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Title: A Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Present State of the Gypsies
Author: Hoyland, John, 1750-1831
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Present State of the Gypsies" ***

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Transcribed from the 1816 WM. Alexander edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Many thanks to Kensington Library, London, for
allowing the use of their copy in cross-checking the transcription.

                            HISTORICAL SURVEY
                                  OF THE
                  _CUSTOMS_, _HABITS_, & _PRESENT STATE_
                               The Gypsies;
                           DESIGNED TO DEVELOPE
                   The Origin of this Singular People,
                              AND TO PROMOTE
                  _The Amelioration of their Condition_.

                                * * * * *

                             BY JOHN HOYLAND,
        _Author of an Epitome of the History of the World_, _&c._

                      [Picture: Decorative divider]

                         _WM. ALEXANDER_, _YORK_:


                                * * * * *


                                * * * * *

                       Entered at Stationers’ Hall.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

_Printed by HARGROVE_, _GAWTHORP_, _& COBB_,
      _Herald-Office_, _York_.


The author of the following Survey, has frequently had opportunity of
observing the very destitute and abject condition of the Gypsey race, in
the counties of Northampton, Bedford, and Herts.  The impressions
received from viewing a state so derogatory to human nature, induced him
to make numerous inquiries, in order to ascertain if necessity compelled
their continuance, under circumstances so deplorable as their condition

Not meeting with satisfactory intelligence on application to various
individuals, to whose observation Gypsies are frequently presented, the
author was excited to an examination of history, for the developement of
a case involved in so much obscurity; and aggravated by circumstances so
repugnant to the mild and genial influences of the Christian Religion.

He must not however omit to state, that in Northamptonshire, William
Allen, who is in the profession of the law, at Higham Ferrers, and
Steward to Earl Fitzwilliam, very warmly interested himself on the
subject.  He said it afforded him much pleasure to find, that some
attention was excited to the condition of the Gypsies, and that he should
be glad to co-operate, as far as was in his power, in any measures likely
to conduce to the reformation of this greatly neglected class of British

He volunteered his services to find out the nearest Gypsey rendezvous,
and soon procured information of an encampment which the writer visited.
An account of the visit will appear in the following sheets.  The first
assurance that the Gypsies really had a language peculiar to themselves,
which the author received, was from this intelligent and obliging
professor of the law, who had heard children, as well as adults among
them, speak it with great fluency.

He also observed, that the situation of this people daily became
increasingly deplorable, in consequence of the establishment of
associations for the prosecution of felons; and that the fear of
apprehension as vagrants, and the progressive inclosures near towns and
villages, had a tendency to drive them to a greater distance from the
habitations of man.  And he was fully of opinion, as these houseless
wanderers were expelled from Township after Township, without any
provision being made for their refuge, that it was high time their case
should obtain the consideration of the public.

Of the historic authorities whence the author has derived information and
interesting observation, he has to place in the foremost rank, the
Dissertation of the learned H. M. G. Grellmann, translated a few years
since, by the late M. Raper, Esq.  F.R.S. & A.S.  He has, however, to
acknowledge himself indebted to various other intelligent authors, whose
writings will be noticed in the course of the work.

Another source of information, and which relates especially to the
_present state_ of the Gypsies in Great Britain, has been opened through
inquiries instituted in most parts of the nation, by the author, aided by
several obliging and able coadjutors.  The results of these inquiries, it
scarcely need be added, will be presented to the reader in their proper

The author has much regretted, that scarcely any of the splendid
histories of Counties in England, and even those in which the Gypsies
abound, have in the least noticed that part of the population which so
strongly claims our attention.  By bringing their situation into view,
the historian might not merely have served the cause of humanity; he
would have advanced the interest of the state, by promoting an object of
so much public utility, as the improvement of the whole Gypsey race
cannot fail to prove.

A comparative view of their customs and habits, and how far they appear
coincident in different countries, may afford a criterion by which to
judge if they have all had one origin.  By thus tracing them to that
source, we may possibly discover the occasion of their peculiarities; and
if the means hitherto employed to counteract them, have proved
unsuccessful, we may be prepared to consider of others, better adapted to
correct the errors of their education.

Conceiving that any scheme for ameliorating the condition of the Gypsies,
would not only be premature, but might prove highly injudicious, before
obtaining a knowledge of their history, the author has endeavoured to
collect, from the most authentic European authorities to which he could
have access, a general view of this people, in the different parts of the
world to which they have resorted; and from these and the other sources
of information, he has subjoined accounts of their state in Great
Britain, and of the suggestions offered by other individuals for their
improvement; concluding the subject with a review of the whole, and
proposing a plan to be set on foot for accomplishing this desirable


                              SECTION I.

_Various Appellations of them—Their arrival in Europe_        _page_ 9

                             SECTION II.

_Accounts of the Gypsies in various Countries_               _page_ 17

                             SECTION III.

_The Habits_, _Occupations_, _and Polity of the              _page_ 37
Continental Gypsies_

                             SECTION IV.

_Political Regulations on the Continent respecting           _page_ 61

                              SECTION V.

_The Gypsies in Great Britain_                               _page_ 75

                             SECTION VI.

_The present State of the Gypsies in Scotland_               _page_ 91

                             SECTION VII.

_On the Origin of the Gypsies_                              _page_ 112

                            SECTION VIII.

_Comparative view of the Gypsey_, _Hindostanie_, _and       _page_ 131
Turkish languages_

                             SECTION IX.

_Present State of the Gypsies in England_                   _page_ 151

                              SECTION X.

_Present State of the Gypsies in and about London_          _page_ 175

                             SECTION XI.

_Sentiments of various persons on the moral condition of    _page_ 191
the Gypsies_

                             SECTION XII.

_Review of the Subject_, _and Suggestions for               _page_ 221
ameliorating the condition of the Gypsies in the British


Various appellations of them—Their arrival in Europe.

                                * * * * *

The different appellations by which the People whom we denominate
Gypsies, have been distinguished, appear generally to have had reference
to the countries, from which it was supposed they had emigrated.

Grellmann states, that the French, having the first accounts of them from
Bohemia, gave them the name of _Bohémiens_, Bohemians.  That the Dutch
apprehending they came from Egypt, called them _Heydens_, Heathens.  In
Denmark, Sweden, and in some parts of Germany, Tartars were thought of.
The Moors and Arabians, perceiving the propensity the Gypsies had to
thieving, adopted the name _Charami_, Robbers, for them.

In Hungary, they were formerly called Pharaohites, (_Pharaoh Nepek_)
Pharaoh’s people; and the vulgar in Transylvania continue that name for
them.  The idea of the English appears to be similar, in denominating
them Gypsies, Egyptians; as is, that of the Portuguese and Spaniards, in
calling them _Gitanos_.  But the name _Zigeuners_, obtained the most
extensive adoption, and apparently not without cause; for the word
_Zigeuner_, signifies to wander up and down—for which reason, it is said,
our German ancestors denominated every strolling vagrant _Zichegan_.

The Gypsies are called not only in all Germany, Italy, and Hungary
_Tziganys_; but frequently in Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia,
_Cyganis_.  But the Turks, and other Eastern nations name them,

The origin of this people has been a subject of inquiry for more than
three hundred years.  Many persons have been anxious to discover “who
these guests were, that, unknown and uninvited, came into Europe in the
fifteenth century, and have chosen ever since to continue in this quarter
of the globe.”

Continental writers state, that it is incredible how numerous the hordes
of this people are, and how widely dispersed over the face of the earth.
They wander about in Asia, the inferior of Africa, and have established
themselves in most of the countries of Europe.  Grellmann is of opinion,
that America is the only part of the world, in which they are not known.
Though no mention appears to be made of them by Authors who have written
on that quarter of the globe; yet no doubt remains, of their having been
in Europe nearly four hundred years.

_Wilhelm Dilick_ in his HESZISCHEN _Chronik_, scit 229, beyn Jahr 1414,
informs us they arrived the same year in the Hessian territories; but no
mention of them appears in the public prints till three years afterward.
Mention is made of their being in Germany as early as the year 1417; when
they appeared in the vicinity of the North sea.  Fabricius, in _Annalibb
Misn_, says, they were driven from Meissen in 1416, but Calvisius
corrects this date by changing it to 1418.

Sir Thomas Browne in his “_Vulgar Errors_,” page 287, says, “their first
appearance was in Germany, since the year 1400; nor were they observed
before in other parts of Europe, as is deducible from Munster, Genebrard,
Krantzius and Ortelius.”

In Germany they spread so rapidly, that in 1418, their names were
recorded in the annual publications of various parts of the country.
They travelled in hordes, each having his leader, sometimes called
_Count_, others had the title of _Dukes_, or _Lords of Lesser Egypt_.

In 1418 they were found in Switzerland, and in the country of the
Grisons; and in 1422 they made their appearance in Italy.  The Bologna
Chronicle states, that the hordes which arrived in that city, on the 18th
of July, 1422, consisted of about one hundred men, the name of whose
leader, or Duke as they termed him, was Andreas.  They travelled from
Bologna to Forli, intending to pay the Pope a visit at Rome.

Their appearance in France bears the date of 1427, when the French say,
they straggled about Paris, having arrived on the 17th day of August in
that year.

German Historians are agreed, that when the Gypsies first made their
appearance in Europe, they chose to be considered as Pilgrims; and that
their profession met with the more ready belief, as it coincided with the
infatuation of the times.  The learned Grellmann states, that several old
writings mention the credulity, with which people cherished the idea,
that they were real pilgrims and holy persons; that it not only procured
for them toleration, but safe-conducts in many places.

Munster declares, that they carried about with them passports and seals
from the Emperor Sigismund, and other Princes; by means of which, they
had free passage through different countries and cities; and that he had
himself seen, an attested copy of such a letter to the possession of some
Gypsies at Eberbach.

Krantz, Stumpf, Guler, and Laurentius Palmirenus, all agree in this
statement..  The Gypsies at Bologna also shewed an instrument from
Sigismund; but he appears to have granted this to them, not as Emperor,
and in Germany; but in Hungary, and as King of Hungary.  A pass of
Uladislaus II. might also be quoted, which the Gypsies obtained chiefly
on account of their supposed sanctity and pilgrimage.  In Transylvania,
it is asserted they received letters of protection from the House of

Webner says, that the Gypsies in France quoted ancient privileges,
granted to them by the former Kings of that country.

Crusius, Wurstisen, and Guler, mention papal permissions for wandering
unmolested through all Christian countries, as long as the term of their
pilgrimage lasted; which they asserted was seven years.  But at the
expiration of that term, they represented that their return home was
prevented by soldiers stationed to intercept them.

The impression their pretensions had made on the people among whom they
came, did not entirely subside during half a century; but afterward, “the
Gypsies being watched with a more jealous eye, it appeared but too
clearly, that, instead of holy pilgrims, they were the mere refuse of
humanity, who, often, under pretexts of safe-conducts, committed all
manner of excesses.”

Their impositions being detected, it is probable some of them were
reduced to the necessity of having recourse to legitimate means of
subsistence, for within thirty years afterward, we have accounts of
Gypsies in Hungary being employed in the working of iron.  This
occupation, appears from old writings, to have been a favourite one with
them.  Bellonius also takes notice of its being so; and there is a record
of the Hungarian King Uladislaus, in the year 1496, cited by the Abbé
_Pray_ in his Annals; and by _Friedwalsky_ in his Mineralogy, wherein it
is ordered, “_That every __officer and subject_, _of whatever rank and
condition_, _do allow to Thomas Polgar_, _leader of twenty-five tents of
wandering Gypsies_, _free residence every where_, _and on no account to
molest him_, _or his people_; _because they had prepared military stores
for the Bishop Sigismund at Fünfkirchen_.”



Accounts of the Gypsies in various countries.

                                * * * * *

To propose means for improving the condition of Gypsies, before we have
informed ourselves of their real state, and what has been done for them,
would be as injudicious, as for a Physician to prescribe for a patient,
without being acquainted with the nature or extent of his disease, and
the means attempted for his cure.  To form a just opinion, on the case of
the Gypsies, it appears necessary to ascertain their general habits, and
their mode of life.

From Pasquier’s _Recherches de la France_, B. IV. C. 9, is selected the
following account of the Gypsies in that country: “On August 17th, 1427,
came to Paris, twelve Penitents, _Penanciers_, as they called themselves,
viz: a Duke, an Earl, and ten men, all on horse-back, and calling
themselves good christians.  They were of Lower Egypt, and gave out, that
not long before, the Christians had subdued their country, and obliged
them to embrace christianity, on pain of being put to death.  Those who
were baptized, were great Lords in their own country; and had a King and
Queen there.  Some time after their conversion, the Saracens over-ran
their country, and obliged them to renounce christianity.

“When the Emperor of Germany, the King of Poland, and other Christian
Princes, heard of this; they fell upon them, and obliged the whole of
them, both great and small, to quit their country, and go to the Pope at
Rome; who enjoined them seven years’ penance, to wander over the world,
without lying in a bed.  They had been wandering five years when they
came to Paris; first the principal people, and soon after the commonalty,
about 100, or 120, reduced from 1000, or 1200, when they came from home;
the rest being dead, with their King and Queen.  They were lodged by the
police, out of the city, at Chapel St. Denis

“Nearly all of them had their ears bored, and one or two silver rings in
each, which they said were esteemed ornaments in their country.  The men
were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, all their
faces scarred, _deployez_, their hair black, their only clothes a large
old shaggy garment, _flossoye_, tied over the shoulders with a cloth or
cord, sash, _lien_, and under it a poor petticoat, _roquet_.  In short,
they were the poorest miserable creatures that had ever been seen in
France; and notwithstanding their poverty, there were among them women,
who by looking into people’s hands told their fortunes.  And what was
worse, they picked people’s pockets of their money; and got it into their
own, through telling these things by art, magic, &c.

“But though this was the common report, I spoke to them several times,
yet I never lost a farthing by them; or ever saw them look into people’s
hands.  But the Bishop of Paris, hearing of it, went to them with a Friar
Preacher, named _Le petit Jacobin_, who, by the Bishop’s order, preached
a sermon excommunicating all the men and women who pretended to believe
these things; and had believed in them, and shown their hands; and it was
agreed that they should go away, and they departed for Pontoise, in

“This was copied from an old book in the form of a journal, drawn up by a
doctor of divinity in Paris, which fell into the hands of Pasquier; who
remarks upon it, that however the story of a penance savours of a trick,
these people wandered up and down France, under the eye, and with the
knowledge of the magistrates, for 100, or 120 years.  At length, in 1661,
an edict was issued, commanding all officers of justice, to turn out of
the kingdom, in the space of two months, under pain of the gallies, and
corporal punishment, all men, women and children, who assumed the name of
_Bohémiens_, or Egyptians.”

Dufresne, in his Glossary V. Ægyptiaci, confirms Pasquier’s character of
them in these words: “Ægyptiaci, Gallicé Egyptiens, Bohémiens, vagi
homines, harioli, et fatidici, qui hac et illac errantes, ex manu
inspectione futura prœsagire se fingunt; ut de marsupiis incautorum
nummos corrogent;” which may be thus translated, “Egyptians called by the
French Egyptiens, Bohémiens, vagabonds, soothsayers and fortune-tellers,
who, wandering up and down, pretend to foretel future events from the
inspection of the hand, for the purpose of obtaining money from persons
not careful of their purses, &c.”

Grellmann speaks of Gypsies “being numerous in Lorraine and Alsatia,
before the French Revolution, but especially in the forests of Lorraine.
They increased in this district, in consequence of their having been
assiduously looked after in the dominions of the late Duke Deux-Fonts,
and driven from thence; whither his successor would not suffer them to
return.  He adds, that an order of the provincial council, held at
Tarragona, in 1591, subjected them to the magistrates, as people “quos
vix constat esse Christianos, nisi ex eorum relatione, cum tamen sint
mendaces, fures, deceptores, et aliis sceleribus multi eorum assueti;” in
English, “who are scarcely allowed to be Christians, except from their
own account of themselves, seeing they are liars, thieves, cheats, and
many of them accustomed to other kinds of wickedness.”

Twiss, in his Travels p. 179, gives the following account of them in
Spain: “They are very numerous about, and in, Murcia, Cordova, Codis, and
Ronda.  The race of these vagabonds is found in every part of Europe.
The French call them _Bohémiens_, the Italians _Zingari_, the Germans
_Ziegeuners_, the Dutch _Heydenen_, Pagans, the Portuguese _Siganos_, and
the Spaniards _Gitanos_, in Latin, _Cingari_.

“Their language, which is peculiar to themselves, is every where so
similar, that they are undoubtedly all derived from the same source.
They began to appear in Europe in the 15th century, and are probably a
mixture of Egyptians and Ethiopians.  The men are all thieves, and the
women libertines.  They follow no certain trade, and have no fixed
religion.  They do not enter into the order of society, wherein they are
only tolerated.  It is supposed there are upwards of forty thousand of
them in Spain; great numbers of them are innkeepers in the villages, and
small towns; and they are every where fortune-tellers.

“In Spain, they are not allowed to possess any lands, nor even to serve
as soldiers.  They marry among themselves, stroll in troops, about the
country, and bury their dead under water.  Their ignorance prevents their
employing themselves in any thing, but in providing for the immediate
wants of nature; beyond which even their roguishness does not extend;
and, only endeavouring to save themselves the trouble of labour, they are
contented if they can procure food by showing feats of dexterity; and
only pilfer to supply themselves with the trifles they want; so that they
never render themselves liable to any severer chastisement, than that of
whipping, for having stolen chickens, linen, &c.  Most of the men have a
smattering of physic and surgery, and are skilful in tricks performed by
slight of hand.”

“The foregoing account is partly extracted from _Le Voyageur François_,
Vol. XVI.; but the assertion that they are all so abandoned, as that
author says, is too general.  I have lodged many times in their houses,
and never missed the most trifling things, though I have left my knives,
forks, candlesticks, spoons, and linen at their mercy.”

Swinburne states, that “they swarm more in the province of Granada, than
in any other part of the realm.  This singular sect have kept themselves
separate from the rest of mankind ever since their first appearance which
has been recorded in history.

“Their origin remains a problem not to be satisfactorily solved; and I
doubt whether the Gitanos themselves, have any secret tradition that
might lead to a discovery of what they really were in the beginning, or
from what country they came.  The received opinion sets them down as
Egyptians, and makes them out to be the descendants of those vagabond
votaries of Isis, who appear to have exercised, in ancient Rome, pretty
much the same profession as that followed by the present Gypsies, viz:
fortune-telling, strolling up and down, and pilfering.

“Few of them employed themselves in works of husbandry, or handicrafts;
indeed the Spaniards would not work with them.  Except a small part of
them who follow the trades of blacksmiths, and vintners, most of them are
makers of iron rings, and other little trifles, rather to prevent their
being laid hold of as vagrants, than really as a means of subsistence.
Several of them travel about as carriers and pedlars.

“Though they conform to the Roman Catholic mode of worship, they are
looked upon in the light of unbelievers; but I never could meet with any
body that pretended to say what their private faith and religion may be.
All the Gypsies I have conversed with, assured me of their sound
Catholicism; and I have seen the medal of _Nuestra Senora del Carmel_
sewed on the sleeves of several of their women.

“They seldom venture on any crimes that may endanger their lives; petty
larceny is the utmost extent of their roguishness.

“The men are tall, well built, and swarthy, with a bad scowling eye, and
a kind of favorite lock of hair left to grow down before their ears,
which rather increases the gloominess of their features; their women are
nimble and supple jointed; when young they are generally handsome, with
fine black eyes.  Their ears and necks are loaded with trinkets and
baubles, and most of them wear a large patch on each temple.”

Of the Italian Gypsies, the same traveller in his journey through
Calabria, p. 304, gives the following account: “The landlord of the inn
at Mirti, earnestly recommended to the servants to leave nothing out of
doors, as there was an encampment of Zingari, or Gypsies, who would lay
their hands upon any part of the baggage, that was not watched with the
strictest attention.  His caution led me to an inquiry into the state of
this strange tribe of vagrants, of whom I had seen great numbers in
Spain.  The result of this account, combined with those I had received
from others, is as follows:

“The Gypsies of Calabria do not contract alliances with any other class
of inhabitants; but marry among themselves.

“It is not possible to say where they reside, as they have no fixed
habitations; and consequently possess neither house nor land, but pitch
their tents wherever they think proper to make any stay.  They support
life by the profits of handicrafts; but more by swapping asses and

“They generally work in iron, and make trivets, knitting needles,
bodkins, and such trifles.  Their dress is extremely shabby; they shave
their chins, but indulge a great length of hair, which they seldom
disturb with either comb or scissars.

“As to their religion, it is a secret which they keep locked up in their
own breasts.  They seem to have no great veneration for the Virgin Mary,
but are supposed to believe in Christ.  All the proof we have of their
belief, depends upon appearances, and an occasional conforming to the
ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion, in marriages, burials, &c.;
but if the priests start any difficulties, they manage the matter without
their interference, and perform the functions according to their own
ceremonies, which in many points resemble those of the heathens.

“At their weddings they carry torches, and have paranymphs to give the
bride away, with many other unusual rites.

“It is in reality, almost absurd to talk of the religion of a set of
people, whose moral characters are so depraved, as to make it evident
they believe in nothing capable of being a check to their passions.  They
are usually accounted pilferers, cheats, faithless, and abandoned to

“They tell fortunes, and play juggling tricks, just as they do in all
other countries where they are to be found.  In 1560, they were banished
the kingdom as thieves, cheats, and spies for the Turks.  In 1569 and
1685, the order was resumed, but not being enforced, had little effect.

“A Gypsey being brought to trial for a larceny, declared, that his law
allowed him to take as much from others, every day, as sufficed for his

“These people make use of two languages, one Calabrian, with a foreign
accent and pronunciation; the other a peculiar one of their own, which in
sound, seems to have great affinity to the Oriental tongues; and is
spoken when they have secrets to impart to each other.  They sleep like
dogs in a kennel, men, women, and children huddled together.”

The learned Grellmann states, that “Gypsies were universally to be found
in Italy; insomuch, that even Sicily and Sardinia were not free from

“But they were the most numerous in the dominions of the church; probably
because there was the worst police, with much superstition.  By the
former they were left undisturbed; and the latter enticed them to deceive
the ignorant, as it afforded them an opportunity of obtaining a plentiful
contribution, by their fortune-telling and enchanted amulets.

“There was a general law throughout Italy, that no Gypsey should remain
more than two nights, in any one place.  By this regulation, it is true,
no place retained its guest long; but no sooner was one gone, than
another came in his room.  It was a continual circle, and quite as
convenient to them, as a perfect toleration would have been.  Italy
rather suffered, than benefited, by this law; as, by keeping those people
in constant motion, they would do more mischief there, than in places
where they were permitted to remain stationary.”

It appears from the Dissertation of Grellmann, that he had examined with
great care and attention, the continental authorities on the subject of
Gypsies.  He asserts, that “In Poland and Lithuania, as well as in
Courland, there is an amazing number of Gypsies.

“That they are to be found in Denmark and Sweden, is certain, but how
numerous they are in those countries we cannot pronounce, and therefore
proceed to the south east of Europe.

“The countries in this part seem to be the general rendezvous of the
Gypsies; their number amounts in Hungary, according to a probable
statement, to upwards of 50,000.

“Cantemir says, the Gypsies are dispersed all over Moldavia, where every
Baron has several families of them subject to him.

“In Wallachia and the Sclavonian mountains, they are quite as numerous.
Bessarabia, all Tartary, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania, swarm with them;
even in Constantinople they are innumerable.  In Romania, a large tract
of Mount Hæmus, which they inhabit, has acquired from them the name
_Tschenghe Valkan_, the Gypsey mountain.  This district extends from the
city Aydos, quite to Phillipopolis, and contains more Gypsies than any
other province in the Turkish empire.”

Our countryman Edward Daniel Clark, in his travels in Russia, Tartary,
&c. so lately as the year 1800, states, “that after the ceremony of the
resurrection at Moscow, a party of Gypsies were performing the national
dance, called Barina; others were telling fortunes, according to their
universal practice, or begging for presents of oranges or ice.

“This extraordinary people, found in all parts of Europe, were originally
one of the Castes of India, driven out of their territory, and
distinguished among Indian tribes, by a name which signifies thieves.
They have a similar appellation among the Fins, and with the same

“They preserve every where the same features, manners, and customs, and
what is more remarkable, almost always the same mode of dress.  The
extraordinary resemblance of the female Gypsies to the women of India,
was remarked by the British officers and men, in Egypt, when General
Baird arrived with his army to join Lord Hutchinson.  The Sea-poys had
many of their women with them, who were exactly like our Gypsies.

“In their dress, they lavish all their finery upon their heads.  Their
costume in Russia is very different to that of the natives.  The Russians
hold them in great contempt; never speaking of them without abuse; and
feel themselves contaminated by their touch, unless it be to have their
fortunes told.  Formerly they were more scattered over Russia, and paid
no tribute; but now they are collected, and all belong to one nobleman,
to whom they pay a certain tribute, and work among the number of his

P. 209, he writes: “At Woronetz, the Gypsey tribe are very prevalent, and
a mixed race, resulting from their intermarriage with the Russians.”

Dr. Clarke observes, Chap. 18, p. 440, 441 of his Travels, between
Kertchy and Caffa, in the Crimea: “In the villages we found parties of
Tzigankies or Gypsies, encamped as we see them in England, but having
their tents stationed between their waggons, in which they move about the

“Poultry, cats, dogs, and horses, were feeding all round them, seeming
like members of the same family.  The Gypsies are much encouraged by the
Tartars, who allow them to encamp in the midst of their villages, where
they exercise the several functions of smiths, musicians, and
astrologers.  Many of them are wealthy, possessing fine horses, and
plenty of other cattle; but their way of life, whether rich or poor, is
always the same.  As we entered their tents they arose, and cast a
sheep’s hide over their bodies.  The filth and stench of these people
were abominable.”

