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  © Copyright  Romanygenes 2007--2020 Design and Web Layout  © 2007-2020 S.J.Day All Rights Reserved

 

Copyright RomanyGenes 2007-2020 Design and Web Layout S.J.Day All Rights Reserved

Affairs of Egypt

The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society featured a section "Notes & Queries" which contained references and articles concerning mainly petty offences reported in the newspapers at the time. Some make for interesting reading as well as usefull geneaological information on families at the time and includes alias's that they may have used when in trouble !!

Affairs of Egypt

 115-AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909  

 

This was not the only appearance of the Eastwood Gypsies in court during the year. Towards the end of April Nathan Buckley was summoned for neglecting to provide (1) a tent in a reasonable watertight condition (2) sufficient privy accommodation (3) a sufficient water-supply (4) a sufficient covered ash-pit and dust-bin (5) a suitable dry fioor to a tent. The defendant, when asked his age, turned to his brother' How old am I, Sam (Sant) ? ' His brother answered that he was seventy.The Bench decided that on condition that Buckley destroyed his tent the remaining four cases would be adjourned. The two brothers thanked them profusely, and left the court saluting at various intervals. A fortnight later, however, when Buckley was again summoned for breach of the bye-laws mentioned above, it was stated that the tent had not l)een destroyed. At the same time Charles Smith was fined for breaking bye-laws 2 and 4, whilst later in the year .

Thomas Laws was convicted for breaking bye-laws 2 and 5. In addition, Walter Harris (twice) and James Smith had to pay heavy fines for trespassing in search of conies, and Jack Harris fourteen shillings for swearing.

                                                 

118 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

 

On February 4, at Newton, John Small, Thomas Small, and Robert Small were fined for stealing hazel sticks for making clothes-pegs, and John Small was again fined for a similar off'ence at Moreton Hampstead on April 27. On July 21 Henry Small, of 10 Brook Street, Dawlish, was summoned at the Exeter Police Court for ill-treating his wife, Cinderella Small, and neglecting to maintain her. Early in September Priscilla Small appeared in the Police Court at Brixham for being drunk whilst in charge of a child, whilst on October 18 John Small reappeared, charged with theft at Tavistock. Finally at Exeter on December 14, T. Small, Robert Small, and W. Small, along with T. Right, W. Holland, and W. James, were fined for receiving wood stolen by Charles Broadway, another member of the same

encampment.

 

At Torrington on February 6, James Saunders was fined for allowing seven horses to stray, and at Axminster on the same day Hiram Pigley and Thomas Penfold suffered a similar fate for obstructing the thoroughfare at Seaton with their caravans.

 

AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909 119

 

February 18, William Harris, a Gypsy labourer, was summoned for discharging a catapult in the highway, and Charles Lee (whose real name was said to be Green) for playing a game of chance.

 

On February 23, Henry Gaskin (generally known as Wally Gaskin) was sent to gaol for three months at Cambridge, for being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cart, and for assaulting the police. Later in the year Saunders

Gaskin and William Cooper Gaskin appeared before the magistrates at Spalding and Ipswich respectively. Surely this notoriously lawless family cannot be reforming themselves.

 

On February 27, Absolom Jones, a Sussex Gypsy, was summoned for allowing a horse to stray at Shermanbury. He wrote pleading guilty, and enclosed a Postal Order for 3s., out of which he received no change. Apparently it was the recognised thing for Gypsies in Sussex to fix the amount of their own fines in this way.

 

 Eli Rose and Maria Jonson, who were asked to appear at the Horsham Petty Sessions on March 13, for allowing one horse to stray, decided that in their case 2s. 6d. was the punishment that fitted the crime, and each wrote enclosing a Postal Order for that amount.

 

Many other Sussex travellers, possibly Gypsies, including Stephen Gobie, George Smith (three times), John Kemp, Sarah Ann Godsniark (twice), Mary Ann Smith, Priscilla Brazil, and John James, were fined during March for trivial breaches of the law.

 

AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909 121

At the Wednesbury Police Court on March 5, a small fine was inflicted on Shadrach Skerrett, a Gypsy, of Dangerfield Lane, for being in possession of a straying dog and failing to report the same.

 

On the following day John Boswell was fined 20s. and costs at Carnarvon for assaults committed on the police four years earlier.

 

During the next week John Loveridge was in trouble at Harrow for allowing horses to stray, and Valentine Smith and John Cooper for encamping on the high-way somewhere near Ongar.

