the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

the 17th century players

In the 17th century neither terminology nor spelling were fixed. So a pipe and tabor player could be, for example,
a minstrel, a musician, a drummer, a pyper, taber and pipe or a fidler. It is impossible to know now which of
some of the quotes below are taborers or players of other instruments as seen in contemporary images.
16141614 Bacchus, illustration in 'Emblemata' 1619 ceiling painting
Bolsover Castle Derbyshire

Betley Window1550-1621 Betley window

before 1606 - Robert Smyth, a preacher and lecturer, was an extreme Puritan.

"...His refusal to wear a surplice, though ordered to do so by the bishop, brought the dispute to a head.
He was inhibited, but his followers retorted by accusing the vicar of being a companion of tipplers and
fooling away his time with pipe and tabor, and finally bringing an accusation against him, on account of
which the poor man was cited before the High Commission Court. The charge came to nothing..... "

1907 'The Parish Clerk' by Peter Hampson Ditchfield (1854–1930)

1601 Carlton cum Willingham, Cambridgeshire; Diocesan Court Proceedings:

“…did bringe Iohn Lawrence upon a cowlestaffe into the Charchyard, & set him Downe at the Chauncells
end… Reekwood a fidler [was] in the companye …”

1604 Letter from The Earl of Shrewsbury to Viscount Cranborne.
“…At Sheffield Lodge (where we have no other music this Christmas than the waits of the next town
besides a taber and a whistle), this Friday, 28 December 1604.”

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 16, 1604.

Itinerant performers in the North Riding ranged from individual pipers, fiddlers, jugglers, and others living close to
or below the poverty line, to organized companies of travelling players. Most of these did not play under gentry
patronage and so were vulnerable to arrest and punishment under the Elizabethan and Stuart poor laws governing
 'rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars' When these people were apprehended, the court normally recorded
not only the names but also prosecuted those who provided lodging and performance space for them.
1606 Thornton Watlass, Yorkshire North Riding;  Quarter Sessions Records:

“…George Lewling of Watlass kept a piper, and harboured him in his dwelling house for two weeks, and also
received servants and young people into his aforesaid house at various times, and allowed them to remain there
and stay at night time, that is to say, after the ninth hour after midday.”

1607 Leicester villages rioted over enclosures of common land. In Ladbroke the riot procession was
led by a captain on horseback and a man playing a pipe and a tabor.

1608 Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire:
“… he behaved himselfe very unrevently in the Churche in the time of the sermon with one
 Edwarde Towe a fidler in laughinge & gurninge to the offence of many then present …”

1609 "Edward Towe, a fiddler or minstrell.  A presentment is made at Tydd St Giles …the said Towe is cited.
And he having been summoned, did not appeared. He is suspended. …The same Towe has died.”

Diocesan Court Proceedings

1610 note of an affray involving `revellers led by pipe and tabor' at Walsall
Beier, A. L. 'Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560 -1640.' 1985
1610-11Scorton Yorkshire North Riding; Quarter Sessions Records:
“The Iury also present Iohn Lockey alias Lockwood of Scorton for the aiding, &c, harboring and mainteyning
of certain people to the inhabitantes unknowne, being people of badd behavior, mightily suspected for many
bad misdemeanours, himself verie lewdly given, frequenting bad companie in markettes, faires and other
frequented places where resortes of people is, being in the nature of a drummer;…”

1611 Sir Richard Paulet's Household Accounts at Stanbridge and King's Somborne, Hampshire :

 "to speede for playing on ye taber    xij d"

1612 Peter Hales (1565-1643), known as 'Blind Pete', played the pipe and tabor for the Stafford hobby-horse
and on other civic occasions. The churchwarden’s accounts for 1612 state that 2s was paid to 'Blind Peter' for
“playing at the hobby-horse”. 1632-33 he was paid 2s for playing “on the election day”

'Peter Hales, taberer' was fined 20s for keeping an unlicensed tippling house in the town in 1614.

Stafford had a hobby-horse as far back as 1528. It used to dance at winter festivals and ales, and was a festive way
of raising money from the town's councillors and rich people. By 1638 the custom was beginning to die out as serious
minded church people and Puritans disliked the idea of raising money for the church by dining, drinking and entertainment.

pamphlet written by D.A.Johnson of Stafford Historical and Civic Society, 1974-76 titled '“The Stafford Hobby-Horse'”

1613 “…at Kelvedon, Easterford, Colchester, John Ayly, an alehouse-keeper, was presented in the archdeacon's court
`for suffering of a fiddler to play with taber and pipe in his house upon the 9 of May, being the sabbath day,
in time of divine service'.”

