The History of Lincoln Waites

Michael Crawthorne - 1722-1737

7 June 1722

"Michael Crawthorne was then unanimously therefore one of the City's Waites in the roome of Richard Lidall" (ref: L1/1/1/7, page 82).

28 April 1737

At a time when Englishmen considered Catholic France and Spain to be their sworn enemies, England was an uncomfortable place for Roman Catholics. The Toleration Act was passed in 1689, and those who disagreed with the Church of England's doctrines could not [officially] be arrested for attending other Churches, yet many Englishmen still distrusted "dissenters". So when Michael Crawthorne converted to Catholicism, the Mayor and Council felt they had to act.

Crawthorne was dismissed from his office. Lincoln expected their Waites to be loyal and patriotic and English. In many people's eyes this was inextricably linked with keeping the Faith of the Church of England. They could not allow him to continue in their employment because he had (as they saw it) embraced the faith of their French and Spanish enemies. The peace between Britain, and France and Spain did not arrive until 1748.

"Whereas Michael Crawthorne, One of the Waites of this City hath forsaken the Protestant Religion of the Church of England Which he had been educated in, and embraced that of the Church of Rome as He hath confessed upon his Examination, It is now proposed and ordered that he be discharged of his said place of a Waite and that another fitt person be chosen in his Roome" (ref: L1/1/17, page 220).

We don't know what happened to convince Michael Crawthorne to convert to Catholicism. Perhaps he had friends who persuaded him, or a girlfriend, or something may have happened to make him feel disillusioned with the Church of England. Whatever it was, the result was that Lincoln Council no longer considered him a fit person to represent the City as one of their Waites.

Michael Crawthorne had served the City for 15 years. Yet the Councillors and Aldermen who had known him, and who had enjoyed his music, were the very same men who concluded that he was unfit to serve. They did not complain about his musicianship or his ability to entertain, nor did they find fault with his personality, honesty or temperament. They simply could not tolerate his religion.

Michael was luckier than one of his fellow Catholics had been 20 years earlier. Henry Hargrave was the proprietor of a 'Dancing Schoole' in St Martins parish, but this, together with two 'messuages or tenements' as well as a garden, in which stood the George Inn, were all seized from Hargrave in 1717 (during the Mayorality of Robert Hobman), possibly just because of his religion (Register of Papists – L1/5/22).

25 September 1760

It would appear that Michael Crawthorne somehow convinced the Council to re-admit him to their Waits until 25 September 1760, when he was replaced by George Kerton.

13 Dec 1768

Eight years later we find a new generation of Crawthorns aspiring to be City Waits. But Crawthorn Junior did not receive even one vote, and Dickenson took the vacant post instead. Perhaps the Council felt more certain about Dickenson's religious convictions and felt he would give them less trouble than another Crawthorne?

This is a report of historical fact of an event which happened 270 years ago. We have attempted to interpret why the men concerned acted as they did. This is in no way meant to either criticise or uphold the views, opinions or ideology of any of those men. This website is not concerned with Religious preference but only aims to discover more about Lincoln's Waits and to appreciate some aspects of their lives.

Two more Crawthorn(e)s Served as Waites in the 18th century:   Mathew Crawthorne and George Crawthorn


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