 

Several south country travellers were in trouble with the police : William Vickers and Matthew Cooper at Bournemouth for pedling without certificates ; John Smith and William Smith at Oundle for using bad language ; Job Carey, Frank Vincent, M. Bowers, Albert Deacon, Joseph Vincent, and A. Marks or Parker for damaging the turf on Walton Downs ; and Lena Taylor, Tom Garratt, and Mrs. Consoleta Smith for camping at Snakes Lane, Wood Green.

 

122 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

On the 8th Henry Roberts was fined at Newton for allowing a horse to stray ; and on the same day Prudence Stephens, married, of the Box, Minchinhampton, was summoned at Nailsworth for fortune-telling, and also for using obscene language.

 

An early morning affray at Maindy, near Cardiff", had its sequel at the Llandaff" Police Court on the 26th, when Caleb Hearn (a son of Old Edmund, Ike's half- brother) and his four sons, John, George, Benjamin, and Alfred, together with Harry Riles, were charged with assaulting two policemen, who had attempted to

impound their straying horses. The chief wonder was that the policemen were alive to tell the tale of the attack. Cornelius Lee, who was accused of beating one of the constables with a kettle prop, and threatening to kill him, had escaped.

The defendants were sent to prison for various periods ranging from one to three months. No sooner were the sentences announced than the Gypsy women and children at the back of the Court began wailing piteously. In this they were joined by two or three of the younger prisoners, the remainder waving farewells as they were escorted to the cells.

 

On May 16 a party of Gypsies ' under the control of ' Caradoc Price, and consisting of eight families with twenty caravans, were evicted from Cymla Common, Neath.

 

On the 20th, at Swansea, Henry Riley (22), a tinker, camping at Stratford Common, Gowerton, was summoned for assaulting John Fury, an Irish tinker, whose jaw he broke, but the case was eventually dismissed. Thomas Riley also appeared in the Police Court during the year.

 

At the Southwell, Notts, Petty Sessions, on May 21, Isaac Smith appeared to answer charges of (1) keeping two dogs without licences, (2) unlawfully encamping on the higliway, and was ordered to pay £1, 14s. 0d. in all.

 

126 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

 

September was hardly a normal month, for the hop-picking caused the Gypsies — and especially the lower class ones  to congregate in Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire. Apparently those who went tarderin' the

levinengros into Kent and Surrey were a particularly law-abiding lot (some of them were converted Gypsies from the Latimer Road area), for not a single Gypsy appeared in the Police Court in either county during the month. Hampshire only showed an average crop of convictions — Job Sherrard and Francis Hughes, poaching at Leamington ; Job Sherrard, wilful damage to the New Forest ; Noah Collins, horses astray at Basingstoke ; Elizabeth and Thomas White and May Mathews, drunkenness at Alton ; Luke Bull, encamping on highway at Alton ; and Matthew Loveridge, leaving horse and cart unattended at the same

place.

116 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

 

"Gypsies to move from Blackpool Sands"

This process of packing up took an unconscionable time to accomplish apparently, for six weeks later most of the Gypsies were still there, and still dukerin' too in spite of the belated and somewhat inconsistent prosecution of April 14. An attempt was made to secure exemption from the ban for some of those who were born on the sands, notably the descendants of Sarah and Ned Boswell, whilst later in

the year — in November — Mrs. Franklin addressed the following appeal to the King on behalf of all the Gypsies on the South Shore : —

 

' To His Majesty, — I am very sorry to have to trouble you, but it is for a cause of necessity. It concerns all the gipsies at Blackpool. We have been resident here for the past forty years, and have always been encamped on one jjlot

of ground. We all pay £20 to £25 for the season, and also pay rates and taxes. Our tents were the first things on the show ground, and now they want to get rid of us by giving us only one week's notice.

' It is very hard for us all. It is driving us from our homes after being here for so many years. Most of our children have been born, christened, and educated here. We appeal to His Majesty for his kind help and sympathy. We are English gipsies, and we look to our King for justice. — Your humble servant,

(Signed), Mrs. Franklin."

His Majesty (through his Secretary) replied that Mrs. Franklin's letter had been passed on to the Local Government Board for inquiries to be made. What was the ultimate fate of the Blackpool Gypsies the Press-cuttings for 1909 do not state, but it is common knowledge that Gypsy Sarah's descendants alone succeeded in retaining their pitch on the sands. Some of the rest took houses in Blackpool, others secured places on which to stand their vans and put up their tents on the outskirts of the town, whilst Noah and Oscar Young and Bendigo Lee removed with their families to Preston. Next summer, however, most of them continued to ply their trade on the sands, although they were not allowed to camp there.

