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

Charles Faa Blyth II (1898-1902)

From the time of her death until 1898, no member of her family, she still had five sons and three daughters, showed any interest in taking up the crown. But in an attempt to 'boost the tourist trade', her son Charles Rutherford, now aged seventy- three was persuaded by locals to take the crown. He was crowned king in Kirk Yetholm. He had spent most of his life in England, but had returned to Kirk Yetholm after his mother's death to run a boarding house in Mugger's Raw. On his coronation, he moved into the palace which had been renovated by the local woollen manufacturer, at Blunty's Mill, Peter Govanlock. The Govanlock's owned much of the village and may have run one of the inns, the Gray Horse Inn, as well.

The actual coronation ceremony was really a pageant, with all the locals dressing up for the benefit of the photographers. Many photographs of the occasion still exist. The two villages were decked in flags and bunting and even the churches were dressed for the day. People turned up in their thousands for the spectacle, which is reported in the Hawick News:

'The ceremony took place in an enclosure set up in front of Renalson's Inn and a rich harvest of shillings was gathered in for admission to it. A throne was improvised and eight or ten armchairs arranged in a row, with a small round table as a centre-piece, on which lay a faded cushion. The king and queen did not attend the first part of the proceedings which began with the arrival of the minister, dressed in gown and bands, at the enclosure, accompanied by various other participants, who had been outfitted by a Glasgow theatrical costumier in fancy costumes remarkable for their inappropriateness. Several prominent families were present, including Lady Stratheden and Campbell, and Sir George Douglas.

Everyone sang two verses of the 100th Psalm, accompanied by the Coldstream Brass Band. Mr Miller gave thanks for the sunlight and the glorious summer's day, and prayed 'Be with us in all we do and restrain all excess'. He then welcomed the gathering and announced that the coronation ceremony was not a money-making venture and that any balance left over after expenses were paid was to go to the king.

Baillie Gibson of Leith, who claimed a strain of gypsy blood, spoke briefly of gypsies in Scottish history and the share they had taken in the country's battles. The band played 'Rule Britannia' and a couple of heralds read the following proclamation:

'Oyez, oyez, oyez. It having been found that the royal and ancient people of Little Egypt are in trouble and are becoming scattered from the royal villages of Yetholm from having no ruler to guide and direct their kingdom, they, with the help of the people of the two villages of Town Yetholm and Kirk Yetholm have declared for a king, lest they should become a forgotten race. Having considered the hereditary rights of Charles Faa Blyth whose mother Esther Faa Blyth, did hold sway for many years over his people, they have agreed that the same Charles Faa Blyth shall be crowned king of the Yetholm gypsies, with all honours due to a prince of the royal gypsy blood. Challenge who dare.'

At this point there was a surprise. Mr Miller read out a letter he had received which ran as follows:

8 Salamander Street, Leith.

Sir, I humbly protest against the claimant, Charles Blyth, to the estate and title of gypsy king. He has no right to claim the title. The lawful heir is David Blyth, Chirnside, my father, who wishes to put forward a claim. My grandfather, David Blyth, and his cousin of Tweedmouth, have expressed their willingness to go to Yetholm and claim their right. Trusting you will kindly give this matter your best attention and oblige,

Yours truly, William Blyth.'

.... [more]

The Faa Family - 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