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

Gypsies in Scotland

.... [cont'd]

By 1609, these orders had been formalised into an Act, so it was the norm that gypsies could be apprehended on sight and hanged, as they were described as sorcerers, vagabonds and common thieves.

This led to them ceasing to wear identifiable clothing, changing to the use of local names, using those of local lairds rather than their own born-names, being very careful in their use of the Romany language in public, intermarrying with the locals, kidnapping Scots children and bringing them up as their own, and moving to areas near to the Border with England so that they could readily escape justice, as and when required.

This Act also made it an offence to harbour or give shelter to the gypsies.

In 1610, Elizabeth Warrock of Potterrow, Edinburgh, was convicted of theft and of being a follower of the gipsies or jugglers.

If she had been charged with being a gypsy she would have been liable to the death penalty, but by only being 'a follower' she escaped that penalty. Instead she was scourged and banished from the city.

The year 1611 saw Moyses Faa, David Faa and Johnnie Faa indicted and accused of remaining within the country contrary to the statute expelling them from the country. At their trial they were all found guilty and hanged at the Burrow Moor. (Now Boroughmuir)

In 1615, William Auchterlony of Cairny was charged with sheltering gypsies on his estate at Balmedie.

In 1616, Johnnie Faa, James Faa, his son, Moyses Bailzie and Helen Brown, spouse to William Bailzie, Egyptians were all found guilty, but the King granted them a 'respite during pleasure'.

In 1624, Captain Johnnie Faa, Robert Faa, Samuel Faa, Johnnie Faa, Andrew Faa, William Faa, Robert Brown and Gawin Trotter were similarly found guilty but they were hanged on the Burrow Moor. Five days later, eleven female relatives of the eight men were found guilty and were condemned 'to be taken to some convenient pairt and drowned till they be deed.' This barbarous sentence was not , in fact, carried out as the King granted respite on condition that they left the kingdom by the following April.

By 1636, the good citizens of Haddington had had enough of the Egyptians in their Tolbooth. They had already been imprisoned for a month, and the people decided that keeping them there only encouraged their friends and relatives to remain in the area. So they appealed to the Privy Council for advice and help. The response was:

'Thairfoir the Lords of Secret Counsell ordens the Sheriff of Haddington, or his depute, to pronounce doome and sentence of death aganis so manie counterfoot theivis as ar men, and aganis so manie of the weomen as wants children, ORDANING the men to be Hangit, and the weomen to be Drowned; and that suche of the weomen as has children to be Scourgit threw the burgh of Hadinton, and burnt in the cheeke ; and ordanis and commandis the provost and bailies of Hadinton to cus this doome to be execute upon the saidis persons accordinglie.'

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