Cloth, Watchmen, The Church, Drums etc.

Chris & James,
Ever seen these before?
How does this information relate to wait's livery coats?
Someone told me that Lincoln Green was usually made of Scarlet cloth.
Al Garrod

If Lincoln Green really was scarlet you have a splendid apple cart to upset!
I reckon Hollywood (and all whose knowledge of history has been received from that 'school') might be a bit miffed to discover that Errol Flynn/Mel Brooks/Kevin Costner (not to mention Richard Greene) should have dressed his band in red or that Will Scarlet should have been dressed in Lincoln Green like the rest of the merrie menne.
Joking apart, this seems to me an interesting thread, worth following. What you've written hadn't crossed my mind and it makes sense. It is important that we should understand the naming and colour of cloth given to early waits so as to have a clearer idea of what they looked like.

I was aware of the cloth, scarlet. From what I've seen, Waits' liveries could be all sorts of colours and different fabrics. Russet and tawny are two that come to mind. The person who has an infinite knowledge of this subject is Tony Barton of the York Waits, who is a "badger" (the old term for a sourcer fabrics) amongst many other things.

The person who told me that Lincoln Green (usually green) was made from Scarlet-Cloth (only sometimes red) is Pauline Loven, a maker of historic costume, hailing from Lincoln! She says that medieval cloth often turned out violet rather than (the intended) red.
She was hinting that Violet or purple might be more likely than carmine red. Expensive, too.

Facts linking red and green:
(1) red and green are often muddled by people who are colour-blind
(2) by moonlight red appears the same colour as grass
(3) an old friend used to paint his poaching apparatus red, to make it invisible during the night, but easy to find and retrieve in daylight.

Conversely, if Lincoln Green WAS red, Lincoln Waites livery coats would be perfect garb for night poaching!
Al Garrod

A fourteenth-century charter of the chausser's guild requires that all hosen be cut from scarlach. Scarlach is a fine wool, made by raising the nap and shearing it away at least three times (according to one source). The result would be a very fine finish that obscured the individual threads of the cloth. The far-and-away most popular color for these scarlach hosen was red; this is the origin of the word "scarlet".
This passage is from here -
Does it have any credence?

The colour of scarlet? I've seen cloth described as "stammel" that normally but not always was red. This is the first time I've encountered scarlet with similar ambiguity.
Alan Radford

OK, so now we've got scarlet and lincoln green sussed. What about wachett?

Dublin City Music, 1598:
that they shall have of this city's charge twelve yards of cloth every year for livery cloaks, the cloth to be blue or wachett colour, with the city cognisance

Will of William Jackson, [The Primrose], 28 April 1554 {ship's surgeon?}
I giue to Willyam Marshall a shieft of wachett [light blue cloth]. I giue to the frenche sworgone boye my other shieft of wachett with my casse of instrymentes and a payre of Siessers.

Watchet a. [Probably from F. vaciet bilberry, whortleberry; cf. L. vaccinium blueberry, whortleberry.] Pale or light blue. [Obs.]
``Watchet mantles.'' --Spenser.
Who stares in Germany at watchet eyes? --Dryden.


Watchett CLOTH, watchett WEIGHT, watchett COLOUR, or watchett WIDTH (to make wider garments - e.g. cloaks)?
The waits AND the watch in Lincoln all wore the same "Watchcoats" in 1755. Sounds like some kind of overcoat for chilly nights.
Could a Watchcoat be the same thing as a watchett?
Repeat the word "watchcoat" quickly out loud. When I do it, it sounds more and more like "waistcoat". My Grandma (died in 1976 aged 84) called a waistcoat a "weskit".
What about asking Tony Barton?
Al Garrod.

Watchet : a kind of blue cloth (according to Cunnington , THE authority on English Costume).
According to Barton (endless random readings over the years) , quite possibly a coarse-ish broadcloth ; may originally have been made in Watchet(N.W.Somerset). "Watchet blue " was an expression used in 17th.c to describe servants Liveries, normally from other evidence a mid-blue, a bit like modern denim in colour. If Watchet was a broadcloth, and Somerset was an area famous for them, it would be 60" wide, which would explain the width comparison.
Watchcoat is a distinctly 18th century expression : soldiers wore them on sentry duty, often sharing the same coat, which stayed at the post when the sentries changed.
Weskits or waistcoats didn't exist, either as the word or the Thing, until @ 1670.
Tony Barton.

