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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

It's the Faas and Baillies over again


This occupation seems to have been a favourite one with them, from the most distant period. Uladislaus, King of Hungary, in the year 1496, ordered: "That every officer and subject, of whatever rank or condition, do allow Thomas Polgar, leader of twenty-five tents of wandering Gipsies, free residence everywhere, and on no account to molest either him or his people, because they prepared musket balls and other military stores, for the Bishop Sigismund, at Fuenf-kirchen." In the year 1565, when Mustapa, Turkish Regent of Bosnia, besieged Crupa, the Turks having expended their powder and cannon balls, the Gipsies were employed to make the latter, part of iron, the rest of stone, cased with lead.

Observe the Gipsies at whatever employment you may, there always appear sparks of genius. We cannot, indeed, help wondering, when we consider the skill they display in preparing and bringing their work to perfection, from the scarcity of proper tools and materials.--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.

CHAPTER VII.

BORDER GIPSIES.

It would be an unpardonable omission were I to overlook the descendants of John Faw, "Lord and Earl of Little Egypt," in this history of the Gipsies in Scotland. But to enter into details relative to many of the members of this ancient clan, would be merely

a repetition of actions, similar in character to those already related of some of the other bands in Scotland.

It would appear that the district in which the Faw tribe commonly travelled, comprehended East Lothian, Berwickshire and Roxburghshire; and that Northumberland was also part of their walk. I can find no traces of Gipsies, of that surname, having, in families, traversed the midland or western parts of the south of Scotland, for nearly the last seventy years; and almost all the few ancient public documents relative to this clan seem to imply that they occupied the counties above mentioned.

I am inclined to believe that the Faws and the Baillies, the two principal Gipsy clans in Scotland, had frequently lived in a state of hostility with one another. These two tribes quarrelled in the reign of James V, when they brought their dispute before the king in council; and from the renewal of the order in council, in the reign of Queen Mary, it appears their animosities had then existed. In the year 1677, the Faws and the Shaws, as already noticed, advanced into Tweed-dale, to fight the Baillies and the Browns, as mentioned by Dr. Pennecuik, in his history of Tweed-dale. At the present day, the Baillies consider themselves quite superior in rank to the Faas; and, on the other hand, the Faas and their friends speak with great bitterness and contempt of the Baillies, calling them "a parcel of thieves and vagabonds."[156]

[156] This long standing feud between the Baillies and the Faas is notorious. In paying a visit to a family of English Gipsies in the United States, the head of the family said to me: "You must really excuse us to-day. It's the Faas and Baillies over again; it will be all I can do to keep them from coming to blows." The noise inside of the house was frightful. There had been a "difficulty" between two families in consequence of some gossip about one of the parties before marriage, which the families were sifting to the bottom.


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