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A Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Pres

And also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies


About

the same time, Spellman's Portrait of the Gypsey Fraternity seems to have been taken, ad vivum, and is as follows:

"Egyptiani, Erronum, Impostorumque genus nequissimum, in Continente ortum; sed ad Britannos nostras et Europam reliquam pervolans, nigredine deformes, excocti sole, immundi veste, et usu rerum omnium faedi, &c.;" which may be thus translated, "Egyptians, the worst kind of wanderers and impostors, springing up on the Continent, but yet rapidly spreading themselves through Britain, and other parts of Europe, disfigured by their swarthiness; sun-burnt; filthy in their clothing, and indecent in all their customs, &c."

According to the first of these statements, the arrival of Gypsies in England might be about the year 1512; or ten years at least before the Statute of the 22d of Henry VIII; in the 10th chapter of which, they are described to be, "_An outlandish people_, _calling themselves Egyptians_, _using no crafte_, _nor feat of merchandise_; _who have come into this realm_, _and gone from shine to shire_, _and place to place in great company_; _and used great_, _subtle_, _and crafty means_, _to deceive the people_, _bearing them in hand_, _that they by palmistry could tell men's and yeomen's fortunes_; _and so_, _many times by crafte and subtlety have deceived the people of their money_; _and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies_." Wherefore they are directed to avoid the realm,

and not to return under pain of imprisonment, and forfeiture of their good and chattels; and upon their trials for any felonies which they may have committed, they shall not be entitled to a Jury _de medietate linguae_.

The Act passed the 27th of the came reign goes farther, as will appear by the following abstract of it: "_Whereas certain outlandish people_, _who do not profess any crafte or trade whereby to maintain themselves_, _but go about in great numbers from place to place_, _using insidious_, _underhand means to impose on his Majesty's subjects_, _making them believe that they understand the art of foretelling to men and women their good and evil fortune_, _by looking in their hands_, _whereby they frequently defraud people of their money_; _likewise are guilty of thefts and highway robberies_: _it is hereby ordered that the said vagrants_, _commonly called Egyptians_, _in case they remain one month in the kingdom_, _shall be proceeded against as thieves and rascals_; _and on the importation of any such Egyptian_, _he_, (_the importer_) _shall forfeit_ 40 pounds _for every trespass_."

By the above recited Acts of Parliament, it appears, that it was from their own representation of being Egyptians, they were so denominated in England; and that they did not on their arrival in this country, feign themselves, as in Germany, to be pilgrims; or as in France, to be penitents; neither of which impositions would have been well adapted to the temper of the government of Henry VIII; or to his subversion of papal power, and abolition of monastic influence. The character they assumed, was the best adapted to establish their reputation, for the arts and deception they intended to practise in England. The fame of Egypt in astrology, magic, and soothsaying, was universal; and they could not have devised a more artful expedient, than the profession of this knowledge, to procure for them a welcome reception by the great mass of the people.

From the abstract of the Act of 27th, Henry VIII, we may infer, that the Gypsies were so much in request, as to induce some of our countrymen to import them from the Continent, or at least to encourage their migration to this Island. The importation of these people must have been prevalent from some cause, to require parliamentary interference, and even a fine to prevent it, of such an amount as 40 pounds; which according to the relative value of money, would, at the present time, be equal to a large sum.


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