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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



Here I thought I would include a few extracts from old books about the English Romanichals :-


From Gypsies of The Heath by Betty Gillington Aka The Romany Rawny:-


(One of my favourite books on the New Forest Gypsies)

Taken from chapter one  DAN-DAST.


 A hundred years ago ,when the Bitterns, which boomed by night in all  the plains around ,gave their name to the Village on the Western ridge,Gypsy Stanley,old Solomon who was blind for 54 years built his one roomed house on the heath with his bare hands,of mud and stone,and thatched with furze.

 A merry garden lay in the midst of this heath,a considerable colony of travelling people encamped under the fir trees,in black boarded huts and caravans, whose band of fiddlers strolled from Inn to Inn all round the Country playing their dance tunes and strange ballads of those days -of highwaymen and smugglers and press gangs squire and pedlars.The old man in his chimney corner and the Gypsy basket maker on the heath sing them still. The Romany tribes have shifted their camp to the further hill,to the "Bay" and Dan Dast .And there "The rosy brown eastern beauty of a Stanley ,the proud dark face of a Page" secretive black eyes

of a Bowers" may meet you and greet you from the camber-windows of the little white shanty with the green deck-house door,or maybe from the blue porch of the black hut.Here through suceeding generations ,the Travellers have camped,marrying and and inter-marrying untill about a score of names are merged into one vast colony,headed by those who share with the Lees the honour of belonging to the blood Royal line,the Stanleys .


David Stanley who was allmost black  the village folk declare",the woman beautifull,and the big mother of the Romany tribe of the Kashtengres,the woodmen,sits knife in hand the curved blade of the tshu'ri and a stack of Withy sticks ready for splitting up into pegs, and by the fire the little Gypsy girl Rhoda sits and the "tshumeri diken rakli" Priscilla, their dark locks and nut-brown faces

laughing as they chin the kaushta and Priscilla gets up to tshiv the kekawbi on the yog .The kettle filled she subsides into her withy heap again,and five crook- bladed knives flash faster in the fire light to the wild Gypsy chorus of "Brannin on the Moor".


 From Gypsy Folk Tales :-by Francis Hindes Groomes [1899](who married Esmerelda Locke)

"It is an interesting, the most interesting theory; still I cannot forbear pointing out that many of Mr. Lang's survivals of dead Teutonic savagery are living realities in Gypsy tents. Matty Cooper, discoursing to his 'dear little wooden bear,' and offering it beer to drink; 'Gypsy Mary,' who 'washed herself away from God Almighty';

 Riley Smith and Emily Pinfold,who both 'sold their blood to the Devil'; Mrs. Draper, who vowed that, sooner than touch beer or spirits, she would go to Loughton churchyard, and drink the blood of her dead son lying there; Riley Bosville with his two wives, and old Charles Pinfold with his three;


Lementina Lovell, who heard the fairy music; her grandson, Dimiti, who lay awake once in Snaky Lane, and watched the little fairies in the oak-tree; and Ernest Smith (1871-98), who one July night in the grounds of the Edinburgh Electrical Exhibition of 1890 saw 'two dear little teeny people, about two feet high, and he upp’d and flung stones at ’em'-I myself have known eight of these Gypsies, and kinsfolk of the two others. It is not sixteen years since an English Gypsy girl, to work her vengeance on her false Gentile lover, cut the heart out of a living white pigeon, and flung the poor bird, yet struggling, on the fire. It is barely fifty years since old Mrs. Smith was buried at Troston, near Ixworth, after travelling East Anglia for half a century with a sparrow, which, like the raven in Grimm's story, told her all manner of secrets. (Cf. Mr. Lang's '4. Savage idea.--Animals help favoured men and women.) Then,

 there is the Gypsy system of tabu, by which wife and child renounce for ever the favourite food or drink of the dead husband or father, or the name of the deceased is dropped clean out of use, any survivors who happen to bear it adopting another. There is

 the belief in the evil eye; there are caste-like rules of ceremonial purity;"


Also from Gypsy Folk Tales :-by Francis Hindes Groomes

Appearance in West.

Late in 1417 a band of 'Secani' or Tsigans, 300 in number, besides children and infants, arrived in Germany 'from Eastern parts' or 'from Tartary.' Their presence is first recorded at Luneburg; and thence they passed on to Hamburg, Lübeck, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, and Greifswald, At their head rode a duke and a count, richly dressed, with silver belts, and leading like nobles dogs of chase; next came a motley crew afoot; and women and children brought up the rear in waggons. They bore letters of safe-conduct from princes, one of which from the Emperor Sigismund they had probably procured that same year at Lindau on Lake Constance and they gave out that they were on a seven years' pilgrimage, imposed by their own bishops as a

penance for apostasy from the Christian faith. They encamped in the fields by night outside the city walls, and were great thieves especially the women 'wherefore several were taken and slain.' In 1418 they are heard of at Leipzig, at Frankfort-on-Main, and in Switzerland at Zurich, Basel, Berne, and Soleure: the contemporary Swiss chronicler, Conrad Justinger, speaks of them as 'more than two hundred baptized Heathens from Egypt, pitiful, black, miserable, and unbearable on account of their thefts, for they stole all they could.'