In the second, part of his Travels, p. 644, he writes respecting the
Gypsies: “We found this people in Nauplia, under the name they bear in
Moldavia, of Tchinganes.  How they came thither no one knew; but the
march of their ancestors, from the North of India to Europe, so lately as
the beginning of the 15th century, will account for their not being found
further towards the South; and this is now so well ascertained, that no
one would expect to meet a Gypsey, upon any of the southern shores of the

“To have found them in the Peloponnesus is rather remarkable, considering
that their whole tribe at first did not exceed half a million.”

In the travels, written by Bell, of Antermony, Vol. 2, p. 157, he states:
“During my stay at Tobolski, I was informed that a large troop of Gypsies
had been lately at that place, to the number of sixty or upwards.  The
Russians call these vagabonds, _Tziggany_.  Their sorry baggage was
carried upon horses and asses.  The Vice-Governor sent for the chief of
this gang, and demanded whither they were going.  They answered to China.
He stopped their progress and sent them back.”

“Bishop Pococke met with these people, still further to the Eastward.  He
says, the Chingani, who are spread all over the world, are in great
abundance in the North of Syria, and pass for Mahometans.  They live
under tents, and sometimes in grots under ground.

“They make a coarse sort of tapestry, or carpet work, for hangings of
saddles and other uses; and when they are not far from towns, deal much
in cattle, and have a much better character than their relations in
Hungary, and the Gypsies in England; who are thought by some to have been
originally of the same tribe.

“These and the Turcomen, with regard to offence, are under the Pasha and
Cadi; though they have a sheik to every encampment, and several great
ones over them: but with regard to taxes, they are immediately under the
Grand Seignior; whose tribute is collected yearly, by an officer over
each of these people; one being called the Turcoman-Agasi, an officer of
great credit, and the other the Chingani-Agasi, who go round the Turkish
dominions to collect the taxes from these people.”  Travels, Vol. 2, Part
1, p. 207, 208.

Grellmann says: “Independently of the number of Gypsies in Egypt, and
some parts of Asia, could we obtain an exact estimate of them in the
countries of Europe, the immense number would probably greatly exceed
what we have any idea of.  At a moderate calculation, without being
extravagant, they might be reckoned at between seven and eight hundred

“What a serious matter of consideration, when we reflect that the
greatest part of these people, are idlers, cheats, and thieves!

“What a field does this open for the contemplation of Governments!”


The Habits, Occupations, and Polity of Continental Gypsies.

                                * * * * *

The first of them that came to Europe, appeared ragged and miserable,
unless we allow their leaders to have been an exception.  In like manner
their descendants have continued for hundreds of years, and still remain.
This is particularly remarkable in the countries about the mouth of the
Danube, which abound with Gypsies; namely Transylvania, Hungary, and
Turkey, in Europe; where they dress even more negligently than in other

It is a fact that these people enjoy a good state of health more
uninterruptedly, and perfectly, than persons of the most regular habits,
and who pay the greatest attention to themselves.  Neither wet nor dry
weather, heat nor cold, let the extremes follow each other ever so
quickly, seem to have any effect upon them.  Any prevailing sickness, or
epidemical disorder, sooner penetrates into ten habitations of civilized
people, than finds its way into a Gypsey’s tent.

Though they are fond of a great degree of heat, and to lie so near the
fire, as to be in danger of burning, yet they can bear to travel in the
severest cold, bareheaded, with no other covering than some old rags
carelessly thrown over them.

The causes of these bodily qualities, or at least some of them, evidently
arise from their education, and hardy manner of life.

The pitiless mother takes her three months old child on her back, and
wanders about, in fair and foul weather, in heat or cold; there it sits
winter and summer, in a linen rug, with its head over her shoulder.
Gypsey women never use a cradle, nor even possess such a piece of
furniture.  The child sleeps in their arms, or on the ground.  When a boy
attains three years of age, his lot becomes still harder.  Whilst an
infant, and his age reckoned by weeks and months, he was wrapt in rags,
but now deprived of these, he is equally with his parents, exposed to the
rigour of the elements, for want of covering; he is now put to trial how
far his legs will carry him; and must be content to travel about with, at
most, no other defence for his feet than thin socks.

Thus he acquires a robust constitution by hardships and misery; but
though the children of Gypsies do not partake of what the refinements of
art and of tenderness would account advantages, writers are unanimous in
stating, they are good-looking, well-shaped, lively, clever, and have
fine eyes.  The Gypsies, in common with uncivilized people, entertain
unbounded love for their children.  This is a source of inexcusable
neglect: Gypsey children never feel the rod, they fly into the most
violent passions, and at the same time hear nothing from their parents
but flattering and coaxing.  In return they act with ingratitude, as is
commonly the consequence of such education.

Gypsies would long ago have been divested of their swarthy complexions,
had they discontinued their filthy mode of living.  The Laplanders,
Samoieds, as well as the Siberians, likewise, have brown, yellow-coloured
skins, in consequence of living from their childhood, in smoke and dirt,
in the same manner as the Gypsies.

Experience shows that their dark colour, which is continued from
generation to generation, is more the effect of education, and manner of
life, than of descent.  Among those who serve in the Imperial army, where
they have learned to pay attention to order and cleanliness, there are
many to be found, whose extraction is not at all discernible in their
colour; though they had, probably, remained to the age of twelve or
fourteen years under the care of their filthy parents.

A Gypsey considers a covering for the head as useless, and if he does not
obtain socks, which the female Gypsies in Moldavia and Wallachia knit
with wooden needles for the feet, he winds rags about them, which are
laid aside in summer.  He is not better furnished with linen, as the
women neither spin, sew, nor wash.  But this inattention is not from
indifference about dress; on the contrary, they are particularly fond of
clothes, which have been worn by people of distinction.  The following,
which appeared in the Imperial Gazette, is very much to the purpose:
“Notwithstanding these people are so wretched, that they have nothing but
rags to cover them, which do not at all fit, and are scarcely sufficient
to hide their nakedness; yet they betray their foolish taste, and vain
ostentation, whenever they have in opportunity.”  The women are as fond
of dress as the men, and equally expose themselves to the ridicule of the
considerate and reflecting part of mankind.

They are remarkable not only in hanging their ragged clothes about them
instead of garments, according to the Eastern custom; but their whole
arrangement is singular.  Several of their leaders have horses, asses, or
mules with them, on which they load their tents and effects, with their
whole family also.  They have likewise dogs in their train, with which
Krantz asserts they are used illegally, to destroy game; but probably the
dogs are not kept so much for that purpose, as to take fowls and geese.

One strange peculiarity in the ideas of Gypsies we have hitherto forborn
to mention, but, disgusting as the task of recording it way be, it is so
well authenticated, as to have excited the notice of the Hungarian
Legislature; and as it will be found to have some reference to the origin
of this singular race of human beings, it must not be withheld from
public view.  The greatest luxury to them is, when they can procure a
roast of cattle that have died of any distemper: to eat their fill of
such a meal, is to them the height of epicurism.  When any person
censures their taste, or shows surprise at it, they say: “The flesh of a
beast which God kills, must be better than that of one killed by the hand
of man.”  They therefore embrace every opportunity of obtaining such

They are particularly fond of animals that have died by fire; therefore,
whenever a conflagration has happened, the next day, the Gypsies from
every neighbouring quarter assemble, and draw the suffocated,
half-consumed beasts out of the ashes; men, women, and children, in
troops, joyfully carrying the flesh home to their dwellings.

The Gypsies in Hungary, who have settled habitations, are very partial to
gold and silver plate, particularly silver cups, which is a disposition
they have in common with the wandering tribes.  They let slip no
opportunity of acquiring something of this kind; and will even starve
themselves to procure it.  Though they seem little anxious to heap up
riches for their children, yet these frequently inherit a treasure of
this sort; and are obliged in their turn to preserve it as a sacred
inheritance.  This inclination to deprive themselves of necessaries that
they may possess a superfluity, as well as many others of their customs,
is curious, yet appears to be ancient; and it was probably inherent in
them when they were first seen by Europeans.

Historians assert, that of all the different people who have migrated
into foreign countries, a single instance is not to be found, which
accords with that of the Gypsies.  The religious rites and observances of
the Jews were calculated to prevent their imbibing the customs and habits
of other nations.  But it is universally admitted, that Gypsies did not
bring any particular religion with them from their native country, by
which they could be distinguished among other people; being as inconstant
and unsettled respecting religion, as they are to place of residence.

Indeed it is asserted, that no Gypsey has any idea of submission to any
fixed profession of faith; that patents suffering their children to grow
up as themselves, without education or instruction, they acquire little
knowledge either of morality or justice; that few of them wilt attend to
any discourse on religion, but they hear it with indifference, if not
with impatience and repugnance.  Despising all remonstrance; they
endeavour to live without the least solicitude concerning a future state
of being.

The Turks are so fully convinced of the little religious sincerity
possessed by Gypsies, that although a Jew, by becoming a Mahometan, is
freed from the payment of the _Charadsch_, the Gypsies are not; at least
in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, they are compelled to pay the
poll-tax, even though their ancestors for centuries had been Mahometans,
or though they should actually have been a pilgrimage to Mecca.  The
privilege of wearing a white turban, is the only advantage their
conversion gives them, over unbelieving Jews and Gypsies.

Among warlike nations, many instances have occurred, in which the people
subdued, being more enlightened than their conquerors, the latter have
adopted the manners of the former.  After the conquest of Greece, the
Romans assumed the manners of the Greeks; and the Turks in like manner
assumed those of the Gauls.  The Mancheans vanquished the Chinese, but
Chinese customs prevailed over those of the Mancheans.


Our countryman Dr. Clarke, page 4, of part the second of his Travels in
Greece, says: “There is every reason to believe that the Turks
themselves, at the conquest of Constantinople, adopted many of the
customs, and embraced many of the refinements of a people they had

“Their former habits had been those of nomad tribes, their dwellings were
principally tents, and the camp, rather than the city, distinguished
their abode.”

But Grellmann observes, Gypsies who have not established themselves by
force in any country, nor obtained toleration from any Government, remain
unchanged.  Though they behold fixed dwellings on every side of them,
with settled inhabitants, they nevertheless, proceed in their own way,
and continue, for the most part, unsocial, houseless wanderers.

To their excessive indolence and aversion to industry, may be attributed
the poverty and want which are generally their lots.  They dislike every
kind of employment which requires application; and had rather suffer
hunger and nakedness, than provide against these privations, on the
conditions of labour.  They therefore practise music and palmistry, which
allows them many idle hours; or addict themselves to vicious habits and
unlawful courses.  Though no one of them marries a person who is not of
Gypsey extraction, there is not any people among whom marriage is
contracted with less consideration, or accomplished with less solemnity.

Some Gypsies, who are stationary, have regular habitations, according to
their situation in life.  To this class belong those who keep
public-houses in Spain; and others in Transylvania and Hungary, who
follow some regular business; which latter have their own miserable huts
near Hermanstadt, Cronstadt, Beatritz, Grosswaradein, Debrezin, Eperies,
Karchan, and other places.  But by far the greater number of these
people, lead a very different kind of life; ignorant of the comforts
attending a fixed place of residence, they rove from one district to
another in hordes; having no habitation, but tents, holes in the rocks,
or caves: the former shade them in summer, the latter screen them in

Many of these people, particularly in Germany and Spain, do not even
carry tents with them, but shelter themselves from the heat of the sun,
in forests shaded by the rocks, or behind hedges.  They are very partial
to willows, under which they erect their sleeping places at the close of
the evening.  Some live in their tents, in their language called
_Tschater_, during both summer and winter; which latter indeed the
Gypsies generally prefer.

In Hungary, those who have discontinued their rambling way of life, and
built houses for themselves, seldom let a spring pass without taking
advantage of the first settled weather, to set up a tent for their summer
residence.  Under this, each enjoys himself with his family, nor thinks
of his house till winter returns, and the frost and snow drive him back
to it.

The wandering Gypsey in Hungary and Transylvania, endeavours to procure a
horse; in Turkey, an ass serves to carry his wife and a couple of
children, with his tent.  When he arrives at a place he likes, near a
village, or a city, he unpacks, pitches his tent, ties his animal to a
stake to graze, and remains some weeks there: or if he do not find his
station convenient, he breaks up in a day or two, loads his beast, and
looks out for a more agreeable situation.  His furniture seldom consists
of more than an earthen pot, an iron pan, a spoon, a jug and a knife;
with sometimes the addition of a dish.  These serve for the whole family.

Working in iron is the most usual occupation of the Gypsies.  In Hungary,
this profession is so common, that there is a proverb: “So many Gypsies
so many smiths.”

The same may be said of those in Transylvania, Wallachia, Moldavia, and
all Turkey in Europe; at least such workers in fire are very numerous in
all those countries.  But the Gypsies of our time, are not willing to
work heavy works; they seldom go beyond a pair of light horse shoes.  In
general, they confine themselves to small articles, such as rings and
nails; they mend old pots and kettles; make knives, seals, and needles;
and sometimes they work in tin and brass.  Their materials, tools, and
apparatus, are of a very inferior kind.  The anvil is a stone; the other
implements are a pair of hand bellows, a hammer, a pair of pincers, a
vice, and a file.  These ape the tools which a Nomadic Gypsey takes with
him in his perambulations.

Whenever he is disposed to work, he is at no loss for fuel: on his
arrival at a station where he proposes to remain a few days, he takes his
beast, loads him with wood, builds a small kiln, and prepares his own
coal.  In favourable weather, his work is carried on in the open air;
when it is stormy, he retires under his tent.  He does not stand, but
sits down on the ground cross-legged to his work; which position is
rendered necessary, not only by custom, but by the quality of his tools.
The wife sits by to work the bellows, in which operation she is assisted
by the elder children.  The Gypsies are generally praised for their
dexterity and quickness, notwithstanding the bad tools they have to work

Another branch of commerce much followed by Gypsies, is horse-dealing, to
which they have been attached from the earliest period of their history.
In those parts of Hungary, where the climate is so mild, that horses may
lie out all the year, the Gypsies avail themselves of this circumstance
to breed, as well as to deal in horses; by which they sometimes not only
procure a competency, but grew rich.  Instances have been known on the
Continent, of gypsies keeping from fifty to seventy horses each; and
those the best bred horses of the country; some of which they let out for
hire, others they exchange or sell.  But this description of Gypsey
horse-dealers is not numerous; the greater number of them deal in
inferior kinds.

In addition to the two professions before-mentioned, commonly followed by
the men, some of them employ themselves as carpenters and turners; the
former making watering troughs and chests; the latter turn, trenchers and
dishes; make sieves, spoons, and other trifling articles, which they hawk
about.  Many of them, as well as the smiths, find constant employment in
the houses of the better sort of people; for whom they work the year
round.  They are not paid in money, but beside other advantages find a
certain subsistence.

Those who are not thus circumstanced, do not wait at home for customers,
but with their implements in a sack thrown over their shoulders, seek
business in the cities and villages.  When any one calls, they throw down
the bundle, and prepare the apparatus for work, before the door of their

The Gypsies have a fixed dislike to agriculture; and had rather suffer
hunger, or any privation, than follow the plough.  Since the year 1768,
the Empress Theresa has commanded that the Hungarian, and Transylvanian
Gypsies should be instructed in husbandry; but these orders have been
very little regarded.  At this time there are so few of them farmers in
those parts, that they are undeserving of notice.  In Spain and other
European countries, it would be difficult to find one who had ever made a
furrow in his life.

Respecting fortune-telling, with which the female Gypsies impose on
people’s credulity in every district and corner of Europe, the origin, of
the imposition is not to be attributed to them: the cheat was known and
practised in Europe before their arrival; being deeply rooted in the
ignorance of the middle age.  The science of divination here was said to
be already brought to a greater degree of perfection than among them.
Rules were invented to tell lies from the inspection of the hand, in
which the poor Gypsies were accounted mere bunglers.  They in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were esteemed supernumeraries; there
being men of great learning, who not only read lectures in Colleges on
the art of chiromancy; but wrote many books, vilifying these people, and
endeavouring to spoil their market.  But these wise men are no more;
their knowledge is deposited in the dead archives of literature; and
probably had there been no Gypsies, with them would have died the belief
in chiromancy, as is the case with respect to astrology, necromancy,
oneirocritica, and the other offspring of imbecile fancy.

We must not omit to mention the occupation of gold-washing, by which
thousands of Gypsies, of both sexes, in the Banat, Transylvania,
Wallachia, and Moldavia, procure a livelihood in summer; who, in winter,
make trays and troughs, which they sell in an honest way.

It is not permitted for every one, without exception, to be a
gold-washer; such only can follow the employment as have permission from
the office of Mons, where a College was established by the Empress
Theresa, in 1748.  In the seventh article of instructions granted, the
Gypsies were allowed the privilege of washing for gold, for which each
person pays a tribute to Government.

The gold-washers in Transylvania and the Banat, pay four guilders
annually in gold dust.  The tribute collected in Wallachia and Moldavia
does not go into the public treasury, but belongs to the Princesses for

The consort of the Wallachian Hospodar, Stephen Rakowitza, in the year
1764, received from her Rudars, being two hundred and forty in number,
twelve hundred and fifty-four drachms.  The gold-washers in the Banat and
Transylvania, dispose of their shares at the Royal Redemption-Office, in
Zalatuya.  The earnings of these people vary with time, and at different
places; during heavy rains and floods they are usually most successful.
The Transylvanian rivers yield the most gold.  It is said, all the rivers
and brooks which the rain forms, produce gold; of these the river
Aranyasch is the richest; insomuch, that Historians have compared it to
the Tagus and Pactolus.


In Travels through the Banat of Temeswar, Transylvania, and Hungary, in
the year 1770, described in a series of letters to Professor Ferber, on
the mines and mountains of these different countries, by Baron Inigo
Born, Counsellor of the Royal Mines, in Bohemia, page 76, is the
following account:

“Observations on the Gold-washings, in the Banat, by Counsellor Koezian.
Translated by R. E. Ruspe.

“After the several natural advantages of the _Temeswar Banat_, some of
its rivers are known to yield gold dust; I could not neglect the object
when I travelled in these parts.

“The gold-washing in the Banat, is properly the business of the Gypsies,
_Zigeuner_, and left, as it were, to this poor people, as an exclusive
trade.  This laid me under the necessity of applying to them for

“The river Nera, in Almash, carries gold dust; and seemed to me the
fittest for my purpose; accordingly I caused some Gypsies, reputed to be
skilful, to make a washing, near a village called Boshowitz; and I saw
with pleasure, that with much dexterity, and in a few minutes time, they
cleared in the trough, the value of some groshes of gold: they showed me
likewise among their gold dust, some pieces of remarkable bigness.”

It has been stated, that when Gypsies first arrived in Europe, they had
leaders and chiefs to conduct their various tribes in their migrations.

Grellmann says, this was necessary, not only to facilitate their progress
through different countries and quarters of the globe; but to unite their
force, if necessary, and thereby enable them to make a more formidable
resistance when opposed; and likewise, to carry any plan they might have
formed, more regularly into effect.

We accordingly find in old books, mention made of Knights, Counts, Dukes,
and Kings, among this people.  Crucius cites a Duke, _Michael_;
Muratorio, a Duke, _Andreas_: and Arentinus records a King, _Zindelo_:
not to speak of inscriptions on monuments erected in different places to
the memories of Duke, _Panuel_; Count, _Johannis_; and a Knight,
_Petrus_, in the fifteenth century.

But no comment is necessary to show how improperly these appellations
were applied.  Though the Gypsey chiefs might be gratified with such
titles; and their descendants probably esteemed them persons of rank, it
was merely a ridiculous imitation of what they had seen, and perhaps
admired, among civilized people.  Nevertheless, the custom of having
leaders and chiefs over them, prevails to this time, at least in Hungary
and Transylvania; probably it may also still exist in Turkey, and other
countries, where these people live together in great numbers.

Their chiefs, or waywodes, were formerly of two degrees in Hungary.  Each
petty tribe had its own leader, beside which, there were four superior
waywodes, of their own caste, on both sides the Danube and Teisse; whose
residences were at Raab, Lewentz, Szathmar, and Kaschan; and to these the
smaller waywodes were accountable.  But now, only one superior waywode is
appointed in all Transylvania, who has authority over the gold-washers in
those parts.  The Gypsies, however, still continue the custom among
themselves, of choosing certain persons, whom they make heads over them,
and call by the exalted Sclavonian title of waywode.

It would appear extraordinary, that any well-regulated state should allow
these people a distinct establishment in the heart of the country; did
not the Hungarian writers assign as a reason, that in the commotions and
troubles occasioned by the Turkish wars, in former centuries, they were,
by means of their waywode, more easily summoned when occasion required,
and rendered useful to the community.

In Transylvania, the magistrates do interfere with regard to the person
whom this or that horde hath elected chief, and impose an obligation on
him; but it is only that he should be careful to prevent his subjects
from absconding, when the time arrives for them to discharge their annual
tribute at the Land Regent’s chamber.  He has no right to interfere in
disputes or quarrels which the Gypsies have among themselves, or with
other people, further than to give notice of them to the regular courts
of the district, where they happen to be.



Political Regulations on the Continent, respecting Gypsies.

                                * * * * *

To the ignorance and superstition of the middle age, must be attributed
the powerful ascendency which the Gypsies obtained over the minds of men.
In addition to the chiromantic deception, practised by the women, they
followed also the profession of exorcism; and were greatly in request
during the prevalence of a belief in witchcraft.

They were employed to cure bewitched cattle, and to loosen the spells of
enchantment; for which they had nostrums of various kinds, consisting of
roots and amulets, made of unfermented dough, marked with strong figures,
and dried in the sun.

For a long time little attention was paid to them, but at last the evil
became enormous, and complaints against them were so loud, that
Governments were constrained to take official notice of them.  Exemplary
punishments were judged necessary; and, at length, the most cruel and
barbarous kinds were resorted to.  What a blot upon the history of those
times, are the dreadful tortures of quartering alive, and breaking upon
the wheel!  These means being insufficient to prevent the perpetration of
crimes; it was thought expedient to banish the Gypsies.

German waiters say, that King Ferdinand of Spain, who esteemed it a good
work to expatriate useful and profitable subjects—Jews, and even Moorish
families—could much less be guilty of an impropriety in laying hands on
the mischievous progeny of Gypsies.  The edict for their extermination,
was published in the year 1492.  But instead of passing the boundaries,
they only slunk into hiding-places, and shortly after appeared in as
great numbers as before.

The Emperor Charles V. persecuted them afresh; as did Philip II. also.
Since that time they have nestled in again, and have been also threatened
with another storm, but it has blown over without taking effect.

In France, Francis I. passed an edict for their expulsion; and at the
Assembly of the States of Orleans, in 1561, all Governors of cities
received orders to drive them away with fire and sword.  Nevertheless, in
process of time, they had collected again, and increased to such a
degree, that, in 1612, a new order came out for their extermination.

In the year 1572, they were compelled to retire from the territories of
Milan and Parma; and at a period somewhat earlier, they were chased
beyond the Venetian jurisdiction.  They were not allowed the privilege of
remaining unmolested in Denmark, as the code of Danish law specifies:
“The Tartars, _Gypsies_, who wander about every where, doing great damage
to the people, by their lies, thefts, and witchcraft, shall be taken into
custody by every magistrate.”

Sweden was not more favourable, having attacked them at three different
times: A very sharp order for their expulsion came out in 1662.  The Diet
of 1723 published a second, and that of 1727, repeated the foregoing with
additional severity.

They were excluded from the Netherlands under pain of death, partly by
Charles the Vth, and afterwards by the United States, in 1582.  But the
greatest number of sentences of exile, have been pronounced against them
in Germany.  The beginning was made under Maximilian I, at the Augsburgh
Diet, in 1500, where the following was drawn up, respecting those people
who call themselves Gypsies, roving up and down the country.

“By public edict, to all ranks of the empire, according to the
obligations under which they are bound to Us, and the Holy Empire; it is
strictly ordered, that in future they do not permit the said Gypsies,
since there is authentic evidence of their being spies, scouts, and
conveyers of intelligence, betraying the christians to the Turks, to pass
or remain within their territories; nor to trade; neither to grant them
protection, nor convoy.  And that the said Gypsies do withdraw
themselves, before Easter next ensuing, from the German dominions;
entirely quit them, nor suffer themselves to be found therein: as in case
they should transgress after that time, and receive injury from any
person, they shall have no redress, nor shall such person be thought to
have committed any crime.”

The same business occupied the attention of the Diet, in 1530, 1544,
1548, and 1551; and was also again enforced in the improved police
regulation of Frankfort, in 1577.

Several Princes were however so little attentive to these orders of the
empire, that instead of endeavouring to drive out the Gypsies, they on
the other hand, furnished them with passports and safe-conducts; but by
far the greater number exerted themselves to the utmost, to clear their
states of them.

Perhaps there is not any civilized state, Hungary and Transylvania
excepted, where this remedy has not been tried; but in the first place it
had very little effect, and that little was only temporary.  Even if
every civilized nation had driven out the Gypsies at the same time,
Europe could not have been entirely cleared of them, so long as they
preserved an asylum in Turkey.  Now as experience evinces there is no
country in which a constant, equal attention, is paid to the execution of
the laws, they would, in more, or less time, have again insinuated
themselves into the neighbouring countries; from these into others; and
have recommenced where they left off.

But a general extermination never did take place.  The law for banishing
them passed in one state before it was thought of in the next, or when a
like order had long become obsolete, and sunk into oblivion.  These
guests were therefore merely compelled to shift their quarters to an
adjoining state, where they remained till the Government, there, began to
clear them away, upon which the fugitives either retired back whence they
came, or went on progressively to a third place, thus making a continual

Secondly, this remedy was premature: endeavouring to exterminate, was the
same as if a surgeon should proceed directly to the amputation of a
diseased limb, because it created inconvenience to the rest of the body.
Whereas the first inquiry ought to be, whether the disorder is of such a
nature as not to be removed, but by entire separation.  This is a
desperate course, and should only be adopted, when no other can be

It is to be regretted that, not until the reign of the Empress Theresa,
does there appear to have been any plan laid down for the gaining over
these poor ignorant people to virtue, and to the state.  Historians
represent that the wise dispositions she enjoined respecting the Gypsies
in Hungary, were intrusted to people inadequate to the task.

