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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

On the castle hill at Stirling


Instances

occurred of individuals, who happened to be plundered, applying to Charles Wilson for his assistance to recover their property. The particulars of the following case are in the words of a friend who gave me the anecdote: "A boy, having received his hard-earned fee, at the end of a term, set out for Stirling to purchase some clothes for himself. On the road he was accosted by two men, who conversed with and accompanied him to Stirling. The lad proceeded accordingly to fit himself in a shop with a new suit, but, to his utter disappointment and grief, his small penny-fee was gone. The merchant questioned him about the road he had come, and whether he had been in company with any one on the way or otherwise. Upon the appearance of his companions being described, the shop-keeper suspected they might have picked his pocket unobserved. As a last resource, the boy was advised to call upon Charlie Wilson, and relate to him the particulars of his misfortune; which he accordingly did. Charles heard his story to the end, and desired him to call next day, when he might be able to give him some information relative to his loss. The young lad kept the appointment, and, to his great joy, the Tinkler chief paid him down every farthing of his lost money; but at the same time told him to ask no questions."

This Gipsy chief died within these thirty-five years in his own house, on the castle-hill at Stirling, whither he had removed from Raploch. It is stated that,

for a considerable time before his death, he relinquished his former practices, and died in full communion with the church.[108] He was, about the latter end of his life, reduced to considerable poverty, and was under the necessity of betaking himself to his original occupation of making horn spoons for a subsistence. In the days of his prosperity, Charles was considered a very kind-hearted and generous man to the poor; and it seldom happened that poverty and distress were not relieved by him, when application was made to him by the needy. Although many of the more original kind of Gipsies have a respectable appearance, and may possess a little money, during the prime of life, yet the most of them, in their old age, are in a condition of poverty and misery.

[108] In the "Monthly Visitor" for February, 1856, will be found an account of the conversion of one of this Gipsy clan, of the name of Jeanie Wilson. The tract is very appropriately headed, "A lily among thorns."--ED.

Charles Wilson had a family of very handsome daughters, one of whom was considered a perfect beauty. She did not travel the country, like the rest of her family, but remained at home, and acted as her father's housekeeper; and, when any of the tribe visited him, they always addressed her by the title of "my lady," (_raunie_,) and otherwise treated her with great respect. This beautiful girl was, about the year 1795, kept as a mistress by an adjutant of a Scotch regiment of fencible cavalry. She was frequently seen as handsomely and fashionably attired as the first females in Stirling; and some of the troopers were not displeased to see their adjutant's mistress equal in appearance to the highest dames in the town. But Wilson's daughters were all frequently dressed in a very superior manner, and could not have been taken for Gipsies.


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