting with. if you are interested, I could post it to you, and you could send me a cheque for whatever you think it’s worth. Warning – it is quiet.
Keep in touch.

Hi Gwilym,
Welcome to the world of Waits. I don’t think I have much to add to what Al says. Get yourself some shawms!
Re: crumhorns (yuk) all I can say in their defence is that it’s possible that modern replicas don’t do the originals justice. One of my Waites is an instrument maker by trade. He’s never felt the need to make crumhorns, but suspects that they should have a wider bore and be louder. That said, they’re still annoying, buzzy things with a limited range and very limited usefulness. I’m convinced they were never very popular in the Renaissance (How far back do they go? Could they be classed as medieval?) and are only popular with Joe Public now because of their funny name and shape.
I have recently aquired a crumhorn, by the way, and we carry it on gigs, purely because, whatever instruments we are playing, be it shawm, sackbut, lysarden or even medieval fiddle, someone will come up to us and say, “Is that a crumhorn?”, at which point we can whip it out, say, “No, but this is!”, put it away and carry on playing.
Good luck with the formation of your Waits band, and keep in touch.
Best wishes,
Chris Gutteridge

Hello Chris, Alan and all,
Your emails are all very useful in helping us to concentrate our minds onwhat we really want to achieve. I take your point about Waits gettingmunicipal sponsorship. I don’t think we would get this in Cheltenham, whichanyway has no history of Waits group. It may be that we end up with ageneral medieval group, as there seems to be a growing trend for medievalfairs and markets. We’ll also have to think about the loud versus softissue. I suppose that gurdies fall just into the soft category, but whatabout pipe and tabor? They can be loud! Personally I am not enchanted byshawms, but next week we will be in Catalonia for a town fiesta where nodoubt there will be lots of their shawms, called gralles. I’ll have anotherlisten to them. Anyway, we will having an inaugural run-through of tunestomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes.
All the best and keep music live

Hi Gwilym,
In today’s political and financial climate, we cannot expect our respective Mayors and Councils to look after us financially in the way that our Waite ancestors were. Without sponsorship, today’s Waites CAN still maintain their link to the Mayorality by persuading our Mayors and Civic Office Managers to invite us to attend the Mayor and take a leading role in a variety of Civic and Public events.
Regardless of whether the Council pay us or not, our attachment to the Mayor is what defines us as Waites. Personally, I would not feel happy to call my band Waites if we did not fulfil Civic duties. However, I know that some modern-day Waites do have an awful problem trying to convince their Mayors to include them. Chris… do you want to join this discussion here?
Pipe & Tabor? What follows is my personal view – other Waites may, or may not, agree with me. My classification is QUIET. So, Pipe & Tabor are OK for dance practice, or public dancing by no more than two dancers with a small(ish) well behaved(ish) audience, but not suitable for large gatherings of noisy people. Plus, the Pipe & Tabor have strong connotations (for me) of a sort of Medieval one-man-band. I believe that much of the repertoire for Medieval Waites may have been 3-part. Weren’t Alta Capella Bands usually 2 shawms and a slidy thing (trombone or slide trumpet)? So the one-man-band idea melts away. Having said all this, there is no reason why you should not continue to perform on Pipe & Tabor as Waites, alongside your shawm repertoire. What are Al, Chris and Roger’s views on Pipe & Tabor?
No historic Waites in Cheltenham? If you decide to be Waites, the IGTP will welcome you. We do not have a problem with you starting a new Waites band in a town who previously never had Waites. Cheltenham have been missing out for too long – treat them to the sound of a Waites Band – they need to find out what they’ve been missing!
Beware – French and Spanish shawms are very very different to ours – more Asian, more raw, and less refined than the English Shawm. The sound is NOT the same. As far as I know, “Gralles” normally comes in a very small and high pitched version (unlike English shawms, which come in at least 4 sizes, possibly 5). I think Gralles have more in common with the Turkish/Arabic “Mizmar” and “Zurna” than they do with English shawms.
Not enchanted by shawms? I don’t know any true Waites bands who could exist without them. The Shawm was so universally used by historic Waites that it gained the nickname “Wait-Pipe”. Perhaps a quick look here and here – will help?
Admittedly, not every picture contains a shawm, BUT shawms DO feature too frequently to dismiss.
For Medieval Shawms – may I suggest that you listen to this CD by York Waits –“Music from the time of Richard III” – – see if that changes your mind. When played by the York Waits, shawms are the “bees knees”. That is enormous praise from me, as I will always be a trombonist at heart. Also check out