What was done, in her time, for the improvement of their condition, may
be seen by the following article extracted from the _Anzeigen aus den
Kayserl_, _Königl Erbländern_, or Intelligence from the Hereditary
Imperial Royal Dominions.

“Since the year 1768, several decrees regarding these people have been
published in the country, _Hungary_, and the strictest orders despatched
to the several districts, in consequence.  They were prohibited from
dwelling in huts, or tents; from wandering up and down the country; from
dealing in horses; from eating animals which died naturally, and carrion;
and from electing their own Wayda or Judge.  It was intended to extirpate
the very name and language of these folks out of the country.  They were
no longer to be called Gypsies, but New Boors, _Uj Magyar_; not to
converse any longer with each other in their own language, but in that of
any of the countries in which they had chosen to reside.

“Some months were to be allowed, after which they were to quit their
Gypsey manner of life, and settle like the other inhabitants, in cities
and villages; to build decent houses and follow some reputable business.
They were to procure Boors’ clothing; to commit themselves to the
protection of some territorial superior, and live regularly.”

Nevertheless, though these regulations were calculated for the good of
these people, and the state, the greater part were not in the smallest
degree benefited by them.  In the year 1773, these orders were not only
repeated, but made more rigid; and as even this measure would not answer
the end, it was then thought necessary to proceed to extremity with them.

Wherefore it was ordered, that no Gypsey should have permission to marry,
who could not prove himself in condition to support a wife and children;
that from such Gypsies who had families, the children should be taken
away by force; removed from their parents, relations, and intercourse
with the Gypsey race.  A beginning was made in some places; and where
they would not comply voluntarily, they were compelled to submit to the

At Fahlendorf, in Schütt, and in the district of Presburgh, all the
children of the New Boors, _Gypsies_, above five years old, were carried
away in waggons, during the night of the 21st of December, 1773, by
overseers appointed for that purpose; to order that, at a distance from
their parents, or relations, they might be more usefully educated, and
become accustomed to work.  Those Boors who were willing to receive and
bring up these children, were paid eighteen guilders yearly from

On the 24th of April, 1774, between five and six o’clock in the morning,
the children of the Gypsies which had been growing up from December of
the foregoing year, were again removed from Fahlendorf, in Schütt, and
Hideghid, for the purpose of being put under the same course of
discipline as the others.  Among the children taken away on this
occasion, was a girl fourteen years old, who was forced to be carried off
in her bridal state.  She tore her hair for grief and rage, and was quite
beside herself with agitation: but she recovered a composed state of
mind; and, in 1776, in Fasching, obtained permission to accomplish her

So far our intelligence is quoted from the Gazettes, by which we may see
how prudently every thing was concerted.

But it must be observed, although the publisher of this information
endeavours to conceal it, how little these salutary regulations were put
in force; there were scarcely two places in the kingdom where even an
endeavour was made to give them proper effect.  This supineness must have
been unknown to the Emperor Joseph, or he would certainly again have
enforced these regulations, to all chiefs and governors, at the same time
that he gave orders for their being observed in Transylvania.

The tenor of the decree just mentioned, which was published in the year
1782, was consonant with the intention of Theresa, with regard to the
Hungarian Gypsies; namely, that those also in Transylvania should become
better men, and more useful inhabitants.  For the accomplishment of this
end, it prohibits their wandering about, and living under tents; requires
that they become settled, and put themselves under some territorial
chief.  In order to strike immediately at the root of the evil, necessary
and minute directions are given for the improvement of their religious
ideas and opinions; and, by correcting their vicious habits, for
rendering them good citizens.

First, with respect to religion, they must

1.  Not only be taught the principles of religion themselves, but early
send their children to school.

2.  Prevent as much as possible, their children running about naked in
the roads and streets, thereby giving offence and disgust to other

3.  In their dwellings, not permit their children to sleep promiscuously
by each other, without distinction of sex.

4.  Diligently attend at church, particularly on Sundays and holidays, to
give proof of their Christian disposition.

5.  Put themselves under the guidance of spiritual teachers, and conduct
themselves conformably to the rules laid down by them.

Secondly, with regard to their temporal conduct, and better mode of
living, they are bound

1.  To conform to the custom of the country, in diet, dress, and
language: consequently to abstain from feeding on cattle which have died
of distempers; not to go about in such unseemly dresses; and to
discontinue the use of their own particular language.

2.  Not to appear any more in large cloaks; which are chiefly useful to
hide things that have been stolen.

3.  No Gypsey, except he be a gold-washer, shall keep a horse.

4.  Also the gold-washers must refrain from all kinds of bartering at the
annual fairs.

5.  The magistrates of every place must be very attentive that no Gypsey
waste his time in idleness; but at those seasons, when they have no
employment, either for themselves or any landholder, to recommend them to
some other person, with whom they shall be compelled to work for hire.

6.  They are to be kept particularly to agriculture; therefore

7.  It is to be observed, where possible, that every territorial Lord,
who takes any Gypsies under his jurisdiction, do allot them a certain
piece of ground to cultivate.

8.  Whoever is remiss in his husbandry, shall be liable to corporal

9.  They shall be permitted to amuse themselves with music, or other
things, only when there is no field work for them to do.

Such were the regulations adopted by the Emperor Joseph II. for the
purpose of civilizing, and rendering good and profitable subjects,
upwards of eighty thousand of miserable wretches, ignorant of God and of



The Gypsies in Great Britain.

                                * * * * *

The traits of character and the habits of the Gypsies on the Continent of
Europe, exhibited in this work, are sufficient for an examination, in
what degree these people correspond with those under the same
denomination in England.

The earliest account which the writer of this section has been able to
collect from British History, was printed in the year 1612; when a quarto
work, by S. R. was published, to detect and expose the art of juggling
and legerdemain; in which is the following description of the Gypsies.

“This kind of people, about a hundred years ago, beganne to gather an
head, as the first heere, about the southerne parts.  And this as I am
informed, and can gather, was their beginning: Certain Egyptians banished
their country, (belike not for their good conditions,) arrived heere in
England, who for quaint tricks and devices, not known heere, at that
time, among us, were esteemed, and had in great admiration; insomuch,
that many of our English _Loyterers_ joined with them, and in time
learned their craftie cosening.

“The speach which they used, was the right Egyptian language, with whom
our Englishmen conversing, at least learned their language.  These people
continuing about the country, and practising their cosening art,
purchased themselves great credit among the country people, and got much
by palmistry, and telling of fortunes; insomuch, they pitifully cosened
poor country girls, both of money, silver spoons, and the best of their
apparelle, or any goods they could make.”

From this author, it is collected, they had a leader of the name of
_Giles Hather_, who was termed their King; and a woman of the name of
_Calot_, was called Queen.  “These riding through the country on
horseback, and in strange attire, had a prettie traine after them.”

After mentioning some of the laws passed against them, this writer adds:
“But what numbers were executed on these statutes you would wonder; yet,
notwithstanding, all would not prevaile, but they wandered as before uppe
and downe, and meeting once in a yeare at a place appointed; sometimes at
the Peake’s Hole in Derbyshire, and other whiles by Ketbroak at

About the same time, Spellman’s Portrait of the Gypsey Fraternity seems
to have been taken, ad vivum, and is as follows:

“Egyptiani, Erronum, Impostorumque genus nequissimum, in Continente
ortum; sed ad Britannos nostras et Europam reliquam pervolans, nigredine
deformes, excocti sole, immundi veste, et usu rerum omnium fædi, &c.;”
which may be thus translated, “Egyptians, the worst kind of wanderers and
impostors, springing up on the Continent, but yet rapidly spreading
themselves through Britain, and other parts of Europe, disfigured by
their swarthiness; sun-burnt; filthy in their clothing, and indecent in
all their customs, &c.”

According to the first of these statements, the arrival of Gypsies in
England might be about the year 1512; or ten years at least before the
Statute of the 22d of Henry VIII; in the 10th chapter of which, they are
described to be, “_An outlandish people_, _calling themselves Egyptians_,
_using no crafte_, _nor feat of merchandise_; _who have come into this
realm_, _and gone from shine to shire_, _and place to place in great
company_; _and used great_, _subtle_, _and crafty means_, _to deceive the
people_, _bearing them in hand_, _that they by palmistry could tell men’s
and yeomen’s fortunes_; _and so_, _many times by crafte and subtlety have
deceived the people of their money_; _and also have committed many
heinous felonies and robberies_.”  Wherefore they are directed to avoid
the realm, and not to return under pain of imprisonment, and forfeiture
of their good and chattels; and upon their trials for any felonies which
they may have committed, they shall not be entitled to a Jury _de
medietate linguæ_.

The Act passed the 27th of the came reign goes farther, as will appear by
the following abstract of it: “_Whereas certain outlandish people_, _who
do not profess any crafte or trade whereby to maintain themselves_, _but
go about in great numbers from place to place_, _using insidious_,
_underhand means to impose on his Majesty’s subjects_, _making them
believe that they understand the art of foretelling to men and women
their good and evil fortune_, _by looking in their hands_, _whereby they
frequently defraud people of their money_; _likewise are guilty of thefts
and highway robberies_: _it is hereby ordered that the said vagrants_,
_commonly called Egyptians_, _in case they remain one month in the
kingdom_, _shall be proceeded against as thieves and rascals_; _and on
the importation of any such Egyptian_, _he_, (_the importer_) _shall
forfeit_ £40 _for every trespass_.”

By the above recited Acts of Parliament, it appears, that it was from
their own representation of being Egyptians, they were so denominated in
England; and that they did not on their arrival in this country, feign
themselves, as in Germany, to be pilgrims; or as in France, to be
penitents; neither of which impositions would have been well adapted to
the temper of the government of Henry VIII; or to his subversion of papal
power, and abolition of monastic influence.  The character they assumed,
was the best adapted to establish their reputation, for the arts and
deception they intended to practise in England.  The fame of Egypt in
astrology, magic, and soothsaying, was universal; and they could not have
devised a more artful expedient, than the profession of this knowledge,
to procure for them a welcome reception by the great mass of the people.

From the abstract of the Act of 27th, Henry VIII, we may infer, that the
Gypsies were so much in request, as to induce some of our countrymen to
import them from the Continent, or at least to encourage their migration
to this Island.  The importation of these people must have been prevalent
from some cause, to require parliamentary interference, and even a fine
to prevent it, of such an amount as £40; which according to the relative
value of money, would, at the present time, be equal to a large sum.

During the same reign, we find that a number of Gypsies were reshipped at
the public expense, and sent to France.

In the Book of Receipts and Payments, of the 35th of Henry VIII. are the
following entries.

“Nett Payments 1st Sept. 36th of Henry VIII,

“Item to Tho. Warner, Sergeant of the Admyraltie, 10th Sept. for victuals
prepared for a shippe appointed to convey certaine Egupeians, 58s.—Item
to the same Tho. Warner to th’ use of John Bowles for freight of said
shippe, £6 5s.  Item to Robt. Ap. Rice, Esq. Shriff of Huntingdon for the
charge of the Egupeians at a special gaile delivery, and the bringing of
them to be conveied over the sees; over and besides the sum of £4. 5s.
0d. growing of seventeen horses, sold at five shillings {82} the piece,
as apperythe by a particular book, £17. 17s. 7d.  Item to Will. Wever
appointed to have the charge of the conduct of the said Egupeians to
Callis, £5.”

There were subsequent acts relating to Gypsies in the reign of Ph. & M.;
and 5th of Eliz.; by which, “_If any person being_ 14 _years old_,
_whether natural born subject or stranger_, _who had been seen in the
fellowship of such persons_, _or had disguised himself like them_,
_should remain with them one month at once_, _or at several times_, _it
should be felony without benefit of clergy_.”

But notwithstanding these measures to extirpate Gypsies, Wraxall, in his
History of France, Vol. II. page 32, in referring to the Act of Eliz. in
1563, states, that in her reign, the Gypsies throughout England were
supposed to exceed ten thousand.

And it appears by the following Order of Sessions, copied from the
Harleian M.S.S. British Museum, No. 364, that about the year 1586, there
were great complaints of the increase of vagabonds and loitering persons,

“Orders, Rules, and Directions, concluded, appointed, and agreed uppon,
by us the Justices of the Peace, within the countie of Suffolk, assembled
at our General Sessions of Peace, holden at Bury the 22d daie of Aprill,
in the 31st yeare of the Raigne of our Souraigne Lady, the Queen’s
Majestie, for the punishinge and suppressinge of Roags, Vacabonds; idle,
loyteringe, and lewde persons; which doe, or shall hereafter wander and
goe aboute, within the hundreths of Thingo cum Bury, Blackborne,
Thedwardstree, Cosford, Babings, Risbridge, Lackford, and the half
hundreth of Exninge, in the said countie of Suffolk, contrary to the law,
in that case made and provided.

“Whereas, at the Parliement beganne and holden at Westminster, the 8th
daie of Maye, in the 14th yeare of the raigne of the Queen’s Majestie,
that nowe is, one Acte was made, intytuled, “An Acte for punishment of
Vacabonds, and for releife of the Pooere, and Impotent.”  And whereas, at
a Session of the Parliament, holden by prorogacon, at Westminster, the
eight daie of February, in the 28th yeare of her Majestie’s raigne, one
other Acte was made and intytuled, “An Acte for settinge of the Poore to
work, and for the avoydinge of idleness.”  By vertue of which, severall
Acts, certeyne provisions and remedies been ordeyned, and established, as
well for the suppressinge, and punishinge of all roags, vacabonds, sturdy
roags, idle and loyteringe persons; as also for the releife, and setting
on worke of the aged and impotente persons within this realm; and
authoritie gyven to Justices of Peace, in their several charges and
commission, to see that the said Acts and Statuts be putte in due
execution, to the glorie of Allmightie God, and the benefite of the
common welth.

“And whereas also yt appeareth by dayly experience, that the number of
idle, vagraunte, loyteringe, sturdy roags, masterles men, lewde and yll
disposed persons are exceedingly encreased, and multiplied, committinge
many grevious and outeragious disorders and offences, tendinge to the
great . . . of Allmightie God, the contempte of her Majestie’s laws, and
to the great charge, troble, and disquiet of the common welth.—We the
Justices of Peace, above speciefied, assembled and mett together at our
general sessions above named, for remedie of theis and such lyke
enormities which hereafter shall happen to arise or growe within the
hundreths and lymits aforesaid, doe by theis presents, order, decree and
ordeyne, That there shall be builded or provided one convenient house,
which shall be called the House of Correction; and that the same be
established within the towne of Bury, within the hundreth of Thingoe
aforesaid.  And that all persons offendinge or lyvinge contrary to the
tenor of the said twoe Acts, within the hundreths and lymitts aforesaid,
shal be, by the warrante of any Justice of Peace, dwellinge in the same
hundreths or lymitts, committed thether and there be releived, punished,
sett to worke, and ordered in such sorte, and accordinge to the
directions, provisions, and limitations, hereafter in theis presents
declared and specified.

“Fyrst, That yt maie appeare what persons arre to be apprehended,
committed and brought to the House of Correction, it is ordered and
appointed, That all and every person and persons which shal be found and
taken within the hundreths and lymitts aforesaid, above the age of 14
yeares, and shall take upon them to be procters or procurators goinge
aboute withowt sufficiente lycence from the Queen’s Majestie.  All idle
persons goinge aboute usinge subtiltie and unlawfull games or plaie—all
such as faynt themselves to have knowledge in phisiognomye, palmestrie or
other abused sciences—all tellers of destinies, deaths or fortunes, and
such lyke fantasticall imaginations.”

From the tenor of the above Ordinance, it might be inferred that, at the
time of issuing it, Gypsies, and their adherents, abounded in the County
of Suffolk; and it may be concluded, that they continued to attach
themselves to that part of the nation, as Judge Hale remarks, that “at
one Suffolk Assize, no less than thirteen Gypsies were executed upon
these Statutes, a few years before the restoration.”

To the honour of our national humanity, however, Judge Blackstone
observes, there are no instances more modern than this, of carrying these
laws into practice; and the last, sanguinary act is itself now repealed.
The severe statute of 5th Eliz. c. 20 is repealed by 23d Geo. III. c.
51—and Gypsies are now only punishable under the Vagrant Act, which
declares, “that all persons pretending to be Gypsies, or wandering in the
habit, and form of Egyptians, shall be deemed rogues, and
vagabonds.”—17th Geo. II. c. 5.

In Scotland, these people seemed for a time to enjoy some share of
indulgence; for a writ in favour of John Faw, Lord and Earl of Upper
Egypt, was issued by Mary, Queen of Scots, 1553; and in 1554, he obtained
a pardon for the murder of Numan Small.

In 1579, however all the legislative provisions respecting vagrants,
beggars, &c. in Scotland, were reduced into one law, by the following
very comprehensive statute: “Forameikle as there is sindrie loyabil Acts
of Parliament, maid be our soveraine Lord’s maist nobil progenitours, for
the stanching of maisterful and idle beggars, away putting of Sornares,
and provision for the pure: bearing that nane sall be thoiled to beg,
nouther to burgh, nor to land, betwixt 14 and 70 zeires.

“That sik as make themselves fules, and ar bairdes, or uther sik like
runners about, being apprehended, sall be put into the Kinge’s waird, or
irones, sa lang as they have ony gudes of their awin to live on.  And fra
they have not quhairupon to live of their awin, that their eares be
nayled to the trone, or to an uther tree, and their eares cutted off, and
banished the countrie; and gif thereafter they be found againe, that they
be hanged.

“And that it may be knowen, qwhat maner of persones ar meaned to be idle
and strang begares, and vagabounds, and warthy of the punischement before
specified, it is declared: “That all idle persones ganging about in ony
countrie of this realm, using subtil, craftie, and unlawful playes, as
juglarie, fast-and-lous, and sik uthers; the idle peopil calling
themselves _Egyptians_, or any uther, that feinzies themselves to have a
knawledge or charming prophecie, or other abused sciences, qwairby they
perswade peopil, that they can tell their weirds, {89} deathes, and
fortunes, and sik uther phantastical imaginations, &c.”

Notwithstanding this law, a writ of Privy Seal, dated 1594, supports John
Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt, in the execution of justice upon his
company of folk, conform to the laws of Egypt, in punishing certain
persons there named, who had rebelled against him, left him, robbed him,
and refused to return home with him.

James’ subjects are commanded to aid in apprehending them, and in
assisting Faw and his adherents to return home.

From all these circumstances, it appears that this John Faw, or two
persons of the same name and distinction, succeeding each other, staid a
long time in Scotland; and from him this kind of strolling people might
receive the name of Faw Gang, which they still retain, as appears by
Burn’s Justice.

But the Scottish laws, after this time, were not less severe than those
of Queen Elizabeth.  By an Act passed in 1609; “Sorners, common thieves,
commonly called Egyptians, were directed to pass forth of the kingdom,
under pain of death, as common, notorious, and condemned thieves.”
Scottish Acts, I. 850.


The present State of the Gypsies in Scotland.

                                * * * * *

The energy and perseverance by which North Britons are distinguished,
will be evinced throughout the pages of this section.  A friend of the
author, having been requested to make application at the Advocates’ and
the University Libraries, in the city of Edinburgh, for extracts from
some foreign publications, was also desired to transmit with them what
information could be obtained respecting the Gypsies in Scotland.

With a promptitude and zeal which characterises genuine philanthropy, a
circular, containing four queries, was dispatched to the Sheriff of every
county in that nation; soliciting through the medium of an official
organ, all the intelligence which could be obtained on the subject.  In
consequence, returns have been made from nearly the whole of the shires,
either by the Sheriff, or his substitute; generally addressed to George
Miller, jun. Edinburgh; who has been a most effective coadjutor on this

From thirteen counties, the reports are, “No Gypsies resident in them;”
some others give account of their only passing through at times.

William Frazer Tytler, Sheriff of Invernessshire, writes as follows: “The
undertaking in which you are engaged, for the civilization of so lost a
portion of mankind, merits every support.  Its effects may be more
generally and extensively useful in England, where those unfortunate
people are extremely numerous.  In Scotland, their number is
comparatively small, and particularly in the county of Inverness.”

Alexander Moor, Sheriff Depute, of Aberdeenshire, states: “There are not
any Gypsies who have a permanent residence in that Sheriffalty.
Occasionally vagrants, both single and in bands, appear in this part of
the country; resorting to fairs, where they commit depredations on the
unwary.  Some of them are supposed to be connected with Gypsies in the
southern part of the island.”

John Blair, Sheriff Substitute for the County of Bute, writes: “I have to
inform that the people generally known by the description of Gypsies, are
not in use to come hither, unless abject, itinerant tinkers and braziers,
generally from Ireland, may be accounted such.  A few of them often visit
us, and take up their abode for a time in different parts of the country,
where people can be prevailed upon to give them the accommodation of an
out-house or hut.”

They are understood to be illiterate, neither they, nor their children,
who are often numerous, being able to read.

The distinguished northern Poet, Walter Scott, who is Sheriff of
Selkirkshire, has in a very obliging manner communicated the following

“A set of people possessing the same erratic habits, and practising the
trade of tinkers, are well known in the Borders; and have often fallen
under the cognisance of the law.  They are often called Gypsies, and pass
through the county annually in small bands, with their carts and asses.
The men are tinkers, poachers, and thieves upon a small scale.  They also
sell crockery, deal in old rags, in eggs, in salt, in tobacco and such
trifles; and manufacture horn into spoons, I believe most of those who
come through Selkirkshire, reside, during winter, in the villages of
Sterncliff and Spittal, in Northumberland, and in that of Kirk Yetholm,

“Mr. Smith, the respectable Baillie {94} of Kelso, can give the most
complete information concerning those who reside at Kirk Yetholm.
Formerly, I believe, they were much more desperate in their conduct than
at present.  But some of the most atrocious families have been
extirpated, I allude particularly to the _Winters_, a Northumberland
clan, who I fancy are all buried by this time.

“Mr. Reddell, Justice of Peace for Roxburghshire, with my assistance and
concurrence, cleared this country of the last of them, about eight or
nine years ago.  They were thorough desperadoes, of the worst class of
vagabonds.  Those who now travel through this country, give offence
chiefly by poaching, and small thefts.  They are divided into clans, the
principal names being Faa, Baillie, Young, Ruthven, and Gordon.

“All of them are perfectly ignorant of religion, nor do their children
receive any education.  They marry and cohabit amongst each other, and
are held in a sort of horror by the common people.

“I do not conceive them to be the proper Oriental Egyptian race, at least
they are much intermingled with our own national out-laws and vagabonds.
They are said to keep up a communication with each other through
Scotland, and to have some internal government and regulation as to the
districts which each family travels.

“I cannot help again referring to Mr. Smith of Kelso, a gentleman who can
give the most accurate information respecting the habits of those
itinerants, as their winter-quarters of Yetholm, are upon an estate of
which he has long had the management.”

It is very satisfactory to have received from an authority so respectably
as that of William Smith, the Baillie of Kelso, above referred to,
answers to the four queries of the circular; accompanied by his own
interesting and appropriate illustrations, from which extracts are made
as follow, dated November, 1815.

“A considerable time having elapsed, since I had an opportunity, or
occasion to attend to the situation of the colony of Gypsies in our
neighbourhood, I was obliged to delay my answer to your inquiries, until
I could obtain more information respecting their present numbers.

“The great bar to the benevolent intentions of improving their situation
will be, the impossibility to convince them that there either is, or can
be, a mode of life preferable, or even equal to their own.

“A strong spirit of independence, or what they would distinguish by the
name of liberty, runs through the whole tribe.  It is no doubt a very
licentious liberty, but entirely to their taste.  Some kind of honour,
peculiar to themselves, seems to prevail in their community.  They reckon
it a disgrace to steal near their homes, or even at a distance, if
detected.  I must always except that petty theft of feeding their
shelties and asses on the farmer’s grass and corn, which they will do,
whether at home or abroad.

“When avowedly trusted, even in money transactions, they never deceived
me, nor forfeited their promise.  I am sorry to say, however, that when
checked in their licentious appropriations, &c. they are very much
addicted both to threaten and to execute revenge.

“Having so far premised with respect to their general conduct and
character, I shall proceed to answer, as far as I am able, the four
queries subjoined to the circular which you sent me, and then subjoin, in
notes, some instances of their conduct in particular cases, which may
perhaps elucidate their general disposition and character.”

“Query 1st.  _What number of Gypsies in the County_?

“A.  I know of none except the colony of Yetholm, and one family who
lately removed from that place to Kelso.  Yetholm consists of two towns,
or large villages, called _Town_ Yetholm, and _Kirk_ Yetholm.  The first
is in the estate of Mr. Wauchope, of Niddry; the latter in that of the
Marquis of Tweedale.  The number of the Gypsey colony at present in Kirk
Yetholm, amounts to at least 109 men, women, and children; and perhaps
two or three may have escaped notice.  They marry early in life, in
general have many children, and their number seems to be increasing.

“Query 2d.  _In what do the men and women mostly employ themselves_?

“B.  I have know the colony between forty and fifty years.  At my first
remembrance of them, they were called the _Tinklers_, (Tinkers) of
Yetholm, from the males being chiefly then employed in mending pots, and
other culinary utensils, especially in their peregrinations through the
hilly and less populous parts of the country.

“Sometimes they were called _Horners_, from their occupation in making
and selling horn spoons, called Cutties.  Now their common appellation is
that of _Muggers_, or, what pleases them better, _Potters_.  They
purchase, at a cheap rate, the cast or faulty articles, at the different
manufactories of earthenware, which they carry for sale all over the
country; consisting of groups of six, ten, and sometimes twelve or
fourteen persons, male and female, young and old, provided with a horse
and cart to transport the pottery; besides shelties and asses to carry
the youngest of the children, and such baggage as they find necessary.

“In the country, they sleep in barns, and byres, or other out-houses: and
when they cannot find that accommodation, they take the canvas covering
from the pottery cart, and squat below it like a covey of partridges in
the snow.

