The Whaite Family History

From Coddington to Sydney NSW via Manchester

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Our family surname and all its variations arose from the occupation of "Wait" a watchman employed by various cities and large towns. The name was derived  from Old Norman French waite and Old French guaite,gaite a watchman, while another source derives it from Old French waitier to lurk related to Old High German wahten to wake.

Whilst on watch, the waits carried a reed pipe known as a hautboy, wayte or shawm to sound at intervals that "All's Well". Gradually other instruments and players were added to those of the waits and their duties as musicians grew until they were playing at weddings and on official occasions, as required by those in charge of the borough etc where they were employed.

Some of the earliest surname records are those of Ailward Waite 1170-1187 ELPN; Roger le Wayte 1221 Suffolk; Roger le Wate Sussex; Adam le Whaite 1349 LLB Calendar of Letter Books City of London, also in 1355-6.

An early records of Waits is in statutes of Edward I [before 1296], which said of City of London that each gate shall "be shut by the servant dwelling there and each servant shall have a wayte, at his own expense".

In Kings Lynn Norfolk, Hall Books mention in 1362 a Johannem de Boyes, also known as Johannem Wayte who was paid 36 shillings and 8 pence and in 1370 a Petro Wayte, also known as Petro Whaite or Whaytte.

As early as 1512 in that town, mention is made of Waits Chains of Office, whilst in Feb 1584 there is an account for Red Cloth for Waits Uniforms.

In Manchester Court Leet Records in 1563 Richard Kirshow and Randall Legh were authorised as common waits, being joined in 1567 by Richard Wirrall. At this time street patrols were carried out on mornings and evenings, but by 1669, the waits only patrolled on Thursday evenings.

Over the years, there are records of Waits in around 130 towns, but around 18th century, their use declined. Kings Lynn Waits were abolished in 1746, though revived as a musical group in 1999.

There are records of Town Trust of Burgery of Sheffield which started as early as 1567, but in 1806, the Waits were paid their yearly allowance and were given notice that they were then to be discontinued.

The passing of Municipal Corporations Act in 1835 abolished the power of the haphazard organisations of boroughs etc and laid the way for a formal structure for municipalities, but in it there was no place for Waits.

A detailed account of the history of Waits is to be found on website, from which this account has mainly been taken.

Prior to early 19th century, surnames were quite unstable and their spelling varied from time to time.  John Whaite's father Thomas was baptised in 1741 as Wate, while John himself was baptised in 1771 as Weatt, married for the first time in 1793 as Whait and for second time in 1796 as Waite. The 1801 letter mentioning death of John's son George calls him Whaite and thereafter Whaite is the chosen spelling eg entry in 1814 Pigots Manchester Directory is for John Whaite   Shoemaker. Just occasionally in records and indexes, even as late as 1881 Census, Whaite is written as Waite. 


The earliest records of John Whaite's predecessors are from Parish Records of Coddington in Nottinghamshire, a small village barely 2 miles east of the larger town of Newark, though in those times, the family name would have been shown as Waite or its variants

Coddington parish was shown as Cotinton(e) in Domesday Book of 1086 and there are land records as early as 1700, where the Land Tax Assessment showed there were 37 taxable proprietors in the village. In the mid 1700's, there was a movement to "enclose" various parcels of land in the interest of improving arable agriculture, which meant that small landholders could no longer graze their animals on common land or carry out small scale farming. These "Enclosures Acts" changed the lives of small farmers almost overnight, as every plot of land they were awarded must be hedged or fenced around the boundaries. The cost of doing this was so prohibitive that many of them had to sell the land to a larger landowner and become agricultural workers on the land they had previously considered their own.

At Coddington, a House of Commons committee prior to 1760 said there were 19 messuages and 15 cottages likely to be affected by the enclosures. The Coddington Enclosure [Act 33 Geo II 1760] covered 4 open fields and some Common lands totalling nearly 1870 acres. The main Petitioners asking that the Act be applied to Coddington were larger landowners such as Thomas Heron Steward to Manor of Newark, Vicar Thomas Wakefield and the Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, as well as 3 yeoman farmers including Stephen and John Ashwell.

These landholders received most of the larger grants and the Ashwell family benefitted to the tune of nearly 250 acres. The Birkett family, later to be Mortgagor to the Waites were given 240 acres. Thomas Waite's allocation in entry 21 was merely 7 acres, while just over 8 acres went to Waite and Hough. This was described as : " Unto Jane Waite or William Waite and Esther Hough and Stephen Hough all that ground lying in the Pasture and Great Moor containing  8 acres 2 roods and 5 perches abutting on an alloment made hereinbefore to Mr Pocklington to the East on an allotment made ... to Stephen Ashwell the Younger to the West on an allotment ...made to John Starnell towards the North and on an allotment  ... made to Mr Heron towards the South."