Don’t let Al put you off! Most of the waits bands use pipe & tabour to some degree and we also use crumhorns in the Doncaster Waites. Waites provided a variety of music for a variety of occasions with varying numbersof players and though the shawm is the archetypal waites instrument by the 1700’s the Doncaster Waites were being described as the town fiddlers! So instruments often changed with fashion.
We rarely get to play for the mayor of Doncaster the local authority simply not being interested, nor do we receive any support.
However in my opinion to be a waites band you must have a desire to portray the waites as they might have been both in dress and performance (for at least some of the time!). The modern history of waites groups varies widely – we certainly started off rather like your selves as a group of peopleinterested in early music.The historical research, name and switch to loud instruments came later.
As Al says all persons are welcome at the guild provided they have a interest in waites.
Good luck
Roger Offord

Dear all,
I thought you might like to hear progress on our group to date. We are now5. My wife plays gurdy and I play pipe and tabor and shawm (sic – morebelow). We have another pipe and tabor player and now have a percussionistand a fiddle player – in fact the fiddle player plays all sorts includingshawm and she is talking of getting a rebec. The fiddler, Kathryn, is atalented musician and has played a lot of medieval stuff already and has abig repertoire. The percussionist has played in several medieval-typegroups before and has a whole bag of assorted sounds. So it is shaping upquite well. We have hit on the name “Waytes and Meafures” (again sic) andthe music we are currently playing falls very much into the earlierpre-Renaissance slot. Typical tunes that we are playing are various branles(Scottish, Horse’s, Gervais, Washerwomen) plus Les Bouffons, Palestinaleid,Edi beo Thu, Pastime with Good Company, Bear Dance (yes, I know, but we likethe tune), Morisco, Ungaresca and so on. We are also looking at the oddGalician tune such as the Muineira de Lugo. We can all sing and want tobring singing into the performances.
I have obtained a ‘tarota’. For those who don’t know, it’s a Spanish shawm,basically in C, and not too strident if I choose the right reed. It fits inquite well with the sound and will fit in even better as I hit the noteswith more confidence. It’s my new toy, so I am working on it. The chap whomade it is a professional instrument maker from Catalonia and he alsopresented me with a gralla (Catalan shawm), which is a bit of an animal,both to play and to be in the same room with. I’ll keep practising it andsee where that goes.
We were delighted to find that Gloucester Waits musician Simon Pickard liveswithin walking distance of our house, so we are picking his brains as well.
So you see, we are not a typical Waites group. I have been scouring YouTubeand we most resemble groups like Les Ménestreux de la Branche Rouge,Wolgemut, Art-Monium and Tempradura, minus the bagpipes.
We will be playing in Stroud on 5th December for their switching on ofChristmas lights, so we’ll let you know how that goes.
No sure how all that fits into the Waits category, but I welcome yourcomments.
Gwilym Davies

Good progress! I’d put Arbeau, Gervaise and Henry VIII into the renaissance myself, but who knows how long some of those pieces had been around before they were actually published. Your range of instruments is diversifying well, so you have instruments suitable for every occasion and venue – from the market square to the merchant’s parlour. I’d still recommend naming yourselves after a town. Such patronage was an essential protection against the vagrancy laws, and we wouldn’t want to see your group arrested, put in the stocks, and then run out of town.

Dear Gwilym,
it’s good to hear how your band is progressing – thank you for letting us all know. We’re right behind you, and look forward to hearing how things progress further. In particular, all good wishes for a successful light-switching-on at Stroud: enjoy yourselves!
You will get more pieces of advice than people receiving your bulletins, and so far I’ve restrained myself – the best pieces of practical advice will certainly come from those who’ve been giving it so far. One plea I would put in, though: if you call yourselves Waytes and Measures with a long “s” (which seems an excellent name to me, though Al makes a valid point), please find a font with a long s so that you don’t have to confuse it with an f, which is different.
I was hoping that JSL Ancient would have a long s, but it doesn’t. Perhaps someone else knows of a suitable one? [Actually, JSL Ancient does have a long s, if you use the JSL font converter, but be sure, if using te font on the internet, to turn it into an image, as otherwise, only those who have the font on their computer will see it correctly. Chris.]
All good wishes,
Richard Rastall

Indeed JSL Ancient does have a long “s”, and the JSL font converter will produce it for you where appropriate, or alternatively you can find it in Accessories > System Tools > Character Map. If you have JSL Ancient installed, it should show up in “Waytes and Meaƒures”.