J. A. Sharpe in `Crime and delinquency in an Essex parish 1600-1640' (in Crime in England 1550-1800, ed J.S .Cockburn (1977), 90-109

1613 Winchester College Bursars' Accounts:

"(Necessary expenses with gifts)
Likewise to musicians as a favour of the lord warden and fellows 10s
Likewise for pipers as a favour of the lord warden and fellows 13s 4d"

1613 Brandsby Hall, Yorkshire North Riding:  payment for Christmas entertainment

“The pyper of Myton for Christmas tyme pypynge I payd him v s. ...”

Richard Cholmeley's Memorandum Book

1614 “Willelmus Harden maynteyneth dysorder as dauncinge pypinge swearinge & swaggeringe"
Archdeaconry of Stafford Visitation Act Book
1613 The voyage of Captain John Saris to Japan:

Journal of John Saris, Captain of the Eighth Voyage of the Company: In January 1613
Saris was at Bantam in Java, preparing for the second stage of his voyage on the ship Clove.
14 January his journal: 1613source (page 21)

1614 a number of pipers were prosecuted at Hutton Buscel, Yorkshire North Riding,  Quarter Sessions

"...The Jurie for our sovereigne Lord the king uponn their oathes present & finde that William Gascoigne of Hutton bushell
 had a metinge of younge people on St Peters day last, and a piper with them one Lawrence Johnson of Scarbrough.
The Jury: &c. do present & finde that Emott Iackson of Pickering vidua had a metinge of younge people and a piper
with them called Lawrence Hicke on midsomer day last:
The Jury &c. do present & finde that James Sparke of Pickeringe had a metinge of young people and a piper with them named William Ward of Middleton on St Peters day last.
The Jury &c. do present & finde   Nicholas Wood of Pickeringe for the like:
The Jury &c. do present and finde that Richard Elles of Thornton had a metinge of younge people and a piper with them
called Gilbert Theaker on Whitsonday last. "

1614 Kirby Misperton, Yorkshire North Riding,  Quarter Sessions:

"The Jury for our sovereigne Lord the king upon their oathes present Richard Darrell of Kirkby misperton 
Alehouskeeper for entertayninge & receiuynge into his house upon a sabaoth day in December last and in
time of evening prayer divers persons being no travalers and withall had in his house a piper named Henry ffoster
 being no inhabitant there but a wanderer, and suffered the said Piper to escape and did not apprehend him and
carrie him to the Constable according to the Statute ..."

1615 Freefolk, Hampshire; Sir Thomas Jervoise's Household Accounts:
“Item for pipinge    0–0–1”

1615 In November William Harrison, his wife Isabella, and John Gowling were presented before archdeacon
William Morton (1560–1620) at Barnard Castle – the latter for piping and “those two dauncing upon the saboth.”

Theatre, Catholic Communities, and Popular Entertainment in England’s North-East, c.1600-1625 by Gašper Jakovac

1616 Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire: 

“…The said Jane ... went from her brothers house in Ansley with one 
Scott a Piper in the night, and staid forth one or more nightes,..”

Archdeaconry of Stafford Visitation Act Book

1618 Tutbury, Staffordshire; Regulations Governing the Minstrels' Court

A set of rules was drawn up to regulate and impose standards on minstrels and musicians in Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

16th Oct 1619 Richard George of Westminster, taborer, was fined £20  and told to keep the peace


1620's In Worcestershire generally there were increasing prosecutions for Sabbath-breaking in the early l600's,
continuing unabated in the 1620s. Some Bishopston people found themselves in trouble
for playing the tabor and pipes during evening prayer time.

1620 In Benton, just outside of Newcastle, Christopher Dawson entertained:
“a companie of fidlers playing at cards in his house on the first sondaie after the Epiphanie
last all the tyme of dyvine service and administration of the holy Communion”.

