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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

I will notice another principal Gipsy


Robertson's

wife, a daughter of Martha, whose son and son-in-law, Brown and Wilson, were executed, as already mentioned, was sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay; but, owing to her advanced years, it was not thought worth the expense and trouble of sending her over seas, and she was set at liberty. Her grandson, Joyce Robertson, would also have been transported, if not hanged, but for the assistance of some of his clan rescuing him from Stirling jail. So coolly and deliberately did he go about his operations, in breaking out of the prison, that he took along with him his oatmeal bag, and a favourite bird, in a cage, with which he had amused himself during his solitary confinement. The following anecdote of this audacious Gipsy, which was told to me by an inhabitant of Stirling, who was well acquainted with the parties, is, I believe, unequalled in the history of robberies: While Robertson was lying in jail, an old man, for what purpose is not mentioned, went to the prison window, to speak to him through the iron stauncheons. Joyce, putting forth his hand, took hold of the unsuspecting man by the breast of his coat, and drew him close up to the iron bars of the window; then thrusting out his other hand, and pointing a glittering knife at his heart, threatened him with instant death, if he did not deliver him the money he had on him. The poor man, completely intimidated, handed into the prison all the money he had; but had it returned, on the jailer being informed of the extraordinary
transaction.[107] After escaping from confinement, this Gipsy stole a watch from a house at Alva, but had hardly got it into his possession before he was discovered, and had the inhabitants of the village in pursuit of him. A man, of the name of Dawson, met him in his flight, and, astonished at seeing the crowd at his heels, enquired, impatiently, what was the matter. "They are all running after me, and you will soon run too," replied the Tinkler, without shortening his step. He took to Tullibody plantations, but was apprehended, and had the watch taken from him.

[107] The "game" of such a Gipsy may be fitly compared to that of a sparrow-hawk. This bird has been known, while held in the hand, after being wounded, to seize, when presented to it, a sparrow with each claw, and a third with its beak.--ED.

I will notice another principal Gipsy, closely connected by blood with the Fife bands, and of that rank that entitled him to issue tokens to the members of his tribe. The name of this chief was Charles Wilson, and his place of residence, at one time, was Raploch, close by Stirling castle, where he possessed some heritable property in houses. He was a stout, athletic, good-looking man, fully six feet in stature, and of a fair complexion; and was, in general, handsomely dressed, frequently displaying a gold watch, with many seals attached to its chain. In his appearance he was respectable, very polite in his manners, and had, altogether, little or nothing about him which, at first sight, or to the general public, indicated him to be a Gipsy. But, nevertheless, I was assured by one of the tribe, who was well acquainted with him, that he spoke the language, and observed all the customs, and followed the practices of the Gipsies.

He was a pretty extensive horse-dealer, having at times in his possession numbers of the best bred horses in the country. He most commonly bought and sold hunters, and such as were suitable for cavalry; and for some of his horses he received upwards of a hundred guineas apiece. In his dealings he


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