The History of Lincoln Waites

The Monson Family 1767-1772

Although the Monson records we are concerned with cover only a short time period (1767-1772), it is useful to have some knowledge of earlier family history.


Timeline

Monson Baronets of Carleton (1611)

Barons Monson (1728)


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As municipal Waites ceased to exist after 1836, we have limited this timeline to show only the years from the creation of the Baronetcy until the time of the last Baron Monson who might have seen/known Waites. The Baronetcy continued after 1836 and the family retains their title today.


Family History

The first John Monson served Henry V in the wars against France.

Robert Monson became a justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1572.

Sir Admiral William Monson, served in the Navy of Queen Elizabeth I.

The English Civil War split the family, with Sir John (2nd Baronet), supporting Charles I, whilst William (Baron of Ballingard and Viscount Castlemain of Ireland) supported Parliament. In 1661, for his trouble, William was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On 28 May 1728 King George bestowed the title "Baron Monson of Burton (in the county of Lincoln)" upon John Monson (5th Baronet).

In 1737, John (now 1st Baron Monson of Burton), became the first Lord Commissioner of Trade and Plantations. He had previously represented Lincoln in the House of Commons. His wife, Lady Margaret, daughter of Lewis Watson (1st Earl of Rockingham) and had three sons, John (2nd Lord Monson), Lewis (Lord Sondes) and George, who took up a career in the military and distinguished himself at the capture of the Island of Manilla on 27 July 1762.

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The Monson Household

John (2nd Lord Monson and son of Lord John and Lady Margaret), married in June 1752. Theodosia (daughter of John Maddison esquire, of Harpswel, Lincolnshire) bore John 8 children. In 1766, John declined the offer of an Earldom.

The Children:

  1. John (born 25 May 1753), Recorder of the City of Lincoln and Doctor of Laws;
  2. Catherine (born 12 Sep 1754);
  3. George Henry (born 17 Oct 1755), Captain, 3rd Regt. of Dragoon Guards;
  4. Charles (born 11 Mar 1758), Lieutenant, 1st Regt. of Foot Guards;
  5. Charlotte Grace (born 29 Mar 1759);
  6. William (born 15 Dec 1760), Captain, 52nd Regt. of Foot;
  7. Theodosia Margaret (born 20 Sep 1762);
  8. Thomas (born 10 May 1764).

It is the household of this John Monson (2nd Lord Monson) that this book of accounts relates to.

John (2nd Lord Monson) maintained houses at Burton and South Carleton (Lincolnshire); and at Broxburnbury (Hertfordshire). The Accounts span only a short period (6 years) and it seems that these are the only household accounts for the family that are extant. The accounts are very detailed and show us exactly what kitchen provisions were purchased for the various houses, what tradesmen were paid and what entertainment was arranged, they also show some charity payments (e.g. a subscription to a nearby hospital). John and his family seem to have enjoyed not only the best local produce, but they also had a liking for imported fruit - particularly Oranges and "French Pears".

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Household Accounts

All the payments noted below were from their house at Burton. This appears to be their main residence at that time. The accounts also show some provisions bought for "London" - possibly the Broxburnbury residence - but the cost and the amount of food purchased for Burton is far greater. One entry informs us that they bought 72 eggs at a time. The quantities of provisions purchased is an indication of the size of the household. The accounts also show the purchase of Livery for household servants, including Livery Lace.


Monson Household Accounts, 1767-1772 (ref: MON/10/1/A/3)

Extracts

  1. 25 May 1769: "Paid a musician for playing Country Dances...10s.6d."
  2. 25 May 1770: "Paid a musician for playing Country Dances...10s.6d."
  3. 22 Dec 1770: "Paid Lincoln Cryers...1s.4d."
  4. 27 May 1771: "Paid Lincoln Waits for playing Country Dances...15s."
  5. 21 Dec 1771: "Two Lincoln Waites playing Country Dances...10s."
  6. 25 Dec 1771: "Morris Dancers by Order...2s.6d."
  7. 25 May 1772: "Three Lincoln Waites for playing Country Dances...15s."
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Comments on Accounts: May 1767-1772:

4.  27 May 1771: "Paid Lincoln Waits for playing Country Dances...15s."

The Waits are named as such, so there can be no argument over who they were. Unfortunately, the entries for 1769 and 1770 are more ambiguous. They simply say "musician".

1.  25 May 1769: "Paid a musician for playing Country Dances...10s.6d."

2.  25 May 1770: "Paid a musician for playing Country Dances...10s.6d."

This leaves us with a dilemma. This singular term "musician" may suggest that only one musician performed in 1769 and 1770. It was common at that time for a single fiddler to play for dancers. This fellow may have been one of the Waits. Perhaps he involved the others later. However, he may not have been a wait at all. It may mean that a band of musicians performed, but that one acted as treasurer/manager. This was often the case with Waits. One man would be "Senior Wait", "Chief Wait" or "Master of Waits". He would act as manager/treasurer and patrons would pay only him. He would divide shares of their income between his colleagues sometime after their performance.

Alongside the 15s paid to the Waites on 27 May 1771, the sum of 10s.6d. was spent on tuning a Harpsichord. This shows that the family had an interest in music that goes further than mere passive listening.

The Waits must have done a good job, as they were invited back in May 1772. This time the accounts tell us there were three Waites.

7.  25 May 1772: "Three Lincoln Waites for playing Country Dances...15s."

There is no mention of payment to any musicians in May of 1767 or 1768, even though the accounts do span those years.


Comments on Accounts: December 1767-1772:

3.  22 Dec 1770: "Paid Lincoln Cryers...1s.4d."

Why would Lord John be paying "Cryers"? It's a curious plural. The Mayor of Lincoln had one Sword Bearer, one Mace Bearer, a band of Waites and one Cryer. Could this plural use of "Cryers" refer to "Crying Christmas"? If so, it could be a very rare and important reference. "Crying (in) Christmas" was an old custom, peculiar to Lincoln, that involved three men (some say to represent the three wise men) delivering verses to welcome in Christmas. These verses would be performed at a few pre-determined places in and around Lincoln. We can surmise that these verses may have been delivered by the Waites as a precursor to some early form of Caroling, but no proof exists of this theory. In any case, 1s.4d. seems a small sum for a musical performance of any significant length, but might have been acceptable to 3 men (or 3 waites) as a reward for reciting or singing the words of "Crying Christmas".

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5.  21 Dec 1771: "Two Lincoln Waites playing Country Dances...10s."

Here the Waits of Lincoln are clearly mentioned again, this time there were just 2 Waites, unlike the 3 mentioned in May 1772.

6.  25 Dec 1771: "Morris Dancers by Order...2s.6d."

Just 4 days after the Waits were paid, there is a payment to Morris dancers. I wonder if the Waits played for the Morris dancing, or if they performed at different times?