Theatre, Catholic Communities, and Popular Entertainment in England’s North-East, c.1600-1625 by Gašper Jakovac

1620-21Winchester, Hampshire;  Winchester College Bursars' Accounts:

 (Necessary expenses with gifts)
To piper        1s
To pipers of magnates      5s

1620, Chester; an inventory of property of the late Robert Hesketh included:
"vyolls, vyolentes, virginalls, sagbutts, howboies, and cornets, cithrun, flute and taborpypes.” 
[viols, violins, virginals, sackbuts, hautbois, and cornetts, cittern, flute and tabor pipes.]
1622 Hovingham, Yorkshire North Riding; Quarter Sessions Records

 “…Raph Theaker the piper shalbe sett in the stockes att this present Session att Thirske and likewise
att Hovingham:… for misdemeanors done upon the Sabaoth daie att Hovingham shalbe bound to the good behaviour…”

1622-23 Nunwell House, Hampshire; Sir John Oglander's Notes and Accounts:

“for salte and the minstrell          0  2  6”

1626 Winchester, Hampshire; Winchester College Bursars' Accounts:

“Paid to pipers on sundry occasions     5s 10d”

1630-31 Winchester, Hampshire; Winchester College Bursars' Accounts:

“Paid to pipers as a favour         10s”

1631 Checkley, Staffordshire;

“for keepinge a piper playinge in his house on whitsundaie last in prayer tyme in ye afternoone,
hee hath daughters come not to Churche,…”

Archdeaconry of Stafford Visitation Act Book

1631 Leek, Staffordshire;

“Joan Swyndon - for entertayning of divers persons into her house who have prophaned the Sabboth
 by gamninge pipinge and dauncinge”

Archdeaconry of Stafford Visitation Act Book

1631 Rushton, Staffordshire;

(Against) Richard Slack and Francis Miller
 “for entertayninge of divers persons into their houses who have prophaned the Sabboth
 by gamninge pipinge & dauncinge”

Archdeaconry of Stafford Visitation Act Book

1631 Farlington, Yorkshire North Riding;

“ Cicilie Thompson of ffarlington Widdow being an Alehouskeeper for keeping disorders in her house,
and harbouring of ffidlers, Pipers, Tinckers, & wanderers contrarie to the forme of the statute …“

Quarter Sessions Records

1633 Warwick Priory flour mill dispute:

“In 1633 a dispute arose concerning the [grain] loaders from the Castle, Guy's Cliffe, Emscote, and Priory mills,
who went with their horses into Warwick to solicit grain for grinding from the inhabitants. Witnesses agreed
that one horse only was allowed from each mill, and an ancient custom was cited, whereby on Midsummer
Day the four loaders rode in procession up and down the town, the loader from the Castle mill coming first…,
followed by his fellows from Guy's Cliffe, Emscote, and the Priory, playing a pair of bag-pipes, a fiddle
and a pipe and tabor respectively.”

1633-34 Aldermaston, Berkshire:

"Thomas Hellyar of Aldermaston in the County of Berkshire [was a] Gardiner and Minstrell "

1634 Scarborough, Yorkshire North Riding; 

“The examinacion of william Percey of Slingsby in the Counte of york piper taken before Gregory ffishe 
one of the baliffes of the towne of Scarbrough and one of his Maiestes Iustices of peace within the said Libertes …”
“The said examinant saith that he hath beene in the towne of Scarbrough ever since satterdaye was a senett
and hath beene playeinge of his l<..>d and pipes ever since….”

Scarborough Borough Court Papers

Mersennus, a French polymath, mathematician and writer on music (middle of 17th century) mentions
an Englishman, John Price, who was an accomplished pipe and tabor player.

16221622 book illustration of a women's band 1630 1630 book illustration unknownsource

17th centuryStang Ride in a magistrate's house, wall decoration

player 1611 book illustration mid 17th century

Trade token, worth a farthing, issued for a business at the sign of Tarlton (Richard, a 16th century actor), in Wheeler Street, Middlesex.

inscription: AT.THE.TARLETON (around field, in Roman capitals) Device  Figure of Tarlton with pipe and tabor. 

1640 / 1780 Tarlton 1780The Gentleman's Magazine - Volume 50 - Page 325

1633 criticism written by William Prynne, 1600-1669. [Ed - 'pipes,' 'pipers' 'fidlers' and 'tabers' may include pipe and tabor players here]

Page 194
“…disgrace their masculine sex with womanish attire, &c? They effeminately adorne their long nourished haire,and being
clothed in delicate garments, they scarce support their head with their wearied necke. Afterwards, when they have thus
estranged themselves from being men, ravished with the musicke of Pipes…”

Page 249
“…then he leaped out suddenly with a great noyse of Pipes and Fidlers clad in a womans Gowne, and a long coate,
and having danced out a dance…”

Page 278
“…Chrysostome writes; that Cymbals, Pipes, and filthy Songs are the very pomps and hodgpotch of the Devill…”

Page 281
“…the common people standing by, trembling and astonished, admire the sound of the Organs, the noyse of the
Cymbals and musicall instruments, the harmony of the Pipes and Cornets:…”

Page 318
“…What like shame can there be to Rome,then that the memory shall be left in Italy of the Tumblers, Trewands,
Pipers, Singers of Iests, Taberers, Crowders, Dancers, Mummers, Iesters, and Iuglers, rather then the renowne of
Captaines, with their Triumphes and Armes?...”