I was about to finish and send this when I happened to look at these entries in REED again for the first time in nearly 20 years. What a duff job I made of the spreadsheet, certainly the early entries! What I used is mainly a distillation of the editors' translations and it could be full of flaws which could lead us onwards to worse and worse misinterpretations. [e.g. the orginal in 1452 is not "52L striped cloth + 4 ells blue motley" but: Et in lxxviij Rayes emptis pro ministrallis ciuitatis eundem festum. Et in xij vlnis de male leni blodio emptis eisdem ministrallis pro altera parte dicte liberate dictorum. Italics are, I think, abbreviations filled in.] Traditore, Tradutore! These records need extracting again for proper reinterpretation. Still, the gist is here below, so I'll send it anyway. Another warning to us to be rigorous or we'll wind up with fiction like our dear predecessors whom we criticise so freely.

I'll chuck this in now (below) to 'clarify' matters. It's from my spreadsheet of York records. These are merely notes, so if we need more precise data, I can go to the REED book to dig out and check complete entries, original spellings and sources. Years ago I satisfied myself that motley, be it blue, red, shitty brown or spotty grey (as were our caravan balnkets when I were a lad - Tony, the shawm socks I made, that Tim habitually stole from me, were made from them) was a cheap cloth made of all sorts of almost waste wool (shoddy?) and, therefore came out dull colours similar to those we used to get when our plasticine got mixed.
As well as motley, here we have also 'light blue' and 'worse blue'. Any connection between the latter and worsted? Lord, how I remember my first long trousers which were made of the stuff, ITCHED! (half-mast, creases long lost and baggy at the knees)
Our current way of cautious thinking means we are a little reluctant to presume these chaps - who were certainly called waits - were musicians ... but they might have been.
I just noticed, due to extracting this block of records, that the 1433 entry is not only the first to mention the three waits (ministrallorum/-allis does not necessarily mean minstrel) but also is the first to record their livery (1433: Et pro liberata yemali trium ministrallorum ciuitatis ... margin: Liberata yemalis de lez Waytes ciuitatis) as though this is the actual date of their installation.



trium ministrallorum ciuitatis/lez Waytes ciuitatis


27s 10d



lez Waytes ciuitats


27s 10d






































iij waytez

78L striped cloth + 6 ells light blue - Xmas

17s + 12s














78L striped cloth - summer + 6 ells red mottley - Xmas

17s 8d + 13s 4d



Ministrallis Ciuitatis





Ministrallis Ciuitatis





Ministrallis Ciuitatis



Ministrallorum/is Ciuitatis

(6 ells blue motley - Xmas)




Ministrallis Ciuitatis





Ministrallis Ciuitatis





Ministrallis Ciuitatis

52L striped cloth + 4 ells blue motley ? +

6s 8d



Ministrallis Ciuitatis

78L striped cloth + 6 ells light blue/worse blue (cloth)

13s 4d + 8s



Ministrallis Ciuitatis

78L striped cloth + 6 ells light blue - Xmas

16s 3d + 6s 8d






































iijbus Ministrallis Ciuitatis






























tribus Ministrallis Ciuitatis Ebor

12 ells blue motley - Xmas


































Ministrallis Ciuitatis Ebor

Pentecost = Whitsun














tribus Ministrallis Ciuitatis

12 yd russet cloth

26s 8d

So a move from motley to scarlet was a huge step up in social standing. Why did waits become so important? I mean, how did folk wearing old-blanket-pants make the transition to folk wearing the best jackets for miles?
A Garrod.

