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Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

Gypsies as Nomads.

No; language, like history, has yielded important results, but on many points we still have almost everything to learn. We do not know within a thousand years when the Gypsies left India, or when they arrived in Persia, Armenia, Africa, Asia Minor, and South-eastern Europe. But we do know that India was their original home, that they must have sojourned long in a Greek-speaking region, and that in western and northern Europe their present dispersion dates mainly if not entirely from after the year 1417. These three facts will have to be borne in mind for understanding what follows; a fourth fact is that a portion, if a small portion, of the Gypsy race is still intensely nomadic. Nothing is commoner than for the English Gypsies of our novels and plays to speak familiarly of 'sunny Spain'; those of a little anonymous story, The Gipsies (1842), go backwards and forwards to Norway. But as a rule English Gypsies never stir out of Great Britain, or, if they do leave it, leave it only for another English-speaking country--Canada, the United States, or New Zealand. 1 So far, too, as we know, our present Gypsies are all descendants of early Gypsy immigrants; their surnames--Lee, Faa, Baillie, Stanley, Gray, Smith, Heron, Boswell, etc.--date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And our sole hint, until a quite recent date, as to visits to England by Continental Gypsies is a Bartholomew Fair handbill of 1689 about some German Gypsies, rope-dancers.

p. xxxvi

[paragraph continues] Mutatis mutandis, the same seems to hold good of the Gypsies of Germany, Poland, Norway, etc.; they are apparently the descendants of early immigrants into those different countries.


xxxv:1 In Chronicles of a Virgin Fortress (1896), Mr. W. V. Herbert gives an extraordinary story of one of the Stanleys, who, forced to fly Hampshire for some offence, found his way to Bulgaria, and as 'Istanli' became a Gypsy chieftain and public executioner of Widdin about 1874. Tom Taylor's returned 'lag' of p. xvii recurs also to memory, and John Lee, the Gypsy recruit of 'John Company,' from whom on the outward voyage in 1805 Lieut. Francis Irvine of the Bengal Native Infantry took down a Rómani vocabulary of 138 words (Trans. Lit. Soc. Bombay, 1819).

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