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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Denominated an outlandish people

[43] Hoyland.

It appears, from this account, that the Gipsies had been observed on the continent about a hundred years before they visited England. According to Dr. Bright, they seemed to have roamed up and down the continent of Europe, without molestation, for about half a century, before their true character was perfectly known. If 1512 was really the year in which these people first set foot in England, it would seem that the English government had not been so easily nor so long imposed on as the kings of Scotland, and the authorities of Europe generally. For we find that, within about the space of ten years from this period, they are, by the 10th chapter of the 22d Henry VIII, denominated "an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place to place, in great company; and used great subtlety and crafty means to deceive the people--bearing them in hand that they, by palmistry, could tell men's and women's fortunes; and so, many times, by craft and subtlety, have deceived the people for their money; and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies." As far back as the year 1549, they had become very troublesome in England, for, on the 22d June of that year, according to Burnet's History of the Reformation, "there was privy search made through all Sussex for all vagabonds, Gipsies, conspirators, prophesiers, players, and

such like."

The Gipsies in England still continued to commit numberless thefts and robberies, in defiance of the existing statutes; so that each succeeding law enacted against them became severer than the one which preceded it. The following is an extract from the 27th Henry VIII: "Whereas, certain outlandish people, who do not profess any craft or trade whereby to maintain themselves, but go about in great numbers, from place to place, using insidious means to impose on his majesty's subjects, making them believe that they understand the art of foretelling to men and women their good and evil fortunes, by looking in their hands, whereby they frequently defraud people of their money; likewise are guilty of thefts and highway robberies: It is hereby ordered that the said vagrants, commonly called Egyptians, in case as thieves and rascals . . . . and on the importation of any such Egyptians, he, the importer, shall forfeit forty pounds for every trespass." So much had the conduct of the Gipsies exasperated the government of Queen Elizabeth, that it was enacted, during her reign, that "If any person, being fourteen years, whether natural born subject or stranger, who had been seen in the fellowship of such persons, or disguised like them, and remain with them one month at once, or at several times, it should be felony without benefit of clergy."[44] It would thus appear that, when the Gipsies first arrived in England, they had not kept their language a secret, as is now the case; for some of the Englishmen of that period had acquired it by associating with them.[45]

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