Hi Al,
Your comment might be a very good point, if we can assume that the cloths used for early livery were cheap and, well, warm. Then we can be pretty confident that scarlet cloth or equivalent was a more luxurious material than what had preceded it.
There is a point in the early 16th c. records when we (perhaps) can see the emergence of civic musicians who were called waits, and it looks like they took that name from the watchmen of 100-200 years earlier who were not musicians, but probably had a horn for signalling purposes. We can now dismiss the much received and misused notion that the musician waits were originally watchmen who, because they had a 'musical instrument' (signal horn or trumpet) and plenty of time on their hands, they could develop their musical skills and change into musical waits.
There is an important, if ragged, gap in the records between the 14-15th century watchmen-vigilators-speculators and the early 16th c waits. The Rastall model seems to fit the fragmentary data: there were two sorts of waits 1. pre 16th century watchmen and 2. 16th century musicians who took on the name of there unrelated predecessors (agreed, Richard?). In York, liveried waits of some sort, who were also called ministralli (see spreadsheet extract above), were appointed in 1433. They got their sleeve badges in or about 1520, but it is not until 1535 that they are unequivocally identified as "Mynstralls of this Citie/threeWaytes". Since John Harper's will of 1539 included "a noys of pipes called shawmes", I think we can fairly conclude that they had been musicians in 1535, but for how long before that we have no evidence! There are indications of similar, but not exactly concurrent, patterns in other city records. We need to take one town each (where the records include vigilators or whatever in pre-16th century times) and log every record carefully in sequence and alongside one another (spreadsheet) and examine whole data sets for concurrences.
This is THE big question (or set of questions) we are trying to answer right now, and your cloth story might give us a significant kick in the right direction. Yes, it does seem that, some time in the early 16th century, the waits got better coats, and some of them got very posh chains as well. The waits did become more important.
While I've been writing this argument, my mind keeps returning to those chains. When I wrote about the York ones, of course I did a lot of archive research, hard thinking, close photography and !!handling, so that a lot of collateral history emerged, some of which is probably relevant here. I learnt a lot from turning the scutcheons over and looking a initial letters (even dates) engraved and scratched on the reverse and Chris came up with a great theory for the existence of two shields and a dangling lybarte, which though unproven, changed the way I/we think about the York chains. I reckon other waits researchers who can get at a set of ancient chains (they can't be 17th c. examples) should find out everything possible about them, look at and handle them over and over again, and get their work published, so that we then have a suite of information that we can tie in with liveries and payments and nomenclature etc.

James et al,
We DO need to find out how the transition came about (if there was one), that turned Waits into men of high social standing. Or, if there was no transition, try to discover the who, when and where, of the emergence of the musician-Waits. Almost a search for who invented them - but far more than that - how musician-Waits came to be so widespread across Britain and why they were considered to be so important in all those boroughs.
It is serious research, with possible implications on reams and reams of paper already written about our social history. This is indeed the BIG question.
Don't you find it incredible that previous historians have overlooked, never discovered or totally mis-interpreted the evidence, and left this vital stone unturned?
As for badges - Lincoln only has one dated 1710 - none earlier here.
Newark's badges are even later I think. Incidentally - I have seen the two Newark badges - simpler construction than Lincoln's - completely flat shields with two holes at each top corner and one hole at the point.

I wonder if my theories about Lincoln Waits' connection with the Church have any bearing on the question we are now discussing?
(1) Three C18 Lincoln Waits lived within spitting distance of St Martin's Church
(2) One Wait 100 years earlier had lived only yards away.
(3) St Martin's reserved pews for the Mayor and Aldermen. As an Alderman, you were shirking your duty if you failed to attend specific services.
(4) Michael Crawthorne, was a City Waite for 15 years, but was dismissed in 1737 because of his religion - he turned Catholic.
(5) I am beginning to wonder if Lincoln Waits were chosen ONLY from the Parish of St Martin??? Can't prove it just yet.

A connection between Waits and The Watch?
The Watch:
30 Dec 1755
“As there’s nothing more necessary or in several Respects useful to every Person that has any Property to loose than a well regulated Watch and the Laws in Being are in this Respect somewhat defective therein We have thought proper to referr this Affair to a Committee the sense of which and the Common Council in General is to Sett on Foot an annual Subscription for every Householder to be sollicited to enter into according to their own Will and good Wishes they may entertain for the Publick and to include in this Regulation Subject to the following proposals –
The Bail and Close if the Gentlemen of those Liberties think proper and any surplus that may arise after the Establishment of the above Purpose, the same shall be applied to the use of the Publick in General for Preserving good Order and Decency in the streets.”

“For a Nightly Watch”
“Proposed and Agreed that Eight able and honest Men not under thirty or above sixty years of age, patrole the Town and call the Hour from Ten of the Clock to Seven in the Morning in Winter – And from Eleven of the Clock to Four in the Morning in Summer, that they their Stands alternately from Eight Lodges which shall be provided for them. (viz.) In the Parishes of
St Peter at Goats,
St Benedict,
St Swithin,
St Peter at Arches and
St Martin
One Each, and in the Bail and Close three.”

“That the Watchmen be Subject to the Direction of the City and be Provided with WatchCoats, Halberts and Lanthorns every three Years.”

“That they be continued during their good Behaviour for as long as they are able.”

