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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

Dorset Romany Families

Before settling in the nearby Villages some of the families could be found camping in the back lanes, and on the beautiful Wiltshire and Dorset Downs and  on path ways straddling ridges and crossing hidden valley’s.

One picture that captures this period of time is a postcard dated 1906 of a doctor attending a the birth of a baby in a bender tent on the Ridgway it also appeared in the papers and now has been identified as Doctor Fielding attending with his nurse on the birth of a baby (one of many they had at least 15 that I know of poss more but like a baptism in 1908 for Elderia there is also a baptism fo a Honoria Hughes in 1908 Wareham this could be just a misspelling of Elderia ?) the photo of Arthur & Lavinia Hughes in Bulbarrow Dorset 1906 (pictured below) the baby could be Henry who was born in March 1906.

The baptism for Arthur and Lavinia is as follows  (Note Lavinia used several surnames!)


Binstead, Hampshire, 4 Sep 1864.

"Child's Christian Name : Arthur

Parents Names :     Eli & Diana

Parents Surname :   Hughes

Abode :Salisbury

Quality, Trade or Profession :hawker.



























Many times the families of the Hughes and Coopers and other local families that married into the family over the years

are to be found in the local newspapers a few are shown below:-


. Newspaper Report, The Western Gazette, 13 Apr 1923.




YESTERDAY (Thursday). - Before Mr.  M.  Scott-Williams (in the chair),  Major  B.  Edmund Freame,  Mr.  R. Percy Wilson, and  Major  A.  G.  Dugdale.

THE GIPSY NUISANCE. - Amos Wells, gipsy, was summoned for allowing a horse to stray on the high-way at Bulbarrow. - Defendant did not appear, and Supt.  White stated that a representative of the defendant had called at his office earlier in the week and left a 10s Treasury note in payment of the fine. - The Bench decided that the sum offered would meet the justice of the case, - Arthur Hughes, another gipsy, was summoned for encamping on the highway at Hinton. St. Mary. - P.C.  Morton proved the case in defendant’s absence. - This man also had sent a 10s note, but the Bench decided, as there was “an enormous number of previous convictions,” that the defendant must pay 40s. - Eli Hughes, a son of the previous defendant, was charged with a like offence in the same parish, and a fine of 10s was imposed. - Sidney Cooper, a gipsy, was summoned for allowing a horse to stray, and also for encamping on the highway. - He admitted both offences, and was ordered to pay 5s and 10s respectively."


From Travellers Songs from England and Scotland - MacColl and Seeger Jim Carroll


CAROLINE HUGHES  (Daughter of Arthur and Lavinia)


Caroline Hughes (nee Bateman) was born in 1900 in a horse-drawn caravan in Bere Regis, Dorset. 'My mother's name was Lavinia Batemen and my father was Arthur Hughes. I was one of seventeen children. My parents worked all their lifetime to bring we up clean and respectable. My father was a rat-and-varmint destroyer. We could bide anywhere, and was respected with anybody. My father had a good name and a good character. My mother worked hard, use to go hawking to get a living in a straightforward way. Never done no wrong. Never been had up for stealing, robbing, lived a straight life. ... I started to go hawking with my mother time I got up old enough, then I went to school till I was ten year old. Then I took off with my mother to get my living, just like all my sisters did. And I grew up to get married and I knew how to get my living. I met my husband arter he done three years in France a-fighting. When he come back he had a long tarry in hospital. We never courted long before we got married. I was married two years and five month before I had my first child. After that I had three children in three year and seven month. I knowed how to take the basket on my arm to get my own living honest. I didn't want teaching. I knowed to get my living working on a farm, doing things straightforward. My children used to help me go out in the field to pull docks. ... I been out in the fields hoeing all day and come back and done my girt tubs o' washing. I was proud o' that, and done it until I turned fifty-three. Then I met with an accident, which turned me an invalid for nine years. This car-driver, he ran straight on and never stopped. Never mind ... I left that to God.

'Don't I wish they old times would come back again . . . where we used to go and have a drink at a public house, all come back on the old common, singing, hang on our pots of girt big suety puddings, hocks o' bacon, pigs heads ... we done nice then. We was all healthy, never much illness amongst the family. Farmers come round, talking with our lathers and mothers. We children playing with their children. Dancin', playin' gramophone records, tap-dancin', clog-dancin'. You could stay anywhere . . . not today. The world's turned upsidedown part, you can't do as you like. It's a different law. I reckon to myself the Lord Almighty he died to save all we in this world. God wasn't a proud man. He liked every form of mother's child. He liked mine and other children too. He sent this world for we poor people. Sent the mountains for us, sent everything for us all to have a share o't, everything. The Lord send bushes, he send trees, birds, comfort, greens, swedes, potatoes, flowers, everything in the world for one another. Not for one, for the lot.

'My name is Caroline Hughes. I'm a principled woman. I can't read but I tell you I got my knowledge. I got my little wooden caravan, and I got my eight nice children and my thirty-five grandchildren and I love to hear the birds in the morning and get to the copses and woods and set round the old camp-fire. I don't want no saucepans to cook with. I want to follow my great-great-great-grandmother with the old-fashioned, three-gallon pot. My great grandmother had a grandmother lived till she was 104. The next was 101. The next one again was my grandmother, she was 103. That was Alice Baternan, my father's mother. His father was more than a hundred when he died, but my mother was only seventy-two and my father eighty-two, so they didn't follow on their families. But I want to reach there if I can.'

Of her songs, she said, 'My mother sang all the time. When she were making clothes-pegs or making we children's bloomers, shifts and petticoats. We be all around the fire singing these old songs, and I been with my mother listening, listening, and I made her sing them over and over till I learned the lot. Many a time my father and mother have come back with a glass of beer in their hands and they'd say to we children, "Would you like to hear a song?" "Yes," says we. And my father and mother they've sat and sung songs, and there've been local people out in the road a-listening. That was my father and mother, the bestest singers in the world. And there was my brother, he used to play a fiddle and he wrould sing.'

At this point, one of Caroline's daughters interrupted to say, 'My mother done the same with us. She would always sing when she was making tea or to keep we kids quiet. And she always sang to us at bed-time. On Sundays too, when the men came back from the pub, that would always be a time for singing.'

Caroline Hughes concluded the story of her life with these words: 'Where you going to find a good mother when she's gone? One who's worked, slaved hard, runned and raced for you, been through bitter frost and snow, finding snitches of wood, buckets of water, through all the ups and downs. The young girls today don't know the meaning of it. What do they do today? Wear their clothes above their knees so you can almost see their fanny. And there's paint and powder. They're not like the gals what's fifty years ago, nothing like they was thirty, forty years ago. I'm a gal, my name is Caroline Hughes. Ibeenouta-beggin' for my bread. I wish I could do it now. . . .'

Queen Caroline Hughes died in 1971 and was given a gypsy funeral. As is the traditional way among older gypsies, her caravan and all her possessions were burned in the presence of her tribe. She contributed the following songs to this collection:

Dorset Romany Families

redone arthur hughes took off copyright

Parish Register, Holybourne, Entry No, 17 Sep 1865.

"Child's Christian Name:             Lavinia

Parents Names:                           John & Alice

Parents Surname:                       Hughes

Quality, Trade or Profession:         Gypsies