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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Must have encreased prodigiously


French and German Gipsies are very shy, owing to the severity of the laws against their race.

[284] Fletcher, of Saltoun, speaks of there being constantly a hundred thousand people in Scotland, leading the life (as Sir Walter Scott describes it,) of "Gipsies, Jockies, or Cairds." Between the time alluded to and the date of John Faw's league with James V., a period of 140 years had elapsed; and 174 years from the date of arrival of the race in the country: so that, from the natural encrease of the body, and the large amount of white blood introduced into it, the greater part, if not the whole, of the people mentioned, were doubtless Gipsies. But these Gipsies, according to Sir Walter's opinion, "died out by a change of habits." How strange it is that the very first class Scottish minds should have so little understood the philosophy of origin, blood, and descent, and especially as they applied to the Gipsies! For Sir Walter says: "The progress of time, and encrease both of the means of life and the power of the laws, gradually reduced this dreadful evil within more narrow bounds. . . . . Their numbers are so greatly diminished, that, instead of one hundred thousand, as calculated by Fletcher, it would now, perhaps, be impossible to collect above five hundred throughout all Scotland(!)" It is perfectly evident that Sir Walter Scott, in common with many others, never realized the idea, in all its bearings,

of what a Gipsy was; or he never could have imagined that those, only, were of the Gipsy race, who followed the tent.

It is very doubtful if Anthonius Gawino, and his tribe, departed with their letter of introduction from James IV. to his uncle, the king of Denmark, in 1506. Having secured the favour of the king of Scots, by this recommendatory notice, he was more apt, by delaying his departure, to secure his position in the country. The circumstances attending the league with his successor, John Faw, show that the tribe had been long in the country; doubtless from as far back as 1506. From 1506 till 1579, with the exception of about one year, during the reign of James V., the tribe, as I have already said, (page 109,) must have encreased prodigiously. The persecutions against the body extended over the reign of James VI., and part of that of Charles I.; for, according to Baron Hume, such was the terror which the executions inspired in the tribe, that, "for the space of more than 50 years from that time, (1624,) there is no trial of an Egyptian;" although our author shows that an execution of a band of them took place in 1636. But "towards the end of that century," continues Baron Hume, "the nuisance seems to have again become troublesome;" in other words, that from the reign of Charles I. to the accession of William and Mary, the time to which Fletcher's remark applies, the attention of all being taken up with the troubles of the times, the Gipsies had things pretty much their own way; but when peace was restored, they would be called to strict account.


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