“A few of the colony also employ themselves occasionally in making
beesoms, foot-bosses, &c. from heath, broom, and bent, and sell them at
Kelso, and the neighbouring towns.  After all, their employment can be
considered little better than an apology for idleness and vagrancy.

“They are in general great adepts in hunting, shooting, and fishing; in
which last they use the net and spear, as well as the rod; and often
supply themselves with a hearty meal by their dexterity.  They have no
notion of being limited in their field sports, either to time, place, or
mode of destruction.

“I do not see that the women are any otherwise employed, than attending
the young children; and assisting to sell the pottery when carried
through the country.”

“Query 3rd.  _Have they any settled abode in winter_, _and where_?

“C.  Their residence, with the exception of a single family, who some
years ago came to Kelso, is at Kirk Yetholm, and chiefly confined to one
row of houses, or street of that town, which goes by the name of Tinkler
Row.  Most of them have leases of their possessions, granted for a term
of nineteen times nineteen years, for payment of a small sum yearly;
something of the nature of a quit rent.  There is no tradition in the
neighbourhood concerning the time when the Gypsies first took up their
residence at that place, nor whence they came.

“Most of their leases, I believe were granted by the family of the
Bennets of Grubet; the last of whom was Sir David Bennet, who died about
sixty years ago.  The late Mr. Nesbit of Dirleton, then succeeded to the
estate, comprehending the Baronies of Kirk Yetholm, and Grubet.  He died
about the year 1783, and not long after, the property was acquired by the
late Lord Tweedale’s trustees.

“During the latter part of the life of the late Mr. Nesbit, he was less
frequently at his estate in Roxburghshire than formerly.  He was a great
favourite of the Gypsies, and was in use to call them his body guards,
and often gave them money, &c.

“On the other hand, both the late and present Mr. Wauchope were of
opinion, that the example of these people had a bad effect upon the
morals and industry of the neighbourhood; and seeing no prospect of their
removal, and as little of their reformation, considered it as a duty to
the public, to prevent the evil increasing; and never would consent to
any of the colony taking up their residence in Town Yetholm.

“They mostly remain at home during winter, but as soon as the weather
becomes tolerably mild in spring, most of them, men, women, and children,
set out on their peregrination over the country, and live in a state of
vagrancy, until again driven into their habitations by the approach of

“Seeming to pride themselves as a separate tribe, they very seldom
intermarry out of the colony; and in rare instances where that happens,
the Gypsey, whether male or female, by influence and example, always
induces the stranger husband or wife to adopt the manners of the colony,
so that no improvement is ever obtained in that way.  The progeny of such
alliances have almost universally the tawny complexion, and fine black
eyes of the Gypsey parent, whether father or mother.

“So strongly remarkable is the Gypsey cast of countenance, that even a
description of them to a stranger, who has had no opportunity of formerly
seeing them, will enable him to know them wherever he meets with them.
Some individuals, but very rarely, separate from the colony altogether;
and when they do so early in life, and go to a distance such as London,
or even Edinburgh, their acquaintances in the country get favourable
accounts of them.  A few betake themselves to regular and constant
employments at home, but soon tire, and return to their old way of life.

“When any of them, especially a leader, or man of influence dies, they
have full meetings, not only of the colony, but of the Gypsies from a
distance, and those meetings, or _Late Wakes_, are by no means conducted
with sobriety or decency.”

“Query 4th.  _Are any of their children taught to read_, _and what
proportion of them_?  _With any anecdotes respecting their customs and

“D.  Education being obtained at a cheaper rate, the Gypsies in general,
give their male children as good a one, as is bestowed on those of the
labouring people and farm servants in the neighbourhood; such as reading,
writing, and the first principles of arithmetic.  They all apply to the
clergyman of the parish for baptism to their children, and a strong
superstitious notion universally prevails with them, that it is unlucky
to have an unchristened child long in the house.  Only a very few ever
attend divine service, and those as seldom as they can, just to prevent
being refused as sponsors at their children’s baptism.

“They are in general, active and lively, particularly when engaged in
field sports; or in such temporary pursuits as are agreeable to their
habits and dispositions; but are destitute of the perseverance necessary
for a settled occupation, or even for finishing what a moderate degree of
continued labour, would enable them to accomplish in a few weeks.”


_By_ WM. SMITH, _intended to elucidate his answers to the Queries_ A
_and_ B, _on their licentious liberty_.

“I remember that about 45 years ago, being then apprentice to a writer,
who was in use to receive the rents as well as the small duties of Kirk
Yetholm, he sent me there with a list of names, and a statement of what
was due; recommending me to apply to the landlord of the public-house, in
the village, for any information or assistance which I might need.

 “After waiting a long time, and receiving payment from most of the
feuers, or rentallers, I observed to him that none of the persons of the
names of Faa, Young, Blythe, Fleckie, &c. who, stood at the bottom of the
list for small sums, had come to meet me, according to the notice given
by the Baron Officer; and proposed sending to inform them that they were
detaining me, and to request their immediate attendance.

“The landlord, with a grave face, inquired whether my master had desired
me to ask money from those men.  I said, not particularly; but they stood
on the list.  “So, I see,” said the landlord, “but had your master been
here himself, he did _not dare to ask money from them_, _either as rent_,
_or feu duty_.—_He knows that it is as good as if it were in his pocket_.
_They will pay when their own time comes_, _but do not like to pay at a
set time with the rest of the Barony_; _and still less to be craved_.”

“I accordingly returned without their money, and reported progress.  I
found that the landlord was right; my master said with a smile, that it
was unnecessary to send to them, after the previous notice from the Baron
Officer; it was enough if I had received the money, if offered.—Their
rent and feu duty was brought to the office in a few weeks.  I need
scarcely add, those persons all belonged to the tribe.

“Another instance of their licentious, independent spirit, occurs to me.
The family of Niddry always gave a decent, annual remuneration to a Baron
Baillie, for the purpose of keeping good order within their Barony of
Town Yetholm.  The person whom I remember first in possession of that
office, was an old man called Doctor Walker, from his being also the
village surgeon; and from him I had the following anecdote:—

“Between Yetholm and the border farms in Northumberland, there were
formerly, as in most border situations, some uncultivated lands called
the _Plea lands_, or _Debateable lands_, the pasturage of which was
generally eaten up by the Sorners and vagabonds on both sides of the

“Many years ago, Lord Tankerville and some other of the English
borderers, made their request to Sir David Bennet, and the late Mr.
Wauchope of Niddry, that they would accompany them at a _riding_ of the
Plea lands, who readily complied with their request.  They were induced
to this, as they understood that the Gypsies had taken offence, on the
supposition that they might be circumscribed in the pasture for their
shelties and asses, which they had held a long time, partly by stealth,
and partly by violence.

“Both threats and entreaties were employed to keep them away; and, at
last, Sir David obtained a promise from some of the heads of the gang,
that none of them should show their faces on the occasion.

“They, however, got upon the hills at a little distance, whence they
could see every thing that passed.  At first they were very quiet.  But
when they saw the English Court Book Spread out on a cushion before the
clerk, and apparently taken in a line of direction, interfering with what
they considered to be their privileged ground, it was with great
difficulty that the most moderate of them, could restrain the rest from
running down, and taking vengeance, even in sight of their own Lord of
the Manor.

“They only abstained for a short time, and no sooner had Sir David, and
the other gentleman taken leave of each other in the most polite and
friendly manner, as border chiefs are wont to do, since border feuds
ceased, and had departed to a sufficient distance, than the clan, armed
with bludgeons, pitch-forks, and such other hostile weapons as they could
find, rushed down in a body; and before the chiefs on either side had
reached their home, there was neither English tenant, horse, cow, nor
sheep left upon the premises.

“Notes on Answers C and D.

“_Peculiar cast of_ GYPSEY FEATURES, _every where distinguishable_, &c.

“When first I knew any thing about the colony, old Will Faa was king, or
leader, and had held the sovereignty for many years.

“Meeting at Kelso with Mr. Walter Scott, whose discriminating habits and
just observations I had occasion to know from his youth, and at the same
time seeing one of my Yetholm friends in the horse market, I merely said
to Mr. Scott, “Try to get before that man with the long drab coat, look
at him on your return, and tell me whether you ever saw him, and what you
think of him.”  He was so good as to indulge me; and rejoining me said
without hesitation, “I never saw the man that I know of; but he is one of
the Gypsies of Yetholm, that you told me of several years ago.”  I need
scarcely say that he was perfectly correct.

“The descendants of Faa, now take the name of _Fall_, from the Messrs.
Falls, of Dunbar, who, they pride themselves in saying, are of the same
stock and lineage.  When old Will Faa was upwards of eighty years of age,
he called on me at Kelso, in his way to Edinburgh, telling that he was
going to see the Laird, the late Mr. Nesbit, of Dirleton, as he
understood that he was very unwell, and himself being now old, and not so
stout as he had been, he wished to see him once more before he died.

“The old man set out by the nearest road, which was by no means his
common practice.  Next market-day, same of the farmers informed me, that
they had been in Edinburgh, and seen Will Faa upon the bridge; (the south
bridge was not then built;) that he was tossing about his old brown hat,
and huzzaing with great vociferation, that he had seen the Laird before
he died.  Indeed Will himself had no time to lose, for having set his
face homewards by the way of the sea coast, to vary his route, as is the
general custom of the gang, he only got the length of Coldingham, when he
was taken ill, and died.

“His death being notified to his friends at Yetholm, they and their
acquaintance at Berwick, Spittal, Horncliff, &c. met to pay the last
honours to their old leader.  His obsequies were continued three
successive days and nights, and afterwards repeated at Yetholm, whither
he was brought for interment.  I cannot say that the funeral rites were
celebrated with decency and sobriety, for that was by no means the case.
This happened in the year 1783, or 1784, and the late Mr. Nesbit did not
long survive.”

William Dymock, W. S. Edinburgh, distinguished in the profession of the
law, by his sound judgment and strict integrity, having had the perusal
of the preceding report from William Smith, gives the following testimony
concerning that account: “Baillie Smith’s report is quite graphical,
correct truth, and correctly expressed.—It is useful as showing, that the
parties of Tinklers are great detachments from one colony.”

With this, accords Sir John Sinclair’s observation in his Statistical
Account of Scotland, Vol. II. p. 124, when describing the village of
Eaglesham, he remarks: “There is no magistrate nearer than four miles,
and the place is oppressed with gangs of Gypsies, commonly called
Tinklers, or sturdy beggars.”

Before receiving the very interesting report from William Smith, the
author of this Survey was entirely at a loss to determine what was become
of the descendants of John Faw, who styled himself Lord and Earl of
Little Egypt; and with a numerous retinue entered Scotland in the reign
of Queen Mary, as stated in Section the 5th.—His complaint of his men
refusing to return home with him, might be only a feint, invented to
cover his design of continuing in the country; for there does not appear
to be any traces in history of the banishment of Faw-gang, or of their
quitting Scotland.—But in the above cited report, we find at the head of
the Tinklers a Will Faa, in whose name there is only a variation of one
letter from that of his distinguished predecessor; and that in reference
to this origin, he asserts the _Falls_ of Dunbar to be of the same stock
and lineage.


On the origin of the Gypsies

                                * * * * *

Various are the conjectures which have been indulged, and the
coincidences which have been sought for, in order to obtain a solution of
the query, _What race of people are the Gypsies_?

Whoever is disposed to refer to Continental writers, may see more than
thirty different opinions started on this subject, founded on no better
authority than some similarity of appellation, garb, complexion, or
unsettled way of life.

They were sometimes _Torlaques_, _Kalendars_, or _Faquirs_.  The
Torlaques are Mahometan Monks, who under the pretence of holiness, are
guilty of the most flagrant excesses.  Bajazet the 2d, banished them from
the Turkish empire in 1494.  The Kalendars wander about in heathen
countries, as the Gypsies do among Christians.  The Faquirs are religious
fanatics; and rove about in heathen and mahometan countries, like the
most atrocious robbers.  Anquetil says, the Faquirs in India go a
pilgrimage to Jagrenat; they plunder such villages and cities as lie in
their way; they form considerable bodies about a mile from Jagrenat,
where they choose themselves a leader, to whom they pay all the attention
due to a general.

With regard to strolling and thieving, the Faquirs and Gypsies agree
exactly.  Thomasius, Griselini, and the English geographer Salmon,
imagined that when Sultan Selim conquered Egypt in 1517, several of the
natives refusing to submit to the Turkish yoke, revolted under one

But we have already adverted to authentic documents for the proof, that
they were in Germany, Italy, and France, near a century before the
conquest of Egypt by Selim.

Yet the belief that Gypsies were of Egyptian origin is parallel with
their existence in Europe.  It arose from the report circulated by the
first of them, that they were pilgrims from Egypt; and this statement was
not only adopted by the common people, but here, and there, obtained
credit among men of learning.  Grellmann observes, that had this opinion
not been received at a time when almost every thing was taken upon trust,
with little examination; had it not been propagated by the first Gypsies,
and then obtained a sanction, it would have been impossible for it to
have gained such general acceptation, or to have maintained itself to the
present times.  Till the 17th century, the Egyptian descent of the
Gypsies rested entirely on tradition.  Afterwards, Aventin, Krantz, and
Miinster openly contradict it.

Aventin relates that they wished it to be thought they came from that
country, but that, in his time, nothing was known concerning them, but
what came from their own mouths; those who accounted them Egyptians,
rested their belief entirely on the veracity of their informants.

This is collected with greater certainty from Krantz and Miinster, for
they declare expressly, that every thing which could be discovered by any
other means than their own assertions, contradicted, rather than
confirmed their Egyptian descent.  But it is not merely that their
Egyptian descent is entirely destitute of proof, the most circumstantial
evidence can be adduced against it.

Their language differs entirely from the Coptic, and their customs, as
Ahasuerus Fritsch has remarked, are diametrically opposite to the
Egyptian; but what is, if possible, of greater weight, they wander about
in Egypt, like strangers, and _there_, as in other countries, form a
distinct people.

The testimony of Bellonius is full and decisive on the point.  He states;
“No part of the world, I believe, is free from those banditti, wandering
about in troops; whom we, by mistake, call Gypsies, and Bohemians.  When
we were at Cairo, and the villages bordering on the Nile, we found troops
of these strolling thieves sitting under palm-trees; and they are
_esteemed foreigners_ in _Egypt_.”

Aventin expressly makes Turkey their original place of rendezvous; and
this furnishes a reason for the south east parts of Europe being the most
crowded with them.  If all that came to Europe passed by this route, it
accounts for a greater number remaining in those countries, than in
others to which they would have a much longer travel; and before their
arrival at which, their hordes might be much divided.

It is a just assertion, that one of the most infallible methods of
determining the origin of a people, would be the discovery of a country
in which their language is that of the natives.  It is a fact
incontrovertibly established, that besides the Gypsies speaking the
language of the country in which they live, they have a general one of
their own, in which they converse with each other.

Not knowing any speech correspondent with the Gypsies, some have been
ready to pronounce it a mere jargon; not considering how extravagant a
surmise it would be, that a people rude, uncivilized, and separated
hundreds of miles from each other, have invented a language.  Others who
are better informed on the subject, allow that the language brought into
Europe with the Gypsies, was really vernacular, of some country; but
suppose it is so disguised and corrupted, partly by design, and partly by
adventitious events, through length of time, and the continued wandering
of these people, that it must be considered a new language, and now used
by the Gypsies only.

That it is the dialect of some particular part of the globe, though no
longer pure, as in the country whence it originated, is an opinion which
has obtained the greatest concurrence among the learned.  Grellmann says,
had a German listened a whole day to a Gypsey conversation, he would not
have comprehended a single expression.  It must doubtless appear
extraordinary, that the language of a people who had lived for centuries
in Europe, should have remained so much a secret: but it was not easy to
gain information from the Gypsies concerning it.  Acquainted, by
tradition, with the deception their predecessors practised on coming into
Europe, they are suspicious; and fearing an explanation might be
dangerous to themselves, they are not disposed to be communicative.—But
how was it possible for the learned of former centuries, to be competent
to the investigation, who had not the aids which now so copiously occur
to the historical etymologist?

Many dialects have been discovered, and our knowledge of others greatly
increased, within the last fifty or sixty years.  During that time, not
only the literary treasures of the furthest north have been opened to us,
but we have become acquainted with many of the oriental languages; and
even eastern idioms are becoming familiar to us.  We need not therefore
be surprised, that before this period, the most learned were unable to
point out the country in which the Gypsey language was spoken.  The
Gypsies have no writing peculiar to themselves, in which to give a
specimen of the construction of their dialect.

Writing and reading are attainments not to be expected from nomadic
tribes.  Sciences, and the refined arts, are never to be looked for among
a people whose manner of living, and education, are so irregular.  Music
is the only science in which Gypsies participate in any considerable
degree; they likewise compose, but it is after the manner of the eastern
people, extempore.

Grellmann asserts, that the Hindostanie language has the greatest
affinity with that of the Gypsies; but he does not rest this solely on
the specimen he has introduced, a sketch of which will be presented in
the next section; he adduces many facts in confirmation of his opinion,
which it would be an injustice to him not to exhibit.

He infers from the following considerations, that Gypsies are of the
lowest class of Indians, namely Pariars, or as they are called in
Hindostan, _Suders_.

The whole great nation of Indians is known to be divided into four ranks,
or stocks, which are called by a portuguese name, _castes_; each of which
has its own particular subdivisions.  Of these castes, the Bramin is the
first; the second contains the _Tschechteries_ or Setreas; the third,
consists of the _Beis_, or Wazziers; the fourth is the caste of the above
mentioned Suders; who upon the peninsula of Malabar, where their
condition is the same as in Hindostan, are called Parias, and Pariers.

The first were appointed by Brama to seek after knowledge, to give
instructions, and to take care of religion.  The second were to serve in
war; the third were as the Bramins, to cultivate science; but
particularly to attend to the breeding of cattle.  The caste of Suders
was to be subservient to the Bramins, the Tschecteries, and the Beis.
These Suders are held in disdain, they are considered infamous, and
unclean, from their occupation, and they are abhorred because they eat
flesh; the three other castes living entirely on vegetables.

Of this very caste it will appear, by the following comparison, our
Gypsies are composed.  We have seen that the Gypsies are in the highest
degree filthy and disgusting; and with regard to character, depraved and
fraudulent to excess, and these are the qualities of the Suders.

Baldeus says, the Parias are a filthy people, and wicked crew, who in
winter steal much cattle, &c.

It is related in the Danish Mission Intelligence:—Nobody can deny that
the Pariers are the dregs and refuse of all the Indians; they are
thievish, and have wicked dispositions, &c.

Moreover Neuhof assures us: “The Parruas are full of every kind of
dishonesty; they do not consider lying and cheating to be sinful, as they
have no other custom or maxims among them.  The Gypsey’s solicitude to
conceal his language is, also, a striking Indian trait.”

“Professor Pallas says of the Indians round Astracan: custom has rendered
them to the greatest degree suspicious about their language, insomuch
that I was never able to obtain a small vocabulary from them.”

With regard to Gypsey marriages, Salmon relates that the nearest
relations cohabit with each other; and as to education, their children
grow up in the most shameful neglect, without either discipline or

All this is precisely the case with the Pariars.  In the journal of the
Missionaries already quoted, it is said; “With respect to matrimony, they
act like the beasts, and their children are brought up without restraint
or information.”  Gypsies are fond of being about horses, so are the
Suders in India, for which reason, they are commonly employed as
horse-keepers, by the Europeans resident in that country.”

We have seen that the Gypsies hunt after cattle which have died of
distempers, in order to feed on them; and when they can procure more of
the flesh than is sufficient for one day’s consumption, they dry it in
the sun.  Such is likewise a constant custom with the Pariars in India.

That the Gypsies, and natives of Hindostan, resemble each other in
complexion, and shape is undeniable.  And what is asserted of the young
Gypsey girls rambling about with their fathers who are musicians, dancing
with lascivious and indecent gestures, to divert any person who is
willing to give them a small gratuity for so acting, is likewise
perfectly Indian.  Sonnerat confirms this in the account he gives of the
dancing girls of Surat.

Fortune-telling is practised all over the East; but the peculiar kind
professed by the Gypsies, viz: chiromancy, constantly referring to
whether the parties shall be rich or poor, happy or unhappy in marriage,
&c. is no where met with but in India.

The account we have given of Gypsey smiths may be compared with the
Indian, as related by Sonnerat in the following words: “The smith carries
his tools, his shop, and his forge about with him, and works in any place
where he can find employment; he erects his shop before the house of his
employer, raising a low wall with beaten earth; before which, he places
his hearth; behind this wall, he fixes two leathern bellows.  He has a
stone instead of an anvil, and his whole apparatus is a pair of tongs, a
hammer, a beetle, and a file.  How exactly does this accord with the
description of the Gypsey smith!

We have seen that Gypsies always choose their place of residence near
some village, or city, very seldom within them; even though there may not
be any order to prevent it, as is the case in Moldavia, Wallachia, and
all parts of Turkey.  Even the more improved Gypsies in Transylvania, who
have long since discontinued the wandering mode of life, and might, with
permission from government, reside within the cities, rather choose to
build their huts in some bye place, without their limits.  This custom
appears to be derived from their original Suder education; it being usual
all over India, for the Sunders to have their huts without the villages
of the other castes, and in retired places near their cities.

With respect to religion, it has appeared that the greater part of the
Gypsies live without any profession of it; _Tollius_ says, worse than
heathens.  The more wonderful it is, that a whole people should be so
indifferent and void of religion, the more weight it carries with it, to
confirm their Indian origin, when all this is found to be literally true
of the Suders.

In relation to the emigration of the Gypsies, no cause can be assigned
for their leaving their native country, so probable, as the war of Timur
Beg, in India.  The date of their arrival marks it very plainly.  It was
in the years 1408, and 1409, that this Conqueror ravaged India for the
purpose of disseminating the Mahometan religion.  Not only every one who
made any resistance was destroyed, and such as fell into the enemies’
hands, though quite defenceless, were made slaves; but in a short time
those very slaves, to the number of one hundred thousand, were put to
death.  In consequence of the universal panic which took place, those,
who could quit the country, might well be supposed to consult their
safety by flight.

If any of the higher castes did withdraw themselves on account of the
troubles it is probable, they retired southward to people of their own
sort, the Mahrattas.  To mix at all with the Suders, would have been
degrading their high characters, which they consider worse than death; it
was therefore morally impossible for them to have united with the Suders
in a retreat.  Moreover, by putting themselves into the power of the
Suders, with whom they live in a state of discord and inveteracy, they
might have incurred as much danger as from the common enemy.

Before presenting a vocabulary of Gypsey words, it may be observed, that
though the Hindostanie language is fundamentally the same, all over
Hindostan; yet, like other languages, it has different dialects in the
various provinces.  The eastern dialect, spokes about the Ganges, has
different names for some things; and inflections of some words different
to the western ones spoken about the Indus: There is, besides, a third,
varying from both these, viz: the Surat dialect, which has a number of
Malabar, and other words mixed with it.  To this must be added, that in
the Hindostan, as well as in every other language, there are often
several names for the same thing.

The particular dialect bearing the closest affinity to the Gypsey
language, as will appear hereafter, is the western; and perhaps more
especially that of Surat.  With respect to the construction and
inflections of the two languages, they are evidently the same.  In that
of Hindostan, every word ending in j is feminine, all the rest masculine;
the Gypsey is the same.  That makes the inflections entirely by the
article, adding it at the end of the word.  The Gypsey language proceeds
exactly in the same manner



Comparative view of the Gypsey, Hindostanie, and Turkish languages.

                                * * * * *

The following collection is extracted from Grellmann’s Vocabulary.

     _Gypsey_.         _Hindostanie_.       _English_.

Ick, Ek               Ek                 One

Duj, Doj              Du                 Two

Trin, Tri             Tin                Three

Schtar, Star          Tschar             Four

Pantsch, Pansch       Pansch             Five

Tschowe, Schow        Tscho              Six

Efta                  Hefta, Sat         Seven

Ochto                 Aute               Eight

Desch, Des            Des, Des           Ten

Bisch, Bis            Bjs                Twenty

Diwes                 Diw                Day

Ratti                 Rateh              Night

Cham, Cam             Kam                The Sun

Schan                 Tschand            The Moon

Panj                  Panj               Water

Sonnikey              Suna               Gold

Rûp                   Ruppa              Silver

Jiv                   Giuw               Wheat

Bàl                   Bàl                The Hair

Aok                   Awk                The Eye

Kan                   Kawn               The Ear

Nak                   Nakk               The Nose

Mui                   Mu                 The Mouth

Dant                  Dant               A Tooth

Tschib                Jibb               The Tongue

Sunjo                 Sunnj              The Hearing

Sunj                  Sunkh              The Smell

Sik                   Tschik             The Taste

Tschater              Tschater           A Tent

Rajah                 Raja               The Prince

Puro                  Purana             Old

Baro                  Burra              Great

Kalo                  Kala               Black

Grea                  Gorrra             Horse

Jukel                                    Dog

Maru                                     Bread

Kil                                      Butter

Ker                   Gurr               House

It has already been observed, that in the Gypsey, as well as in the
Hindostanie language, the article is not placed before the noun, but
affixed behind it; and that is the sole indication of the case of a noun.

Grellmann has given examples of the declension of nouns, pronouns, and
adjectives, as well as the conjugation of verbs in both languages; but
the grammatical arrangement of them does not come within the design of
this work.  The foregoing list of words is a selection of those that are
most similar: but in Grellmann’s extensive vocabulary, he says, it will
appear on the average, that every third Gypsey word, is likewise

It must be observed, that the words above recited, have been learned from
the Gypsies within a few years, consequently at a time when they had been
nearly four complete centuries away from Hindostan, their native country;
and among people who spoke languages totally different; in which also the
Gypsies conversed.

Under the constant and so long continued influx of these languages, their
own must necessarily have suffered some alteration; more especially as
they are a people entirely ignorant, either of writing or literature.

It does not appear that there is so much Persian in the Gypsey language,
as has been generally imagined; and even what there is of it, they may
have brought with them from their native country, as many Persian words
are current in Hindostan.  We ought rather to wonder the number of
Hindostanie words in the Gypsey language, is so considerable, than to
require it should be greater, to furnish sufficient proof of the
Hindostanie language being the Gypsies’ mother tongue.

