The History of Lincoln Waites

Waites reformed after the Restoration

In 28 September 1662, the five Waites are listed as:

The following comment is written after their names;

This page of the minute book is headed "Registrum" and lists all the Sherriffs, Aldermen, Common Councilmen, Coroners, Chamberlains and various Mayors and Sherriffs officers by name. At the next Registrum, on 21 September 1668, no Waites are mentioned at all (L1/1/1/6, page 177).

The Minutes of 1662 provide us with an insight into how Oliver Cromwell tried to exercise greater control over borough and city councils:

This looks very much like Lincoln Council (and possibly other boroughs too?) had been given orders to sack various Corporation Officers whose duties were largely ceremonial (as were the Waites). Those orders came directly from Oliver Cromwell's "Commissioners for regulating Corporations". Perhaps the new administration viewed these ceremonial Officers as relics of a Royal past, and something to be consigned to that bygone era? Cromwell's Commissioners, and Oliver Cromwell himself, would not have been popular figures with Lincoln Council or their redundant colleagues. During the War, Lincoln had always supported the King - I suspect that this latest bit of interference would simply have given Lincoln Council one more reason to dislike Cromwell, and yearn for a return of the happier days they had known before the War - under the rule of a real King.

On 13 November 1662, during the reign of Charles II, the Council reversed the Commissioners' unwelcome order and reinstated the abolished posts.

This was three years after Richard Cromwell's abdication in 1559. The delay may have been because the City (and much of the rest of England too) was left in a state of confusion and instability after the Civil War.

The absence of Waits during the interregnum may have been due to the impact that the War had on England, the chaos that ensued and the sheer financial cost of a Civil War. Councils may not have been able to afford to spend money on entertainment and ceremonial when so much was needed to fund the training and equipping of soldiers. On the other hand, Lincoln's Minutes tell of a whole range of Corporation Officers being "putt out" by Cromwell's Commissioners. Although the Waites are not mentioned specifically amongst the list of Sword bearers, Mace bearers, etc. As Waites' functions were almost wholly ceremonial too, it is possible that they were treated the same and disbanded under Cromwell's administration.

Not only did Lincoln Council resolve to reinstate their abolished posts in 1662, and locate suitable men to fill them, but they also decided to make amends with the men who previously held Office, by paying all their outstanding wages (L1/1/1/6, page 121).


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