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REIGN OF CHARLES II.
547
THE WAITS.
Waits, or Waights, seem originally to have been a kind of musical watchmen, who, in order to prove their watchfulness, were required to pipe at stated hours of the night. The hautboy was also called a waight,—perhaps from being the pipe upon which they commonly played,—but there are early instances of the use of other pipes by Waits, as in a passage quoted by Mr. Sandys, from the old lay of Richard Coeur-de-Lion:—
" A wayte ther com in a kernel (battlement), And pypyd a moot in a flagel."
This "flagel" was probably a pipe of which the "flagelet" (or, as now spelled, " flageolet"), is the diminutive.
Mr. Sandys remarks that " in the time of Henry the Third, Simon le Wayte held a virgate of land at Rockingham, in Northamptonshire, on the tenure of being castle-wayte, or watch'; and the same custom was observed in other places." (Christmas-Tide, p. 83.) Mr. E. Smirke, who quotes many such cases, in his Observations on Wait Service mentioned in the Liber Winton, or Winchester Domesday, adds that, 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 vigilue,' ' Curia de gayte,' or ' Wayternesse Court,' of which many records are still extant in the offices of the Exchequer, and among the records of the Duchy." (Archaeological Journal, No. 12, Dec. 1846.)
The duties of a wayte are thus defined in the Liber niger Domus Regis (pub­lished, with additions, by Stephen Batman), which contains an account of the mu­sicians, and others, retained in the household establishment of King Edward IV.:
" A Wayte, that nightely from Mychelmas to Shreve Thorsdaye pipethe rvatche within this courte fowere tymes ; in the Somere nightes three tymes, and makethe bon gayte at every chambere doare and offyce, as well for feare of pyckeres and pillevs. He eatethe in the halle with Mynstrelles, and takethe lyverey at nighte a loafe, a galone of ale, and for Somere nightes two candles [of] pich, and a bushel of coles ; and for Wintere nightes halfe a loafe of bread, a galone of ale, four candles pich, a bushel coles: Daylye whilst he is presente in Court for his wages, in Cheque-roale, allowed niid. ob. or else Hid. by the discresshon of the Stenarde and Tressorore, and that after his cominge and deservinge : Also cloathinge with the Houshold Yeomen or Myustrelles lyke to the wages that he takethe'. An he be sycke, he taketh two loaves, two messe of great meate, one galone ale. Also be parteth with the houshold of general gyfts, and hathe his beddinge carried by the Comptrolleres assignment; and. under this yeoman, to be a Groome-Waitere. Yf he can excuse the yeoman in his absence, then he takethe rewarde, clotheinge, meat, and all other things lyke to other Grooms of Houshold. Also this Yeoman-Waighte, at the making of Knightes of the Bathe, for his attendance upon them by nighte-time, in watchinge in the Ohappelle, hathe to his fee all the watchinge clothing that the Knight shall wear upon him."
Three waytes were included among the minstrels in the service of Edward III.
The musicians of towns and corporations were also termed waits. The city of London had its waits, who attended the Lord Mayor on public occasions, such as
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