10 Annotations

First Reading

Aqua  •  Link

From the Glossary. municipal musicians.
On this date jul 27 63., they were singers only , no musical instruments.
spelling waytes,waits

Aqua  •  Link

OED Forms: 3-7 wayte, waite, (5 wayet, whayte), 4-7 wayt, 4, 7 weyte, (6 weytte, wette), 5-6 wate, (5 watte), 6 waytte (waitte, wayght, weyght, wyethe, whet), 7 waight, (weight), 4- wait.
I. The action of WAIT v.1

wayte one of the many versions of use of wait:
b. A watchman attached to the royal household who sounded the watch, etc., by the blowing of a pipe, trumpet, or other wind-instrument.
c. A municipal watchman.
8 a. pl. A small body of wind instrumentalists maintained by a city or town at the public charge. Also sing., a member of this body. Obs.
They played for the daily diversion of the councillors, on ceremonial and festive occasions, and as a town or city band they entertained the citizens, perambulating the streets, often by night or in the early morning.
1617 MORYSON Itin. IV. IV. i. (1903) 301 In like sorte many Cittyes mantayne at publike charge Musitians, vsing Sagbutts, Hoboyes, and such loude Instruments, which wee call the waytes of Cyttyes, and these play at the publicke house of the Citty each day at Noone, when the Senatours goe to dinner, and at all publike Feasts.
a1625 FLETCHER Captain II. ii, Jac. Hark, are the Waits abroad? Fab. Be softer prethee, 'Tis private musick...Jac. Well I will hear, or sleep, I care not whether.
1667 Lond. Gaz. No. 189/1 The Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of this Town, after a Sermon Preached to them, went to the Market-Cross in their Formalities, the Waytes playing before them.
1670 Moral State Eng. 132 The Weights of the Town who played upon Cornets and Haut-bois.
later a band :b. pl. A band of musicians and singers who perambulate the streets by night at the approach of Christmas and the New Year playing and singing carols and other seasonable music for gratuities.
1. One who watches, or observes closely; one who is on the look-out. Obs

There be many versions of wait

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

WAITS, a sort of wind music.
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys only refers to waytes (aka waits or waites) once in the Diary by name. However, these entrepreneurs serenaded him with various levels of professionalism quite a few times. Search on "waits" under ANNOTATIONS they'll be flagged as I find them.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

From medieval times up to the early 19th century, every British town and city of any note had a band of waites (modern spelling waits). Their duties varied from time to time and place to place, but included playing their instruments through the town at night, waking the townsfolk on dark winter mornings by playing under their windows, welcoming Royal visitors by playing at the town gates, and leading the Mayor's procession on civic occasions. ...

Waite and Wakeman are derived from individuals who worked as waits. Ferdinando Gibbons was one of the Waits of Cambridge; his sons Edmund, Ellis and Orlando became notable musicians.

Some tunes are extant named after the waits of particular towns and cities, e.g. Chester Waits and London Waits.
The usual instrument of the waits was the hautboy; its loud and pungent sound suiting it to outdoor playing.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

According to the notes to "the House and Farm Accounts of the Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe Hall, in the County of Lancaster, at Smithils and Gawthorpe, from September 1582 to October 1621", the “Waitts” were “minstrels or musical watchmen, who attended on great men and sounded the watch at night”. By the 16th century they had degenerated into itinerant musicians, who give notice of the approach of Christmas.

B. Dic. derives the name either of waiting (because they attend on magistrates, officers, &c.), or of guet a watch, guetter to watch, French, because they keep a sort of watch a-nights; and the signification is given as a sort of music or musicians.

B. Gloss, says that waits are musicians who parade and play by night in the streets about the time of Christmas and the new year; originally, watchmen or sentinels.

They used to be the privileged minstrels at weddings and feasts. The term would seem to be derived from the Moeso-Gothic Wahls, vigilia, excubiae; these waits being anciently viewed as a sort of watchmen.

For the full on-line text, see https://archive.org/stream/housef…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"WAITS – Musicians of the lower order, who in most towns play under the windows of the chief inhabitants at midnight, a short time before Christmas, for which they collect a Christmas-box from house to house.

"They are said to derive their name of waits from being always in waiting to celebrate weddings and other joyous events happening in the district."


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.