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

Will Faa ( ? - 1784)

King William I, known as 'Gleed Nickit Wull' because of a twist in the shape of his throat, was born about 1700, and is reputed to have been married three times and to have fathered 24 children without ever having carried out lawful work. At each of the christenings of his children he would appear in his wedding finery, his kingly robes, and be accompanied by a dozen handmaidens who attended the guests.

Will claimed ancestry as a lineal descendent of Johnnie Faa, Lord of Little Egypt. As no one challenged his right to kingship, the gypsy community of the area must have accepted his right to the title. He may have been a grandson of Patrick Faa and Jean Gordon.

The Rev Joseph Leck, Minister of Kirk Yetholm, when returning from Northumberland via Kirknewton, was set upon by a group of robbers. On recognising their leader, and the leader, Will, recognising the minister, Will apologised for the misunderstanding, and escorted the minister back to Yetholm. They agreed that the matter would not be raised again, and as far as we know it never was.

Nisbet of Dirleton, who owned Marlfield, was quite happy to leave the keys of the house in Will's possession, as Will himself was deemed to be trustworthy and honest, and woe betide any other gypsy who dared to interfere with property in the care of King Will.

Perhaps this is the duty referred to elsewhere as being a 'country keeper' - clearing the countryside of rogues and vagabonds, at least those who were not of their own clan.

Will is reputed to have been the first to occupy the 'Palace' in Kirk Yetholm.

Sheriff Murray of Cherrytrees had such great respect for Will that he attended the baptisms of all his children, and announced publicly that he would stand security for Mr Faa, at a public sale of wood at Cherrytrees.

Will died at Coldingham,in 1784, as he was returning from Edinburgh. Reports of the time state that crowds flocked to see the funeral procession. Vic Tokely records that the funeral train is supposed to have contained no fewer than 300 asses.

It is also recorded that the 'wake' lasted three days with much 'eating and drinking and a lack of sobriety and decency.'

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