“And that a years Salary as shall hereafter be agreed on and settled by a Committee be paid them Quarterly by the Mayor for the Time being.” (ref: L1/1/1/7, p361)

The Waits - Being put on Watch
13 May 1756
“Proposed and agreed that John Smith and John Ashley be elected two of the Waits of this City in the Room of William Wigley who has resigned and of Benjamin Johnson (now One of the Waits of this City) who is now Ordered to be and he is hereby discharged from being a Waite any longer by Reason of his not being fit for the Place and that the said Benjamin Johnson be in Consideration of his necessitous Circumstances Five Pounds and five Shillings by this City upon Account of his being so discharged upon his delivering up of the Silver Badge to Mr Mayor. And it is further proposed and agreed that the salary of the Waites be augmented from Thirty Shillings a Year to Forty Shillings a Year Each Provided they go the Watch four nights in the Week from Michaelmas to Ladyday.” (ref: L1/1/1/7, p366)

All comments welcome - it is a fascinating topic.
Al Garrod

I feel we're really making progress here, largely due to Al's promptings and inquisitivenes! Al, next time you're in Newark, please can you photograph the Newark cognizances for the Waits Website (including the backs, of course!)? They sound to have been sleeve badges, the holes being provided to sew them onto the coat. This would seem to be fairly typical for the 18th century. Some early scutcheons, I think including York and Lynn, have evidence of holes having been pierced in them so that they could be taken off their chains and used in this way.
The Dublin essay I mentioned in my last, which was sent to me by Alan Radford, is now available in the resources section of the Waits Website. I would appreciate it if you would all have a look and comment. I won't say too much about it so as not to impose my opinions too much, but it throws some very interesting light on watchmen versus musicians. I think it could be very valuable in giving us an outsiders' view of the situation in England. It seems to me that the Irish copied and adapted our use of watchman waits and musician waits.

In 1751 the Corporation Band had a Drum Major?
So they had drums (plural)?
One drum can make a lot of noise.
More than one drum would indicate either a military style Corps of Drums (playing beatings between the musician's tunes), or simply a far bigger band of musicians to balance the drums.

A forerunner of Orange Order fife and drum bands?

Any connection between Irish Waits and O'Carolan? Al Garrod.

New Topic!
Just been having a discussion with Frank here in Lincoln about medieval & renaissance drumming.
As many of our instruments were derived from Moorish imports during the Crusades, do you think the Moorish playing methods would have been copied initially (and eventually become more English) or do you think our ancestors would have played in an English style from the beginning?
Try playing Bach on a Sitar!
If we apply the theory that Moorish playing style was copied, then would the drumming, for Henry VIII's "Helas Madame" or Susato's "Entre du Fol", sound more like Moroccan drumming does today than the oversimplified beats we often hear on CDs?
see last 2 pictures here - Al Garrod.

I agree that if you stick to Arbeau's basic drum patterns it gets a bit boring. However, I'm sure he was expecting a drummer to improvise just like any other musician. You really need to listen to the CD "Los Impossibles" by Christina Pluhar's group "L'Arpeggiata". It's a collection of Spanish, Portugese and South American pieces, highly improvised and with the Moorish-style percussion you are looking for. Some tracks have three percussionists!
Alan Radford