At Augsburg they passed for exiles from 'Lesser Egypt'; at Macon in August 1419 they practised palmistry and necromancy; and at Sisteron in Provence as 'Saracens' they got large rations from the terrified townsfolk. In 1420 Lord Andreas, Duke of Little Egypt, and a hundred men, women, and children, came to Deventer in the Low Countries;and the aldermen had to pay19 florins 10 placks for their bread, beer, herrings, and straw, as well as for cleaning out the barn in which they lay. At Tournay in 1421 'Sir Miquiel,

Prince of Latinghem in Egypt,' received twelve gold pieces, with bread and a barrel of beer.


Also from Gypsy Folk Tales :-by Francis Hindes Groomes:-Eastern Gypsies in Galloway

I saw them several times about Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse-on-Fleet; and from mental studies painted the head exhibited in the R.S.A. Exhibition of 1896.'

These must have been Ursári, or bear-wards, and recent arrivals in Britain; but what were they doing in that remote corner of Galloway,

in Billy Marshall's old kingdom? Frampton Boswell, an English Gypsy of my acquaintance, met the very same band, I fancy, near Glasgow in 1896; and they were perhaps the foreign Gypsies encamped at Dunfermline in the autumn of 1897--I was lying ill at the time in Edinburgh. Almost certainly they were identical with 'a little band of Roumanian Ursári' whom Mr. Sampson met in Lancashire in the latter half of 1897, and who were 'travelling in English-Gypsy vans which they had bought in this country.

 They stopped for a month or more at Wavertree, quite close to us, and I saw a good deal of them.

The first time, crossing a field by night and expecting to meet with some of the English breed, I stumbled among the six unmuzzled bears, chained to the wheels of the vans, and took them for large dogs till their grunts undeceived me; fortunately I got off with

whole legs. They spoke a jumble of tongues--some Slavonic dialect (brat = brother), bad French, Italian, no German, and little English; but with the help of Rómani and scraps of other tongues we held some instructive conversations. Their young girls were beautiful, half-clad, savage, but the older women ugly as sin. When I first spoke to them, they replied to a question in Rómani with

an Italian denial:--'We are not Gypsies, we are (✠) Christianos.'


Also from Gypsy Folk Tales :-by Francis Hindes Groomes:-Distribution of Gypsies.

No race is more widely scattered over the earth's surface than the Gypsies; the very Jews are less ubiquitous. Go where one will in Europe, one comes upon Gypsies everywhere--from Finland to Sicily, from the shores of the Bosporus to the Atlantic seaboard. Something under a million is their probable number in Europe; of these Hungary claims 275,000, Roumania 200,000, Servia 38,000, and Bulgaria 52,000.

 How many Gypsies there are in Great Britain, I have not the vaguest notion, for there are no statistics of the slightest value to go

by.  But I have never lived for any length of time in any place--and I have stayed in most parts of both England and Scotland

without lighting sooner or later on nomadic or house-dwelling Gypsies.

London and all round London, the whole Thames valley as high at least as Oxford, the Black Country, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, and Yarmouth, it is here I should chiefly look for settled Gypsies. Whilst from study of parish registers, local histories,

and suchlike, and from my own knowledge, I doubt if there is the parish between Land's End and John o’ Groats where Gypsies

 have not pitched their camp some time or other

 in the course of the last four centuries.



 Talking of Pirimus Grey/Gray.

"A story the old man never tired of telling was that of his brother Jack's heroism, Upon a day many years ago the children of Pirimus were boating on a river,and ,their craft capsizing, all were flung into the stream.

Jack, who happened to be on the bank,leaped in and saved all but two,the oldest and the youngest,who were drowned.Two visitors who loved to cheer the last days of Pirimus ,were his daughter  Sinfai and her husband Isaac Heron,who have themselves now passed away. Whenever I think of the tall figure of Old Isaac,I recall one evening in the summer of 1876,when a camp of the

Heron's lay just outside of Lincoln. What appeared to be a Gypsy trial was in progress,and I remembered the inward thrill on beholding those Herons in  a ring,chattering like a flock of Daws.Inside the circle stands a young man,bare headed, stripped of coat and vest,and gesticulating widly.Now he flings his arms about,and he thrusts his fingers through his shaggy black hair.on his brow his sweat stands in beads.I can hear the name "Wilhelmina,"as it comes in a piercing shriek from his lips.The old men and woman are muttering together as calmly they look on. In that throng were Isaac and Sinfai ,along with some of the older Yorkshire Herons,Golias,Khulai and others.In after years I came to know very intimately many members of the clan Heron, and among them a niece of  that weird old hag , Mrs Hearn(to use Borrow's spelling of the name),who sent the poison cake to Lavengro in Mumper's Dingle".


 Taken from English Gipsies and Their Language by Charles Godfrey Leland 1873 (Matty Cooper was his Romany interpreter)


Do I jin sitch a lav (know such a word) as janwur for a hanimal? Āvo (yes); it’s jomper—it’s a toadus” (toad).

