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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Hoyland takes none of these potters into his account

[44] English acts of Parliament.

[45] This does not appear to be necessarily the case. These Englishmen may have married Gipsies, become Gipsies by adoption, and so learned the language, as happens at the present day.--ED.

In carrying out the foregoing extraordinary enactments, the public was at the expense of exporting the Gipsies to the continent; and it may reasonably be assumed that great numbers of these unhappy people were executed under these sanguinary laws. A few years before the restoration of Charles II, thirteen Gipsies were executed "at one Suffolk assize." This appears to have been the last instance of inflicting the penalty of death on these unfortunate people in England, merely because they were Gipsies.[46] But although these laws of blood are now repealed, the English Gipsies are liable, at the present day, to be proceeded against under the Vagrant Act; as these statutes declare all those persons "pretending to be Gipsies, or wandering in the habit and form of Egyptians, shall be deemed rogues and vagabonds."

[46] Hoyland.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was thought England contained above 10,000 Gipsies; and Mr. Hoyland, in his historical survey of these people, supposes that there are 18,000 of the race in Britain at the present day. A member of Parliament, it is reported, stated, in the House of Commons, that

there were not less than 36,000 Gipsies in Great Britain. I am inclined to believe that the statement of the latter will be nearest the truth; as I am convinced that the greater part of all those persons who traverse England with earthenware, in carts and waggons, are a superior class of Gipsies. Indeed, a Scottish Gipsy informed me, that almost all those people are actually Gipsies. Now Mr. Hoyland takes none of these potters into his account, when he estimates the Gipsy population at only 18,000 souls. Besides, Gipsies have informed me that Ireland contains a great many of the tribe; many of whom are now finding their way into Scotland.[47]

[47] The number of the British Gipsies mentioned here is greatly understated. See Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

I am inclined to think that the greater part of the English Gipsies live more apart from the other inhabitants of the country, reside more in tents, and exhibit a great deal more of their pristine manners, than their brethren do in Scotland.[48]

[48] In no part of the world is the Gipsy life more in accordance with the general idea that the Gipsy is like Cain--a wanderer on the face of the earth--than in England; for there, the covered cart and the little tent are the houses of the Gipsy; and he seldom remains more than three days in the same place. So conducive is the climate of England to beauty, that nowhere else is the appearance of the race so prepossessing as in that country. Their complexion is dark, but not disagreeably so; their faces are oval, their features regular, their foreheads rather low, and their hands and feet small. The men are taller than the English peasantry, and far more active. They all speak the English language with fluency, and in their gait and demeanour are easy and graceful; in both respects standing in striking contrast with the peasantry, who, in speech, are slow and uncouth, and, in manner, dogged and brutal.--_Borrow._--ED.

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