I'm going to crack in here with two hats on: one as the Waits drummer over many years, and with my second on top as Military Historian: you'll see that the two are related: people who know some or all of this may pass, but I thought it might be of some interest:~
There are two drumming traditions we have to consider here: the Earlier, Medieval tradition, involving timbrels, Nakers and single stick Tabors: this may have had an "Oriental" aspect to it, since those instruments did all originate with the Islamic world : but so did the Lute, and by the time we know anything at all about the way it was played in the West (say about 1470) it's transforming itself from a monody instrument to a chordal one, quite unlike anything in the East ...
.....but I don't think we can ever know what drumming sounded like in the absence of any early writings, let alone recordings. You have to do your own Thing. This whole subject was endlessly done over thirty years ago , when the first groups were experimenting with "Medieval" music: I personally heard Christopher Page , the modern Gothic-Voices-No-Instruments-Puritan, playing with an ensemble including various Morrocan percussion instruments, that was doing its utmost to make Troubadour music sound like a modern Middle-Eastern night-club band .....delightful!
Then there is the second, Renaissance tradition to consider , which quite definitely comes from the Military :
Although Medieval Armies had instrumentalists ("Pypes, Trompes, Nakeres, Clariounes, that in Battail blowen Blody Sounds", Chaucer ) we haven't a clue how they played (apart from those tantalising fragments in various 15th.c German sources which sound astonishly " Military ").
Military two-stick side-drumming arrived in England in the reign of Hen.VIII : he is the first English King to have "Sweches (Swiss) Grate Tabourers", and it's not until that period that we ever see a tabourer using two sticks. This New style of Instrument, and the playing of it, originated with the Swiss Army a bloody-minded set of fellows who did everything a new way, from the mid-1400s onwards: their style of fighting on foot in dense, ordered formations swept all before it, and like all succesful innovators, they were copied.
By 1500, all self-respecting European Armies had large numbers blocks of drilled Infantry, armed with Pikes, and growing numbers of Firearms, and arrayed in ranks and files , and of necessity operating by drill-books, TO THE BEAT OF DRUM. [Incidentally, the Scots adopted this new Military Order, presumably complete with the drums, wholesale, under James IV, who attacked the backward English with it in 1513. The result was Flodden, and if you don't know what happened there, look it up!] Many of the orders were given by these drummers (and continued so to be until well into the 19th century), and the drill used absolutely demanded marching in step, if not necessarily on the same foot. I do this at weekends in the summer, and it works.
From then on we see the Side-drum appearing everywhere in Civil as well as Military contexts, and if we want to know what it sounded like, the nearest thing still surviving is the sound of the Basle Drummers, who descend directly from the 16th century tradition, though doubtless with lots of later accretions. They probably preserve patterns of beats of great age, but how can we be sure? I personally know one that descends orally for nearly a century: I was taught it in the Cadet Force, and the man who taught me to play the Trumpet remembered learning it in @ 1910, and we can be pretty sure it was not new when he learned it. Those of you who have a facsimile copy of Arbeau's book will have been bored silly by the section on drumbeats, but there it is, preserved from the sixteenth century.
Continental side drummers were active earlier than in England, and the institution of Town Drummers in Flanders & Germany seems to have been well under way by about 1550, if pics are anything to go by; and we know from the "Pfeifferstuhl" painting in Nuremburg (so unfortunately destroyed by the RAF!) that some Waits or Stadtpfeffers incorporated big side-drums by @ 1530, though quite what they played is guesswork: I suspect that they mostly accompanied the Flutes or Fifes, since that was the fashionable Military combination, visible in the painting. It's very hard in the Renaissance town to separate the Civil and the Military, since so many Citizens were also members of the local Militia.
One aside: what happened to the older instruments? The Tabor (single stick only) went with the three-hole piper, and stayed with the Waits; the Timbrel or Tambourine seems to have gone to the Ladies, and the Special-Effects Dept for the Stage; but the Nakers of course went up a Social Rung and joined the Cavalry as Kettledrums, where I suspect they had been lurking for some time, reverting to their origins on horseback in Islamic Armies.

One Opinion, or mere Prejudice, if you will:
the longer I have been playing 16/17th century music, the less drumming I want to hear if no-one's dancing, despite it being my Trade, as it were. I just have the feeling that most Waits bands were NOT accompanied the whole time by drummers; and I think the lists of instruments tend to support that, certainly in England. Despite the fact that both Wind bands AND Drummers were present on many Civic occasions, I think that they may have had separate roles (and in some place were like York were separate Institutions, the Waits and the Town Drummer) which got farther apart as the Renaissance went on. I believe that the Pipe&Tabor was much commoner with them.

I've gone on rather longer than expected (I'm approaching my AnecDotage), but, in answer to the original question, I think that court drumming for Hen.VIII his supposed compositions might have been florid, but not in any sense "Oriental".

Tony Barton.

Thanks Tony,

I have seen accounts of parades including a city drummer or drummers, but the account below gives no mention of a City Drummer for Lincoln.

31 Oct 1760

"This Day in the afternoon his Majesty King George the third was proclaimed King in eight several places within this City, (viz.)

Upon the Green in the Parish of Saint Botolph,
against the Corn Market Hill,
at the StoneBow,
at Dunston Lock,
before the Bail Gates,
in Newport,
in Eastgate,
and upon the Thornbridge,

by the Town Clerk, the Cryer repeating every sentence in a loud Voice; In the Presence of Mr Mayor and the Aldermen in their Gowns, the Sheriffs, Common CouncilMen and Chaomberlains in their Gowns, The Right Honorable Lord Monson and Thomas Wishcott Esquire (Representative for the County) And many other Gentlemen, Citizens and Inhabitants, all on Horseback; preceded by -

the City Colours, Twenty Constables and two Beadles with white Rods, And two French Horns, on foot;
The City Musick,
Sheriffs' and Mayor's Officers on Horseback;
And followed by three hundred of the Lincolnshire Militia with Major Glover at their Head (who made a fine appearance);
The Procession ending with a very great Concourse of People testifying their Joy with loud Proclamations:
In pursuance of a letter and proclamation sent down to Mr Mayor from the Privy Council."

