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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

He saw William Baillie standing


[137] What our author says of "the usual Gipsy policy of making the people believe that they are descended from families of rank and influence in the country," (page 154,) and that "the greater part of them will tell you that they are sprung from a bastard son of this or that noble family, or other person of rank and influence, of their own surname," (117,) is doubtless true as a rule; but there were as likely cases of what the Gipsies assert, and that Gipsy women, "in some instances, bore children to some of the 'unspotted gentlemen' mentioned by act of parliament as having so greatly protected and entertained the tribe," (114,) and that Baillie was one of them, (121 and 185.) If Baillie had been following the occupation, and bearing the reputation, of an ordinary native of Scotland, there would have been some chance "that great interest would be used to save a bastard branch of an honourable house from an ignominious death upon the scaffold," for almost any offence he had committed, but not for one who was guilty of "sorning, pickery, and little thieving, and habit and repute an Egyptian." There was doubtless a connexion, in _Gipsy_ blood, between Baillie and his influential friends who saved him and his relatives so often from the gallows.--_See Baillies of Lamington and McLaurin's Criminal Trials, in the Index._--ED.

The descendants of William Baillie state that he was married to a woman of the name

of Rachel Johnstone; and that he was killed, in a scuffle, by a Gipsy of the name of Pinkerton, in a quarrel among themselves. Baillie being quite superior in personal strength to Pinkerton, his wife took hold of him, for fear of his destroying his opponent, and, while he was in her arms, Pinkerton ran him through with his sword. Upon his death, his son, then a youth of thirteen years of age, took a solemn oath, on the spot, that he would never rest until the blood of his father should be avenged. And, true to his oath, his mother and himself followed the track of the murderer over Scotland, England, and Ireland, like staunch bloodhounds, and rested not, till Pinkerton was apprehended, tried, and executed.

The following particulars, relative to the slaughter of William Baillie, were published in Blackwood's Magazine, but apparently without any knowledge, on the part of the writer, of that individual's history, further than that he was a Gipsy.

"In a precognition, taken in March, 1725, by Sir James Stewart, of Coltness, and Captain Lockhart, of Kirkton, two of his majesty's justices of the peace for Lanarkshire, anent the murder of William Baillie, brazier,[138] commonly called Gipsy, the following evidence is adduced:--John Meikle, wright, declares, that, upon the twelfth of November last, he, being in the house of Thomas Riddle, in Newarthill, with some others, the deceased, William Baillie, James Kairns, and David Pinkerton, were in another room, drinking, where, after some high words, and a confused noise and squabble, the said three persons, above-named, went all out; and the declarant, knowing them to be three of those idle sorners that pass in the country under the name of Gipsies, in hopes they were gone off, rose, and went to the door, to take the air; where, to his surprise, he saw William Baillie standing, and Kairns and Pinkerton on horseback, with drawn swords in their hands, who both rushed upon the said William Baillie, and struck him with their swords; whereupon, the said William Baillie fell down, crying out he was gone; upon which, Kairns and Pinkerton rode off: That the declarant helped to carry the said William Baillie into the house, where, upon search, he was found to have a great cut or wound on his head, and a wound in his body, just below the slot of his breast: And declares, he, the said William Baillie, died some time after.


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