Since the laborious researches of Grellmann, extended intercourse with
India, has furnished unquestionable evidence in support of his
deductions.  The first we shall introduce, is contained in the following
letter from William Marsden to Sir Joseph Banks, F.R.S. read to the
Society of Antiquaries in London, 1785.

“It has long been surmised, that the vagrant tribes of people called in
this country Gypsies, and on parts of the Continent of Europe, Cingari,
Zingari, and Chingali, were of eastern origin.  The former name has been
supposed a corruption of Egyptian, and some learned men have judged it
not improbable that their language might be traced to the Coptic.

“In the course of researches which I have had occasion to pursue on the
subject of language, I have observed that Ludolfus, in his history of
Ethiopia, makes mention incidentally of the Cingari, vel _Errones
Nubiani_, and gives a specimen of words which he had collected from these
people on his travels, with a view of determining their origin.  He
discusses the opinions of various writers concerning them; but forms no
precise sentiment of his own, concluding his observations with these
words: “Eadem vocabula, cum maximam partem reperiam apud Vulcanium à
centum fere annis traditam, non fictitia existimo, ut Megiferus putat nec
corrupta ex aliis linguis, neque Egyptiaca, sive Coptica.”—In English,
thus: “Since I find according to Vulcanius, that most of these words have
been continued traditionally for a period of nearly 100 years, I do not
consider them fictitious, as Megiferus supposes, nor corrupted from other
languages, either the Egyptian or Coptic.”

“I was surprised to find many of the words familiar to my eye; and I
pointed out to Sir Joseph Banks, in the latter end of the year 1783,
their evident correspondence with terms in the Hindostanie, or as it is
vulgarly termed in India, the Moors’ language.

“This similitude appeared to me so extraordinary, that I was inclined to
suspect an error in the publication, which might have arisen from a
confusion of obscure vocabularies in the author’s possession.  The
circumstance, however, determined me to pay farther attention to the
subject, and to examine, in the first place, whether the language spoken
by the Gypsey tribes in England, and by those in the remoter parts of the
continent of Europe was one, and the same; and then to ascertain, whether
this actually bore the affinity which so forcibly struck me in Ludolfus,
to any of the languages on the Continent of India.

“Through the obliging assistance of Sir Joseph Banks, who has spared no
pains to promote this investigation, I procured an opportunity of
obtaining a list of words from our Gypsies, which I can depend upon as
genuine, and tolerably accurate in respect to the pronunciation, from
their being corroborated also by words taken down, separately, by Sir
Joseph, and by Dr. Blagden.

“Mr. Matra did me the favour to transmit for me, a list of words to
Turkey; and from his ingenious friend B. Pisani, I received a complete
and satisfactory translation of them, together with some information,
respecting the manners of the Chingiares, in the Turkish dominions,
which, however, does not come within the design of this paper, as I mean
to confine myself in the present communication, simply to the question of
similarity of language; which, if established, I should esteem a matter
of no little curiosity; presuming it to be perfectly new to the world.

“Of this similarity, the learned members of the Society will be enabled
to form their judgment from the annexed paper, exhibiting a comparison of
a few of the words procured from the different quarters before mentioned,
with the Hindostanie terms, from the best published, and parole
authorities.  It may not be unworthy of remark, that the general
appellation of these people in the eastern part of Europe, is very nearly
connected with that of the inhabitants of Ceylon, in the East-Indies, who
are equally termed.  Lingalese and Chingalese; though at the same time it
must be acknowledged, that the language of this Island has much less
correspondence with that of the Gypsies, than many others of the Indian

“His Grace, the Archbishop of York, with his usual discernment, suggested
to me, the probability that the Zingara here spoken of, may have derived
their name, and perhaps their origin from the people called Langari, or
Langarians, who are found in the north-west parts of the Peninsula of
Hindostan, and infest the coasts of Guzerat and Sindy with their
piratical depredations.

“The maritime turn of this numerous race of people, with their roving and
enterprising disposition, may warrant the idea of occasional emigration
in their boats, by the coarse of the Red Sea.

“Notwithstanding the resemblance to the Hindostanie, is the predominant
feature in the Gypsey dialect, yet there are words interspersed, which
evidently coincide with other languages.  Besides the Mahratta, and
Bengalese, which I have marked in the comparative specimen, it is not a
little singular that the terms for the numerals _seven_, _eight_, and
_nine_, are purely Greek: although the first five, and that for ten, are
indisputably Indian.  It is also a curious observation, that although the
Indian term for seven is _saath_, yet that for a week, or seven days; is
the Eftan of the latter.

“One word only among those I have examined, bears a resemblance to the
Coptic, which is _rom_, the same with _romi_, a man.

“In comparisons of this nature, a due allowance must be made, not only
for the various modes of spelling adopted by different persons, and
different nations, but also for the dissimilar manner in which the same
individual sound, strikes the organs of the hearers; of which some
pointed instances may be given.

“Should any be inclined to doubt, which I scarcely suppose possible, the
identity of the Gypsey, or Cingari, and the Hindostanie languages, still
it will be acknowledged as no uninteresting subject, that tribes
wandering through the mountains of Nubia, or the plains of Romania, have
conversed for centuries in a dialect precisely similar to that spoken at
this day, by, the obscure, despised, and wretched people in England,
whose language has been considered as a fabricated gibberish, and
confounded with a cant in use among thieves and beggars; and whose
persons have been, till within the period of a year, an object of the
persecution, instead of the protection of our laws.”

                                                        _William Marsden_.

In the 386th page of the 7th Vol. of Archæologia, is the comparative view
of the English Gypsey, Turkish Gypsey, and Hindostanie dialects; a
specimen of which will be presented in this section.

In page 387 of the same volume, are collections on the Zingara, or Gypsey
language, by Jacob Bryant, Esq. transmitted to G. Salusbury Brereton,
Esq. in a letter from Doctor Douglas, read 1785: This learned traveller,
when in Hungary, had taken from the mouths of Gypsies, specimens of their
language, which occupy seven pages.  It is remarkable, that of seventeen
words obtained and enumerated in the letters of Coxe, the learned
traveller, fourteen appear to resemble most exactly those of the same
signification, collected by Jacob Bryant

                                                           _John Douglas_.


_English_.     _English           _Turkish         _Cingari vel     _Hindostanie_.
               Gypsey_.           Gypsey_.         Errones

One            Aick               Yeck                              Aick, ek, Yek

Two            Dooce              Duy                               Du, Dow

Three          Trin               Trin                              Trin

Four           Staur, Shtar       Shtiar                            Chaur

Five           Panji              Panch                             Paunch

Six            Shove              Shove                             Chaye

Seven          Heftan             Efta                              Saath

Eight                             Okto                              Aoth Aut

Nine           Henya              Enia                              Noh Nu

Ten            Desh               Desh                              Dus, Doshe

Man            Raye, gazo         Ram Manush       Manusch          Manoosha,

Woman          Raunee gougee      Romee                             Rendee, Raunee

Head           Bold-uroo shero    Shero            Schiero          Seer, Sirr

Eyes           Yackau, yock       Yack             Jaka             Okhyo

Nose           Bol-nak            Nack             Nak              Nauck

Hair           Ballau, bolow      Bal              Bal              Baul, Bal

Teeth          Danau              Dan                               Daunt, Dant

Ear            Kanaue                              Can              Kaun

Day            Dewas, Devas       Deeves                            Deendeewas

Night          Rautee             Rateee                            Raut, roat

White          Pauno              Parnee                            Paandra

Sheep          Baukro                              Bakro            Bhare

Hog            Baulo              Balo             Palo

Fish           Matcho             Muteho                            Matchee,

Bind           Cheriko            Chiriiklo                         Chereah

House          Kair                                Ker              Ghurr

Gold           Soona-kai                                            Sonna

Silver         Roop                                                 Roopau

Brand, in his observations on Popular Antiquities, Vol. II. page 432,
observes: “The Gypsies, as it should seem from some striking proofs
derived from their language, were originally from Hindostan, where they
are supposed to have been of the lowest class of Indians, named Pariars,
or as they are called in Hindostan, Suders.  They are thought to have
emigrated about A.D. 1408, or 1409, when Timur Beg ravaged India for the
purpose of spreading the Mahometan religion.  On this occasion so many
were made slaves, and put to death, that a universal panic took place,
and a very great number of terrified inhabitants endeavoured to save
themselves by flight.

“As every part to the north and east was beset by the enemy, it is most
probable that the country below Multan, to the mouth of the Indus, was
the first asylum and rendezvous of the fugitive Suders.  This is called
the country of Zinganen.  Here they were safe, and remained so till
Timur’s return from the victory of the Ganges.  Then it was that they
entirely quitted the country, and probably with them a considerable
number of the natives, which will explain the meaning of their original

In the seventh Vol. of the Asiatic Researches, page 470, Captain David
Richardson says of the _Panchperee_, or Budee’a Nuts: “’Tis probable
there will be found in their manners, a stronger similitude to the
Gypsies of Europe, than in those of any other which may come under
review.  They have no particular system of religion, adopting with
indifference that of the village near to which they happen to be
encamped.  In the upper provinces of Hindostan, the little encampments of
these people are frequently very regular and neat, being there formed of
the Sirkee entirely.  Each apartment, though not much larger than a
mastiff’s kennel, has its own particular enclosure, or court-yard;
generally erected in such a manner, as to become a species of
circumvallation to the whole portable hamlet.

“One cannot help wondering where so many men, women, and children, and
other domestic animals manage to sleep; or shelter themselves from the
storms which sometimes assail these itinerant people.  The men are
remarkably athletic and active, and also nimble and adroit, in every kind
of slight of hand.  Many of the subdivisions of this class of men, pay
little, or no attention to cleanliness, or any restrictions in diet;
eating dead jackalls, bullocks, horses, or any kind of food procurable.

“The women do not attend the men during their juggling exploits, but have
a peculiar department allotted to themselves; which consists of the
practice of physic, cupping, palmistry, curing disorders of the teeth,
and marking the skin of the Hindoo women, an operation termed Godna.
They have two languages peculiar to themselves; one intended for the use
only of the craftsman, the other general among men, women, and children.

“The Hindostanie is the basis of both; the first is general, being a mere
transposition or change of syllables; and the second apparently, a
systematic conversion of a few letters; but which will be best elucidated
by the following specimen, which contains twenty-two words.”

After which, he says: “I find these people in Colebrook’s arrangement of
the Hindoo Classes, mentioned in the sixth class, under the head of
_Nata_, Bazeegurs; and in Sir William Jones’s translation of the
Ordinances of Menu, _Munoo_, Chapter 10.

“I shall now subjoin a short parallel between the Gypsies of Europe, and
the people I have described.  Both the _Gypsies_ and the _Nuts_ are
generally a wandering race of beings, seldom having a fixed habitation.
They have each a language peculiar to themselves.  That of the Gypsies is
undoubtedly a species of Hindostanie; as well as that of the Nuts.  In
Europe, it answers all the purposes of concealment.

“The Gypsies have their King, the Nuts their _Nardar Boutoh_; they are
equally formed into companies, and their peculiar employments are exactly
similar; dancing, singing, music, palmistry, &c.  They are both
considered as thieves; at least that division of the Nuts, whose manners
come nearest the Gypsies.—In matters of religion they appear equally
indifferent, and as to food, we have seen that neither the Gypsies nor
the Budee’a Nuts are very choice.

“Though, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, Grellmann’s Theory is thought
slightly of, the similarity of language being deemed but inconclusive
evidence; yet in this instance, and even in opposition to such authority,
I will venture to consider it, as forming a basis of the most substantial
kind.  It is not the accidental coincidence of a few words, but the whole
vocabulary he produces, differs not so much from the common Hindostanie,
as provincial dialects of the same country do from each other.

“Grellmann, from a want of knowledge in the Hindostanie; as to its
provincial dialects, lost many opportunities of producing the proper word
in comparison with the Gypsey one.

“The following list of words was taken from the Annual Register of 1784,
or 1785, with a few I have now subjoined from Grellmann.—In some of the
instances where he has failed of producing the corresponding Hindostanie
word, the supply of them will, I hope, prove the language of the Gypsies,
and that of Hindostan to be the same, or very intimately connected with
each other.

    _Gypsey_.        _Hindostanie_.              _English_.

Bebee               Beebe              Aunt, _a respectful feminine
                                       termination from baba_,

Pawnee              Paniee             Brook, Drink, Water

Cauliban            Kalaburn           Black

Davies, Devus       Dewus              Day

Rattie              Rat                Dark night

Can                 Kan                The Ear

Dad                 Dada               Father

Mutchee             Muchee             Fish

Bootsee             Buholsee           Great

Gur                 Ghur               House

Shing               Seen               Horn

Tuttoo              Tutta              Heat

Riah                Raye               Lord

Rriena              Ra, enee           Lady

Dai                 Da’ee              Mother

Mass                Mas                Meat or food

Nack                Nak                Nose

Bouropanee          Bura-panee         Ocean, wave

Loon                Loon               Salt

Rook                Rook, h            A Tree

Tschar              Char               A Thief

Mul                 Mool               Wine

Captain Richardson continues the list through four pages.


Present state the Gypsies in England.

                                * * * * *

It has been already stated, in the Introduction to this work, that the
author visited an encampment of Gypsies.  It consisted of five tents,
situated near Rushden, within two miles of the pleasant town of Higham
Ferrers.  He did not reconnoitre the camp till about mid-day, having been
informed that by this time, it was probable, the able-bodied persons of
both sexes would be drawn off to a feast and a fair, in different
situations, not very distant.  It proved so; there were only two women,
three children, and an infant remaining in the tents; which were the
residence of several branches of the numerous families of Smith, and
Loversedge, names well known in the county of Northampton.

The head of the former, has been many years a dealer in asses, or
donkies; and is reputed to be possessed of some property.  His wife, more
than eighty years of age, was seated at the entrance of one of the tents,
weaving a cabbage net.  The other woman, who was middle aged, was nursing
an infant; and the eldest of the children, about twelve years of age, was
making preparation for washing; a pan was suspended from three poles,
under which she had kindled a fire, to boil water.  The very tattered and
squalid appearance of this poor girl was truly affecting.

On conversing with the old woman, she said she had forty grand-children;
some gone to the feast, others to the fair; and she signified, that both
men and women were musical performers.

On being asked whether any of them had learned to read, she shook her
head, and, with apparent regret, acknowledged they had not.  This
indication of concern excited an idea, that some impression had been made
on the minds even of Gypsies, of the disadvantages their children were

Considering how generally education had been extended, to the lowest
description of every other class of British subjects; how many schools
had been opened in villages, as well as in the different towns of the
kingdom, it was not improbable, that information of movements so
extraordinary, might have reached the ears, if not impressed the minds of
these neglected fellow-creatures.  The activity which had been
subsequently displayed in the distribution of the Scriptures, and the
zeal excited among the most ignorant to receive them, might also come to
their knowledge.

Resuming conversation with the female head of the Smith family, she said
they endured great hardships in winter, having no shelter but their
tents, in the worst of weather.

She was then asked, if they did not experience great difficulty in
obtaining the means of subsistence, during the inclement seasons; and
whether they were not, at times, reduced to the necessity of taking up
with any kind of sustenance, even if it consisted of animals they might
find dead upon the road.

To this she immediately replied: “Those that have died by the hand of
God, are better than those that have died by the hand of man.”

This reply, corresponding so exactly with that of the Continental
Gypsies, presents a remarkable trait of their mutual descent from the
Suder caste.

Some of the peculiarities in Gypsey habits to which we have just now
adverted, had not escaped the observation of that accurate delineator of
men and manners, our celebrated poet, Cowper; as will appear by the
following sketch:

   “I see a column of slow rising smoke,
   O’er-top the lofty wood, that skirts the wild.
   A vagabond and useless tribe, there eat
   Their miserable meal.  A Kettle
   Slung between two poles, upon a stick transverse,
   Receives the morsel: flesh _obscene_ of hog,
   Or _vermin_; or, at best, of cock purloined
   From his accustom’d perch.  Hard faring race,
   They pick their fuel out of every hedge,
   Which kindled with dry leaves, and wood, just saves
   The spark of life.  The sportive wind blows wide
   Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawney skin,
   The vellum of the pedigree they claim.”

Before the Gypsey’s acknowledgment, of preferring the flesh of animals
which have died by disease, or what is called a natural death, the writer
of this section, knew not how to credit the general testimony of the
farmers and inhabitants of Northamptonshire, that they did not find the
Gypsies committed any depredations on their property, unless it was in
pilfering wood from the fences.  He now thinks it probable, that others,
who were unacquainted with this singular idea of the Gypsies, respecting
animal food, may have imagined they were guilty of many more thefts for
subsistence, than is really the case.

In the further progress of his inquiries, the writer has met with various
instances in which confidence reposed in Gypsies, has not been
disappointed.—He will mention a remarkable one at Feringbury, near
Coggeshall, in Essex, on a farm which had been occupied by three
generations of the family of Corders; during which time, not the least
loss had been sustained, by accommodating Gypsies with lodgings in their
barns and out-houses during inclement weather; but, on the contrary, the
family have considered them a protection to their property.

After the success of an experiment like the above, it would be
superfluous to ask, if it is not sounder policy to excite the good, than
the bad dispositions of human nature.

Must not the torrent of invective and abuse, almost universally poured
upon this people, tend to disaffect and indispose them to civil
association!  Despised and ill-treated as they often are, have they not
reason to imagine the hand of every man to be against them?  Who then can
wonder at their eluding, as much as possible, the inquiries of strangers!

Looking at their condition among the various inhabitants of Europe,
dignified with the Christian name, the writer has often been reminded of
the universality of the Gospel call, as illustrated in the parable of the
great supper.  After the invitation had been given throughout the streets
and lanes of the cities, the command to the servants was: “Go out into
the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.”  Here is a
description that may have been intended specially to apply to this
people, so exactly and even literally adapted to their condition, in all
countries, is the language: “Go ye into the highways and hedges.”  And
the distinction in their case is rendered still more remarkable by the
very pressing injunction, “Compel them to come in.”

Does it not admit of the inference, that as outcasts of society, being
under greater disadvantages than the other incited classes, their
situation requited a more powerful stimulus to be applied?

The account of the sufferings of Gypsies in winter, having been confirmed
by many concurring testimonies, from the inhabitants of Northamptonshire,
the following Circular was sent into most of the Counties of England,
with a view to ascertain their state in other parts of the nation.


When it is considered how much the exertions of the wise, the
philanthropic, and the good, in all parts of the nation, have been
directed to advancing the morals and religious instruction of the lower
orders of the community, it appears almost incredible that one
description of British subjects, and of all others the most abject and
depraved, should have been either entirely overlooked or neglected.  The
Gypsies, to whom this applies, are a people which, more than any other,
it might have been considered the interest of society to reclaim, because
of the depredations they commit upon it.

The efforts of the good, and of the great, have not been confined to
meliorating the condition of the inhabitants of this country only, they
have been directed to the alleviation of human misery in various other
nations, and even to the augmentation of funds for civilizing the natives
of distant regions of the globe.  Can we manifest our solicitude for the
improvement of our fellow-creatures separated from us thousands of miles,
whose faces we never saw, and conclude that numbers of persons in our own
country, whose situation is more desperate, have not a peculiar claim on
our consideration?

To reclaim the Indians of North America from their wild and roving course
of life, associations have been formed to give them instructions in
agriculture, and to supply them with implements of husbandry; plans of
education adapted to their untutored state have been arranged, and
persons qualified to carry them into effect, in the establishment of
schools, have gone to their assistance.

Do the numerous Gypsey tribes of England possess any of these advantages?

In the summer of 1814, when the writer of this circular, visited a number
of Gypsey tents in Northamptonshire, as already stated, a woman about 80
years of age, who had forty grand-children, acknowledged, that not one of
them had been taught to read.  In this land of Christian benevolence, can
we pronounce a certain proportion of its inhabitants to be wretchedly
depraved, and even a wicked set of people; advertise them as rogues and
vagabonds, and offer a reward for their apprehension, without devising
any means of remedying the defects of their habits, or holding out
encouragement to reformation, in any of them who are disposed to
relinquish their vicious courses?

The associations formed and forming in different parts of the nation for
the prosecution of felons, render the condition of Gypsies every day more
and more deplorable, by their being hunted like beasts of prey from
township to township.

The last winter but one, a company of these houseless wanderers were dug
out of the snow in Ditchford Lane, near Irchester, Northamptonshire, when
it appeared one woman had been lying in, and that an old man was dying.

If those who have been zealous in driving them from their accustomed
haunts, were to place themselves, if but ideally in their situation, can
we believe, that instead of augmenting their sufferings, they would not
be disposed to commiserate their case, and even attend to the precept of
the Christian Legislator: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them?”  It is worse than useless and unavailing to
harrass them from place to place, when no retreat or shelter is provided
for their refuge.

A writer on this subject, under the designation of Junius, in the
Northampton Mercury of June 27th, 1814, observes: “When we consider the
immense sums raised for every probable means of doing good, which have
hitherto been made public, we cannot doubt, if a proper method should be
proposed for the relief and ameliorating the state of these people, it
would meet with deserved encouragement.  Suppose that the Legislature
should think them not unworthy its notice; and as a part of the great
family, they ought not to be overlooked.”  Another writer in the
Northampton Mercury of July the 21st of the last year, on the necessity
of some plan being adopted for their advantage, remarks, thereby
“thousands of our fellow-creatures would be raised from depravity and
wretchedness to a state of comfort; the private property of individuals
be much more secure, and the public materially benefited.”  In addition
to these observations, it may be asked, Would not the providing of an
education for their children, to which they should be induced to conform,
and the apprenticing of them, at a proper age, to suitable trades, enable
the rising generation to correct the errors of Gypsey habits?

With a view to ascertain more fully the extent in which this may be
necessary, the friends of humanity, to whom this Circular may be
addressed, are requested to co-operate with others of their friends in
different parts of each county, for procuring answers from the best
informed of the Gypsies, and others, to the subsequent questions.  And
should there be any person in their neighbourhood, who after being
brought up among the Gypsies, hath quitted them for a more settled course
of life, information from such is particularly desirable.  Answers are
requested in the course of the summer: to be sent to John Hoyland,
Springfield, Sheffield.

                                * * * * *


1.  From whence is it said the Gypsies first came?

2.  How many is it supposed there are in England?

3.  What is your circuit in summer?

4.  How many Gypsey families are supposed to be in it?

5.  What are the names of them?

6.  Have they any meetings with those of other circuits?

7.  And for what purpose?

8.  What number of Gypsies are there computed to be in the county?

9.  What proportion of their number follow business, and what kind?

10.  What do they bring their children up to?

11.  What do the women employ themselves in?

12.  From how many generations can they trace their descent?

13.  Have they kept to one part of the country, or removed to distant

14.  How long have they lived in this part?

15.  Have they any speech of their own, different to that used by other

16.  What do they call it?  Can any one write it?

17.  Is there any writing of it to be seen any where?

18.  Have they any rules of conduct which are general to their community?

19.  What religion do they mostly profess?

20.  Do they marry, and in what manner?

21.  How do they teach their children religion?

22.  Do any of them learn to read?

23.  Who teaches them?

24.  Have they any houses to go to in winter?

25.  What proportion of them, is it supposed, live out of doors in
winter, as in summer?

5_th_ _Month_, 16_th_, 1815.


_Received from the Counties of England_, _are comprised in the following
general Answers to the Queries of the Circular_.

1.  All Gypsies suppose the first of them came from Egypt.

2.  They cannot form any idea of the number in England.

3.  The Gypsies of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, parts of Buckinghamshire,
Cambridge, and Huntingdonshire, are continually making revolutions within
the range of those counties.

4.  They are either ignorant of the number of Gypsies in the counties
through which they travel, or unwilling to disclose their knowledge.

5.  The most common names are Smith, Cooper, Draper, Taylor, Bosswel,
Lee, Lovell, Loversedge, Allen, Mansfield, Glover, Williams, Carew,
Martin, Stanley, Buckley, Plunkett, Corrie.

6 & 7.  The gangs in different towns have not any regular connection, or
organization; but those who take up their winter quarters in the same
city or town, appear to have some knowledge of the different routes each
horde will pursue; probably with a design to prevent interference.

8.  In the county of Herts, it is computed there may be sixty families,
having many children.  Whether they are quite so numerous in
Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and Northamptonshire, the answers are not
sufficiently definite to determine.  In Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire,
Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire, greater numbers are calculated
upon.  In various counties, the attention has not been competent to
procuring data for any estimate of families, or individuals.

9.  More than half their number follow no business; others are dealers in
horses and asses; farriers, smiths, tinkers, braziers, grinders of
cutlery, basket-makers, chair-bottomers, and musicians.

10.  Children are brought up in the habits of their parents, particularly
to music and dancing, and are of dissolute conduct.

11.  The women mostly carry baskets with trinkets and small wares; and
tell fortunes.

12.  Too indolent to have acquired accounts of genealogy, and perhaps
indisposed to it by the irregularity of their habits.

13.  In most counties there are particular situations to which they are
partial.  In Berkshire is a marsh, near Newbury, much frequented by them;
and Dr. Clarke states, that in Cambridgeshire, their principal rendezvous
is near the western villages.

14.  It cannot be ascertained, whether from their first coming into the
nation, attachment to particular places has prevailed.

15, 16, & 17.  When among strangers, they elude inquiries respecting
their peculiar language, calling it gibberish.  Don’t know of any person
that can write it, or of any written specimen of it.

18.  Their habits and customs in all places are peculiar.

19.  Those who profess any religion, represent it to be that of the
country in which they reside: but their description of it, seldom goes
beyond repeating the Lord’s prayer; and only a few of them are capable of
that.  Instances of their attending any place for warship are very rare.

20.  They marry for the most part by pledging to each other, without any
ceremony.  A few exceptions have occurred when money was plentiful.

21.  They do not teach their children religion.

22 & 23.  Not _one_ in a _thousand_ can read.