"After his Majesty was proclaimed as aforesaid, Mr Mayor, the Aldermen and the rest of the Body of this City, and many other Gentlemen went to the ReinDeer Inn, where an Elegant Entertainment was provided at the City's Expense. With Wine and other Liquors to drink his Majesty's and the Royal Family's Healths, and Ale was given to the Populace; The Evening concluded with Bonfires, Illuminations, Ringing of Bells, Variety of other musick and every other usual Demonstration of Joy." (ref: L1/1/1/7, p423)

What it does suggest (to me anyhow) is a possible suggestion that our Waites were serving in the place of a military band??

Al Garrod.

I've found it. Crewdson's book (page 33) states that the City of London Waits admitted Arnold Pinckney as a drumster in 1597 and likewise John Molde in 1598. These do seem unusual as the evidence in most cases is that a drummer was a separate appointment, though he did on occasion play with the waits, but we really can't claim that waits were never drummers.

Hmmmmm! I think Crewdson may have been over-interpreting. The original text, if Hadland is to believed, is:

"Arnold Pinckley was admitted to be a drumster of the City, and to have such allowance as other drumsters have had, and to pay a certain allowance to the retiring player, Christopher Wayte. (1597.)"
"Edward Tydden, Cloth worker, was admitted to be a "ffife" to the City during the pleasure of the Court. (1598.)"
"John Molde, Draper, was admitted to be a drome to the City during the pleasure of the Court, and his good and honest demeanour. (1598.)"
1. Is Pinckney appointed as the City Drummer, or as a drummer in the waits? He is replacing Christopher Wayte. Is that Christopher Wayte the City Wayte, Christopher Wayte the City Drummer, or Christopher the Wayte?
2. Regarding Edward Tydden, who is appointed the next year a fife "to the City", did London have fifers distinct from the waits? If not, the form of words is exactly the same as for Pinckney (only the instrument has been changed to protect the innocent!), so are they both appointed to the same organisation, i.e. the waits?
3. The situation regarding Molde is the same as for Pinckney.

I've now had time to check my copy of Woodfill, specifically Appendix A in which he gives appointments and retirements of City of London Waits, and he lists neither the City drumsters Arnold Pinckney and John Molde nor the City fifer Edward Tydden. So the City drummers were, as we always thought, separate from the waits but playing with them when the occasion required. However, who were these '"ffifes" to the City' if they weren't waits?


A good discussion from Tony to which I would only (only? there's a whole new area of research here!) that my experience is that I have never read of waits having a drummer or playing to a drum. What we do have in several places is a town or city drummer (in York 1584, two: the city drum and the little drum). In some cases e.g. again York (because I know it best from memory) a fifer accompanied the dummer, as on the continent and as mentioned by Tony. York 1584, the fifer was one of the waits, John Balderston, who probably also played shawm when he was a wait, but when accompanying the drummer there is nothing to indicate that it was a wait's duty, just another job for a man who had a particular skill.
I like your procession details which are similar to a York procession for the proclamation of George II in 1727 (York music pp. 109-111).
James Merryweather

Do we know that "The City Musick" = The Town Waits?
Richard Rastall

I suppose if you have evidence that Lincoln had musical waits in 1760, it would be proof enough - they surely wouldn't have two bands employed by the city, and choose the ones that weren't waits to play in the Mayor's procession?

You are right - I am making an assumption. However, this does leave me with another dilemma - I have no idea how I would prove or disprove that "The City Musick" and The City Waits were one and the same???

The "Loyal North Lincoln Militia" were supposed to be all locally recruited.
300 Militia - that's certainly a few more than the ACF and TA have here today. Major Glover sounds like he might've had more than his fair share of gold braid!? We don't know what Musitions the Militia had - if any.

I am curious about those 2 French Horns as well, they are listed separately, and marched separately from the "City Musick". I am inclined to convince myself that they are fulfilling the role of fanfare trumpeters?? Impossible to carry a box of crooks on foot on a parade.
Al Garrod.

