Well where do I start with the "old folki" or to be more precise what I mean by "the old folki"are the oldest Romanies that we have knowledge of by way of written or recorded genealogies by the old Romany Rye's and a few Rawnies as well as mentioned previously on another page on this site.
With out doubt there are many interesting characters to be discovered and read about in the Journals of the Gypsy Lore Society and also from the old books wrote by Borrow and some newer ones such as,.Gypsies the Secret People by G.E.C.Webb and My Gypsy Days by Dora Yates.
Mainly the authors have wrote the words as spoken and pronounced by the old Gypsies and its interesting to see how some of the Romanes spoken has survived, and how many of the words have become corrupted over the years, I refer mainly to the English Romanchial Gypsies or as they called themselves when talking to Borrow " Romany Chie's and Chals meaning 'Sons and daughters of Rome' which of course they were not but many liked the idea and this is how they described themselves in Lavengro and The Romany Rye by George Borrow.
As to where the Romanies originated from well !that's a different story and is covered on many websites by many different Scholars, so I shall not cover it here but I will say I dont buy the Indian theory and I dont think that the Romany came from just one country originally as there are so many different customs and beliefs and variations of language, that I dont feel the Romany people stem from the same roots ,although I do think it's possible that the families that make up what I term the English Romanichal's derive from various families that first arrived over 500 years ago.
Of course many other Gypsies also came to England after passing through many Countries along the way and from many different Countries of origin Just as today ,and I think this is why there are many differences between the different group's including culture and Language variations.
Returning to the old folki one must mention one of the best known or wrote about Characters by George Borrow and that of course is Jasper Petulengro who in real life was Ambrose Smith .The Smith family have married into many of the Romany families and would take far too much Time and web space! to go into any detail here but they will be shown along with many others in the relevant sections on Census and other records.
Another big clan, is of course the Cooper family and I shall be devoting a seperate page to them as I have researched them more than average as they are one of my main reseach lines. The Boswells and Hearns or Herons are also well covered in the JGLS and T.W.Thompson and George Hall recorded their Genealogies, which provides a good starting point for your research bear in mind to double check with the Census as their are many mistakes which is understandable considering that the old Ryes never had online Census,or the Civil Registrations like we have today to cross check with, however that said, as many Gypsies never married but often had their children baptised at Hopping time, the word of mouth information gleaned by the members of the JGLS have proved to be invaluable when connecting the old families and their relationships.The book' Gypsies of Britain' also gives some interesting family history and as alot of the information is before the Civil Registration started(1837) it proves to be very usefull for the Genealogists one such example is the chapter that follows:-
EXTRACT FROM GYPSIES OF BRITAIN:-
"Jasper Petulengro was Ambrose Smith, son of Mireli Smith. Mireli was herself the daughter of another Mireli Smith,whose second husband was John Chilcott,by whom she had a son,bearing the same name. Around these two children of old Mireli Smith was built up a clan that travelled East Anglia and engaged very largely in hors-dealing.The headmen were Ambrose Smith and John Chilcott.This clan,despite its sub-divisions(Ambrose Smith had his headquarters around Norwich and John Chilcott had his headquarters around Woodbridge),was a single,closely-knit,social and economic unit,which on special occasions,such as funerals,would assemble as a whole and which would sometimers,as on the fringe of London,trade as a whole.Now Mireli Smith,the younger,had six children,Ambrose and a younger son Faden(who seems never to have married),and four daughters,Laini,Elizabeth,Liti and Prudence.These formed the one subdivision.The other was formed by John Chilcott and his four daughters,Union,Caroline,Florence and Shuri .Ambrose's four sisters all married : Laini to Tom Cooper, who was deported:Elizabeth to Elijah Buckley;
Liti to Bui Brown;and Prudence to Matt Barket,a gorgio horse-dealer.John Chilcott's four daughters also married;Union to Charles Lee;Caroline to Tom Lee;Florence to Wester Boswell; and Shuri to Taiso Young. There is of course another East Anglian clan which migrated to Blackpool and settled there.This clan had its origin in another Ambrose Smith,the paternal uncle of the Ambrose Smith who was Borrow's Jasper petulengro.This Ambrose Smith married Mireli Draper and had five daughters ,Honour,Femi,Rachel,Moll and Athalia".
(I have found several mistakes in the relationships of the people mentioned in this account but considering the complicated relationships involved this is hardly surprising) as always you need to double check with proven records where possible)
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