Samuel Piper, Wait


I, Samuel Piper, was born in York in 1558. York is a beautiful city, but has long lived with the stigma of having been overrun on November 1, 866 A.D. by a band of Danish Vikings led by “Ivar the Boneless.”

Micklegate Bar
My father was a famous ferryman across the rivers Ouse and Foss. He was known far and wide as the “Yorkshire Ferrier.” One day a large stone fell on his head as he passed through Micklegate Bar, and he had to retire from the ferry due to the irregular character he developed after that. We might have starved had he not been in great demand to show his newly-flattened head, which could always be counted on for a few pennies. He could stand on his head for a right long time, too.

My uncle saw that I apprenticed to the York Guild of Waits when old enough to hold a shawm. After many years learning the craft, I was granted Journeyman status. The hardest part of being a York Wait was having to arise early to pipe up the gentlemen from their slumbers. Some older gents approaching total deafness would require some very loud musickes to bestir themselves. The students were easier to waken, but they would not pay so well, reserving their monies for gambling and carousing. I would sometimes play a bit off-key after a particularly dry spell. A few bad notes on a bagpipe at dawn can be an excellent reminder of the value of money well-spent.

I had to flee York after being falsely and most unjustly accused of being a heathen Papist. Or perhaps it was for conspiring against the Crown. I can’t actually recall at this moment — they generally amount to the same thing as far as your neck is concerned.

On the lam, I spent some time in the Lowlands of Europe, then in Florence, which is a lovely place. I should caution that there are indeed many of the Florentiner persuasion there, and any healthy lad would do to watch his backside around the nobility.

While on the Continent, I did become familiar with many of the wonderful dances of France and Italy as well as with the styles of the Flemish composers. This knowledge held me in good stead when I ventured back to England, bringing the latest dances and songs along to share with wealthy patrons eager to have them.

I was retained by a London nobleman as a musitian servant, playing the lute and instructing his children on the recorder. When his eldest daughter, a comely and randy lass of 19, was teaching her tutor a few things about fingering and tongueing, we were found out. I was forced to flee for fear of my instrument.

With a packet of good recommendations, my previous employer not included, I was soon offered membership in the Waits of Ipswich. It was back to arising with the cocks.

Southbank Theatre

Some theatre in Southbank
After a time in Ipswich, I was lured away to London to perform for the theatre. I currently live in Westminster, but often perform at Bankside.  The commute is a bit of a bother, but ’tis always so in the larger cities.

The Westminster Trayned Bande
Looking right manly before marching

Like all able and honorable men, I marched with the Trayn’d Bandes of London in defense of our Faire Isle, but I never persuaded the Sergeant to allow me to pipe for them and receive the higher musician wages.

Master Samuel Piper
SCA Musician

Samuel Piper is an Elizabethan musician in the Society for Creative Anachronism. As such, I play lots of Renaissance instruments at SCA events. It was fortuitous to have been born in the 16th century, since Renaissance Music is a pinnacle of beauty and a delight to perform as well as hear.

For a couple of years when I lived in Ansteorra, I led the Bryn Gwlad Music Guild.  I received my Award of Arms in 1995 for musical service. In 1996, I received a Sable Thistle for music research.  In 1999, I was awarded a Laurel for music.