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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The Barony of Bombie was again recovered by the McLellans


In

the reign of James II, the Barony of Bombie was again recovered by the McLellans, (as the tradition goes,) after this manner: In the same reign, says our author of small credit, (Sir George McKenzie, in his baronage M.S.,) it happened that a company of Saracens or Gipsies, from Ireland,[52] infested the county of Galloway, whereupon the king intimated a proclamation, bearing, that whoever should disperse them, and bring in their captain, dead or alive, should have the Barony of Bombie for his reward. It chanced that a brave young gentleman, the laird of Bombie's son, fortunated to kill the person for which the reward was promised, and he brought his head on the point of his sword to the king, and thereupon he was immediately seized in the Barony of Bombie; and to perpetuate the memory of that brave and remarkable action, he took for his crest a Moor's head, and 'Think on' for his motto.[53]

[52] Almost all the Scottish Gipsies assert that their ancestors came by way of Ireland into Scotland.

[This is extremely likely. On the publication of the edict of Ferdinand of Spain, in 1492, some of the Spanish Gipsies would likely pass over to the south of Ireland, and thence find their way into Scotland, before 1506. Anthonius Gawino, above referred to, would almost seem to be a Spanish name. We may, therefore, very safely assume that the Gipsies of Scotland are of Spanish Gipsy descent.--ED.]

style="text-align: justify;"> [53] Crawford's Peerage, page 238.

As armorial bearings were generally assumed to commemorate facts and deeds of arms, it is likely that the crest of the McLellans is the head of a _Gipsy_ chief. In the reign of James II, alluded to, we find "away putting of _sorners_, (forcible obtruders,) fancied fools, vagabonds, out-liers, masterful beggars, _bairds_, (strolling rhymers,) and such like runners about," is more than once enforced by acts of parliament.[54]

[54] Glendook's Scots' acts of parliament.

But the earliest authentic notice which has yet been discovered of the first appearance of the Gipsies in Scotland, is the letter of James IV, to the King of Denmark, in 1506. At this period these vagrants represented themselves as Egyptian pilgrims, and so far imposed on our religious and melancholy monarch, as to procure from him a favourable recommendation to his uncle of Denmark, in behalf of one of these "Earls," and his "lamentable retinue." The following is a translation of this curious epistle:

"Most illustrious, &c.--Anthonius Gawino, Earl of Little Egypt, and the other afflicted and lamentable tribe of his retinue, whilst, through a desire of travelling, and, by command of the Pope,[55] (as he says,) pilgriming, over the Christian world, according to their custom, had lately arrived on the frontiers of our kingdom, and implored us that we, out of humanity, would allow him to approach our limits without damage, and freely carry about all things, and the company he now has. He easily obtains what the hard fortune wretched men require. Thus he has sojourned here, (as we have been informed,) for several months, in peaceable and catholic manner. King and uncle, he now proposes a voyage to Denmark to thee. But, being about to cross the ocean, he hath requested our letters, in which we would inform your Highness of these, and at the same time commend the calamity of this tribe to your royal munificence. But we believe that the fates, manners, and race of the wandering Egyptians are better known to thee than us, because Egypt is nearer thy kingdom, and a greater number of such men sojourn in thy kingdom.--Most illustrious, &c."[56]


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