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]

Most of the tribe are able to read, though very indifferently. They seem alive to the advantages of education, and speak of it as the only legacy which a poor man can leave to his children; but the migratory habits of the people prevent their children from remaining long enough at school ever to make much progress. The children are generally remarked as clever. One large family of children have been taught to read by their mother at home; and I have known a father (when he was able) who gave a lesson every day to his two children, in the course of their migrations. I may mention, as a proof of the anxiety of parents on this subject, that most of them have again and again professed their willingness to leave their children at home throughout the year for instruction, could they only afford it, and entrust them to the charge of some prudent person. This is a great step to their improvement, considering how extremely attached the gipsy parent generally is to his children; - that attachment to their offspring being one of those traits or features of character which distinguishes the tribe wherever they are found. Most of the younger children have attended the Sabbath school, when at home; and not only do the parents willingly send them, but even the children themselves seem delighted to attend. I have remarked in most of these children, what may account in some degree for this desire on their parts, a spirit of emulation, and strong desire to please those who will take the trouble to notice them. Even a few of the adults have attended the Sabbath school; but many are kept back by the shame of appearing more deficient than others of their own age.

A great majority of the children have been baptized; and there are probably not so many illegitimate children among them as among the lower ranks of society in general. They almost always intermarry in their own tribe, and are generally dissatisfied when this is not the case.

Of late, the greater number of the tribe have attended church occasionally, and some with exemplary regularity. Their ideas on the subject of religion, however, are extremely limited, and erroneous. Nor can they well be otherwise, considering their unsettled way of life, and their defective education. Yet they profess a general respect for religion; and, when absent from church, excuse themselves on the ground that they have no suitable or decent clothing.

I have not been able to ascertain whether they entertain any peculiar sentiments on the subject of religion. Like most ignorant persons, they are very superstitious. All of them profess to belong to the Established church; there are no Dissenters among them. Eight or nine of them are communicants. Most of them possess Bibles, which have been purchased, however, rather for the use of their children, when at school, than for any other purpose. Those who have not Bibles, would purchase them, they say, could they afford it. Most of them are indeed very poor, if we may judge from their apparel and their household accommodations, all of which are inferior to those possessed by the common class of labourers in the country.

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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