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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Were descended from the Gipsy Faas of Yetholm


would have suffered their sovereigns to be so much imposed on, as to allow them to put their names to public documents, styling poor and miserable wretches, as we at the present day imagine them to have been, "Lords and Earls of Little Egypt." Judging from the accounts which tradition has handed down to us, of the gay and fashionable appearance of the principal Gipsies, as late as about the beginning of the eighteenth century, as will be seen in my account of the Tweed-dale bands, I am disposed to believe that Anthonius Gawino, in 1506, and John Faw, in 1540, would personally, as individuals, that is, as Gipsy Rajahs,[66] have a very respectable and imposing appearance in the eyes of the officers of the crown. And besides, John Faw appears to have been possessed of "divers sums of money, jewels, clothes and other goods, to the quantity of a great sum of money;" and it would seem that some of the officers of high rank in the household of our kings had fingered the cash of the Gipsy pilgrims. If there is any truth in the popular and uniform tradition that, in the seventeenth century, a Countess of Cassilis was seduced from her duty to her lord, and carried off by a Gipsy, of the name of John Faa, and his band, it cannot be imagined, that the seducer would be a poor, wretched, beggarly Tinkler, such as many of the tribe are at this day. If a handsome person, elegant apparel, a lively disposition, much mirth and glee, and a constant boasting of extraordinary prowess, would in any way contribute to make an impression on the heart of the frail countess, these qualities, I am disposed to think, would not be wanting in the "Gipsy Laddie." And, moreover, John Faw bore, on paper at least, as high a title as her husband, Lord Cassilis, from whom she absconded. It is said the individual who seduced the fair lady was a Sir John Faw, of Dunbar, her former sweetheart, and not a Gipsy; but tradition gives no account of a Sir John Faw, of Dunbar.[67] The Falls, merchants, at Dunbar, were descended from the Gipsy Faas of Yetholm.

[66] _Rajah_--The Scottish Gipsy word for a chief, governor, or prince.

[67] The author, (Mr. Finlay,) who claims a Sir John Faw, of Dunbar, to have been the person who carried off the Countess of Cassilis, gives no authority, as a writer in Blackwood says, in support of his assertion. Nor does he account for a person of that name being any other than a Gipsy. Indeed, this is but an instance of the ignorance and prejudice of people generally in regard to the Gipsies. The tradition of the hero being a Gipsy, I have met with among the English Gipsies, who even gave me the name of the lady. John Faw, in all probability the king of the Gipsies, who carried off the countess, might reasonably be assumed to have been, in point of education, on a par with her, who, in that respect, would not, in all probability, rise above the most humble Scotch cow-milker at the present day, whatever her personal bearing might have been.--ED.

It is pretty clear that the Gipsies remained in Scotland, with little molestation, from 1506 till 1579--the year in which James VI took the government into his own hands, being a period of about seventy-three years, during which time these wanderers roamed up and down the kingdom, without receiving any check of consequence, excepting the short period--probably about one year--in which the severe order of James V remained in force, and which, in all probability, expired with the king.[68]


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