Chris: I could suggest all sorts of possibilities, but that wouldn't be very useful. I don't see why two different groups shouldn't be used for different sorts of occasions (including one group being used for an occasion that would originally have been the other group's patch). Let's sit tight and see if the evidence turns up. (And no, therefore, that evidence would *not* be enough: we need positive evidence that the two groups were the same.)
Richard Rastall

This problem of where the horns fit in to things has come up before. See:
Notes & Queries 2007, Cambridge Also:
Notes & Queries 2007, Military

And concerning drums:
Notes & Queries 2005, Drummers


Dear All,

What an exciting day it's being! You folks know the new and later material far better than I do, so I won't comment in detail: but I should like to make some general observations that might help (eventually).

First, I think that in this sort of discussion we *must* use clear terminology. In particular, I'd like to suggest that we now have a moratorium on the undifferentiated word "wait". This has been - and continues to be - a huge problem. Much of our discussion involves three different types of person: (1) the civic security forces, part or all of which was known as The Watch;
(2) domestic security forces, known in the royal households as "vigiles", then as "vigilatores" and then as "waytes"; and
(3) civic minstrels.

As you know, the histories of these three groups show that their duties, perks and conditions of service were neither static nor the same everywhere at any one time. For instance, the royal domestic watchmen were certainly capable of minstrelsy from at least the late 13th century until (probably) the middle of the 15th, but we need to sort out that quesiton both for the royal vigiles/vigilatores in time and for the domestic watchmen of other places. Indiscrinimate use of "wait" also allows confusion in through the back door (and has done so in the last few days, and not only in that incredible load of garbage from the MU!). For example, if one of you points to an item in records concerning "Thomas Wayte" and asks the question "Was Thomas a wait?" you mean "Was this man a civic minstrel?"; but it actually means "Was this man so called because he played a pipe/wait-pipe, or had be inherited his surname from his father?"
In discussing this sort of material we might keep ourselves on-track more easily if we refer to CW (civic watch), DW (domestic watchmen) and CM (civic minstrels. If we don't keep these distinctions clear (and make them clear to each other) we shan't be able to discuss (e.g.) the reasons for the early town waits (CM) being called "waits". Did they get their name of "waits" because they played a wait-pipe/shawm, like the domestic waits (DW) and others, because they had security duties that seemed to be similar to those of the Watch (CW), or because they had duties that to some extent mirrored thos of the domestic watchmen (DW)?

[I'm not offering this terminology as the only one, of course: you may be able to create a better one.]

Second, I think we should recognise that all of these groups (for a start) need to be examined carefully. Civic security doesn't seem to be an issue at this stage (unless someone now says that that bit of my thesis was wrong), but civic security was certainly a changing item over the years and it will be as well to make sure that music was never involved. (We can, of course, discount those commentators who think that a man blowing a horn must have been a minstrel!) As far as domestic security was concerned, the question of the piper/bagpiper/"wayte" relationships, in the royal households and elsewhere, still needs a lot of work (and I'll do something on that in my Kalamazoo paper this spring). And then the Town Waits (CM)! - well, you are bringing together a huge amount of material, but it needs to be looked at in quantity and in the light of what you *know*. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING!

Third, and in relation to both the livery question and the status of the Dublin minstrels, part of the history of minstrelsy concerns the way in which (especially through the 16th century) some minstrels tried to turn themselves into "musicians", from servants to "gentlemen" (and some managed it). This is a fascinating story, and very little of it has been told. Town Waits (CM) never quite became gentlemen, but they certainly improved their status - taking up stringed instruments, for example, becoming church singers (as in Coventry: see my *The Heaven Singing*, pp. 64-5 for James Hewitt and his colleagues) and even doing a bit of teaching. I suspect that civic minstrels could only get so far, though, and that the City Musicians of Dublin (note the terminology) were in fact a new group of higher-class musicians, geared to the new orchestral world (and perhaps the military world, too) rather than to the old world of the minstrel. We need to know ...

Sorry to have taken so long over these preliminary (!) comments. I hope that they'll be useful: but they certainly ain't Gospel, so do argue if you need to!

As ever,
Richard Rastall

GULP! Yes, Richard, you're right of course, and thank you for once more jolting us onto the straight & narrow. Looking at my 18th c. pages in York Music (the interpretations now nearly 20 years old) I can see presumptions which I'd certainly re-word if writing again. Also, I'd expand the quotations so that more context were available for appraisal if required by a particular reader.