Hello all,
I thought you might like an update on our group ‘Waytes and Measures’. Well it is coming together nicely and we even have a MySpace website at with photos and sound clips. The music that we are homing in on is the earlier stuff, but we will see how that develops. We are starting to expand our repertoire into the more interesting salterellos, ductias etc and are considering some of the Cantigas. We’re quite pleased with the results so far, especially as the fiddle player, Kathryn, is a very expert musician and very knowledgeable on the repertoire and style.
We have a sort of extended network of friends that might help us out from time to time, 2 of whom play bagpipe, which we are lacking at present.
The sound clips are what we have salvaged from rehearsal sessions – more polished and longer clips will follow idc.
Must mention Simon Pickard from Gloucester Waits who has been very encouraging and generous in giving us tunes. Also, he only lives 2 streets away.
Again, thank y’all for your support and I am sure that our paths will cross soon.All the best

Town Piper of Kilsyth

Hi Chris,
I have had an enquiry regarding the following on the waits/scotspipers page. Did you ever see this page when it was what it says it was?
(Willie Orr, the Town Piper of KilsythOn there is a picture of Willie Orr, Town Piper of Kilsyth.)

Incidentally. I notice you quote from “The Autobiography of a Scottish Borderer”. The writer of the extract was a Jedburgh lady, who died in 1846, and very probably either saw or heard of a procession such as she describes:–
“The bells rung a merry peal and parties paraded the streets, preceded by the town piper, with favours in their hats,”
This quote has often been taken out of context. The original is called ‘A Tale’ and is a fictional autobiography; however, it seems reasonable to conclude that it describes something that did happen; the event is the secession from the Jedburgh Church caused (1753?) by the Marquis of Lothian’s deeply resented attempts to install his own minister. It seems not only the entire population of Jedburgh but the Town Council too, joined the protest, which is described in the book. So the Town’s officer (Piper Hastie) was in some way on ‘official business’.
Regards, Pete Stewart

PS vol 2 of my history of Lowland piping, “Welcome Home My Dearie piping in the Scottish Lowlands 1690-1900” is now available at

Hi Pete,
Blast! I should have downloaded a copy of the picture! One lives and learns. the site seems to have turned into a fairly useless shopping directory. What a shame.
All the best,
Chris Gutteridge

Hi Chris,
Can you recall anything about the picture? Keith Sanger is keen to follow it up, so anything you recall would be helpful. Was it a painting, engraving, etc; any idea of date, costume? We’ll go looking for a local history group; he is likely to have been well kent at some time …
As you say, one lives and learns
Regards Pete

Unfortunately not. Chris.

NEWS! Al Garrod has located the lost photo of Willie Orr. Thanks, Al.

Wyldes Noyse CD

Wyldes Noyse are proud to announce the launch of their CD, “Kings to Cuckolds” – a romp through the Renaissance, from the courtly to the common man, on shawms, sackbut, lysard, bagpipe, recorders, viella, fiddle, lute, cittern and vocals. Please visit for details, sound files and ordering.
Chris Gutteridge

Ely Waits

I have to announce that I am no longer a member of the City Of Ely Waits.
There were issues over various aspects and I was not prepared to compromise.
However, I have other plans, so I suspect that you have not seen or heard the last of me!
Best wishes,
Tony Pearson

Dear Alan,
Yes I have for my sins [taken over as Master of the City of Ely Waits] – I must have done something really wicked! I took over after the sudden resignation of Tony Pearson and we arestruggling but gradually succeeding in getting ourselves back on track. We have ouf first ‘gig’ this Friday and another one the next week. It’s been amatter of writing out new arrangements of new music for a slightly differentset of players and rebalancing the sound. We are really novices in the Waits experience – only 3 of the 5 were in at the beginning around a year ago – although we’re all either professional musicians or relatively recently retired ones. Whatever you decide, please do let us know; we are all juggling busy musical lives so it’s difficult to say what are the best dates; as for leading workshops, most of us have a lot of experience of running rehearsals and/or conducting but, obviously not much knowledge of music for Waits.
Does that help? We would certainly welcome any support and encouragement any other City Waits can offer and we hope we can meet other Waits soon too.Best wishes and thank you for making contact,
David Warham