Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
In Scotland the accounts of the Lord High Treasurer yield this entry: '1505, April 22. Item to the Egyptianis be the Kingis command, vij lib.'; and Gypsies probably were the overliers and masterful beggars whom an Act of 1449 describes as going about the country with 'horses, hunds, and other goods.' In no other country were the Gypsies better received than in Scotland, where, on 3rd July 1505, James iv. gave Anthonius Gagino, Earl of Little Egypt, a letter of commendation to the King of Denmark; where in 1530 the 'Egyptianis that dansit before the king in Halyrudhous' received forty shillings, and where that same king, James v., subscribed a writ (February 15, 1540) in favour of 'oure louit Johnne Faw, lord and erle of Litill Egipt,' to whose son and successor, Johnne Wanne, he granted authority to hang and punish all Egyptians within the realme (May 26, 1540). Exactly when cannot be fixed, but about or soon after 1559, Sir William Sinclair, the Lord Justice-General, 'delivered ane Egyptian from the gibbet in the Burrow Moore, ready to be strangled, returning from Edinburgh to Roslin, upon which accoumpt the whole
body of gypsies were of old accustomed to gather in the stanks [marshes] of Roslin every year, where they acted severall plays, dureing the moneth of May and June. There are two towers,' adds Father Richard Augustine Hay in his Genealogie of the Sainteclaires of Roslin (written 2700; ed. by Maidment, 1835, p. 136), 'which were allowed them for their residence, the one called Robin Hood, the other Little John.' Roslin seems to have been a Patmos of the race for upwards of fifty years, but in 1623-24 they were hunted out, and eight of their leaders hanged on the Burgh Muir. Six of those leaders were Faas; and eleven years before, on 21st August 1612, four other Egyptians of the same well-known surname had been put on trial as far north as Scalloway in Shetland. These were 'Johne Fawe, elder, callit mekill Johne Faw, Johne Faw, younger, calit Littill Johne Faw, Katherin Faw, spous to umquhill Murdo Broun, and Agnes Faw, sister to the said Litill Johne.' They were indicted for the murder of the said Murdo Brown, and for theft, sorcery, and fortune-telling, 'and that they can help or hinder in the proffeit of the milk of bestiale.' Three of them were acquitted; but Katherine, pleading guilty to having slain her husband with a 'lang braid knyff,' was sentenced to be 'tane to the Bulwark and cassen over the same in the sey to be drownit to the death, and dome given thairupone.' For all which, and a multitude more of most curious and recondite information, I refer my readers to Mr. David MacRitchie's Scottish Gypsies under the Stewarts (Edinb. 1894, 120 pages), which has done for our northern tribes what Mr. Crofton had done for the southern. Its one omission is this, the earliest mention of Gypsies in the Highlands, contained in a news-letter from Dundee of January 1, 1651:--'There are about an hundred people of severall nations, call’d heere by the name of Egyptians, which doe att this day ramble uppe and downe the North Highlands, the cheifest of which are one Hause and Browne: they are of the same nature with the English Gypsies, and doe after the same manner cheate and cosen the country' (C. H. Firth's Scotland and the Commonwealth, Edinb., Scottish Hist. Society, 1895, p. 29).