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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

On visiting their friends at Lochgellie


The

female Gipsies from the south, on visiting their friends at Lochgellie, in the depth of winter, often hired horses at the North Queensferry, and rode, with no small pomp and pride, to the village. Sometimes two females would ride upon one horse. A very decent old man, of the name of Thomas Chalmers, a small farmer, informed me that he himself had rode to Lochgellie, with a female Gipsy behind him, accompanied by other two, mounted on another of his horses, riding with much spirit and glee by his side. Chalmers said that these women not only paid more than the common hire, but treated the owners of the horses with as much meat and drink as they could take. The male Gipsies also hired horses at this Ferry, with which they rode to markets in the north.

The young Gipsies, male and female, of whom I have spoken, appear to have been the flower of the different bands, collected and employed in a general plundering at the fairs in the north. So well did they pay their way at the village and passage alluded to, that the boatmen gave them the kindly name of "our frien's." These wanderers were all known at the village by the name of "Gillie Wheesels," or "Killie Wheesh," which, in the west of Fife, signified "the lads that take the purses." Old Thomas Chalmers informed me that he had frequently seen these sharks of boatmen shake these Gipsy thieves heartily by the hand, and, with a significant smile on their harsh, weather-beaten countenances, wish them

a good market, as they landed them on the north side of the Forth, on their way to picking pockets at fairs.

As an incident in the lives of these Gipsies, I will give the following, which was witnessed by Chalmers: A Gillie of a Gipsy horse-couper stole a black colt, in the east of Fife, and carried it direct to a fair in Perth, where he exchanged it for a white horse, belonging to a Highlander wearing a green kilt. The Highlander, however, had not long put the colt into the stable, before word was brought to him that it was gone. Suspecting the Gipsy of the theft, the sturdy Gael proceeded in search of him, and receiving positive information of the fact, he pursued him, like a staunch hound on the warm foot of reynard, till he overtook him in a house on the north side of Kinross. The Gipsy was taking some refreshment in the same room with Chalmers, when the Highlander, in a storm of broken English, burst into their presence. The astute and polished Gipsy instantly sprang to his feet, and, throwing his arms around the foaming Celt, embraced and hugged him in the eastern manner, overpowering him with expressions of joy at seeing him again. This quite exasperated the mountaineer: almost suffocated with rage, he shook the Gipsy from his person, with the utmost disdain, and demanded the colt he had stolen from him. Notwithstanding the deceitful embraces and forced entreaties of the Gipsy, he was, with the assistance of a messenger, at the back of the Highlander, safely lodged in the jail of Cupar.

Considering the great aptitude which the Gipsies have always shown for


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