Long discussion of waits, posted a few years ago. Excerpt:

Waits, or Waights, seem originally to have been a kind of musical watchmen, who, in order to prove their watchfulness, were required to pipe at stated hours of the night. The hautboy was also called a waight,—perhaps from being the pipe upon which they commonly played,—but there are early instances of the use of other pipes by Waits…

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