The Gypsies
The Early History
Gypsies in Scotland
Gypsies in the Borders
The Yetholm Gypsies
Gypsy Families
The Faa Family
Jean Gordon

Gypsies in the Borders

The next chief to be recorded is Alexander Faa, who was killed in a fight between his tribe and the Schawes at Romanno, near Peebles. Faa's wife was also killed and his son 'dangerously wounded'. Robin Schawe and his three sons were tried, found guilty and executed at the Grassmarket in 1678.

In 1714, William Walker, Patrick Faa, Mabel Stirling, Mary Faa, Jean Ross, Elspeth Lyndsey, Joseph Wallace, John Fenwick, Jean Yorkstone, Mary Robertson, Janet Wilson and Janet Stewart were tried at Jedburgh and found guilty of wilful fire-raising, and of being notorious Egyptians, thieves, vagabonds, and sorcerers, when they were banished to the plantations in America, with the exception of Janet Stewart, who was scourged through Jedburgh, and afterwards stood for a quarter of an hour with her left ear nailed to a post at the cross. The others were conveyed to Glasgow in carts and kept in the Tolbooth until they could be shipped overseas.

The new plantations in Jamaica, Virginia and Barbados were used as appropriate places to which they could be sent, with little chance of return.

Three men and two women were hanged in Edinburgh at about the same time.

In 1727, Geordie Faa, husband of the notorious Jean Gordon was killed at a clan meeting at Huntlywood on leader, by Robert Johnstone. Johnstone was caught and held in Jedburgh Jail. He was tried, found guilty and condemned to death. Somehow he managed to escape. He was recaptured some time later at Newcastle, returned to Jedburgh, and duly executed at the Gallahill.

In 1731, John Faa, William Faa, John Faa alias Faley, Christian Stewart and Margaret Young were convicted at Jedburgh of house and shop-breaking and of jail-breaking.

In 1732, Jean Gordon presented a petition to the justiciary court at Jedburgh, setting forth that she was indicted as an Egyptian, common vagabond, and notorious thief; that she was old and infirm, and had lain long in jail, and was willing to enact herself to leave Scotland never to return. After being set free, she went to England.
In 1745, whilst in Carlisle, she expressed Jacobite sentiments in public, and as a result was set upon by a mob who ducked her to death in the River Eden. Jean is best remembered as likely model for Meg Merrilees in Sir Walter Scott's 'Guy Mannering'.

In 1733, John Faa, William Faa, John Faa, Christian Young, Elspeth Anderson and William Miller were all tried at Jedburgh, found guilty of theft and apart from the last named were sentenced to death.

After this, the persecution seems to have died down, with the gypsies being left to go about their business and ply the various trades in which they were so skilled, while no doubt continuing their less welcome, nefarious, habits.

A Captain John Faa represented Jedburgh District in Parliament from 1734 to 1741, and a Robert Faa was Master of a Kelso Masonic Lodge in 1702.

The Gypsies

Esther Faa Blythe

Charles Faa Blythe Coronation

At St James Fair 1907

At St James Fair 1907

Kirk Yetholm Green c1920

Kirk Yetholm - Muggers Row c1920

Looking up the hill to Staerough

Kirk Yetholm Gypsy Palace c1945

King & Queen and Palace

Gypsy Palace present day