The Enclosure details also mention that "Waites Lane" formed one of the boundaries of three other parcels of land and it was off eastern side of Drove Lane. This lane is mentioned as Drove Road in Enclosure awards and Manor Dairy Farmhouse on it is shown as Stop 9 on Coddington Heritage Trail.

All the documents below were taken from Estate records of clients of Hodgkinson & Beevor Solicitors of Newark now held by Nottingham Archives Office.

Indenture DDH 6/1 (i) Nottingham Archives dated 2 August 1762, says part of this land was transferred from William Victualler and Jane Wate both of Coddington to Thomas Wate son of William and Jane Wate of the one part and Thomas Hoffe of the same town and County Labourer and Mary his wife [presumably son of Esther and Stephen mentioned in Enclosures award] . This agreement was witnessed by William & Jane Birkett, but the lease itself is missing.

Included in DDH 6/4 from Nottingham Archives are details of a Mortgage [otherwise undocumented] dated 27 January 1763 given by Thomas Waite of Coddington Serving Man and William and Jane Waite of same place Father and Mother of said Thomas Waite to Samuel Birkett of Newark Upon Trent Gentleman over land and buildings in tenure of Thomas Waite as security for a Payment of Thirty Pounds. If Thirty Pounds and Interest on Same was not paid by 26 January 1764, the property reverted to Samuel Birkett or his heirs. At a later date, Thomas Waite received a further Fifty Four Pounds [likewise undocumented] on the same security.

In the meantime, Samuel Birkett had died, but had appointed his sisers Ann & Sarah Birkett as his joint Executrixes, and they had agreed that the Mortgage should be for Sole Use and Benefit of Sarah Birkett.

By 5 April 1797, the amount owing by Thomas Waite on the two Mortgages totalled Eighty Eight Pounds and Eighteen Shillings.

DDH 6/2 Nottingham Archives Indenture also dated 4 April 1797 was for a lease of one year by John Waite of Manchester in County of Lancaster Shoemaker (only son and heir at law of Thomas Waite of Coddington in County of Nottingham Victualler deceased) and Mary his wife and John Birkett of Coddington Victualler and Ann his wife (late Ann Waite widow of said Thomas Waite deceased) of the one part and William Carby the younger of Coddington aforesaid Carpenter and Richard Forster of Newark Upon Trent in said County of Nottingham of the other part of all the land and dwellings used a Public House known by the sign of the Rose and Crown late in Tenure or Occupation of said John Birkett but now of said William Carby in Consideration of the Sum of Five Shillings apiece. The Lease was to allow William Carby and Robert Foster to take Possession of the Public House by Release DDH6/3 dated 5 April 1797. Signed by John Waite, Mary Waite, John Birkett, Ann Birkett X her Mark.

Indenture DDH 6/3 Nottingham Archives dated 5 April 1797 Assigns to William Carby in Trust Rose and Crown Public House with a Close and Premises in Coddington Nottingham mentioned in DDH6/4 and acknowledges receipt of the sum of Two Hundred and Seventy Pounds by John and Mary Waite who both signed and of Thirty Pounds by John Birkett who signed and Ann Birkett signed X her mark. Sealed and duly stampt in presence of Charles Snart and Henry Forster.

These amounts covered Interest owed by Thomas Waite, as well as all the lease amounts mentioned in other indentures.

Indenture DDH6/4 Nottingham Archives Office dated 5 April 1797 is for Assignment of a Mortgage Term in Trust for William Carby and to attend the inheritance and a lease by Sarah Birkett by Direction of John Waite to Moses Ashwell. It is between Sarah Birkett of Balderton in County of Nottingham Spinster of the first part and John Waite of Manchester in County of Lancaster of the second part William Carby the younger of Coddington of the third part and Moses Atwell of Coddington Gentleman of the fourth part for the sum of Five Shillings paid to Sarah Birkett.

Some time after he had bought Rose and Crown, William Carby built a house on the land and the Hough family had a blacksmith's shop and built some houses there. Presently there is a bungalow on the site, which is across the road from a 19th Century Pub called "The Plough Inn", which is Stop 6 on Coddington Heritage Trail.

Just when and why John left Nottingham for Manchester is not known, unless his wife Mary Clayton had relatives or friends there.  It must have been quite a trip from Nottingham where John was married in 1796, either via Derby some 12 miles as the crow flies to the north west, then a further 50 miles at least to Manchester. As Mary's family came from Scarcliffe some 7 miles south east of Chesterfield, John and Mary may have travelled via Derby to Mary's home and stayed there for a while, en route via Sheffield to Manchester in the west. Though it is only 33 miles as the crow flies, a detour was probably needed around High Peak area, which would have made the journey much longer.

The records in Part One are based on research by Dee Harrison of East Midlands Research who not only proved the Coddington connection originally found in the papers of Henry Clarence Whaite, but extended it back two more generations

Bingham and Coddington Family History Groups have also supplied much extra information