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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Baurie rajahs and baurie raunies


In giving an account of the Gipsies who frequented Tweed-dale, and the country adjacent, I have thought it proper to mention particularly the family of Baillie; for this family produced kings and queens, or, in their language, _baurie rajahs_ and _baurie raunies_, to the Scottish Gipsies. At one period they seem to have exercised a sort of sovereign authority in the tribe, over almost the whole of Scotland; and, according to the ordinary practice of writing history of a great deal more importance, they should, as the chief family of a tribe, be particularly noticed.

The quarrels of the Gipsies frequently broke out in an instant, and almost without a visible cause. A farmer's wife, with whom I was acquainted, was one day sitting in the midst of a band of them, at work in an old out-house, enquiring the news of the country of them, when, in an instant, a shower of horns and hammers, open knives, files, and fiery peats, were flying through the house, at one another's heads. The good-wife took to her heels immediately, to get out of the fray. Some of their conflicts were terrible in the extreme. Dr. Pennecuik, in his history of Peebles-shire, already referred to, gives an account of a sanguinary struggle that took place on his estate of Romanno, in Tweed-dale. The following are the particulars in his own words:

"Upon the 1st of October, 1677, there happened at Romanno, on the very spot where now the dove-cot is built, a remarkable polymachy betwixt two clans of Gipsies, the Fawes and the Shawes, who had come from Haddington fair, and were going to Harestanes, to meet two other clans of these rogues, the Baillies and Browns, with a resolution to fight them. They fell out, at Romanno, among themselves, about dividing the spoil they had got at Haddington, and fought it manfully. Of the Fawes, there were four brethren and a brother's son; of the Shawes, the father with three sons; and several women on both sides. Old Sandie Fawe, a bold and proper fellow,[123] with his wife, then with child, were both killed dead upon the place; and his brother George very dangerously wounded. In February, 1678, old Robin Shawe, the Gipsy, and his three sons, were hanged at the Grass-market, for the above-mentioned murder, committed at Romanno; and John Fawe was hanged, the Wednesday following, for another murder. Sir Archibald Primrose was justice general at the time, and Sir George McKenzie king's advocate." Contrasting the obstinate ferocity of the Gipsy with the harmless and innocent nature of the dove, Dr. Pennecuik erected on the spot a dove-cot; and, to commemorate the battle, placed upon the lintel of the door the following inscription:

"A. D. 1683.

The field of Gipsie blood, which here you see, A shelter for the harmless dove shall be."

[123] It is interesting to notice that the Doctor calls this Gipsy a "bold and proper fellow." He was, in all probability, a fine specimen of physical manhood.--ED.

This Gipsy battle is also noticed by Lord Fountainhall, in the following extract from his MS., now in the Advocate's Library:--"Sixth February, 1678.--Four Egyptians, of the name of Shaw, were this day hanged--the father and three sons--for the slaughter committed by them on the Faws, (another tribe of these vagabonds, worse than the mendicants validi, mentioned in the code,) in a drunken squabble, made by them in a rendezvous they had at Romanno, with a design to unite their forces against the clans of Browns and Bailezies (Baillies), that were come over from Ireland,[124] to chase them back again, that they might not share in their labours; but, in their ramble, they discovered and committed the foresaid murder; and sundry of them, of both sides, were apprehended."--"The four being thrown into a hole dug for them in the Greyfriars churchyard, with their clothes on, the next morning the body of the youngest of the three sons, (who was scarce sixteen,) was missed. Some thought that, being last thrown over the ladder, and first cut down, and in full vigour, and not much earth placed upon him, and lying uppermost, and so not so ready to smother, the fermentation of the blood, and heat of the bodies under him, might cause him to rebound, and throw off the earth, and recover ere the morning, and steal away. Which, if true, he deserved his life, though the magistrates deserved a reprimand. But others, more probably, thought his body was stolen away by some chirurgeon, or his servant, to make an anatomical dissection on."


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