 

122 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

The trivial offences of the fifteen Hampshire Gypsies, Richard Sheen and Alice Day (damaging turf in New Forest and Gadshill Wood), Ernest Smith (pony astray at Yateley),

Margaret Stone and Tom Loveridge (no name on vans at Crookham), John Ayres (obscene language at Crookham), Maurice Ayres (obscene language at Deadwater),

Charlie Green (poaching at Kingsworthy), Alice Day (theft of game-eggs at Broughton), Amos Wells (horses astray at Medstead), Henry and Mary Rogers and Esther Rawlings (bad language at Tadley), and James and Edward Lamb and Nipton Hibberd (killing a pheasant in close season at Hickfield), who were convicted at various dates from the middle of April to the end of May.

Perhaps the triviality of the crimes was due to the influence of the New Forest Gipsy Mission, which, in addition to its spiritual ministrations, assisted fifty families with parcels of warm clothing, provided two families with ponies, four with hawkers' licences, and several with money for the journey to the hop-fields. Since the work began it has induced over forty couples to marry.

 

On the 29th of April, too, Stephen Hewitt (husband of Pamela Smith) of Great Yarmouth, and John Taylor of Hopton, were fined at Woodbridge for turning their horses onto growing grass — or, in more familiar language, poovin' the grai. This

John Taylor is no relation to Sylvester Taylor, who, a day or two later, was fined at Oswestry for encamping on the highway ; nor to Isaac Taylor, who, in the first week in May, was convicted at Abergele for allowing his horses to stray ; nor to Benjamin Taylor, who, at the same place, on September 4, had to pay 12s. 6d. for taking his three year old child wdth him into a public-house ; nor to Richard

Taylor, for stealing whose donkey John Ward, a groom, was sent to gaol for a week at Mold on November 8. The four last-named all belong to Longsnout's Breed.

 

124 AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909

 

The rest of the doings of the Gypsies during June were of an unimportant but varied character.

 

13th. Bias Boswell (26) accused at Liscard of being drunk whilst in charge of a horse, and with ill-treating the same.

 

25th. Funeral of one of the Kent Lees at Chatham.

 

Rodney Smith, the preacher, returned from America.

 

30th. John Thomas Holland (a descendant possibly of the famous Closes) was fined at Loughborough for taking tish from the river Soar during the close season.

 

On July 10 it was reported that William Blythe, 'a well-known Border Gypsy of the royal lineage of the Kings and Queens of Yetholm,' had died at Chirnside, aged seventy-six.

 

On the same date Jemima or Jessie Smith, hawker, Pontypool, was summoned at Hereford for camping on Whitmore Common, Burghill, but the Bench refused to convict.

 

Meanwhile various people, bearing such names as Rose, Sines. Matthews, Willett, Wenman, and Denman, all described as Gypsies, had appeared before the Surrey and Sussex magistrates.

 

On July 12 Levi Dighton, farm labourer, 1 Epsom Cottages, Foot's Cray, was fined at Bromley for assaulting Alfred Lee, dock-labourer, living in a van at Hurst Farm, Bexley a place, by the way, where Gypsies may always be found, for Mr. Harry Vinson encourages them to camp and work on his land. Harriett Lee, daughter of the prosecutor, gave evidence.

 

A fortnight later Annie Lee, of the encampment in Day's Lane, Sidcup, brought a charge against a Japanese officer.

 

As a point of interest, it may be mentioned that the whole district round about Sidcup  including Bexley, Eltham, Farnborough, and Plumstead  has an abnormally large Gypsy population.

 

At St. Austell, on July 15, a small fine was inflicted on Sophia Broadway, wife of the Charles Broadway mentioned above, for telling fortunes. It was stated that defendant had told her much-to-be-pitied victim to put a lock of her hair and a pinch of salt in paper and burn it, in order to break a bad spell that

was hanging over her head.

 

On the 16th Reuben Smith (12), son of Shandres Smith, was convicted at Milnthorpe of stealing four eggs.

 

Shortly afterwards Richard Price (18) was sent to prison at Swansea for stealing a silver chain, the property of another Gypsy named Caradoc Price ; and Ben Boswell, otherwise known as Stanley Evans, was charged at Narbeth with

indecent assault.

 

Hampshire Gypsies in trouble about the same time were Walter Bowers, Emily Ayres, and Tom Gregory, the last named for using obscene language and threatening Leonard Lee, labourer, Eversley.

 

During the first week in August James Penfold and George Penfold were fined at Camelford for releasing three horses from a pound ; also Aaron Fletcher and Alfred Light at Tottenham for squatting on common land in contravention to a bye-law passed in 1883, but never applied during the intervening twenty-six years.