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Folklore: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?

Rana who SHOULD be working 10 Aug 00 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 10 Aug 00 - 10:39 AM
BeauDangles 10 Aug 00 - 10:41 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 10 Aug 00 - 10:44 AM
MMario 10 Aug 00 - 10:52 AM
Rana who SHOULD be working 10 Aug 00 - 10:58 AM
Helen 10 Aug 00 - 08:56 PM
Rana who SHOULD be working 11 Aug 00 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Les B 11 Aug 00 - 11:02 AM
Anglo 11 Aug 00 - 11:06 AM
Jim Dixon 13 Dec 10 - 11:04 AM
Uncle_DaveO 13 Dec 10 - 11:42 AM
IanC 13 Dec 10 - 11:52 AM
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Subject: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Rana who SHOULD be working
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:22 AM

Hi,

The source of this question might only be familiar to UK Mudcatters of a particular age, however, the answer may be known by others.

Being on a nostalgia trip, I've been (re)reading the Just William books. These were written by Richmal Crompton. About 38 were written starting in 1922 (finishing ca. 1960ish), however, the William (who makes Dennis the Menace seem like Little Lord Faulteroy) and the Outlaws never age beyond 10/11 years old.

In the 8th book (1928), William joins some "Waits" and this teacher takes them "Waiting". This is obviously going around carolling door to door prior to christmas. I've never come across this term before. Is it an old term for carolling which has gone out of usage? Why "Waiting".

Just curious and it does make a change from some of the other threads which have been appearing (also it is musically and traditionally related!).

Cheers Rana


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:39 AM

Well, Rana, I may be of a "certain ag" but not of the middle ages! However, as we're both exiled Midlanders I'll forgive you. I'd not heard the term "waiting" but "waits" in the sense of itinerant carol singing with music was certainly still practiced in Brummagem in my youth. This is what the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA online


has to say:
wait

an English town watchman or public musician who sounded the hours of the night. In the later Middle Ages the waits were night watchmen, who sounded horns or even played tunes to mark the hours. In the 15th and 16th centuries waits developed into bands of itinerant musicians who paraded the streets at night at Christmas time. From the early 16th century, London and all the chief boroughs had their corporation waits.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the custom developed of these ordinary street watchmen serenading householders at Christmas time and calling on the day after Christmas Day to receive a gratuity. When, in 1829, their place as guardians of a city's safety was taken over by the police, private individuals kept up the custom, playing and singing suitable Christmas music.
Tara a bit
RtS


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: BeauDangles
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:41 AM

This seems unlikely, but I wonder if the word could possibly be "waifs" & "waifing." As in street waif. I believe those who went wassailing would dress up like waifs or ragamuffins.

Just a thought.

BeauD


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:44 AM

Nope, it's definitely 'Waits' - as in 'The City Waits' (a band) 'The York Waites' (another one) and 'Hark the Village Wait' (an album by Steeleye Span) - roughly translated as 'put that sheep down, the local feds are about to arrive'


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: MMario
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:52 AM

The britanicca article certainly seems straightforward enough


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Rana who SHOULD be working
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 10:58 AM

Roger, thanks for the definition - never came across it in Brum (my folks are still there and it is still "home"). It sounds almost like an urban based wassailing - any particular "wait" songs?

Dai - should have guessed it - never wondered what "Hark the Village Wait" actually meant!

Cheers to one and all,

Rana


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Helen
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 08:56 PM

See this thread

for an example of a tune which is called "London Waits" and the song written for the tune is called "The Waits" or "Past three o'clock"

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=23938&messages=8

Helen


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Rana who SHOULD be working
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 10:34 AM

Helen,

Thanks, I missed that thread completely. 'Tis funny that a couple of things come up in parallel on similar topics. Synchronicity I suppose.

Cheers Rana


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 11:02 AM

Fascinating bit of history. In reading this, and the referenced thread on "London Waits," it made me wonder -- if the townspeople didn't have clocks, how did a group of strolling night watchmen/musicians know what hour it was ?? Surely they didn't have wrist watches ! Any ideas ?


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Anglo
Date: 11 Aug 00 - 11:06 AM

Waits have been pretty well sorted out. I appreciated the reminder of the William books though, which I had totally forgotten about (in the general suppression of childhood memories). I _did_ read _something_ when I was a tyke, even if it had no redeeming social value.


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Subject: RE: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:04 AM

From "Domestic Occurrences" in The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 92, Part 2, page 558:

Monday, Dec. 16. [1822] ...

Christmas Waits.—Charles Clapp, Benjamin Jackson, Denis Jelks, and Robert Prinset, were brought to Bow-street Office, by O. Bond the constable, charged with performing on several musical instruments in St. Martin's-lane, at half-past twelve o'clock this morning, by Mr. Munroe, the authorized principal Wait, appointed by the Court of Burgesses for the City and Liberty of Westminster, who alone considers himself entitled, by his appointment, to apply for Christmas-boxes. He also urged that the prisoners, acting as minstrels, came under the meaning of the Vagrant Act, alluded to in the. 17th Geo. II.; however, on reference to the last Vagrant Act of the present King, the word "minstrels" is omitted; consequently they arc no longer cognizable under that Act of Parliament; and in addition to that, Mr. Charles Clapp, one of the prisoners, produced his indenture of having served seven years as an apprentice to the profession of a musician to Mr. Clay, who held the same appointment as Mr. Munroe does under the Court of Burgesses. The prisoners were discharged, after receiving an admonition from Mr. Halls, the sitting Magistrate, not to collect Christmas-boxes.

*

From The London Literary Gazette, Vol. 12, December 27, 1828:

THE PARISH WAITS.

The following is a verbatim copy of a printed bill left by a party of these nuisances and sleepbreakers.

"To the ladles and gentlemen residing in Brunswick, Tavistock, and Euston Squares, Burton Crescent, and neighbourhood. Ladles and Gentlemen,—With sensible recollection of by-gone patronage, your 'Wandering Melodists, the Christmas Waits,' beg to offer their best compliments on the approaching festival. The Band on this occasion, as heretofore, has been numerous and select, and trust to merit that liberal diffusion of your favours which has enlivened our homes and cheered our hearts for a series of years. We trust our sprightly notes of melody, awaking sweet Echo on the dull ear of Night, has stole on your gentle slumbers, and again lulled you to repose with the soothing candanza of the lullaby.

"M. Putnam and J. Lawless, Violins, 6, Swinton Place, Bagnigge Wells Road, and 33, Middlesex Street, Somers Town; J. Sayer, Clarionet. 23, Hertford Street, Somers Town; E. Smith, Double Bass, 16, Little Coram Street; J. Smith, Violoncello, T. Shambler, Flute, 7, Swinton Place, Bagnigge Wells Road.

"Having redeemed our pledge, we shall have the honour of paying our personal respects in the holyday week. In respectfully taking our leave, we beg to remind you, that as some who are pretenders to the Magic Wand of Apollo, would attempt to impose on your liberality, and defraud us of your favours, it may be necessary to say, that we will produce a book with a printed label, containing our names, instruments, and addresses as above."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:42 AM

He also urged that the prisoners, acting as minstrels, came under the meaning of the Vagrant Act, alluded to in the. 17th Geo. II.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

Numerous "modern" public officials like to take that attitude toward buskers today.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Waits' and 'Waiting'? - Old term?
From: IanC
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 11:52 AM

Waits are official musicians and still perform in one or two places in England. Here's one of the web sites though there are more ... do the Norwich Waits still exist?

:-)
Ian


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