The History of Lincoln Waites

Ferdinando Gibbyns and Lockyngton


The Historic Manuscripts Commission states, "Ferdinando Gibbyns and ..........Lockington, the citys musicians, to have two liveries". This entry is dated 8th June 1611. (14th Report of the Historic Manuscripts Commission. Published in 1895. page 85).

This is not exactly what the record in the City Minute Book says, although the meaning is the same as this modern re-phrasing. A literal transcription of the minute book entry reads: "Item – that Ferdinando Gibbyns & ..........Lockyngton muficians of this Citties charge have two liveries of this Citties charge." (L1/1/1/4 – Lincoln City Minute Book, 1599-1638). You may think that the meaning of these two statements is identical but, to my mind, the original record confirms more clearly that the two musicians were in the employment of the City - "muficians of this Citties charge".

Many men far cleverer than me have insisted that this is Ferdinando Gibbons, brother of the famous composer, Orlando Gibbons and son of the Cambridge Wait, William Gibbons. The problem is that very little is known about Ferdinando Gibbons, however, let's explore the theory...

The Facts

A person named Ferdinando Gibbyns was a Wait in Lincoln on 8 June 1611. We know that Ferdinando Gibbons (of Cambridge) was about two years older than his brother Orlando (the famous composer of church music). We think that Ferdinando Gibbons must have been born in 1582 because he was 19 when his mother wrote her will (in March of 1602). Under the terms of the will, his mother's legacy was withheld until was 23. Of the brothers, Ellis was baptized on 30 November 1573 and Edward was baptized on 21 March 1567. William Gibbons had been in poor health for some time, before his death in 1595, and possibly unable to fulfill his duties with Cambridge Waites. In these last years of William's life, Cambridge continued to make the usual payments to one of the Gibbons family for Waites fees, but the absence of a first name in their records means we cannot be sure who.

The Unknown

No Baptism records for Ferdinando have ever been found, Even though people have conducted extensive searches in both Oxford and Cambridge.

The Supposition

Lincoln's "Ferdinando Gibbyns" may well be the son of William Gibbons and brother of Orlando (or maybe not). Ferdinando may have trained as a member of his father's band of Waites in Cambridge. Ferdinando and his brothers may have continued to be musically active after his father's death (in 1589) - this argument is supported by the fact that in 1634/1635 Cambridge civic records mention a payment to "Gibbins" for "Musicke at Heath Reach". But who took over leadership of Cambridge Waites when William was ill (and after his death)? It may have been one of William's sons. By that time, Edward and Orlando were busy with their careers as church musicians, whilst we believe that Ellis had moved to London. That leaves Ferdinando. Could a boy, not yet 16, have taken on his Father's role as Chief Waite in Cambridge? Possibly.

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