24 & 25.  Some go into lodgings in London, Cambridge, &c. during winter;
but it is calculated three-fourths of them live out of doors in winter,
as in summer.

Most of the answers are confirmed by Riley Smith, who, during many years,
was accounted the chief of the Gypsies in Northamptonshire.  He being
much in request by some of the principal inhabitants of that county, as a
musician, had the address to marry the cook out of one of their families,
and afterward obtained a farm near Bedford; but being unsuccessful in
agriculture, he returned to his former occupation.  John Forster and
William Carrington, respectable merchants of Biggleswade, and neighbours
to Riley Smith, procured answers from him to all the queries in the
Circular; but they cannot be made the basis of any calculation of the
number of Gypsies in the nation.

It has not come to the knowledge of the writer, what foundation there has
been for the report commonly circulated, that a Member of Parliament had
stated to the House of Commons, when speaking to some question relating
to Ireland; that there were not less than 36,000 Gypsies in Great

To make up such an aggregate, the numerous hordes must have been
included, who traverse most of the nation with carts and asses, for the
sale of earthenware, and live out of doors great part of the year, after
the manner of the Gypsies.—These potters, as they are commonly called,
acknowledge that Gypsies have intermingled with them, and their habits
are very similar.  They take their children along with them on travel,
and, like the Gypsies, regret that they are without education.

It has already appeared in Baillie Smith’s report, that the Gypsies in
Scotland, of late years, have had recourse to a similar occupation in the
sale of earthenware, which, as they mostly attend fairs, is a mode of
life remarkably adapted to their inclination.

Some pains have been taken among the potteries in Staffordshire, to
procure information of the number of families of this description, which
annually apply to purchase the refuse of their wares; but no return has
been made.

The application to the Sheriffs of Scotland, procured from the counties
prompt and decisive reports; and it is not probable that any measure,
short of an order to the constables of every township, to take an account
on the same day, throughout England, would be sufficient for ascertaining
Gypsey population.

For this purpose a patrole might be necessary, on one and the same day,
in each township, particularly in lanes and situations shaded in summer.
If notice of the requisition were to be communicated to constables, a few
days before, with directions not to disclose the object, further than the
necessary provision for it required; it is probable, that a sufficiently
correct estimate might be formed, of the aggregate number in the nation.

Such an account might extend also to the itinerant potters, and the
number of their children: or if the potters take out a Hawker’s and
Pedlar’s licence, a return of their numbers might be obtained from the
proper office.  There is reason to think that many of these dealers have
acquired property, who, nevertheless take lodgings for the winter,
instead of renting houses; whereby they, equally with Gypsies, evade all
contributions to the service of the State, and parochial assessments.

On this subject, the writer is reminded of what has often occurred to
him, when inspecting a low description of lodging-houses in the populous
town of Sheffield, of which he is an inhabitant.  Finding it difficult to
obtain from the keepers of such houses, sufficient information respecting
their guests; he has thought, that obliging all who lodge itinerants to
take out a licence, would, by rendering them amenable to just authority,
obviate this difficulty; and put it in the power of those respectable
inhabitants, who wish the regulation of these receptacles, to exercise
just discrimination, without infringing upon the liberty of the subject.
He has reason to believe, if this were effected, it would operate as a
considerable check on vagrancy, and save much trouble to magistrates.


Present state of the Gypsies in and about London.

                                * * * * *

In the autumn of 1815, the author made a journey to London, in order to
obtain information respecting the Gypsies in its vicinity.

The first account he received of the education of any of them, was from
Thomas Howard, proprietor of a glass and china shop, No. 50, Fetter-lane,
Fleet-street.  This person, who preached among the Calvinists, said, that
in the winter of 1811, he had assisted in the establishment of a Sunday
School in Windmill-street, Acre-lane, near Clapham.  It was under the
patronage of a single gentlewoman, of the name of Wilkinson, and
principally intended for the neglected and forlorn children of
brick-makers, and the most abject of the poor.  It was begun on a small
scale, but increased till the number of scholars amounted to forty.

During the winter, a family of Gypsies, of the name of Cooper, obtained
lodgings at a house opposite the school.  Trinity Cooper, a daughter of
this Gypsey family, who was about thirteen years of age, applied to be
instructed at the school; but, in consequence of the obloquy affixed to
that description of persons, she was repeatedly refused.  She
nevertheless persevered in her importunity, till she obtained admission
for herself, and two of her brothers.

Thomas Howard says, that, surrounded as he was by ragged children,
without shoes and stockings, the first lesson he taught them was silence
and submission.—They acquired habits of subordination, became tractable
and docile; and, of all his scholars, there were not any more attentive
and affectionate than these; and when the Gypsies broke up house in the
spring, to make their usual excursions, the children expressed much
regret at leaving the school.

This account was confirmed by Thomas Jackson, of Brixton-row, minister of
Stockwell Chapel, who said, since the above experiment, several Gypsies
had been admitted to a sabbath school, under the direction of his
congregation.  At their introduction, he compared them to birds when
first put into a cage, which flew against the sides of it, having no idea
of restraint; but by a steady even care over them, and the influence of
the example of other children, they soon became settled, and fell into
their ranks.

With a view to reconnoitre an encampment of Gypsies, the author accepted
a seat in the carriage of a friend, who drove him to Hainault forest.
This, according to historians, was of vast extent in the times of the
ancient Britons, reaching to the Thames; and so late as the reign of
Henry the 2d, it covered the northern vicinity of the city.

On this forest, about two miles from the village of Chigwell, Essex, and
ten from London, stands the far-famed oak, at which is held Fairlop Fair,
that great annual resort of the Gypsies.

According to an account of it printed for Hogg, Paternoster-row, the
trunk or main stem of this tree has been sixty-six feet, and some of the
branches twelve feet, in circumference.  The age of this prodigy of the
forest cannot be ascertained with any degree of precision.  The oak
viewed by the present King, in Oxfordshire, and some years ago felled in
the domains of one of the Colleges, though only twenty-five feet in
girth, is said to have been six hundred years old.  Fairlop oak having
been nearly thrice as large, is supposed to be at least twice that age.

Phillips employed by the King, applied a patent mixture to stop the
progress of its decay, but, last autumn, when seen by the describer, its
naked gigantic trunk and arms, retaining not the least symptom of
animation, presented a ghastly spectacle of the ravages of time, as
contrasted with the rich verdure of the surrounding scenery.

The circumstances which gave rise to the establishment of a fair, on this
spot of ground, are somewhat singular.

Daniel Day, an engine, pump, and block-maker, of Wapping, having a small
estate in the vicinity of this oak, was in the habit of annually
resorting to it about a fortnight after midsummer, to receive his rents,
when he provided a dinner under the tree, and invited several of his
friends to it.  The novelty of the scene exciting the attention of the
neighbouring inhabitants, attendance on that occasion increased until
about the year 1725, when booths being erected round the stupendous oak,
the scene assumed the appearance of a regular fair.  It has continued to
be held there, and it is said now attracts a great number of attendants.

As this fair does not appear to be a mart for horses or cattle, there is
reason to fear, it is kept up more for revelry and excess, than for any
useful purpose.  The ground has been cleared to some extent about the
oak, which stands at the head of a circular lawn, surrounded by pailing,
to protect it from the ravages of the unthinking part of the multitude,
who assemble there.  It is said to have been the practice of the Gypsies,
to kindle fires against the trunk, by which the bulk has been diminished,
and perhaps the vegetation injured.

On the side of the forest, near to Dagenham, Essex, was the encampment of
Gypsies, of which the author’s friend was in quest.  The construction of
their tents, is well known to be wooden hoops fastened into the ground,
and covered with an awning of blankets or canvas, which resembles the
tilt of a waggon; the end is closed from the wind by a curtain.  This
gang was called by the name of Corrie.  It consisted of an old man, his
wife, a niece, and their son and daughter with ten children; said to be
all from Staffordshire.  The men were scissars’ grinders and tinkers.

Questions being asked them respecting their condition, a young woman made
some observations upon them to an older woman, in their own peculiar
speech.  This was the first time the writer had an opportunity of
ascertaining, what the language of Gypsies in England really was.  With
the knowledge only of Grellmann’s vocabulary, he pointed out what the
young woman had expressed; upon which they immediately exclaimed, the
gentleman understands what we say; and they gave way to immoderate
transports of joy, saying, they would tell him any thing he wished to
know of them.

On being asked what gold was in their language, they replied without
hesitation, _sonnaka_, and immediately added, silver was _roop_.

The opinion which has been entertained, that Gypsey language was composed
only of cant terms, or of what has been denominated the slang of beggars,
has probably been much promoted and strengthened by the dictionary
contained in a pamphlet entitled, “The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde
Moore Carew.”  It consists for the most part of English words, vamped up
apparently not so much for the purpose of concealment, as burlesque.
Even if used by this people at all, the introduction of this cant, as the
genuine language of the community of Gypsies, is a gross imposition on
the public.

One of the women said, the education of their children was to be desired,
but their travelling from place to place was against it.—A young man
among them said, there were a hundred of their people in Staffordshire.
This gang was intelligent as well as communicative, and gave proof of
more civility than is commonly attributed to Gypsies.

The author also visited Norwood, which was formerly a principal
rendezvous of the Gypsies.  This village, near Croydon, in Surry, is
situated on a fine hill, and is a wildly rural spot; but having been
considerably inclosed of late years, it is not now much frequented by the

John Westover, deputy of James Furnell, constable of Norwood, stated,
that about two months before, the Gypsies in that neighbourhood had been
apprehended as vagrants, and sent in three coaches to prison.  This
account was confirmed by Edward Morris, the landlord at the Gypsey house.
It did not appear that these Gypsies were committed for depredations on
property, but merely on the vagrant act.

Gypsies being _routed_, as it is termed, in this manner, from various
parts of the south, may probably have occasioned their appearing in
greater numbers in the northern parts of the nation.  The writer of this
section being at Scarborough, in the bathing season of 1815, had
intelligence of there being, at the same time, an encampment of Gypsies
at Boroughbridge, another at Knaresborough, and a third at Pocklington,
in the east-riding of Yorkshire.

On returning from Scarborough, he was told by an acquaintance at
Tadcaster, that a gang of about twenty Gypsies, were just gone from the
neighbourhood, after telling fortunes to most of the people in the town.
The same summer, a numerous horde had been driven from the township of
Rotherham; and there had been two encampments in the neighbourhood of

The winter before the last, severe as it was, a gang of about fifty or
sixty, lay upon Bramley Moor, three miles from Chesterfield.  This
information was received from Joseph Storrs of Chesterfield, who has been
an assiduous coadjutor.  From the same authority, the writer learns, that
a number of Gypsies usually came to Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, at the
feast, who appear to be in pretty good reputation in their transactions.
Also that there is a party of Gypsies who frequent Socombe-lane, near
Shirbrook, which is two miles east of Pleasley.  They are called
Bosswell’s gang, consisting of twelve, and sometimes more, who mostly
come once a year, and sometimes continue there for most of it.  A woman
among them is about 90 years old.  They support a good character; and one
of them who bought a pony, had credit for it, and paid honestly on his

After obtaining information at Norwood, of the winter-quarters in London,
to which Gypsies resorted; the author had an interview with branches of
several families of them, collected at the house of his friend William
Corder, Grocer, in Broad-street, Giles’s.  And in justice to them, he
must observe, that however considerably the fear of apprehension as
vagrants, may dispose them, when on travel and among strangers, to elude
their inquiries, no disposition to do so, appears in the company of
persons to whom they are known, and in whom they can repose confidence.

Being accustomed to lay out their money at the shop of this grocer, he
said they would be very ready to attend upon his invitation; and
accordingly, a number of them soon made their appearance.  They said
there were about twenty of the name of Lovell, who lodged in Bowles’s
yard, in the neighbourhood.  These acknowledged themselves Gypsies, and
many of them had the features, as well as the complexion of Asiatics.

Their account is, that they come into lodgings at Michaelmas, and
continue till April, then they set out on travel, and go into Norfolk,

That some time ago, some of them had embraced an offer to educate their
children at St. Patrick’s charity school, which had been established by
the chaplain to the Portuguese ambassador; but some dissatisfaction
arising in consequence of the religion of the conductors of that
Institution, they had removed their children to the school for the Irish,
taught by Partak Ivery, No. 5, George-street.

Uriah Lovell, the head of one of the families, made a very decent
appearance; three of his children have been four winters at school, and
learned to read and write; their father having paid sixpence per week,
for each of them.—Partak was sent for, and came to the house of William
Corder, where he confirmed the above account, saying there had been six
Gypsey children at his school, and that when placed among others, they
were reducible to order.

These Gypsies, like those upon Hainault forest, appeared to be greatly
delighted at meeting with a person, acquainted, as they thought, with
their language, and were remarkably free in speaking it.

James Corder, son of William Corder, obtained the following account of
some of the lodgers in Westminster, and in the Borough, &c.

      _Names_.                _Family_.            _Occupation and

John Lovell,           wife and 6 children,     Chair-bottomer,

James Lovell,          do. 6 do.                Tinker, Church-lane.

Joseph Lovell,         do. 3 do.                Chair-bottomer,

Thomas Lovell,         do. 2 do.                Chair bottomer,

William Lovell,        do. 1 do.                Knife-grinder,

Lussha Cooper,         wife and 10 children,    Rat-catcher,

Corrie Lovell,         do. 5 do.                Knife-grinder,

Uriah Lovell,          do. 6 do.                Chair-bottomer,

Thomas Lovell,         do. 7 do.                Knife-grinder,

Solomon Lovell,        do. 4 do.                Chair-bottomer,

Solomon Jones,         do. 2 do.                Basket-maker and

Men and Women,         22—52 Children.

John Lee,              wife and 9 children,     Chair-bottomer,

Richard Taylor,        do. 3 do.                Wire-worker,

Betsey Lovell,         widow,                   Supported by her son
                                                Joseph Lovell.

Joseph Lovell,         wife 1 do.               Bellows-mender,

Diana Lee,             widow 1 do.              Sells Earthenware,

Mansfield Lee,         wife 0 do.               Tinker and Grinder,

Zachariah Lee,         do. 0 do.                Fiddler—Travels the

Thomas Smith,          do. 5 do.                Chair-bottomer,

Thomas Porter,         do. 3 do.                Works at the Canal,

Charlotte Allen,       widow 7 do.              Sells Earthenware,
                                                Kent-street, Borough.

James Cole,            wife 4 do.               Lamplighter and
                                                Grinder, Kent-street,

Edward Martin,         do. 2 do.                Sells Fruit in the
                                                Street, Kent-street,

Samuel Martin,         do. 6 do.                Journeyman Saddler,

John Sinfield,         do. 0 do.                Sells Fish in the

John Taylor,           do. 3 do.                Ditto.  Ditto.

Men and Women,         25—44 Children.

There has not been any information obtained concerning who winter in
Bull’s Court, Kingsland Road, or in Cooper’s Gardens.

The older Gypsey children assist their parents in their trades; a few of
the younger go to school during winter.  Most of those who have children,
are desirous of their receiving an education; though but few have the
means of procuring it.

They complain of the scarcity of work; and in some instances appear to be
distressed for want of it; the more so, as their ideas of independence
prevent their applying to parishes for assistance.—It is much to their
credit, that so few instances occur of their begging in London.  In the
minutes of evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons, on
mendicity, there is only one example of a Gypsey girl begging in the

Some of the women go in a morning to principal houses in the squares,
before the heads of the families have risen, and tell fortunes to the
servants, from whom they obtain sixpence or a shilling each.

A few of the Gypsies continue all the year in London, excepting their
attendance of fairs in the vicinity.  Others, when work is scarce, go out
twenty or thirty miles round the metropolis, carrying their implements
with them on asses; and support themselves by the employment they obtain
in the towns and villages through which they pass; and assist sometimes
in hay-making, and plucking hops, in the counties of Kent, Surry, and

Among those who have winter-quarters in London, there are a few that take
circuits of great extent.  Some of them mentioned going through Herts
into Suffolk, then crossing Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire to
Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Bristol, &c.  Others spoke of being at
Yarmouth, Portsmouth, South Wales, Wiltshire, &c.

There is reason to think, the greatest part of the Island is traversed in
different directions, by hordes of Gypsies.

For the purpose of comparing the language of English Gypsies with that of
the Continental, exhibited in Section VIII, the following list of words
was sent to James Corder, Broadstreet, Bloomsbury.  He obtained from the
Gypsies in his neighbourhood, the translation affixed to them.

    _English_.          _Gypsey_.

One                  Yake

Two                  Duèe

Three                Trin

Four                 Stor

Five                 Pan

Ten                  Dyche

Head                 Charro

Eyes                 Yock

Nose                 Nack

Bread                Mor

Bread & butter       Kil-môr

Beer                 Limbar

Hair                 Bâlo.

Cold day             Shil-dewes

Hot day              Tal-dewes

Ear                  Kau

Day                  Dewes

Night                Raut

White                Parnau

Sheep                Bolko

Hog                  Borlo

Fish                 Marcho

House                Kare

Gold                 Sonnekar

Silver               Rupe

Dog                  Jukou

Horse                Grarre

When it is known that Gypsies are unacquainted with letters, and that
James Corder, who took from the mouths of those in the parish called St.
Giles, the preceding Gypsey words, did not know of Grellmann’s
vocabulary, the coincidence appears very remarkable; but it is still more
so with the Turkish Gypsey specimen by Jacob Bryant, exhibited also in
the 8th Section.  Robert Forster of Tottenham, who has been a coadjutor
in this work, transmitted the following collection of words obtained from
Gypsies in his neighbourhood.

   _Gypsey_.          _English_.

Parnee            Water

Jewcal            Dog

Maurau            Bread

Kil-maurau        Bread & butter

Lavenar           Beer

Shill-deues       Cold day

Taldu             Hot day

Moila             Ass

Gur               Horse

In the conversation a clergyman had with the Bosswell gang, as published
in the Christian Guardian for 1812 and 1813, they told him _Chum_, was
the sun; _Chuu_, the moon; _Kalmàro_, bread and butter; and _Livina_,
drink.  The first two of those words almost exactly accord with
Grellmann’s vocabulary, and the latter as nearly with Robert Forster’s
and James Corder’s collection from Gypsies in and about London.

From the comparative views which have been taken of Gypsey expressions in
various countries, there is reason to conclude that wherever they have
been scattered on the face of the earth, they have spoken and transmitted
the same language to their descendants.  That it should have been
preserved by them, when among people of other tongues, throughout
centuries, for no purpose that we are acquainted with, but that of
concealment, is indeed astonishing.


Sentiments of various persons on the moral condition of the Gypsies

                                * * * * *

After the extensive survey which has now been taken of the customs and
habits of this people, in the various countries they inhabit, the reader
will be prepared for the conclusions of Grellmann, that Gypsies are
indeed a singular phenomenon in Europe.  And remarkable it is, that the
combined influence of time, climate, and example, have not effected any
material alteration in their state.  For the space of three or four
hundred years, they have gone wandering about as pilgrims and strangers;
they are found in eastern, as well as in western countries; as well among
the rude, as the civilized; among indolent and active people; yet they
remain in all places, as to customs and habits, what their fathers were.

It is asserted, there are two causes to which this coincidence is to be
attributed; one is the country where they originate, with their
consequent train of thinking; the other arises out of the circumstances
which have hitherto attended their situation.  Their peculiar notions and
customs, leave no doubt of their being of eastern origin.  In oriental
countries, attachment to habit is so strong, that what has been once
current among them, be it ever so pernicious or ridiculous, is persevered
in; any affection which has once predominated, retains its dominion for

Mahomet knowing that the weak side of the Arabians was their veneration
for every thing handed down from their forefathers, gave his new
profession the colouring of antiquity, and affirmed it to be the religion
of Abraham.  The Jesuits in China, availed themselves of similar means,
by referring to Confucius, in aid of their doctrines, and thus they
obtained admission for their religion among the Chinese.  In the eastern
nations, no change is adopted merely because it is an improvement.  The
Chinese are acquainted with the use of glass, yet their mirrors are
always made of metal; and their windows of shells.—Mechanical watches
have been for ages used in the court of Pekin, but the bulk of the nation
depend upon the action of fire and water; the former, by the gradual
burning of a match composed of sweet smelling powder, the latter by
water, somewhat resembling our large hour-glasses.

If we consider the circumstances under which the Gypsies have existed, we
shall want nothing more to make us comprehend, why they have remained to
the present time, what they were at their first arrival in Europe.
Separating themselves as much as possible from all association, but with
those of their own tribe, they avoid every means which might give a new
turn to their ideas, or in the least degree contribute to eradicate
deep-rooted prejudice.—Unused to reflect, and fettered by habit, they
arrived in our quarter of the globe; and it does not appear that any
measures have been enjoined for instructing or reforming them, except
those of the Empress Theresa, which were never put in execution.

The most extreme punishments failing to effect a change in the habits of
Gypsies, they were subjected in almost all countries to banishment.  They
had been accustomed in their own country, to live remote from cities and
towns; now they became more invariably inhabitants of forests, and
penetrated deeper into deserts; as, in consequence of the search which
was made after them, or, at least, threatened to be made, they judged
themselves more secure in seclusion and concealment, than they would have
been, in frequenting places of established abode, and having free
intercourse with the neighbouring, inhabitants.  Thus they became, in a
greater degree, outcasts from civilized society; and divested of the
most, and perhaps the only, probable means, of inducing a change in their

Being always either persecuted, or left to themselves, no other could be
expected, than that they must ever remain in all places the same.  The
character of people being formed by the instruction they receive in their
early years, can it be thought surprising, that Gypsies who are idlers,
should be also abandoned and thievish?  Is it to be expected that men
should become diligent, who have been educated in laziness?  Who can have
a general idea of fair dealing, that has never been taught the
distinction between good and evil, virtue and vice?  Perhaps it is
reserved for _our age_, in which so much has been attempted for the
benefit of mankind, to humanize a people, who, for centuries, have
wandered in error and neglect; and it may be hoped, that while we are
endeavouring to ameliorate the condition of our African brethren, the
civilization of Gypsies, who form so large a portion of humanity, will
not be overlooked.

It cannot be denied, that considering the multitude of them, their reform
must be a subject of very serious consideration to many states.  The
period in which banishments were generally pronounced on this people,
were too unphilosophical for any preferable mode of punishment to be
suggested; but it may be expected from a better informed age, that better
maxims will be adopted.  We send apostles to the east and west, to the
most distant parts of the whole earth; and even into the very country
whence the Gypsies emigrated, to instruct the people who know not God.
Is it not inconsistent for men to be solicitous for the welfare of their
fellow-creatures in distant regions, and to throw off, and leave to
chance, those who, equally wretched, have brought their errors home to
us?  If it be a good work to teach religion and virtue to such as are
ignorant of their Creator, why not begin with those nearest to
us?—Especially as neglect in this particular, is attended with detriment
to the society of which we are members.

The Gypsies have been long enough among civilized people to prove, that
they will not be allured by the mere example of others, to free
themselves from the fetters of old customs and vices.  To accomplish that
end, more effectual means are requisite.

It would be vain to hope for any considerable progress in the improvement
of those who are grown up.  Their reformation would be a difficult task,
as the attempts made by the Empress Theresa evinced:—you must begin with
children, and not meddle with the old stock, on whom no efforts will have

Expelling the Gypsies entirely, was not merely a premature step, it was a
wasteful one.  This is indisputable, so long as the state maxim holds
good, that a numerous population is advantageous.

Care being taken to enlighten their understandings, and amend their
hearts, they might become useful citizens; for observe them at whatever
employment you may, there always appear sparks of genius.  It is well
known, and no writer omits to remark, what artful devices they have
recourse to, in perpetrating any cheat or robbery: but this is not the
only particular in which they show capacity.  The following extract is
from a Hungarian author, who was an attentive observer of these people.

    “The Gypsies have a fertile imagination in their way, and are quick
    and ready at expedients; so that in many serious, doubtful cases,
    they soon recollect how to act, in order to extricate themselves.  We
    cannot indeed help wondering, when we attend to, and consider the
    skill they display in preparing and bringing their works to
    perfection; which is the more necessary from the scarcity of proper
    tools and apparatus.  They are very acute and cunning in cheating, or
    thieving; and when called to account for any fraud or robbery,
    fruitful in invention, and persuasive in their arguments to defend


                                * * * * *

The recommendation of Grellmann, p. 197, to begin the work of reform with
children, appears judicious; but the events of the present day justify
the expectation, that benevolent exertions would not prove fruitless,
should they afterwards be extended even to the “_old stock_.”

Before the Circular introduced is the 10th Section was distributed, the
author did not know of the correspondence on the subject of Gypsies,
which had appeared in the interesting pages of the Christian Observer.
But he should now consider it an injustice to those benevolent
individuals, who had taken the lead in this work of Christian charity,
not to give full consideration to the ideas they have suggested.

In Vol. VII. p. 91 of that periodical publication, is the following

                  _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_.

    As the divine spirit of Christianity deems no object, however
    unworthy or insignificant, beneath her notice, I venture to apply to
    you on behalf of a race, the outcasts of society, of whose pitiable
    condition, among the many forms of human misery which have engaged
    your efforts, I do not recollect to have seen any notice in the pages
    of your excellent miscellany.  I allude to the deplorable state of
    the Gypsies, on whose behalf I beg leave to solicit your good offices
    with the public.—Lying at our very doors, they seem to have a
    peculiar claim on our compassion.

    In the midst of a highly refined state of society, they are but
    little removed from savage life.  In this happy country, where the
    light of Christianity shines with its purest lustre, they are still
    strangers to its cheering influence.  I have not heard even of any
    efforts which have been made, either by individuals or societies, for
    their improvement; and so thoroughly do they appear to despise the
    advantages of civilized life, that perhaps nothing less than that
    change of heart, which is the effect of the blessing of God on the
    means employed for their conversion, would prevent their continuing
    to be the pest of society.  The great Shepherd of Israel despises not
    these unhappy wanderers from his fold; and I am persuaded, that
    neither you, nor those who read and prize your work, will be
    insensible to the force of His benign example.

