The History of Lincoln Waites

Silver Chain and Scutcheon

The last existing Lincoln Waits Chain and Scutcheon date from 1710, but Lincoln Waits had collars (chains with a badge) long before that. An entry dated 12 April 1514, in the City Registers, lists "three collars of silver for the three Waits, of which one has 24 links with an escucheon, another 28 links with a shield, and third 26 links and a shield." This sounds like the recorder was saying the shields were a different design of badge to the escucheon? As only one chain and escucheon remain, we may never know. These same chains and badges were described in the inventory again in 1538. Jewitt and Hope quote Cousans in Civitas Lincolnia as reporting that the chains of 1538 were not silver, but "gold chains of twenty-five links" [gilt?] and that each wait was to "find security for its safe return on his death or resignation. (Jewitt and Hope, "The Corporation Plate and Insignia of Office of the Cities of England and Wales" p75: quoting Cousans, "Civitas Lincolnia, p58.))

In 1541, they were simply listed as "Chains with a silver cross."

By 1551 the number of Waits had reduced to two. They were provided Liveries and were "to wear two silver collars".

By 4 February 1555 there were once again three City Waits, "with collars of 26, 27 and 28 links respectively and escocheons". Note that all mention of shields has vanished. We may deduce from this that these might be different/replaced badges from those mentioned 41 years earlier, in 1514.

In 1599, City records show that the Chains and Cognizances had to be repaired.

In 1666 the Recorder writes, "Delivered to Mr Maior - The Statute box and Seall and 2 Sealles more and one waits cognizance" (L1/1/1/6, page 159). It was normal practice for the Mayor to keep charge of the Sealles and Statute box between council meetings, but why would a broken cognizance (Waites Badge) be listed, with no mention of why it was broken and no indication of any decision to repair it? The following year, on 15 November 1677, the badge is mentioned again, still broken, but still being handed from person to person for safe keeping; "Delivered likewise to the present Maior - "The Statute box and greater parte of yt Seals and 2: more seales in itt. One of the waytes broken Silver Cognizances" (L1/1/1/6, page 288). By 30 October 1681, it seems that a part of the Waits Badge had been used to adorn one of the ceremonial swords; " old silver cognizance[,] and one piece of silver came of an a sword pomill" (L1/1/1/6, page 287). The lack of punctuation makes this a little difficult to fathom. My interpretation is; ' old silver badge, and one piece of silver which came off the badge, on a sword pomill'. This text again appears, word for word, on 2 October 1682 (L1/1/1/6, page 287) and on 1 October 1683 (L1/1/1/6, page 373) during the Mayorality of Stephen Loddington. By 6 October 1684, Thomas Kent had become Mayor, and the Waites badge was no longer mentioned (L1/1/1/6, page 385).

This entry appears in the Lincoln City Minute Book for 1655 - 1710 (L1/1/1/6, p495): 1693 - "Delivered Also the Statute box and greater parte of the Statute Seale, two old silver Statute Seales, two silver badges for the Waits, one little seale" and "one iron stamp to stamp the Citties Pewter." This passage proves te existence of earlier silver Waites Badges, even though the only remaining Waites Badge was not made until 1710.


This chain and badge, that were once worn by Waites when "Proclaiming the Fair" now form part of the Civic Regalia housed in the Guildhall (to the side and above Lincoln's Stonebow). This is the badge and chain of Selby Dickinson, the last Lincoln Wait. This Waits Chain is still worn today - but not by a civic musician - by the Deputy Mayor.

The badge is a circular silver one with a chain formed of large plain silver links. There are no hall marks present. On one side of the badge appear the Arms of the City of Lincoln and "John Garnon Mayor Civit. Lincoln. 1710". On the other side are the Arms of Queen Ann (of the House of Stewart) with the motto: "Vivat Regina". This badge is dated 1710 (Queen Ann reigned from 1702 - 1714). This badge may have been one of the four Waits badges and chains purchased by the Corporation, from Mr Colson, in 1710 (Lincoln City Mayor & Chamberlains' Rolls/97/1709-1710). In that year, the waits were paid 10s �at their first Entrance�. This is strange phraseology, but may signify their first official engagement wearing the new Badges and Chains (Lincoln City Mayor & Chamberlains' Rolls/97/1709-1710).

Waits Chain

17 October 1769

Paid to Mr Swan for cleaning the Regalia - 10s (L1/4/1/1).

28 Jan 1778

In 1778 the council, "Proposed and Ordered that the City's Regalia be newgilt and properly furnished and a new hat be provided for the macebearer". (L1/1/1/7, p606)


"[Paid] Samuel Peacock repairing Regalia - 10s." (ref: L1/4/2)

Extract from the 'British History' Website

Silver badge and chain, worn by one of the waits, in proclaiming the fair [etc.], with the royal arms on one side and those of the city on the other. 1710. This has more links, by a large number, than appear to have belonged to the waits' badges, which at most had 28 links. ('The corporation of Lincoln: Civic insignia', The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds etc.: Fourteenth report, Appendix; part VIII (1895), pp. 120.) [If you can shed any light on their comment about the number of links, I would be grateful if you could email me please, Al.]

Thanks to the Waits Website for granting permission to reproduce two of their photographs on this page.