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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

That when Darnley took up his residence in Peebles


I

shall conclude my account of the Gipsies in Fife by mentioning the curious fact that, within these sixty years, a gentleman of considerable landed property, between the Forth and the Tay, abandoned his relatives, and travelled over the kingdom in the society of the Gipsies. He married one of the tribe, of the name of Ogilvie, who had two daughters to him. Sometimes he quartered, it is said, upon his own estate, disguised, of course, among the gang, to the great annoyance of his relatives, who were horrified at the idea of his becoming a Tinkler, and alarmed at the claims which he occasionally made upon the estate. His daughters travel the country, at the present day, as common Gipsies.

CHAPTER VI.

TWEED-DALE AND CLYDESDALE GIPSIES.

The county of Peebles, or Tweed-dale, appears to have been more frequented by the Gipsies than, perhaps, any other part of Scotland. So far back as the time of Henry Lord Darnley, when the Gipsies were countenanced by the government, we find, according to Buchanan, that this county was a favourite resort of banditti; so much so, that when Darnley took up his residence in Peebles, for the purpose of shunning the company of his wife, Queen Mary, he "found the place so cold, so infested with thieves, and so destitute of provisions, that he was driven from it, to avoid being fleeced and starved by rogues and beggars."

In the poems of Dr. Pennecuik, as well as in his history of Peebles-shire, published in the year 1715, the Gipsy bands are frequently taken notice of. But, notwithstanding the attachment which the tribe had for the romantic glens of Tweed-dale, no evidence exists of their ever having had a permanent habitation within the shire. They appear to have resorted to that pastoral district during only the months of spring, summer and autumn. Their partiality for this part of Scotland may be attributed to three reasons.

The first reason is, Tweed-dale was part of the district in which, if not the first, at least the second, Gipsy family in Scotland claimed, at one time, a right to travel, as its own peculiar privilege. The chief of this family was called Baillie, who claimed kindred, in the bastard line, to one of the most ancient families in the kingdom, of the name of Baillie, once Balliol.[121] In consequence of this alleged connexion, this Gipsy family also claimed, as its right, to travel in the upper ward of Lanarkshire, adjoining Tweed-dale, in which district the Scottish family alluded to possessed estates; and one of the principal places of the Gipsy rendezvous was an old ruin, among the hills, in the upper part of the parish of Lamington, or rather Wanel in those days.

[121] This claim appears doubtful, for there were Gipsies of the name of Baillie (Bailyow) as far back as 1540, as already mentioned. However, the particulars of the laird's intrigue with the beautiful Gipsy girl, are imprinted on the minds of the Gipsies of that name at the present day.

The second reason is, that the surface of Tweed-dale is much adapted to the wandering disposition of the Gipsies. It is mountainous, but everywhere intersected by foot-paths and bridle-roads, affording an easy passage to the Gipsies, on foot or horseback. On its many hills are plenty of game; and its infinite number of beautiful streams, including about thirty-five miles of the highest part of the Tweed, abound with trout of the finest quality. The Gipsies, being fond of game, and much addicted to poaching and fishing, flocked to Tweed-dale and the adjoining upland districts of a similar character, comprehending some of the most remote and least frequented parts in the south of Scotland. All these districts being covered with vast flocks of sheep, many of which were frequently dying of various diseases, the Gipsies never wanted a plentiful supply of that sort of food from the families of the store-masters.[122]


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