[I'd also not use original illustrations ironically because stupid people presume that e.g. the man with the theorbo really is Richard Bradley and that he really did scribble on his mum's tablecloth. Waits certainly sing naughty songs, but they don't abuse furniture and fittings. Somebody once quoted me as the source of the 'fact' that Dan Hardman played the Ophicleide, presumably wildly associating my incidental illustrations with the text. I wonder if some people even think I somehow got hold of library photos of Ambrose & Jane Girdler reading the Grauniad when the truth is I took them myself in 1652!]

On p. 112, in the discussion of a procession for the declaration of war on Spain in 1739 we have it unequivocally that the 'City Waites ...' were present '... with their Hautboys and Bassoons ...'. Then immediately it says' ... and four trumpetts' and there I cut off the quote (maybe the full version is buried somewhere in my ill-organised notes). However, I'm glad to say I never assumed the trumpeters were the waits - phew! But now I want to read the procession line-up in completeness to look for context and any other clues.

Now back to p. 110 and the proclamation of George II in 1727, where I quoted the description of the procession completely. It looks similar, but those who I have presumed to have been the waits are actually, 'City Music', with no mention of the waits. Is it unreasonable to deduce that 'City Music' meant the waits? Confidence <100%. Probability surely >>50%

We should check our sources and look for entries in which waits and City/Town Musick are directly linked as clearly as in the York 1433 'trium ministrallorum ciuitatis/lez waytes ciuitatis'. I think there's a very good chance we'll find such entries, but we must retrospectively look before leaping.

James Merryweather

From my Trumpet Essay... St Cecilia's Day Festival 1691: "Whilst the company is at table the hautboys and trumpets play successively. Mr Showers (Shore) hath taught the latter of late years to sound with all the softness imaginable. They plaid us some flat tunes made by Mr. Finger with a general applause, it being a thing formerly thought impossible upon an instrument designed for a sharp key."

TRUMPETS The account states clearly that the oboes and trumpets took turns to play. This may have been common practice elsewhere. Do we have any other accounts saying the same thing?

Was there an actual barrier to collaboration between trumpeters and reed players? Did they play separately because of some insurmountable tuning issue perhaps? Or near impossible transposition? What frequency were oboes tuned to in 1691? What frequency were trumpets tuned to? Did the Trumpeters (Prima Donnas) insist on marching at the front and threaten to throw their toys out of their cots if they weren't treated right?

TROMBONES Aaaah! The bliss that envelops us trombonists is indeed boundless! Not only do our instruments sound more beautiful than young maidens singing beside a pool - the tuning is more flexible and adaptable than anything found anywhere else in all Christendom.
[Do you have any evidence as to the beauty of the singing of pool-side maidens? Chris]

FRENCH HORNS Any other reason why the Hunting Horns (French Horns) would be kept separate? Were they a lesser class of instrument? Does their derivation from huntsmen's horns have any bearing on this seeming separation? Were they not separate at all, but just placed this way in a procession because it looked nice to have them in pairs? When we engaged in so many conflicts with, and therefore held in contempt, the French, to choose to play the French Horn seems somehow un-British. Far more patriotic to play an English instrument!
[When did the French Horn acquire its name? Chris]
For more on the French Horn, return to the Notes & Queries 2007 page.

PECKING ORDER Chris - the order of parade from Cambridge looks remarkably similar to my Lincoln one. Is there some kind of Guild etiquette in play - dictating the order by seniority/importance/influence?
[I can only speak of processions in which I have taken part, where the order of precedence has been a matter of great concern! Chris]

DRUMS So, the discussion remains open on whether all Waits had Drummers in their number, or whether these damned Southerners were bucking the trend. [see drummers]

TOWER HORN From my Trumpet Essay... In 1796, Johann Ernst Altenberg writes: "The slide trumpet, which is commonly used by tower watchmen (Thürmer) and city musicians (Kunstpfeifer) for playing chorales, is constructed almost like a small alto trombone because it is pulled back and forth during playing, whereby [the trumpeter] can easily bring forth the missing tones.”

Both Tower Watchmen and Kunstpfeifer are cited as players of the slide trumpet. A non-musical Watchman would find it difficult to suddenly join a fully musical Waits band, but a fit'n'healthy Wait could possibly be put on Watch! (If the Corporation thought he had plenty of spare time that they were (possibly) already paying him for (Down-Time?)?


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