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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

So unfortunate for the Gipsies


In perusing this work, the reader will be pleased to take the above mentioned document as the starting point of the history of the Gipsies in Scotland; and consider the Gipsies of that time as the progenitors of all those at present in Scotland, including the great encrease of the body, by the mixture of the white blood that has been brought within their community. He will also be pleased to divest himself of the childish prejudices, acquired in the nursery and in general literature, against the name of Gipsy; and consider that there are people in Scotland, occupying some of the highest positions in life, who are Gipsies; not indeed Gipsies in point of purity of blood, but people who have Gipsy blood in their veins, and who hold themselves to be Gipsies, in the manner which I have, to a certain extent, explained in the Preface, and will more fully illustrate in my Disquisition on the Gipsies.--ED.

This curious league of John Faw with the Scottish king, who acknowledges the laws and customs of the Gipsies within his kingdom, was of very short duration. Like that of many other favourites of princes, the credit which the "Earl of Little Egypt" possessed at court was, the succeeding year, completely annihilated, and that with a vengeance, as will appear by the following order in council. The Gipsies, quarrelling among themselves, and publicly bringing their matters of dispute before the government, had, perhaps, contributed

to produce an enquiry into the real character and conduct of these foreigners; verifying the ancient adage, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. But the immediate cause assigned for the sudden change of mind in the king, so unfortunate for the Gipsies, is handed down to us in the following tradition, current in Fife:

King James V, as he was travelling through part of his dominions, disguised under the character of the Gaberlunzie-man, or Guid-man of Ballangiegh, prosecuting, as was his custom, his low and vague amours, fell in with a band of Gipsies, in the midst of their carousals, in a cave, near Wemyss, in Fifeshire. His majesty heartily joined in their revels, but it was not long before a scuffle ensued, wherein the king was very roughly handled, being in danger of his life.[59] The Gipsies, perceiving at last that he was none of their people, and considering him a spy, treated him with great indignity. Among other humiliating insults, they compelled his royal majesty, as an humble servant of a Tinkler, to carry their budgets and wallets on his back, for several miles, until he was exhausted; and being unable to proceed a step further, he sank under his load. He was then dismissed with scorn and contempt by the merciless Gipsies. Being exasperated at their cruel and contemptuous treatment of his sacred person, and having seen a fair specimen of their licentious manner of life, the king caused an order in council immediately to be issued, declaring that, if _three_ Gipsies were found together, one of the three was instantly to be seized, and forthwith hanged or shot, by any one of his majesty's subjects that chose to put the order in execution.


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