Banished to New York: Seven Gypsies in 1682 #History #Scotland

Scotland had draconian laws against travelling folk. Hostility towards “Egyptians” took off under King James VI, who was also famously opposed to Border Reivers, Gaelic-speaking Highlanders, alleged Witches, Protestant religious dissenters and tobacco smokers.

Edinburgh, 13 May 1682:

‘His Royall Highnes his Maties heigh Comisioner and lords of privie counsel being informed by the Earl off Dumfreis Shiref prin[cipa]ll of ye shyre of Aire that there are severall persones aprehendit within ye s[ai]d shyre as gipsies & vagabonds doe ordean ye s[ai]d seven persones to be transported from shiref to shiref to ye tolbooth of Ed[inbu]r[gh] … to be put in suire firmance till course be taiken for yr tryall’. (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, VIII, 125.)

On 29 August, 1682, the keeper of the Tolbooth addressed a supplication to the Privy Council in which he stated that seven gipsies were brought from the West [in Ayrshire] and have lain in prison these eleven weeks ‘without any subsistence but what they have had from the petitioner, and they being destitute as well of food as rayment are a very great burden to the petitioner, and their wives and children night and day lying in the oppen streets at the prison door which does not only grieve the petitioner but all the neighbours; and, although William Johnston got warrand from the Councill to transport them, yet now he altogither refuses.’ The petitioner therefore craves that the Council may take course ‘to frie the prison of Edinburgh of such vagabonds and either ordaine them to be sent to the plantationes or forraigne service.’ (RPCS, VII, 427, 537, 538.)

Some Gypsies were banished, either to the American Plantations, or into the Army. Both were viewed as an economically productive form of punishment by the elite.

It is alleged that the famous settlement of Gypsies at Kirk Yetholm was due to some gypsies in the Army saving the life William Bennet, younger, of Grubbet, at the Siege of Namur in 1695.

Banished to New York
On 21 October, 1682, the records of Edinburgh Tolbooth reveal:

The sex (sic, should be seven) Gipsies & other persones relived [i.e., sent out of the tolbooth] & sent to New york conforme to the recept following:

Receaved be me Samuell Muire ane of ye Corporalls of Captaine Grahames companie the persons of John Hamiltoun, Heugh Bailzie [i.e., Baillie], John Bailzie, James Bailzie younger, Gilbert Bailzie, Margaret Bailzie, Margaret Robertson Gipsies,

Jonnet Campbell, Marion Lawsone, Jonnet Mackie, Alexr Keith, Andro Hooge, Marion Buchanan, Jonnet Bruntoun, Jonnet Moriesone, David Milne, Alexr Broune, Andro Miller & Alieson Bell prisoners in the tolbooth of Ed[inbu]r[gh]

from Mr John Vans goodman of ye said tolbooth who ar ordained to be transported from ye s[ai]d tolbooth [of Edinburgh] to Greinock in order to yr transportation for new York I say reced by me
Sic Sub Sa[muel]: Moor’ (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, VIII, 137-8.)

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

Image: ‘A Gypsy Encampment’ by Thomas Austen Brown (1859-1924). © Copyright Glasgow Museums.

~ by drmarkjardine on January 10, 2018.

7 Responses to “Banished to New York: Seven Gypsies in 1682 #History #Scotland”

  1. This is a history that I should have been taught in school, or at the very least having been made aware of, and with the tools and specifics of which to advance my search for knowledge within the tapestry of Scottish history. Which, is a reason that I genuinely enjoy this blog.
    Dr. Mark Jardine, you are a source beyond reproach, and I thank you for your steadfast knowledge. .

  2. […] via Banished to New York: Seven Gypsies in 1682 #History #Scotland — Jardine’s Book of Martyrs […]

  3. […] relations”. From that time, there were numerous acts of parliament levelled against Gypsies and banishments to the American plantations. The extremely draconian 1609 Act ‘regarding the Egyptians’ is a particularly sobering read. As […]


  5. The link I set above is of a group that takes other peoples work and calls it their own. Just thought you would like to know….

  6. […] Dr. Mark Jardine :… […]

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