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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

A commission against resetters


[74] Glendook's Scots Act.

[75] Ib.

But so little respected was the authority of the government, that in 1612, three years after the passing of the Gipsy act, his majesty was under the humiliating necessity of entering into a contract with the clan Scott, and their friends, by which the clan bound themselves "to give up all bands of friendship, kindness, oversight, maintenance or assurance, if any we have, with common thieves and broken clans, &c." It is certain there would be many bonds of the same nature with other turbulent clans throughout the kingdom. That Scotchmen of respectability and influence protected the Gipsies, and afforded them shelter on their lands, after the promulgation of the cruel statute of 1609, is manifest from the following passages, which I extract from Blackwood's Magazine, for 1817; the conductor of which seems to have been careful in examining the public records for the documents quoted by him; having been guided in his researches, I believe, by Sir Walter Scott.

"In February, 1615, we find a remission under the privy seal, granted to William Auchterlony, of Cayrine, for resetting of John Faw and his followers.[76] On the 14th July, 1616, the sheriff of Forfar is severely reprimanded for delaying to execute some Gipsies, who had been taken within his jurisdiction, and for troubling the council with petitions in their behalf. In November following

appears a proclamation against Egyptians and their resetters. In December, 1619, we find another proclamation against resetters of them; in April, 1620, another proclamation of the same kind, and in July, 1620, a commission against resetters, all with very severe penalties. The nature of these acts will be better understood from the following extract from that of the 4th July, 1616, which also very well explains the way in which the Gipsies contrived to maintain their footing in the country, in defiance of all the efforts of the legislature to extirpate them." "It is of truth that the thieves and _limmers_ (scoundrels), aforesaid, having for some short space after the said act of parliament, (1609,) . . . dispersed themselves in certain secret and obscure places of the country . . . they were not known to wander abroad in troops and companies, according to their accustomed manner, yet, shortly thereafter, finding that the said act of parliament was neglected, and that no enquiry nor . . . was made for them, they began to take new breath and courage, and . . . unite themselves in infamous companies and societies, under . . . commanders, and continually since then have remained within the country, committing as well open and avowed _rieffis_ (robberies) in all parts . . . murders, . . . _pleine stouthe_ (common theft) and pickery, where they may not be mastered; and they do shamefully and mischievously abuse the simple and ignorant people, by telling fortunes, and using charms, and a number of juggling tricks and falseties, unworthy to be heard of in a country subject to religion, law, and justice; and they are encouraged to remain within the country, and to continue in their thievish and juggling tricks and falseties, not only through default of the execution of the said act of parliament, but, what is worse, that great numbers of his majesty's subjects, of whom some outwardly pretend to be famous and unspotted gentlemen, have given and give open and avowed protection, reset, supply and maintainance, upon their grounds and lands, to the said vagabonds, _sorners_, (forcible obtruders,) and condemned thieves and _limmers_, (scoundrels,) and suffer them to remain days, weeks, and months together thereupon, without controulment, and with connivance and oversight, &c." "So they do leave a foul, infamous, and ignominious spot upon them, their houses, and posterity, that they are patrons to thieves and _limmers_, (scoundrels,)" &c.[77]


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