Waits History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Waits is a name that was formed by the Anglo-Saxon society of old Britain. The name was thought to have been used for someone who once worked as a watchman. This surname comes from the Anglo-Norman-French word waite, which means watch. [1]

"To the former title of this official duty it is we owe the fact of our still terming, any company of night serenaders 'waits,' and especially those bands of strolling minstrels who keep up the good old custom of watching in Christmas morning. A good old custom, I say, even though it may cost us a few pence, and rouse us somewhat rudely, may be, from our slumbers." [2]

Waits or Waites were British town pipers. Up until 1835, every British town and city of note had a band of Waites and more often than not, they played and instrument called the Wait-pipe.

Early Origins of the Waits family

The surname Waits was first found in the Norman Exchequer Rolls of 1180, where Robert La Waite is entered. [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Robert le Weyte, Oxfordshire; Sarra le Weyte, Oxfordshire; and Ralph le Weyte, or Wayte, Essex. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Johannes Wayte; and Willelmus Wayte. [2]

Roger le Wayte was listed in Suffolk in 1221; Hugh le Weyt was listed in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1251; Roger le Wate in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296; and Adam le Whaite was registered in Gloucestershire in 1349. [4]

"Adam de Wayte, in 1306, held in Lincolnshire; and a monumental brass in Stoke-Charity Church commemorates Thomas Wayte, who died in 1482." [3]

Further to the north in Scotland, the name had the same meaning so accordingly, early records were founds there too. Adam Wayt, was a witness in Aberbrothoc, 1312, and Thomas dictus Weyt, was a chaplain in Inverness in 1361. Huchown the Wate was a tacksman in Grenyng and Bankis in Marwek, 1492. [5]

Early History of the Waits family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Waits research. Another 178 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1611, 1699, 1595, 1665, 1636, 1795, 1610, 1505, 1525, 1684, 1665, 1634, 1688, 1634, 1642, 1643, 1747 and 1777 are included under the topic Early Waits History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Waits Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Waits include Waite, Wait, Wayte, Waits, Waight and others.

Early Notables of the Waits family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Nicholas Waite; and Thomas (Wayte) Waite, ( fl. 1634-1688) an English soldier who fought for Parliament in the English Civil War, a member of the Long Parliament, and one of the regicides of King Charles I. "According to Royalist authors, he was the son of an alehouse-keeper at Market Overton in Rutland. He was more probably the Thomas Waite, son of Henry Waite of Wymondham, Leicestershire...
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Waits Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Waits Ranking

In the United States, the name Waits is the 5,013rd most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Waits family to Ireland

Some of the Waits family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Waits migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Waits were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Waits Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Elizabeth Waits, who landed in New Jersey in 1675 [7]
Waits Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mrs. Edward Waits, aged 28, who immigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • E. Mc S. Waits, who immigrated to America, in 1912
  • Walter Waits, aged 27, who immigrated to the United States, in 1915
  • Richard L. Waits, aged 32, who landed in America, in 1917
  • Newton J. Waits, aged 33, who landed in America, in 1919
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Waits (post 1700) +

  • Nasheet Waits, American jazz musician
  • Freddie Douglas Waits (1943-1989), American hard bop and post-bop drummer
  • Michael Richard Waits (b. 1952), former American professional baseball pitcher
  • Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits (b. 1949), American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor


The Waits Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Pro aris et focis
Motto Translation: For our altars and our home.


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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