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

The Yetholm Gypsies

.... [cont'd]

In all the records, legal documents, valuation rolls etc, the gypsies are referred to as feuars not as gypsies, thus ranking them equally with the other villagers. They were in fact under even less pressure, in that they were often given extra time by the landowner to pay their dues.
Reading through the Borders Family History Society's 'Roxburghshire Monumental Inscriptions III Yetholm Churchyard', the designation 'feuar' or 'fewer' is used on many of the gravestones, often alongside the occupation.

Rev John Baird, who did so much for the gypsies, as we shall see, writes at length in his entry for the Second Statistical Account of 1841:

Kirk Yetholm has long been known and somewhat celebrated as the residence of the largest colony in Scotland, I believe, of that singular and interesting race of people, the Gipsies, whose origin is involved in so much uncertainty and doubt. I am indeed far from regarding the 'muggers and tinkers' of Kirk Yetholm as the pure unmingled gipsy race, whose forefathers emigrated or were driven into Europe from Hindostan or Egypt. They are much less distinguishable as a peculiar race than they appear to have been formerly. Still their language, their predatory and erratic propensities, and, in general, their dark or dusky complexion, black piercing eyes and Hindoo features, sufficiently betray the original of this despised and neglected race. At what period they first arrived and settled in Kirk Yetholm I have not been able with any accuracy to ascertain. The family of the Faa's seem to have been the first who settled there, and probably about the beginning of last century. Their number in 1797, according to the First Statistical Account was 50. In 1816, according to the late Bailie Smith of Kelso the number was 109. At present there are about 100. Of these, one gipsy female is married to a tradesman in the village; and one woman not belonging to the tribe is married to a gipsy, whom she accompanies in his wanderings.

That the gipsies of Kirk Yetholm have a peculiar language is fully credited by most of the other inhabitants of the village, many of whom have not only heard them converse with each other in this language, but also understand a number of the words. It was my intention to have given a list of such of these words as I have been able to collect; but I shall at present merely mention this general fact regarding them, that, on comparing this list with the specimens furnished by Hoyland from Grellman, I find that the language spoken by the Kirk Yetholm clans corresponds very nearly with that spoken by the English and Turkish gipsies, and that most of these have also been traced to an Indian origin. On this subject, however, they observe a profound secresy (sic).

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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