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)

.... [cont'd]

There had been no forewarning of this possible challenge, and all present looked for a challenger in the crowd. No such challenge was made, and Charles was duly crowned by the blacksmith, in his role as 'Hereditary Archbishop of Yetholm'

There was then a speech to the people which was read out, on the king's behalf to the assembled crowd. Mr Watt, the grocer, dressed in a spectacular costume read:

'I am commanded by His Majesty, the King of the Yetholm Gypsies, to thank his loyal subjects for the honour conferred on him this day and to say that it will be his honest endeavour to rule his people wisely and well and he trusts that his subjects in the villages of Town and Kirk Yetholm will live in peace and prosperity under his sway.'

With this speech, the ceremony, as such, was ended, but later there was a procession which seems to have contained a complete collection of fancy dresses, with a cowboy and a bullfighter amongst Robin Hood and Henry VIII and Burns and Tam o'Shanter.

There was a full scale lunch in a large marquee specially erected for the occasion. After, there were sports and races for the children and the adults in the tradition of the various local sports days.

The new king reigned until 21st April 1902, when he died suddenly, while sitting in his chair. He was seventy-seven. His death renewed the concern which had previously been expressed in many quarters over the spectacle which the late king's coronation had turned into. Many of the obituaries were of the opinion that 'we want no more sham coronations on Yetholm Green.' It seemed likely that Charles would be succeeded by his youngest brother, Robert, but when this was mooted in an article in the 'Edinburgh Evening Dispatch', the response was very negative. One person wrote:

'Surely the ancient house of Faa can bring some one more worthy to the throne of Charles than this person, whose acts have ever been enough to put the Romany race to the blush.'

Robert was a basket-maker and hawker, who was renowned for his doubtful practices, and who was well-known to the courts and prison. He was also very fond of the drink, and before long was in the Kelso Union Poor House, now Kelso Hospital, where he died on 15th December 1904.

One of the tragedies of this, the end of the gypsy monarchy, was that perhaps the best candidate, David, who had abdicated on the death of his father Charles I, never did become king. He was as honest as any man, and knowledgeable and interested in the ways of the countryside. By the time he was needed to give the succession some credibility, he had already passed away. He had died on 17th February 1883 at Chrinside, and was buried there.

So, with the death of Charles II, came the end of the Yetholm gypsy royal family.

The Palace today is no longer thatched, having been slated. It came up for sale in 2000, and now has occupants with no connection to the gypsy at all. It has been refurbished and is available for rent as a holiday home

The Blythe family, represented by one, Jocky, continued to live in Yetholm Parish, where he was renowned as a true worthy. He was a real character, of the type which are now so rare, who was a 'jack of all trades' and master of most. For fifty years he was beadle at the church, and right hand man to the minister, as and when needed. He died in 1944 and was survived by his son, Jimmy. Descendents of William I are still in the Coldstream area.

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