The History of Lincoln Waites

John Hawson - City Wait 1835/1836

1841 Census

A man called John Hawson was a wait in Lincoln in 1835. Two men named John Hawson appear in the 1841 census for Lincoln.

John Hawson (1)

John Hawson (1) occupied an address in the Parish of Lincoln, St. Martin. St Martin's Church is no more, but the graveyard is still there, in the middle of St Martin's Square just off to the west of the northerly end of Lincoln High Street, joining the High Street and Hungate.

His occupation is listed as Tailor and his age as 50.

This John Hawson's address was Proctor's Court. Although Proctor's Court does not appear on any modern map, nor on any period map (or index) that I have been able to locate in the County Archives, it does appear in Lincoln's Commercial Directory and Private Residence Guide [for 1843], pub. Victor & Barker. This City Trade Directory sites Proctor's Court at 255, High Street. This may have been a street or courtyard, equally it may have been a single building called Proctor's Court. The directory is not clear on whether this was a private residence or Hawson's Tailor's Shop. Today all the buildings on the upper High Street are commercial and none are private houses.

Number 255, High Street appears to be a (late?) Victorian building. Today this building provides accommodation for two shops. It is three windows wide, and three storeys high. Although this is the site of John Hawson's address, it seems unlikely that he lived or worked in the building that stands there today.

The Census makes a rather ambiguous statement, "No one else with same surname at this address". That might mean he lived in a building occupied by separate tenants (tenement), or simply that he was the sole occupant of his own dwelling.

A Proctor was a legal practitioner in the ecclesiastical courts. Does this link John Hawson professionally with Selby Dickinson, who was a Solicitor's clerk as well as being a Wait?

John Hawson (2)

John Hawson (2) occupied an address in the parish of Lincoln, St Michael. This is less than 5 minutes walk from the first John Hawson's address! Both are a brisk 5 minutes up the hill to Selby Dickinson's house. The Census lists John Hawson (2) at "Strait", but provides no house number. The Strait is the section of hill, joining the north end of High Street with the south end of Steep Hill.

His occupation is given as Grocer and his age as 40. So he is clearly a different man, but with the same name as the other John Hawson. Or to put it another way, they are not the same person. Perhaps they were related? Considering their ages, they were probably not father and son, but they may have been Uncle and Nephew.

Other occupants of the property (possibly a shop with living accommodation at the rear and on the first floor) were his wife Elizabeth, aged 30, and their 5 children.


One John Hawson, son of William Hawson, was a Freemen by birth (listed in 1786 (L1/5/4/1 p115) and again in 1790 (L1/5/4/1 p143)).

The other Waites in 1835/1836 were:

Hawson's 'Retirement'?

By 1837, most towns and cities in England had deipensed with their Waites, and moved towards the new reformed system of local government that the Municipal Corporation's Act required. However, Lincoln City retained their Waites. Clear accounts can be found in two books entitled Orders for Payment 1845-1854 (L1/4/5/1) & Orders for Payment 1854-1866 (L1/4/5/2).

pdf  Waites Salaries 1845 - 1858  Get Adobe Reader

It is noteworthy that these books never describe the payments as a 'Pension', but always as 'Salary'. Perhaps this may be an indication of the Corporation's intent - not to enforce retirement on these long serving and valued officers of the City, but to encourage their continued involvement in City ceremonial by continuing to keep them on the Corporation's Payroll.

John Hawson's last salary as a City Waite was paid on 8 Feb 1848.

Although there is no record of a John Hawson, a man named John Hewson appears on the "Ward Lists of Citizens" (ref: Lincoln City Parcels: 83/24) as residing in Newland, Lincoln in November 1862. Of course, this could be the same man, or a relative. Equally, this may be someone else, with no connection to our John Hawson.

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