    May the Divine Spirit suggest means, by which this wretched race may
    be reclaimed from their vagrancy, and be made acquainted with that
    Saviour, whom to know is life eternal!

                                                          Yours, &c.  NIL.

                                * * * * *

               _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {201}

    It gave me pleasure to observe in one of the numbers of your
    miscellany, a letter on a subject that has frequently engaged my
    serious attention: I mean the state of the Gypsies.  It is painful to
    reflect how many thousands of these unhappy creatures, have, since
    the light of Christianity has shone on this Island, gone into
    eternity ignorant of the way of salvation, and without one cheering
    thought of a Saviour.  Surely, Sir, there is an awful responsibility
    attached to this neglect!  If we look back into the history of the
    Christian church, from the earliest ages, we shall find that the
    introduction of the gospel amongst any people, has generally been
    effected by means of Missionaries; and so numerous are the Gypsies,
    and so desultory in their habits of life, that it might well occupy
    the time of more than one zealous individual, to go amongst them, and
    by plain, simple, affectionate conversation and exhortation, when
    practicable, instruct them in the knowledge of their Redeemer.

    Nor in this favoured land, where there are so many who zealously
    embrace the doctrines of Christianity, would there, I trust, be
    wanting both one, or more persons, who would devote themselves to
    this truly apostolic work; and benevolent individuals who would open
    their hearts and their purses, for the support and encouragement of
    such an undertaking.  This labour of love would doubtless prove less
    arduous, than the attempts which have been made to establish missions
    among the American Indians; the natives of the South-Seas; or the
    inhabitants of Southern Africa.

    The dread of the magistracy in this country, would prove a protection
    from personal injury, while the painful relinquishment of friends and
    country would not be required.  I will also beg leave to mention
    another suggestion: I have understood that, in different parts of the
    kingdom, the neighbouring clergy meet at stated times, for the
    purpose of conversing on the important duties of their pastoral
    office.  At such times, would it not be well to take into
    consideration, the perishing condition of so large a part of the
    community, as that, which forms the subject of this letter?  Some
    plan might probably be thus devised, which, through the blessing of
    the Lord, would prove effectual for the salvation of this out-cast,
    and hitherto neglected people.

    I would also take the liberty of recommending the cause of these
    unhappy partners of our kind, to the humanity of our dissenting
    brethren; and most earnestly solicit Christians of all denominations,
    to unite in prayer to the God of all grace, that he would prosper
    every attempt which may be made, to communicate to them the knowledge
    of His will.  I trust, Sir, I shall obtain your excuse for detaining
    you on this important subject; and as I know your pages are read and
    valued, by real Christians of various denominations, perhaps they
    may, through the Divine Providence, be the means of exciting
    effectual attention, to the spiritual wants of this deplorable set of
    beings; and the same benevolence which induced you to exert your
    talents and influence in behalf of the oppressed negroes, may be
    again successfully employed, in ameliorating the condition of a
    numerous class of our fellow-creatures, who are second only to them
    in wretchedness, and spiritual misery.

                                                   I am, &c.  FRATERNICUS.

                                * * * * *

               _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {205}

    The insertion of the letter of “Fraternicus,” on the moral and
    religious state of the Gypsies, in a late number of your work,
    (August, p. 496) implies, I presume, an approbation of its contents.
    It is a subject that cannot fail to interest the feelings of a real

    The writer of this, has it in his power to contribute some pecuniary
    aid towards such a truly Christian undertaking, and would most gladly
    afford it.  He commiserates, equally with Fraternicus, the wretched
    state of this people, and hopes to see the day when the nation which
    has, at length, done justice to the poor negroes, will be equally
    zealous to do their duty in this instance; and attempt to raise the
    Gypsies from their state of degradation.  If any way can be devised
    through the medium of your work, to set about this labour of love,
    twenty pounds per annum shall be regularly contributed by the writer
    of this; and you are at liberty to make whatever use you can of this
    offer.  If any good, which I pray God it may, should arise from the
    present communication, the name of the writer, who is a constant
    reader of the Christian Observer, shall be made known, when thought
    necessary by the conductor.


                                * * * * *

               _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {206}

    I am much pleased with the interest which your two correspondents,
    Fraternicus, and H. appear to take, in the spiritual and eternal
    condition of that ignorant and degraded class of human beings, the

    I wish much to see appropriate and active measures adopted,
    immediately to put into execution the benevolent suggestions of your
    worthy and sensible correspondents.  I cannot do a great deal in a
    pecuniary point of view, but in counsel and influence I could do

    I feel no hesitation in inviting your correspondents to a meeting on
    the subject, with a view to the formation of some plan, and the
    consequent commencement of active exertions.  One of the first
    objects to be aimed at, is the introduction of cleanliness and
    decorum.—Another object to be attended to, is, the teaching of them,
    especially the young, to read; and then the supplying of them with
    testaments and religious tracts.

    There are many of the latter which would be both entertaining and
    useful to them; but the most direct means to do them good is, by
    frequent intercourse with them, and plain and familiar conversation,
    prudently conducted.  And if any thing be done, it must be undertaken
    in a patient and persevering spirit.

    The soil which it is proposed to cultivate, is remarkably barren and
    unpropitious; of course a plentiful harvest must not be soon
    expected.  The persons to be employed in this work of faith and
    labour of love, must not only be men of prudence and discretion, but
    men of information, and possessing clear and cool heads, and warm

    I have no doubt, but that in these times of active benevolence and
    zeal, when a good plan is laid, and funds provided, instruments will
    be found, who with love in their hearts, will go seek those wandering
    sheep in the wilderness, for whom no man hath yet cared.

    Many good hints, Mr. Editor, are often fruitless for want of
    immediate attention; and many a good work long talked of is not only
    suspended, but never begun, for want of some one to put forth the
    hand and begin.  I for one, say to your two correspondents, “let us
    arise and build; let us begin; there is no fear of progress and

                                                   I remain, &c.  MINIMUS.

                                * * * * *

               _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {208}

                                                          _June_ 13, 1809.

    I was afraid the Gypsies had been quite forgotten; and therefore it
    gives me real pleasure to see, by your last number, for May 1809,
    that another correspondent has taken up their cause.  If the subject
    was once fairly before the public, I am persuaded it would interest
    the feelings of many amongst us; and should good arise from it, which
    with God’s help and blessing, could not fail to be the case, we might
    confidently look forward to a daily increasing fund for its support.
    Surely when our charity is flowing in so wide a channel, conveying
    the blessings of the gospel to the most distant quarters of the
    globe, we shall not hesitate to water this one barren and neglected
    field, in our own land.

    My attention was first drawn to the state of this miserable class of
    human beings, by the letter of “Fraternicus;” and looking upon it as
    a reproach to our country, that amidst the great light which
    prevails, so many of its children should be walking in darkness and
    the shadow of death, I was anxious to contribute something out of my
    abundance, towards their spiritual welfare.  I perfectly agree with
    your correspondent, that no time should be lost in devising some
    plan, which may give consistency and effect to this work of faith,
    and labour of love.  In this short and uncertain life, no
    opportunities of usefulness should be neglected.  It is a call which
    may never again be repeated.  I am ready and desirous, to give
    Minimus the proposed meeting; and the time and place might be
    appointed through the medium of the Christian Observer.

    I must however premise, that the writer of this is a very humble
    individual in all respects, both in abilities, and in influence.  My
    habits are very retired, and at present, my time is occupied in
    attending to the ministerial duties of a populous village.  I shall
    most gladly adhere to my first proposal, and might be induced to do
    more, if need required.

    In the meantime, it is my earnest prayer to God, that this may not be
    one of those projects, which are only talked of, and never begun; but
    that it may tend to the glory of his name, and to the bringing back
    of those poor lost sheep to the fold of their Redeemer.  Amen.

                                                                 Yours, H.

                                * * * * *

    _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {211}

    As I am not in the constant habit of seeing your publication, it is
    only lately, in meeting with your number for February last, at the
    house of a friend, that I was aware that the spiritual state of the
    Gypsies, had excited interest in the breasts of some of your readers.

    They are a race who have long excited interest in mine; so much, that
    in the year 1801, I had written a letter upon the subject to the
    society for bettering the condition, and increasing the comforts of
    the poor; but I thought on further reflection, that any attempts to
    civilize a race of beings so degraded, and held in so much contempt,
    would be considered so very visionary, that I gave up the idea and
    did not send it.  A greater lapse of time, farther observation, and
    the suggestions of your correspondents, induce me to trouble you with
    the few following remarks; recollecting that in literary attempts and
    works of beneficence, it is the same as in pecuniary subscriptions;
    that great effects are not always produced from the stores of an
    opulent individual, but from the willing contributions of the many.

    It does not appear to me, that a few, or even many Missionaries,
    according to the suggestion of Fraternicus, Vol. vii. p. 496, would
    answer the purpose of imparting religious knowledge to the Gypsies;
    since on account of their wandering mode of life, and from their not
    travelling in any numbers together, it would be difficult to form
    congregations.  What the number of Gypsies, and of those who lead
    vagrant lives, like them, may be in this kingdom, I cannot even form
    a conjecture; and Mr. Colquhoun, I think does not mention them in his
    treatise on the Police of the Metropolis.  Neither am I acquainted
    with their numbers and modes of life at Norwood, {212} which I
    understand is the chief residence of them; what I have to say,
    therefore, is only from observations made upon those who frequent
    this neighbourhood, and from others seen occasionally when I have
    been travelling.

    The suggestions of Minimus, Vol. viii. p. 286, appear to me to be the
    most practicable: and I hope that there are many Gypsies who would be
    inclined to profit by any judicious and kind exertions made on their
    behalf.  There are already several families of them within my
    knowledge, who reside in houses during the winter, and travel about
    only in the summer.  Their means of subsistence are tinkering, and
    fiddling at feasts and fairs; by which some, I believe, make a good
    deal of money, which helps them out in the winter, when there is less
    work and less dancing.

    A young man with a large family, whom I have long observed near this
    place, in my walks, about six years ago, when many inclosures took
    place in this neighbourhood, and he found it less convenient to be
    out in the fields, or rather that the farmers were less willing to
    let him encamp upon their grounds, took a small house, with a garden
    annexed to it, in the suburbs of this town, and has since lived here
    constantly in the winter, but travels in the summer.  He is now about
    38 years of age.  He married when 20, and has 8 children, all of whom
    have been baptized in the several parishes where they were born.  He
    is a very civil man, and is much respected where he is known; having
    a good character for honesty.

    He attends church constantly on a Sunday; and though he has not any
    regular notion of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, he has some
    very good general ideas of religion and morality.  He is no swearer;
    and he would consider it wicked in his wife to attempt _to tell

    He is frequently employed to fiddle, at the houses of respectable
    farmers and trades-people at Christmas.  His other occupation is
    tinkering; and he is ingenious at mending fiddles, and making cases,

    Neither he, nor his wife, can read; and none of his children have
    been hitherto sent to school.  His third boy, who is about 9 years
    old, he has, at my suggestion, promised to send to the new school
    which has been established here on Dr. Bell’s and Mr. Lancaster’s
    plan: he accepted the offer with great thankfulness.  The boy is to
    come into the school at Michaelmas, when the family return from their
    summer’s travelling.  The father would be very glad to have all his
    children brought up to any other mode of life; and even to embrace
    some other himself; but he finds a difficulty in it.

    He himself, from not having been brought up to work in husbandry,
    could not go through the labour of it; and few, if any persons, would
    be willing to employ his children, on account of the bad character
    which his race bears; and from the censure and ridicule which might
    attach to taking them, where they might be willing to do it from
    motives of benevolence.

    There is another family of Gypsies resident in this place in the
    winter, the father of which was formerly a musician in the guards.
    He has a boy now in the school.

    These circumstances lead me to think, that were encouragement given
    to them, the Gypsies would be inclined to live in towns and villages
    like other people; and would in another generation or two become
    civilized, and with the pains which are now taken to educate the
    poor, and to diffuse the Scriptures and the knowledge of Jesus
    Christ, would become a part of the regular fold: while in the mean
    time, from personal intercourse with their pastors, and from
    attending public worship, the spiritual condition of the present
    generation would be materially improved.  It would, however, require
    much patient continuance in well doing, in those who attempted it;
    and they must be prepared, perhaps, to meet with some untowardness,
    and much disappointment; but in due season we could not fail to reap,
    if we fainted not.

    All Gypsies must have some parish to which they belong; and if these
    parishes were to provide habitations for them, and to hold out
    encouragement to them to come and settle, and were to bear for the
    present with any ways which might be different from those of the
    regular inhabitants, affording them work as tinkers, &c. and
    providing education and work for their children; and for the present,
    even bearing with their travelling in the summer; this now almost
    unprofitable race of beings might be reclaimed to society.  Many of
    them are accustomed, in the seasons, to undertake hay and harvest
    work.  These, I think, with proper encouragement, might be induced to
    get their living by husbandry work throughout the year.

    Should these suggestions lead to any farther discussion upon the
    subject, or to adopting any measures to promote the desired object;
    it would give me sincere pleasure to lend my assistance, either
    pecuniary or personal.

                                                     I am, Sir, &c.  J. P.

    _Cambridge_, _April_ 28, 1810.

    P.S.  I recollect having heard that the benevolent Jonas Hanway took
    a Gypsey for his servant, but I know not on what authority this was

                                * * * * *

               _To the Editor of the Christian Observer_. {217}

    The candid acknowledgment of your benevolent correspondent, in the
    Christian Observer for February last, that his attention had been
    first drawn to the state of the Gypsies by the letter of Fraternicus,
    was matter of unfeigned satisfaction to me; and as it is probable
    there may be no want of inclination in the Christian world, to extend
    relief effectually to them, permit me to solicit a place in your
    pages, for a thought which has occurred to me in my meditations on
    the subjects.

    It appears from a letter in your number for May, that they are not
    totally destitute of a desire for the benefit of instruction.
    Information might easily be obtained, as to what part of England they
    are to be found in the greatest numbers; and if a free school could
    be instituted, and the means of instruction provided for those of
    their children who were willing to attend, at least in the winter
    season; might it not be a means of conveying useful knowledge to

    By degrees, they might be brought to attend divine worship regularly;
    and if in the parish of a pious clergyman, he would probably embrace
    the opportunity of teaching them, more particularly, the way of
    salvation.  Much, however, might be done by a pious schoolmaster, and
    a schoolmistress, by whom the girls might be instructed in different
    kinds of work, knitting, sewing, &c.; and if any of the parents
    should evince a desire for instruction, they could be admitted at
    different hours in the day.  It would be an interesting inquiry, what
    becomes of orphans among them, and whether there is not a possibility
    of at least rescuing them from their present state of ignorance and

    Should these suggestions be deemed worthy of your insertion, they
    might, perhaps awaken the attention of some benevolent persons, whose
    superior talents and experience in the ways of beneficence, would
    enable them to perfect and carry into execution, a plan for the
    effectual benefit of those unhappy partners of our kind.  That He may
    grant it, from whom every good thought proceeds, is the fervent
    prayer of



Review of the Subject, and Suggestions for ameliorating the condition of
the Gypsies in the British Empire.

                                * * * * *

Since the commencement of the present year, 1816, a friend {221} of the
author has informed him, that about three weeks before, he was in company
with an English and a Persian gentleman, who had lately come from Persia,
through Russia; the latter well understood the languages of both
countries, and spoke them fluently.  He had travelled with the Persian
Ambassador; and said that he had met with many hordes of Gypsies in
Persia; had many times conversed with them; and was surprised to find
their language was the true Hindostanie.  He did not then know of
Grellmann’s work.  He further stated, that the Gypsies in Russia were, in
language and manners, the same, and exactly corresponded with the Gypsies
of this country.  Their name in Persia signified _Black Eyes_.

From whatever part of the world we derive intelligence of this people, it
tends to corroborate the opinion, that they have all had one peculiar
origin.  How little has it occupied the contemplation of Britons, that
there existed among them, subjects of such great curiosity as the poor
and despised Gypsies!

The statute of Henry VIII. imposing a fine of forty pounds upon the
importation of a Gypsey, induces the belief they were much in request in
England at that period.  The attention which their low performances
attracted in those times, will not perhaps excite surprise, when we see
the encouragement given in our day, to their idly disposed countrymen,
termed, _Indian Jugglers_.  It is remarkable, that the earliest account
of Gypsies in Great Britain, is in a work published to expose and detect
the “Art of Juggling,” &c.

The first of this people who came into Europe, must have been persons of
discernment and discrimination, to have adapted their deceptions so
exactly to the genius and habits of the different people they visited, as
to ensure success in all countries.

The stratagem to which they had recourse on entering France, evinces
consummate artifice of plan, and not a little adroitness and dexterity in
the execution.  The specious appearance of submission to papal authority,
in the penance of wandering seven years without lying in a bed, combined
three distinct objects.  They could not have devised an expedient more
likely to recommend them to the favor of Ecclesiastics; or better
concerted for taking advantage of the superstitious credulity of the
people, and, at the same time, for securing to themselves the
gratification of their own nomadic propensities.  So complete was the
deception they practised, that we find they wandered up and down in
France, under the eye of magistracy, not for seven only, but for more
than a hundred years, without molestation.

In 1561, the edict of the States of Orleans directed their expulsion by
fire and sword; yet in 1612, they had increased to such a degree, that
there was another order for their total extermination.  Notwithstanding
this severity, in 1671 they were again spread over the kingdom, as
appears in the letters of the Marchioness de Sévigné to her friends, and
the Countess Grignan, in nine volumes, translated from the last Paris
edition: “Bohemians travel up and down the Provinces of France, and get
their living by dancing, showing postures, and telling fortunes; but
chiefly by pilfering, &c.”

It is remarkable, that in all countries, they professed to be Egyptians;
but the representation is not only refuted by Bellonius, but by later
writers, who assert, that the “few who are to be found in _Egypt_, wander
about as strangers _there_, and form a distinct people.”

As historians admit that the greatest numbers of them are to be found in
Turkey, and south of Constantinople, there is reason to apprehend they
had a passage through that country.  If many of them did not visit Egypt
previously to their arrival in Europe, they probably wished to avail
themselves of the reputation the Egyptians had acquired in occult
sciences, that they might practise with greater success, the arts to
which they had been previously accustomed, and the practice of which is
common in various parts of Asia.  In other respects the habits of Egypt
were very dissimilar to theirs.

We find by the reports on the first question put by the Circular,
mentioned in Section IX. that “all Gypsies in this country suppose the
first of them came from Egypt;” and this idea is confirmed by many
circumstances that have been brought into view in the course of this
work.  In addition it may be observed, that before the discovery of the
passage to India, by the Cape of Good Hope, all the productions of the
east, that were distributed in Europe, came to Egyptian ports.  Hence we
have many concurring testimonies, which render it highly probable, if not
evidently clear, that the first Gypsey tribes who came into England, and
other parts of Europe, migrated from hordes of that people who had
previously found their way into Egypt.

The evidence appears equally strong, that they were not natives of Egypt;
but as the Egyptians were in great repute for the practice of the occult
sciences, common to them and to the Suder caste; we cannot be surprized
to find these crafty itinerants, should avail themselves of such an
opportunity, as coming out of that country, to profess themselves

Continental writers exhibit a strange assemblage of crude, and
incongruous ideas on the subject of Gypsey extraction.  So numerous are
the opinions diffusely stated, that Grellmann must have exercised much
patient investigation, to deduce from them the rational and satisfactory
conclusions which his Dissertation presents.

Our countryman Swinborne, in describing the Gypsies in Calabria, is the
first to remark that their peculiar language bears great affinity to the
oriental tongues; and that many of their customs resemble those of the
heathens.  But European ignorance of the habits and speech of Asiatics
may be accounted for, whilst the rich productions of India continued to
be brought to Egyptian ports, and to be conveyed thence by the Lombard
merchants, to be distributed over Europe

The _Cingari_, _Zigeuners_, or _Gypsies_, had been in Germany nearly a
century, before the Portuguese discovered the passage to India by the
Cape of Good Hope.  The stimulus which this discovery gave to
improvements in the art of navigation, soon opened immediate intercourse
with the eastern world.  Vast are the establishments, which have been
subsequently effected, in that quarter of the globe by naval powers, and
extraordinary have been, of late years, the exertions for the acquisition
of oriental languages; yet so numerous are they in those widely extended
regions, that European knowledge of Asiatic etymology, is yet but in a
state of infancy.

The case of the Gypsies is singular; for it may fairly be questioned,
whether it has a parallel in the history of the world.  Dispersed over
the face of the earth, without any organization of their different
hordes; and all concert between them entirely precluded by separations of
hundreds of miles from each other, in different parts of the globe, and
by their incapacity for literary communication; they have, however,
whilst speaking the languages of the respective countries they inhabit,
preserved in _all places one_ peculiar to themselves, and have
transmitted it through a lapse of centuries to their descendants, almost

Increased acquaintance with oriental customs and tongues, has, at length,
discovered the near coincidence they have with the language of the
Gypsies, and has developed an origin of this people, of which those of
the present age were, till now, entirely ignorant.  It will appear
extraordinary, that these people should have been able, by oral means
alone, and under all disadvantages, to retain their language, and yet not
to have handed down with it, any tradition that might lead to a discovery
of who they were, or whence they came.  But the knowledge recently
acquired, of their very abject condition in the country from which they
emigrated, offers a reason why the first comers might be anxious to
conceal their pedigree, the meanness of which would have but ill accorded
with the titles of rank assumed by some of their leaders.

The regulations proposed by the Empress Theresa, and the Emperor Joseph
II. could they have been carried into effect, would doubtless have
improved the state of the Gypsies.  But an order for children to be torn
away from their parents, was so far from being dictated by the study of
human nature, that it did violence to the tenderest sensibilities, and
set at nought the kindest emotions.  Its tendency was to produce in the
minds of Gypsies, disaffection to the state, and to indispose others from
aiding in the execution of the edict.  The advantages to be derived by
Governments from a liberal toleration, being not then so well understood
as in succeeding times, they were not duly regarded.

Those potentates considering Zigeuners of Egyptian origin, might
reasonably conceive agriculture well adapted to their genius and
inclination; but it was a pursuit, which, more than any other, they

All other Governments appear to have been misled, in like manner, by the
deception which the first Gypsies practised; for had they been apprized
of this people’s descent, and of the almost unalterable pertinacity of an
Indian caste, they would have been sensible that an attempt to change
their habits by force, was a measure the least likely to be attended with

The Circular introduced in the ninth Section of this work, notices
Gypsies being hunted like beasts of prey, from township to township in
England; and it has been ascertained, that in some places they are
routed, as it is termed, by order of magistrates, whenever they appear,
and sent to prison on the vagrant act, without so much as a charge of
depredation upon property.  “This is to make their persons, an object of
persecution, instead of the protection of our laws.”

For the credit of our country it may be hoped, that instances of this
sort, respecting Gypsies, are not very numerous; seeing all writers
concur in stating, every attempt by coercive means to alter the peculiar
habits of this people, have had a tendency to alienate them still more
from civil associations, and directly to defeat the end proposed.  It is
time therefore that a better and a more enlightened policy should be
adopted in Europe, towards a race of human beings, under so many
hereditary disadvantages as are the helpless, the rude, the uninstructed

In the decision on the vagrant case, in Crabbe’s “Hall of Justice,”
{231a} and in the treatment of Gypsies on Knoland-Green, {231b} a temper
is displayed so truly Christian, and so different from what is just
alluded to, that in consulting the best feelings of human nature, it adds
dignity to magistracy.

Sir Frederick Morton Eden, in his first volume on the State of the Poor,
p. 306, refers to an Act passed in 1741, respecting that class of the
poor, who are considered by the Legislature as the outcasts of society,
namely rogues, vagabonds, &c.; and he remarks: “From perusing the
catalogue of actions which denominate a man, a disorderly person, a
vagabond, or incorrigible rogue, the reader may perhaps incline to think
that many of the offences specified in this Act, and in subsequent
statutes, on the same subject, are of a very dubious nature, and that it
must require nice legal acumen, to distinguish whether a person incurs
any, and what, penalty, under the vagrant laws.”

In support of this opinion, and of the indefinite and unjustifiable
latitude of those statutes, a late decision at Maidstone, in the action
of Robins, v. Boyce, affords a striking demonstration.

If the statutes do not admit of any construction in favor of Gypsies, but
enjoin rigorous treatment of them, merely for wandering, it may become a
question whether the peculiar circumstances of their case, might not
constitute an exception to the general rule.

However wholesome and salutary vagrant Acts may be, to deter persons from
quitting their parishes in order to levy contributions, by practising
impositions in places where they are not known, it is obvious that
Gypsies, having no parochial settlements, cannot come under that
description.  Excepting a temporary residence of some of them in winter,
their home is a whole county, and the majority of them are too
independent to apply to any parish for assistance.

Here is a trait in their character, which, were it grafted on the stock
of half the paupers in the kingdom, would be a national advantage.

It ought to procure some indulgence for the Gypsies, that their wandering
mode of life does not originate in any contumacious opposition to
judicial order; but in a scrupulous regard to the Institutions of their
ancestors.  For the advantages we possess, shall we return injury to our
fellow-men!  If after being fully introduced into a situation to taste
the comforts of social order, and to acquire a knowledge of mechanical
professions, which would render them useful and respectable, any of them,
despising these privileges, should indulge wandering dispositions, they
might then deserve all the punishment which under the vagrant Acts, can
be indicted.

It is worthy of remark, that in the evidence respecting mendicity in
London, adduced last year before the Committee of the House of Commons,
there is only a single instance in the parish called St. Giles, that
noted rendezvous of Gypsies, of one of their tribe, a girl, begging in
the streets.

Is it not high time the people of England were undeceived, respecting the
motives to Gypsey perseverance in their singular line of conduct.  Their
invincible attachment to the traditions they have received, is almost
proof, in itself, of Grellmann’s assertion, that they are the descendants
of an Indian caste; in whose estimation inviolable adherence to the
customs of their order, constitutes the highest perfection of character.