“But do you jin the lav (know the word) for an animal?”

“Didn’t I just pooker tute (tell you) it was a jomper? for if a toad’s a hanimal, jomper must be the lav for hanimal.”

“But don’t you jin kek lav (know a word) for sar the covvas that have jivaben (all living things)—for jompers, and bitti matchers (mice), and gryas (horses)? You and I are animals.”

“Kek, rya, kek (no, sir, no), we aren’t hanimals. Hanimals is critters that have something queer about ’em, such as the lions an’ helephants at the well-gooroos (fairs), or cows with five legs, or won’ful piebald grais—them’s hanimals. But Christins aint hanimals. Them’s mushis” (men).


To return to cats: it is remarkable that the colour which makes a cat desirable should render a bowl or cup objectionable to a true Gipsy, as I have elsewhere observed in commenting on the fact that no old-fashioned Rommany will drink, if possible, from white crockery. But they have peculiar fancies as to other colours. Till within a few years in Great Britain, as at the present day in Germany, their fondness for green coats amounted to a passion. In Germany a Gipsy who loses caste for any offence is forbidden for a certain time to wear green, so that ver non semper viret may be truly applied to those among them who bloom too rankly.


The great love for red and yellow among the Gipsies was long ago pointed out by a German writer as a proof of Indian origin, but the truth is, I believe, that all dark people instinctively choose these hues as agreeing with their complexion. A brunette is fond of amber, as a blonde is of light blue; and all true kaulo or dark Rommany chāls delight in a bright yellow pongdishler, or neckerchief, and a red waistcoat. The long red cloak of the old Gipsy fortune-teller is, however, truly dear to her heart; she feels as if there were luck in it—that bāk which is ever on Gipsy lips; for to the wanderers, whose home is the roads, and whose living is precarious, Luck becomes a real deity. I have known two old fortune-telling sisters to expend on new red cloaks a sum which seemed to a lady friend very considerable.


I have spoken in another chapter of the deeply-seated faith of the English Gipsies in the evil eye.  Subsequent inquiry has convinced me that they believe it to be peculiar to themselves. One said in my presence, “There was a kauli juva that dicked the

 evil yack ad mandy the sala—my chavo’s missis—an’ a’ter dovo I shooned that my chavo was naflo. A bongo-yācki mush kairs wafro-luckus. Avali, the Gorgios don’t jin it—it’s saw Rommany.”


I.e., “There was a dark woman that looked the evil eye at me this morning—my son’s wife—and after that I heard that my son was ill. A squint-eyed man makes bad-luck. Yes, the Gorgios don’t know it—it’s all Rommany.”

The Gipsy is of an eminently social turn, always ready when occasion occurs to take part in every conversation, and advance his views. One day my old Rom hearing an artist speak of having rejected some uncalled-for advice relative to the employment of a certain model, burst out in a tone of hearty approbation with—

“That’s what I say. Every man his own juva (every man his own girl), an’ every painter his own morals.”


 Mr Borrow calls this hokkeny bāro, the great swindle. I may remark, by the way, that among jugglers and “show-people” sleight of hand is called hanky panky. “Hocus-pocus” is attributed by several writers to the Gipsies, a derivation which gains much force from the fact, which I have never before seen pointed out, that hoggu bazee, which sounds very much like it, means in Hindustani legerdemain. English Gipsies have an extraordinary fancy for adding the termination us in a most irregular manner to words both Rommany and English. Thus kéttene (together) is often changed to kettenus, and side to sidus. In like manner, hoggu (hocku or honku) bazee could not fail to become hocus bozus, and the next change, for the sake of rhyme, would be to hocus-po-cus.

I told my ancient rambler of an extraordinary case of “huckeny pokee” which had recently occurred in the United States, somewhere in the west, the details of which had been narrated to me by a lady who lived at the time in the place where the event occurred.


“A Gipsy woman,” I said, “came to a farmhouse and played huckeny pokee on a farmer’s wife, and got away all the poor woman’s money.” “Did she indeed, rya?” replied my good old friend, with a smile of joy flashing from his eyes, the unearthly Rommany light just glinting from their gloom.

Yes,” I said impressively, as a mother might tell an affecting story to a child. “All the money that that poor woman had, that wicked Gipsy woman took away, and utterly ruined her.”

This was the culminating point; he burst into an irrepressible laugh; he couldn’t help it—the thing had been done too well.

“But you haven’t heard all yet,” I added. “There’s more covvas to well.”

“Oh, I suppose the Rummany chi prastered avree (ran away), and got off with the swag?”

“No, she didn’t.”

“Then they caught her, and sent her to starabun” (prison).

“No,” I replied.“And what did they do?”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Isaac Herron/Hearn

His jaw fell; a glossy film came over his panther-eyes. For a long time he had spoken to me, had this good and virtuous man, of going to America. Suddenly he broke out with this vehement answer—

“I won’t go to that country—s’up mi duvel! I’ll never go to America".