Page 319
“…In the uttermost parts of Spaine, when Warre began betweene the Liberiens and Gaditaines, and they of Liberie
lacked mony,two Iuglers and Taberers offred to maintaine the Warre an whole yeere…”

Page 394
“…the allurements of Flutes and Pipes, and such like musicke inticing to deceit, effeminating the fortitude of the minde,
preparing the mindes of those that it there with delight for the traps of Harlots, and causing them to be more easily ensnared…”

Page 415
“…For all things that are done there are absolutely most obscene, the words, the apparell, the •onsure, the pace,
the speeches, the songs, the ditties, the turnings and glances of the eyes, the pipes, the flutes, and the very argument
of the Playes, all things (I say) are full of filthy wantonnesse…”

Page 419
“…in these mens mouthes, the Devill speaketh. The Pipes with puffed up cheekes and a deformed face send forth
an uncertaine and unarticulate voice…”

Page 631
“…Concilium Rhemense, Anno 1583. Which condemnes the use of Stage-playes and dancing, especially on
Lord-dayes, holy-dayes, and the Christmas season, when they are most in use, under paine of excommunication…”

Page 634
“…The people are prohibited to exercise prophane assemblies, and riotous feasts, dances, morrices, disguises
and Stage-playes on Lords dayes and holy dayes: to exhibit shewes or pompes of musicall instruments and tabers
in the processions of images through the streetes and crosse wayes:…”

quotes from 'Histriomastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely evidenced,
by divers arguments, by the concurring authorities and resolutions of sundry texts of Scripture ... That popular stage-playes ...
are sinfull, heathenish, lewde, ungodly spectacles, and most pernicious corruptions; condemned in all ages, as intolerable
mischiefes to churches, to republickes, to the manners, mindes, and soules of men. And that the profession of play-poets,
of stage-players; together with the penning, acting, and frequenting of stage-playes, are unlawfull, infamous and misbeseeming Christians. All pretences to the contrary are here likewise fully answered; and the unlawfulnes of acting, of beholding
academicall enterludes, briefly discussed; besides sundry other particulars concerning dancing, dicing, health-drinking,
&c. of which the table will informe you.' by William Prynne, an utter-barrester of Lincolnes Inne.

1650 Parish of Gateshead Parish Register

“Paid the fidler, when the feilds were mowed,    2s. 8d.”

The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 2, Chester Ward.
Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1820.

1654 " Information against John Morgan."

“…There met at Edward Jones's, at Elsmeer an alehouse, … They continued all that day at Jones his house,
and went thence to John Morgan's, an alehouse and fidler, and continued there most part of the night…”

'State Papers, 1655: March (3 of 8)', in 'A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, Volume 3, December 1654 - August 1655'
, ed. Thomas Birch (London, 1742)

1657 An Act against Vagrants and wandring, idle dissolute persons.

"Any persons commonly called Fidlers or Minstrels who
shall at any time be taken playing, fidling, and making music
in any inn, ale-house, or tavern, or shall be taken proffering
themselves, or desiring, or intreating any ... to hear them
play or make music in any of the places aforesaid shall be
adjudged and declared to be rogues, vagabonds and sturdy

from: "Shakespeare in music; a collation of the chief musical allusions in the plays of Shakespeare,
with an attempt at their explanation and derivation, together with much of the original music" By LOUIS C. ELSON, 1900

1665 " When King Charles II. was at Salisbury, a piper of Stratford sub Castro playd on his
tabor and pipe before him, who was a piper in Queen Elizabeth's time, and aged then more than 100."

In ‘notes’ made by Britten, James, 1846-1924 in a reprint of ‘Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme, 1686-87’

1678 "Some Observations upon the late Trials of Sir George Wakeman, CORKER; and Marshal, &c.
By TomTicklefoot, the Tabourer, late Clerk to Justice Clodpate."

“…I got a stroke upon the pipe and tabor, by which means I now live very comfortably;…”

‘A complete collection of state trials and proceedings for high treason and other crimes and misdemeanors from the earliest period to the year 1783 : with notes and other illustrations’ VOL. VII 1678—1680. pub1816

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