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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

She got possession of the kiln


Besides

the christian and surnames common to them in Scotland, the Gipsies have names in their own language;[146] and, while travelling through the country, assume new names every morning, before commencing the day's journey, and retain them till money is received, in one way or other, by each individual of the company; but if no money is received before twelve o'clock, they all, at noon-tide, resume their permanent Scottish names. They consider it unlucky to set out on a journey, in the morning, under their own proper names; and if they are, by any chance, called back, by any of their neighbours, they will not again stir from home for that day. The Gipsies also frequently change their British names when from home: in one part of the country they have one name, and in another part they appear under a different one, and so on.

[146] In the "Gipsies in Spain," Mr. Borrow says: "Every family in England has two names; one by which they are known to the Gentiles, and another which they use among themselves."--ED.

* * * * *

I will now describe the appearance of the Gipsies in Tweed-dale during the generation immediately following the one in which we have considered them; and would make this remark, that this account applies to them of late years, with this exception, that the numbers in which the nomadic class are to be met with are greatly reduced, their

condition greatly fallen, and the circumstances attending their reception, countenance and toleration, much modified, and in some instances totally changed.

Within the memories of my father and grandfather, which take in about the last hundred years, none of the Gipsies who traversed Tweed-dale carried tents with them for their accommodation. The whole of them occupied the kilns and out-houses in the country; and so thoroughly did they know the country, and where these were to be found, and the disposition of the owners of them, that they were never at a loss for shelter in their wanderings.

Some idea may be formed of the number of Gipsies who would sometimes be collected together, from the following extract from the Clydesdale Magazine, for May, 1818: "Mr. Steel, of Kilbucho Mill, bore a good name among 'tanderal gangerals.' His kiln was commodious, and some hardwood trees, which surrounded his house, bid defiance to the plough, and formed a fine pasture-sward for the cuddies, on a green of considerable extent. On a summer Saturday night, Mary came to the door, asking quarters, pretty late. She had only a single ass, and a little boy swung in the panniers. She got possession of the kiln, as usual, and the ass was sent to graze on the green; but Mary was only the avant-garde. Next morning, when the family rose, they counted no less than forty cuddies on the grass, and a man for each of them in the kiln, besides women and children." Considering the large families the Gipsies generally have, and allowing at this meeting two asses for carrying the infants and luggage of each family, there could not have been less than one hundred Gipsies on the spot.

My parents recollect the Gipsies, about the year 1775, traversing the county of Tweed-dale, and parts of the surrounding shires, in bands varying in numbers from ten to upwards of thirty in each horde. Sometimes ten or twelve horses and asses were attached to one large horde, for the purpose of carrying the children, baggage, &c. In the summer of 1784, forty Gipsies, in one band, requested permission of my father to occupy one of his out-houses. It was good-humouredly observed to them that, when such numbers of them came in one body, they should send their quarter-master in advance, to mark out their camp. The Gipsies only smiled at the remark. One half of them got the house requested; the other half occupied an old, ruinous mill, a mile distant. There were above seven of these large bands which frequented the farms of my relatives in Tweed-dale down to about the year 1790. A few years after this period, when a boy, I assisted to count from twenty-four to thirty Gipsies who took up their quarters in an old smearing-house on one of these farms. The children, and the young folks generally, were running about the old house like bees flying about a hive. Their horses, asses, dogs, cats, poultry, and tamed birds were numerous.


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