When any remark is made to them on their strange mode of conduct, they
are ready to reply: “The inhabitants of cieled houses follow the customs
of their predecessors; What more do we?  Are they creatures of habit?  So
are we.”

After this account, is it surprising that the violent means pursued
against them in all countries, have been ineffectual to abolish their

Their humane and intelligent biographer, Grellmann, styles them a
“singular phenomenon in Europe;” and it may justly be observed of such of
them as inhabit countries accounted the most enlightened, that the
contrast which their destitute state presents to the numerous advantages
of civilized life, and to the refinements of polished society, is truly
astonishing.  If there possibly can be a single Briton who is a skeptic
to the benefits of education, let him only take a view of the
intellectual degradation and disgusting condition of the Gypsies.  But if
Britons have made greater advancement in civilization than some other
nations, the Gypsies here are left at a greater distance, and furnish the
more occasion for their condition being improved.

It does not appear that the Pariars, or Suders, from whom it is believed
these swarthy itinerants of our age are descended, were farther advanced
in the knowledge of moral obligations, than were the Spartan people; who,
however celebrated for some of their Institutions, accounted the
successful perpetration of thefts to be honourable.

The Gypsies at Kirk Yetholm, as stated by Baillie Smith, in this part of
their conduct, are an exact counterpart of the Spartans.  To a people of
Greece, the foremost of their time in legislative arrangements, who had
cultivated so little sense of the turpitude of injustice, surely a much
more criminal neglect may be imputed, than to the ignorant, untutored
race we have been surveying!

Malcolm, in his Anecdotes of the manners and customs of London, p. 350,
says of the English Gypsies: “Despised, and neglected, they naturally
became plunderers and thieves to obtain a subsistence.”  But when he
afterward states, that “They increased rapidly, and at length were found
in all parts of the country,” we may be disposed to think that British
fastidiousness was not less ingenious than that of the Spaniards, who
considered themselves _contaminated_ by a touch of the Gypsies, unless it
were to have their fortunes told.  Venality and deception meeting with so
much encouragement, those propensities of the human heart would be
generated and fostered, which at length produced flagrant impositions,
and the greatest enormities.

The dominion of superstition was at its zenith, in what are termed the
middle ages: so absolute and uncontrolled was its influence, that because
of reputed skill in exorcism and witchcraft, the deluded Germans reposed
implicit confidence in persons so ignorant as the Gypsies.

What an impeachment of British sagacity, is the following observation of
Sir Frederick Morton Eden, in his first volume on the State of the Poor,
p. 146: “It is mortifying to reflect, that whilst so many wise measures
were adopted by the great Council of the Nation, neither a Coke, nor a
Bacon, should oppose the law suggested by royal superstition, for making
it felony to _consult_, _covenant with_, _entertain_, _employ_, _feed_,
_or reward_, _any evil_, _or wicked spirit_, 2d James, 12th.—It is still
more mortifying to reflect, that the enlightened Sir M. Hale left a man
for execution, who was convicted on this Act, at Bury, March 10th, 1664;
and that even in the present (the 18th) century, a British Jury should be
persuaded that the crime of witchcraft could exist.”

If the annual filling of prisons in England may be attributed, in any
degree, to the neglect of educating the lower orders of the people, it
will appear extraordinary, that instances of Gypsies being convicted of
capital crimes, are not more frequent, rather than that they sometimes

The Committee of the British and Foreign School Society, in their Report
for 1815, express their conviction of the advantages of education, in
correcting evils, which at once disgrace society, and deprive it of many,
who might be its most useful and active members; and then, they exclaim:
“Surely we may hope the day is not far distant, when Statesmen and
Legislators of all countries, will open their eyes to the awfully
important truth; and beholding in a sound and moral education, the grand
secret of national strength, will co-operate for the _prevention_, rather
than the _punishment_ of crimes!”

It was not until near the conclusion of the last year, and after the
author had inspected some of the Gypsey families who winter in London,
that he was apprized of the correspondence in the Christian Observer,
which forms part of the preceding Section.  The position with which it
commences, is worthy of all acceptation, as applied to beings formed for
immortality: “The Divine Spirit of Christianity deems no object, however
unworthy and insignificant, beneath her notice.  Gypsies lying at our
doors, seem to have a peculiar claim on our compassion.  In the midst of
a highly refined state of society, they are but little removed from
savage life.”

The letters extracted from the Christian Observer, are distinguished by a
Christian zeal and liberality, which must be cheering to every one, who
has felt an interest in improving the condition of these greatly
neglected partners of his kind.  On their behalf, appeals to the public
have been subsequently made, as we have seen in Section IX, through the
medium of the Northampton Mercury of 1814, by two correspondents; one
under the designation of “A Friend to Religion;” the other, that of

Communications from a county which has long been a noted rendezvous of
Gypsies, may be considered the result of observations actually made on
their state.  The first of these appeals is introduced in the following
manner: “Various are the religious and moral Institutions in this
country; humanity and benevolence have risen to an unprecedented height.
Not only for our country, are the exertions of the good and great
employed, but at this time the greatest efforts are making on behalf of
the distressed Germans.  The hand of charity is open not only to the
alleviation of _present_ misery, but such an Institution as the Bible
Society, is calculated to excite thousands to seek for _future_
happiness.  Yet amidst all, one set of people seems to be entirely
excluded from participating in any of those blessings; I mean Gypsies,
who are accounted rogues and vagabonds.  When we consider that they,
equally with ourselves, are bought with a price, much remains to be done
for them.  These people, however wretched and depraved, certainly demand
attention; their being overlooked with indifference, is really much to be

“Instead of being subjects of commiseration, they are advertised as
rogues and vagabonds; and a reward offered for their apprehension.  But
no asylum is offered them, nothing is held out to encourage a reformation
in any that might be disposed to abandon their accustomed vices.”  The
same writer, in a subsequent letter, dated September 8, respecting these
houseless wanderers, remarks: “I was representing the deplorable state
they are in, to a person of my acquaintance; and his reply was: They were
a set of worthless and undeserving wretches; and he believed they would
rather live as they do, than otherwise; with many other such like
inconsiderate ideas; resulting, I believe, from a prejudiced mind, and
from not properly considering their situation; and I fear these
sentiments are too prevalent.”

It will readily be admitted, that they are generally prevalent: and how
should it be otherwise, so long as the great mass of the population of
England continues to be uninformed of the motives inducing the strange
conduct of Gypsies, who consider themselves under the strongest of all
obligations, strictly to observe the Institution of their ancestors.  Had
Britons been apprized of the origin of this people, and the peculiar
circumstances of their case, the national character would not have been
stained, by the abuse and mal-treatment which Gypsies have received.

It is very satisfactory to find by the before recited correspondence, an
inhabitant of the county in which the Gypsies are so numerous, advocating
their cause, by a public exposure of the mistaken ideas which have so
long prevailed respecting them.

From the length of time they have continued to reside in Britain, they
have ceased to become subjects of much curiosity or conversation.  And as
they endeavour to avoid populous districts, persons in large towns, who
are occupied in trade, seem little aware that in the county they inhabit,
there may be hordes of these wanderers, traversing the thinly inhabited
parts of it, in various directions, as was the case in Yorkshire during
the last summer. (1815.)

When the amelioration of the condition of this people is mentioned to
persons of the above description, so little informed are they on the
subject, that it is many times treated as if the existence of Gypsies was
questioned; at others, as if affording any help to them, was visionary,
and even ludicrous.

Some places formerly frequented by Gypsey gangs, having been much
deserted by them of late years, does not authorize any calculation upon a
decrease of their numbers in the nation.

In the vicinity of the metropolis, Gypsies have been excluded by
inclosures from various situations to which they had been accustomed to
resort.  But there is some reason to apprehend they have become more
numerous, in several other parts of the Island.  Baillie Smith of Kelso,
is of opinion, they increase in Scotland, and it is by no means certain
that they do not in England.

Any idea that routing them will lessen their numbers, may be as
fallacious, and injudicious, as were banishments from the German States,
which, without diminishing Gypsey population, had the injurious effect of
alienating them still more from civil associations.

Junius, the other correspondent of the Northampton Mercury, in his
Address of October 29, writes: “I trust the time is not distant, when
much will be accomplished, as it respects the civilization of the people
whose cause we plead.  In the meantime, I would humbly hope all those
harsh and degrading measures, of publicly in the papers, and upon
placards by the sides of roads, ordering their apprehension and
commitment to prison, will be suspended, until some asylum is offered;
and should nothing be attempted by the Legislature, for reclaiming them
from their present mode of life, surely much may be done by the exertions
of individuals!”

Many of the observations in the Christian Observer, and in the
Northampton Mercury, are striking and pertinent, as they relate to the
present state of the Gypsies in England; and the philanthropy they
inculcate is honourable to the national character.  Had these benevolent
individuals been acquainted with the history of the people, whose cause
they plead, they would, doubtless, have suggested plans adapted to their
peculiar case.  For want of this knowledge, it is not surprising that
occupations in husbandry should take the lead in propositions for
employing them.  The last mentioned writer, from a desire to render
essential service to this people, suggests, that the Legislature should
fix upon five or six stations in different parts of the kingdom, on which
villages should be erected, in order that they might be employed in

It will have been obvious in the survey which has been taken, and it has
been already remarked, that of all occupations, agriculture is the least
adapted to their genius and inclination.

It has appeared in Section IX, that Riley Smith, a chief of the
Northamptonshire Gypsies, after marrying the cook out of a gentleman’s
family, and obtaining a farm, quitted it, to resume musical performances.

Conformity to agricultural employments, could not be effected in Gypsies,
by the most rigorous measures to which the Empress Theresa, and the
Emperor Joseph II. resorted.—Much less could it be expected that persons,
who, all their lives, have accustomed themselves to be in the open air,
or others who have lived three parts of the year in this manner, should
be induced, in open weather, to brook the restraint of houses.

Those who have houses at Kirk Yetholm, quit them in spring: men, women,
and children, set out on their peregrinations over the country, and live
in a state of vagrancy, until driven back to their habitations by the
approach of winter; and it appears, in all countries to which the Gypsies
have had access, that a similar course is pursued by them.

In a dialogue between a Curate and some Gypsies, as published in the
Christian Guardian, of March, 1812, is the following question and answer:

_Curate_.  “Could you not by degrees bring yourselves to a more settled
mode of life?

_Gypsey_.  I would not tell you a story, Sir; I really think I could not,
having been brought up to it from a child.”

Upon this conversation, the Curate makes the following remark: “In order
to do good among the Gypsies, we must conciliate their esteem, and gain
their confidence.”

The plain and simple reply to the Curate, will put out of question the
erection of villages, or the making of establishments for adults among
them.  In mechanical operations, to which the Gypsies are most inclined,
British artisans might be as averse to unite with them, as they were with
the Jews.  The Spaniards, it has appeared, are unwilling to be associated
with Gypsies in any kind of occupation.  Moreover, the competition of
manufacturers in England, during the last fifty years, has effected by
artificial means, so much saving of manual labour, and so much
improvement in the division of it, that the rude operations of Gypsies,
would be a subject of ridicule and contempt.

J. P., in a letter from Cambridge to the Christian Observer, very
feelingly states the case of a Gypsey family, the father of which, being
a travelling tinker and fiddler, intimated, he would be glad to have all
his children brought up to some other mode of life, and even to embrace
some other himself; but he finds a difficulty in it.  Not having been
brought up in husbandry, he could not go through the labour of it; and
few, if any persons, would be willing to employ {248} his children, on
account of the bad character which his race bears, and from the censure
and ridicule which would attach to the taking of them.”

There appears so little probability of any useful change being effected
in the nomadic habits of adult Gypsies, that it seems better to bear with
that propensity for some time longer, than by directly counteracting it,
so disturb the minds of parents, as to indispose them to consent to the
education of their children.  There are thousands of other people in the
nation, who, more than half their time, live out of doors in like manner.
Were they all obliged to take out licences, this measure might operate in
some degree as a check upon them; at least it would be a tacit
acknowledgment of a controlling power, and might admit of some regulation
of their conduct.  At present, numbers of them resemble a lawless
banditti, and may not inaptly be termed, _Imperium in imperio_.

It appears by J. P.’s letter from Cambridge, that six years ago, he had
engaged a Gypsey boy to be sent to a school on the Belleian and
Lancasterian plan.  At that time, the system had been but little
appropriated in the country to the instruction of girls; and the
application of it to boys only, would have been doing the work by halves.
But the time seems now to have arrived, when the minds of Gypsies have
generally received an impression in favor of the education, both of their
sons and daughters, as has been manifest in various parts of this Survey;
and that some of those who lodge in London, have been themselves at the
expense of sending their children to school.  But if all of them could be
thus taught, three months in a year, would not their running wild the
other nine, under the influence of dissolute and unrestrained example, be
likely to defeat every purpose of instruction.

Were they to be educated during the whole of the year, it is obvious that
some establishment would be necessary for their maintenance and clothing.
The author of this Survey is not aware of any Institutions so much
adapted to their case, as the charity schools for boys and girls, which
are common to every part of the kingdom.  It is not probable that Gypsey
population would furnish more than two boys, and two girls, for each of
these schools.  Their being placed among a much greater number of
children, and those of settled, and in some degree of civilized habits,
would greatly facilitate the training of Gypsies to salutary discipline
and subordination; and the associations it provided for them out of
school hours, being under the superintendence of a regular family, would,
in an especial manner, be favorable to their domestication.

Charity schools, by admitting children so early as at six years of age,
and continuing them to fourteen, seem particularly suited to the case of
Gypsies, in supplying all that is requisite until the boys are at an age
to go out apprentices, and the girls to service in families.

Gypsies being the children of a whole county, if not of the nation at
large, perhaps the expense of their maintenance might, without
inconsistency, be defrayed out of county rates, which would prevent its
being burdensome to any particular district.  By a process so simple and
easy, expensive establishments on the account of Gypsies, might be
entirely avoided.  And many parents among them, express a willingness to
part with their children, for education, provided they were cared for in
other respects.

After several centuries, a degree of solicitude being at length apparent
in the Gypsies, for the improvement of their children, the time has
arrived when some effectual benefit may be communicated to them.

The distribution proposed, would admit of these itinerants seeing their
children once in the year.  But to extirpate Gypsey habits, education
alone would not be sufficient.  Yet as there is no reason to think this
people are less susceptible than others, of gainful considerations, a
fund might be provided, out of which, twenty pounds should be paid with
each boy, on his apprenticeship to some handicraft business, in lieu of
finding him with clothes during the term.  And in consideration of its
being faithfully served, five pounds might be allowed to find the young
man with tools for his trade, or otherwise setting him forward in the
world.  This would excite an interest in civil associations and order,
which are necessary for the successful prosecution of trade; and
probably, an encouragement like this, would have a greater effect in
giving a new direction to Gypsey pursuits, than any coercive or
restrictive measures which could be devised.  And who would not wish to
contribute to the means of rescuing from ignorance and vice, such a
portion of the population of their country!  Who would not be desirous of
emulating in some degree, that best kind of patriotism, by which the
correspondent H. of the Christian Observer, is so remarkably

This would be an example worthy of a great nation; and is it not
probable, that the prospect of so much preferment, would induce Gypsey
parents, to promote to the utmost of their power, a disposition in their
children to obtain it?  Cooper, a Gypsey at Chingford Green, said, “It is
a pity they should be as ignorant as their fathers.”  This may be
considered as the language of “_help us_,” accompanied with this
acknowledgment, “_for we are unable to help ourselves_;” and certainly
there is but too much reason to conclude it is strictly true, respecting
the instruction of this forlorn and destitute race.

According to the enumeration of Gypsey lodgers, given in Section X, their
families average 5½ in number.  This exceeds by one half, what is
reported to be the average of England in general.  If we take Gypsey
population at 18,000, their children will be 12,000.  Supposing
two-thirds of these to be under twelve years of age, there would be 8,000
to educate.  Reckoning half that number to be girls, 4,000 boys would be
to be apprenticed after leaving school.  And if these, after their
apprenticeship, married Gypsey girls, who had been brought up to service
in families, twenty thousand useful subjects might be calculated upon as
gained to the State in the first generation.

Should the efforts of individuals, require assistance from the State, to
render their plans effectual; surely they may depend on the co-operation
of a British legislature, to promote the cause in which they would
embark!  On this point may be adduced the judicious observation of
Grellmann: “If the Gypsey knows not how to make use of the faculties with
which nature has intrusted him, let the State teach him, and keep him in
leading strings till the end is attained.  Care being taken to improve
their understandings, and to amend their hearts, they might become useful
citizens; for observe them at whatever employment you may, there always
appear sparks of genius.”

Every well-wisher to his country must be gratified in observing, that as
soon as the conflicting tumult of nations is calmed, and the
precipitations attendant on military supplies have subsided, the
attention of the Legislature is turned to the investigation of some of
the causes of human misery at home; and to the means of increasing the
social comforts of a considerable portion of British population in the
metropolis of the kingdom.  This recommencement of operations, directed
to the important object for which Governments have been instituted,—the
good of the people,—encourages the hope, that the most neglected and
destitute of all persons in this country, whose cause we have been
pleading, will not be suffered to remain much longer unnoticed and

When at length the veil that has obscured them is once drawn aside, can
British benevolence withhold its exertions, to elevate the moral tone of
this degraded eastern race, and to call forth the dignity of the human
character, in exchange for the strange torpor and vileness in which this
people are involved.  Here an occasion presents for the display of a
temper truly Christian, and for the erection of a standard to surrounding
kingdoms, in which also these outcasts of society are dispersed, of that
philanthropy and sound policy which are worthy of a great nation.

Such an experiment, though on a limited scale, may furnish various data
for judging what may be effected for their countrymen, the countless
myriads of British subjects, inhabiting the vast regions of Hindostan.

Alexander Fraser Tytler, late Assistant Judge in the twenty-four
Pergunnahs, Bengal Establishment, in his highly important work, entitled,
“Considerations on the present Political State of India,” after pointing
out the depravity which prevails to an extraordinary degree among the
population of India, states in the 313th page of the first volume, that
“Poverty, or according to the definition of writers on Police,
_Indigence_ may be said to be the nurse of almost all crimes.  To find
out the causes of poverty, and to attempt their removal, must therefore
be the chief object of a good police.”

It has been remarked, that this author drew his conclusions, not only
from what he understood of human nature in general, but from what he
daily saw before him, in the circumstances and actions of the people
whose crimes he was called upon to punish.  And he reasons upon the
subject in the following manner: “Great poverty among the lower orders in
every country, has an immediate effect in multiplying the number of petty
thieves; and where the bounds of the moral principle have been once
over-stepped, however trivial the first offence, the step is easy from
petty theft to the greater crimes of burglary and robbery.”

May Britons in their conduct towards the Gypsies, be actuated by a policy
so liberal, as to induce the rising generation among this neglected
class, to attach themselves to civil society, and to enter into
situations designed to inculcate habits of industry, and prepare them to
become useful members of the community.

The successful experiments lately made by the British and Foreign School
Society, upon persons addicted to every species of depravity, leave no
doubt of the practicability of ameliorating the condition of Gypsies.  It
is with pleasure that on this subject the following statement of facts is
introduced, respecting two schools established in the neighbourhood of
the metropolis.  One of them at Kingsland, a situation which has been
termed, “A focus where the most abandoned characters constantly assembled
for every species of brutal and licentious disorder.”  The other is at
Bowyer-lane, near Camberwell, a district inhabited by persons of the
worst description; among whom the police officers have been accustomed to
look for the various kinds of offenders, who have infested the Borough of

We are informed by the Committee of that School, that “in the district
embraced by their Society, the consequences of ignorance were evident to
the most superficial observer.  Parents and children, appeared alike
regardless of morality and virtue; the former indulging in profligacy,
and the latter exhibiting its lamentable effects.

“Did the friends of _universal education_ require a fresh illustration,
they would find it in the scene we are now contemplating; and they would
confidently invite those who still entertain a doubt on the subject, to a
more close and rigid examination of that scene, satisfied with the effect
upon every candid and unprejudiced mind.  For, assuredly, “men do not
gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles:” and when morality,
decency, and order, are gradually occupying the abodes of licentiousness,
misery, and guilt, the change must be attributed to some operating cause,
and _that_ cause must be derived from the Source of all Good.

“The principles of decorum, of propriety, and of virtue, are instilled
into the youthful mind; and by a powerful reaction, they reach the heart
of the parent; the moral atmosphere extends—its benefits are felt and
appreciated—the Bible takes its proper place in the habitations of
poverty; and thus in its simple, natural, and certain course, the _germ_
of _instruction_ yields the happy fruit of _moral reformation_.”

If as Grellmann computes, there are not fewer than 700,000 of these
people in Europe, who do not either plough, or sow, or the greater part
of them contribute in any manner to the improvement of the country, or
the support of the State, what a subject is this, for the contemplation
of Governments!

In reference to England, it is a beautiful exclamation of the Christian
Observer: “Surely when our charity is flowing in so wide a channel,
conveying the blessings of the gospel to the most distant quarters of the
globe, we shall not hesitate to water this one barren and neglected
field, in our own land.”  Uniting cordially in this appeal, it is a great
satisfaction to be able to state, there are traits of character in this
people, which encourage attention to Gypsey soil.  Let it but be cleared
of weeds, and sown with good seed, and the judicious cultivator may
calculate upon a crop to compensate his toil.

Greater proof of confidence, as to money transactions, not being
misplaced in Gypsies need not be given, than in the testimony of the
landlord at Kirk Yetholm, to William Smith, that his master knew he was
as sure of their money, as if he had it in his pocket.

In Dr. Clarke’s Travels, published in the present year, Part the 2nd of
Section 3rd, page 592, are the following observations respecting the
Gypsies of Hungary: “The Wallachian Gypsies are not an idle race.  They
might rather be described as a laborious people; and the greater part of
them honestly endeavour to earn a livelihood.  It is this part of them
who work as gold-washers.”

In page 637, the Doctor remarks: “The Wallachians of the Bannat, bear a
very bad character, and perhaps many of the offences attributed to
Gypsies, may be due to this people, who are the least civilized, and the
most ferocious of all the inhabitants of Hungary.” {262}

Could grateful sensibility of favors received, and of personal
attachment, be more strikingly evinced than in the promptitude of Will
Faa, who when he was eighty years of age, on hearing of his landlord
being unwell, undertook, at the hazard of his life, a journey of a
hundred miles, to see him before he died?

The attention of Gypsies to the aged and infirm of their fraternity, is
not less exhibited in the case of Ann Day, whose age is inserted in a
work on human longevity, published at Salisbury in 1799.  She was aged
108, and had not slept in a bed during seventy years.  She was well known
in the counties of Bedford and Herts, and having been a long time blind,
she always rode upon an ass, attended by two or three of the tribe.  A
friend of the author, a farmer near Baldock, who had frequently given
food and straw for the old woman, says of the attendants she had, her
comfort and support seemed to be their chief concern.  He considers her
longevity a proof of the kindness she received.  Her interment, which was
at Arsley, near Henlow, was attended by her son and daughter, the one 82,
the other 85 years of age, each having great grand-children.

It must have been a satisfaction to every one interested in the
improvement of human nature, to observe the number of advocates who have
come forward, within the last ten years, in this country, to plead the
cause of this despised and abused people.

In bringing their case before the public, the author has aimed at
discharging what he thought incumbent upon him to undertake on their
behalf.  He trusts that persons much more competent than himself, will be
induced to give effect to whatever measures may be thought best adapted
to promote the temporal, as well as spiritual benefit of this people; and
that as H, the correspondent of the Christian Observer, remarks: “amidst
the great light that prevails, the reproach may be wiped away from our
country, of so many of its children walking in darkness, and in the
shadow of death.”

Can a nation, whose diffusive philanthropy extends to the civilization of
a quarter of the globe, and to the evangelization of the whole world, be
regardless of any of the children of her own bosom, or suffer the pious,
truly patriotic solicitude of her King, for the instruction of the
meanest of his subjects to remain unaccomplished.

Many persons appear zealous to send Missionaries to convert heathens in
the most distant parts of the world; when, as a late writer {264}
observes, “the greatest, perhaps of all heathens, are at home, entirely

Peace and tranquillity are favorable to the improvement of the internal
condition of a country; and can Britain more unequivocally testify her
gratitude for the signal favors conferred upon her, than in promoting
that object for which rational beings were formed—the glory of God, and
the happiness of his creatures.

In relation to the uncultivated race we have been surveying, may a
guarded and religious education prove to them, as the voice crying in the
wilderness: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert
an highway for our God.”  The subsequent declaration, without doubt, is
descriptive of what should be effected under the gospel dispensation:
“The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the
glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and _all flesh_ shall see it
together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”—Isaiah, Chap. xl. v.
3, 4, 6.


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{82}  In the 31st page of Sir Frederick Morton Eden’s Appendix to the
State of the Poor, it appears that in 1426, a hay horse, for the Prior
(we may suppose of prime quality) cost £1 6s. 8d. and a colt 4s. 6d.  And
in the year 1448, page 34, the hay of one acre was estimated at 5s.

{89}  Weirde, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “_wird_;” _i.e._, fatum, or
deafinie, and is used in this sense, in Hollinshed.

{94}  Ballie is a material designation in Scotland, agreeing in rank with
that of Alderman in England.

{201}  Vol. vii. p. 496, 497.

{205}  Vol. vii. p. 712.

{206}  Vol. viii. p. 286.

{208}  Vol. ix. p. 82, 83.

{211}  Vol. ix. p. 278, 279, 280.

{212}  Since writing the above, a friend has informed me that Norwood is
now inclosed, and has ceased to be a rendezvous of Gypsies.

{217}  Vol. ix. p. 554, 555.

{221}  Frederick Smith, of Croydon, Surry.

{231a}  Vide Crabbe’s Poems.

{231b}  See No. 104, Sunday School Tracts.

{248}  The benevolent Jonas Hanway took a Gypsey boy into his family, for
the purpose of making an experiment, but the result has not come to the
knowledge of the author.

{262}  At page 691, is a Vignette of Gypsies washing gold in Hungary.

{264}  Samuel Tuke, Author of a Description of the Retreat, &c.

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