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A Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Pres

The idle peopil calling themselves Egyptians


In

1579, however all the legislative provisions respecting vagrants, beggars, &c. in Scotland, were reduced into one law, by the following very comprehensive statute: "Forameikle as there is sindrie loyabil Acts of Parliament, maid be our soveraine Lord's maist nobil progenitours, for the stanching of maisterful and idle beggars, away putting of Sornares, and provision for the pure: bearing that nane sall be thoiled to beg, nouther to burgh, nor to land, betwixt 14 and 70 zeires.

"That sik as make themselves fules, and ar bairdes, or uther sik like runners about, being apprehended, sall be put into the Kinge's waird, or irones, sa lang as they have ony gudes of their awin to live on. And fra they have not quhairupon to live of their awin, that their eares be nayled to the trone, or to an uther tree, and their eares cutted off, and banished the countrie; and gif thereafter they be found againe, that they be hanged.

"And that it may be knowen, qwhat maner of persones ar meaned to be idle and strang begares, and vagabounds, and warthy of the punischement before specified, it is declared: "That all idle persones ganging about in ony countrie of this realm, using subtil, craftie, and unlawful playes, as juglarie, fast-and-lous, and sik uthers; the idle peopil calling themselves _Egyptians_, or any uther, that feinzies themselves to have a knawledge or charming prophecie, or other abused sciences, qwairby they perswade

peopil, that they can tell their weirds, {89} deathes, and fortunes, and sik uther phantastical imaginations, &c."

Notwithstanding this law, a writ of Privy Seal, dated 1594, supports John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt, in the execution of justice upon his company of folk, conform to the laws of Egypt, in punishing certain persons there named, who had rebelled against him, left him, robbed him, and refused to return home with him.

James' subjects are commanded to aid in apprehending them, and in assisting Faw and his adherents to return home.

From all these circumstances, it appears that this John Faw, or two persons of the same name and distinction, succeeding each other, staid a long time in Scotland; and from him this kind of strolling people might receive the name of Faw Gang, which they still retain, as appears by Burn's Justice.

But the Scottish laws, after this time, were not less severe than those of Queen Elizabeth. By an Act passed in 1609; "Sorners, common thieves, commonly called Egyptians, were directed to pass forth of the kingdom, under pain of death, as common, notorious, and condemned thieves." Scottish Acts, I. 850.

SECTION VI.

The present State of the Gypsies in Scotland.

* * * * *

The energy and perseverance by which North Britons are distinguished, will be evinced throughout the pages of this section. A friend of the author, having been requested to make application at the Advocates' and the University Libraries, in the city of Edinburgh, for extracts from some foreign publications, was also desired to transmit with them what information could be obtained respecting the Gypsies in Scotland.


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