PIPER = WAIT?

Extracts from the records of St Mary's Cistercian Abbey, Boxley, Maidstone, Kent. (in R.E.E.D. KENT: Diocese of Canterbury).

1353-4

Roberto pipere de Maydstane & Socio suo xij d

1354-5

Roberto pipero de maydstane vj d

1355-6

Roberto pipere de Maydynstane. vj. d

1360-1

Roberto pipere viij d

1364-5

Roberto pipere de maydetan & filio suoper uices xxij d

1365-6

Roberto pipere xij d

1366-7

Roberto Pipere & filio suo xviij d

1371-2

Roberto Pipere xij d. (also walthero harpour xij d)

1372

Roberto pypere de Maydestan die ascentionis domine xij d

1372-3

Roberto pipere de Maydestane per .ij. vices ij s (also Ade fiddeleste & simone fiddeleste socio suo de south<.>ce1 .ij s also willelmus Letherose Cithariste .ij s)

1380-3

Roberto pipere ij s

1381

Roberto Pypere alia vice ij d  Roberto Pypere alia eodem die xij s

1385-99

Roberto Pipere de Maydestan xij

QUESTIONS

  1. Is Pipere(o) his Roberto's surname (therefore of little significance to us) or his profession?

  2. If the latter can we assume he was a musician who played a pipe, therfore a woodwind player? Bagpipe is unlikely because bagpipers are often (usually?) called bagpiper.

  3. Is there any indication Roberto Pipere was the, or a (with his son), town wait of Maidstone?

OBSERVATIONS

  1. The name of Roberto Pipere is always qualified with his place of origin, Maidstone. In the 14th century Boxley would have been just outside Maidstone.

  2. There are mostly musicians and other entertainers in these records.

  3. The identical second 'name' of Ade and simone fiddeleste (fiddler?) is apparently, as we might presume for Roberto Pipere, their profession.

  4. Willelmus the Cithariste is given a surname (or is it a description of his appearance: leather hose?) but his profession Cithariste is still appended.

DISCUSSION

  1. Piper probably refers to Roberto's profession.

  2. There is no evidence that Roberto was a town wait. However, it is not impossible. He was evidently in regular employment for 32 years, a stable career such as we see in the other (well-behaved) waits we know in other towns. We have indications of piper meaning wait elsewhere. York, 1363: Rogerus Wayte, piper; Doncaster, 1457: "Allan Pyper and Willaim Pyper are elected Pipers or Wayts"; Liverpool, 1595: "Thomas Brookfelde a pyper beinge admitted a wayte of this Towne".

  3. Can we find other evidence to reinforce the argument that the name or description of a 'piper' meant he was a town wait rather than just a woodwind musician? Please add to the evidence and let us continue the discussion.

    James Merryweather, 9th May 2004

    Since sending this paper on the relationship between pipers and Waits, James has discovered new evidence from Dover which appears to prove once and for all that they were one and the same thing! Watch this space for further developments!
    Chris.

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