When I first started researching my family history over thirty years ago!! when it came to the Romanies who my family married into I started to look for old books as there was very little informatioon available on the local Travelling families ,and of course no Internet or computers!! One of my first buys was Gypsies of the New Forest and other Tales and Wanderers in the new Forest by
Juliette de Bairacli Levy it was the latter book that I read from cover to cover as within the pages I saw the names Cooper,Sheens Lambs ,Wells all names I was familiar with .I then brought Gypsies of the Heath by Betty Gillingham and it was like listening to my old grandad the way the author wrote as in "From their own mouths in their own Dorset & Hampshire accent and all" the names Barney ,Stanley, Light ,Pidgley,Bowers,Pages and Whitcher all had been mentioned to me so this page is a little tribute to those families who have now since the 1800s and who knows probably earlier ? and after being evicted from the New Forest and after the Compound day's!! and have married into and assimilated with many of the local village families from the surrounding areas of Fordingbridge and Bournemouth West Moors and of course many stayed around the Southampton area whilst some went west into Somerset and Wiltshire and many other areas but here I will focus on the Hants and Dorset families.
below is a charming email I received from one descendant of the Pidgley family:-
Gypsy Proud History
I am a Gypsy. I served 23 years in the Royal Marine Commandos, becoming a Sergeant, and also was Admiral Mountbattens bodyguard, and then five years as a Department of Transport Inspector. I was also the Light Welter Weight Champion of the Royal Marines and 3 Commando Brigade. I was born in 22, West Howe Road, in Bournemouth. on the 12 May 1935. We then moved to Godshill, near Fordingbridge, where we stayed during the war.
There were eight in our family, and I was the seventh, the first of our family to be born in a house.
My mother Edith Pidgley (formerly Sheen) sold flowers to the woman owner of the Dormy Hotel in Bournemouth, and she helped her to obtain a council house to prepare for the birth of her child (me, Raymond) and we became house dwellers.
My fathers name was Oliver Pidgley.
My eldest sister, who called herself Irene, (whose real name was Edith) obtained work in Lymington, and married a pilot who had escaped from a prisoner of war camp, and made his way back, and later met my sister at a dance in Fordingbridge, they had four children, including Tony who became a Sergeant Major in the SAS, and was presented with a bravery medal by the Queen.
My sister Patricia, married a Corporal in the United States Army Air Corps who was in this country preparing for the war, and altogether they had fourteen children, and lived in Cincinatti, Ohio.
My sister Lily, married a German, who was formerly a prisoner of war. Their name was Waue.
My brother Oliver, was in the Royal Artillery (like his Father) and married an Egyptian girl who worked in the British Military Hospital in Egypt.
My brother George, who married another Gypsy girl called May Turner, from Romsey, was in the Royal Army Service Corps, and was a Corporal.
My other brother Michael, who lives near Southampton at the moment was also a Royal Marine, and served in 40 Commando, and 3 Commando Brigade Head Quarters.
My younger sister Rosemary, who has three children lives near Downton, Wilts.(Thanks Ray a Proud History indeed)
Pictured below are from top Oliver Pidgley and Edith Sheen and below top picture is Edith Sheen and Emma Jane Day
(Pictures copyright of the Pidgley family)