picture courtesy of Joe Windas 










  In the following pages I present a glimpse into the life history and folk lore of the gypsy.  


 Gypsies began to appear in England in the late 14th century - they were dark-skinned with dark hair and became nicknamed 'Egyptians' after middle-east travellers from the past.


The gypsies came from India but 'upped' and left in the 11th century probably due to persecution. They began to migrate through Afghanistan, Persia and Greece before entering the Balkans and spreading throughout Europe.


 Originally called 'Domba' the Hindi for 'the people' this slowly changed to become 'Rom' or 'Roma'. The Romani language slowly developed over the centuries from Hindi incorporating new words from the various countries they travelled.










Your breath is sweet

your eyes are like two jewels in the sky

your back is straight

your hair is smooth

on the pillow where you lie

but i dont sense affection

no gratitude or love

your loyalty is not for me

but to the stars above


One more cup of coffee for the road

one more cup of coffee fore i go

to the valley below


Your daddy is an outlaw

and a wanderer by trade

hel teach you how to pick and choose

and how to throw the blade

he oversees his kingdom

so no stranger does intrude

his voice it trembles as he calls out

for another plate of food


Your sister sees the future

like your mama and yourself

youve never learned to read or write

theres no books upon your shelf

and your pleasure knows no limits

your voice is like a meadwlark

but your heart is like an ocean

mysterious and dark.


"Its a gypsy song,that song was written  during a gypsy festival in the south of France one summer.Somebody took me to a  birthday party there once and hanging out there for a week probably influenced the writing of this song." BOB DYLAN





The Gypsy Laddies




Three gypsies came tae oor hall door

An' O but they sang bonnie O.

They sang so sweet and too complete

That they stole the heart of our lady O.


For she cam tripping down the stairs,

Her maidens too before her O;

An' when they saw her weel-faured face

They throwed their spell oot-owre her O.


When her good Lord came home that night

He was askin for his lady O,

But the answer the servants gave tae him,

'She's awa wi the gypsy laddies O.'


'Gae saddle tae me my bonnie, bonnie black,

My broon it's ne'er sae speedy O,

That I may go ridin' this long summer day

In search of my true lady O.'


But it's he rode East and he rode West

And he rode through Strathbogie O.

And there he met a gey aul' man

That was comin through Strathbogie O.


'For it's did ye come East, or did ye come West,

Or did ye come through Strathbogie' O?

And did ye see a gay lady?

She wes following three gypsy laddies O.'


'For it's I've come East and I've come West

And I've come through Strathbogie O,

And the bonniest lady that e'er I saw

She wes following three gypsy laddies O.'


For the very last night that I crossed this river

I had dukes and lords to attend me O,

But this night I must put in ma warm feet an' wide

An the gypsies widin' before me O.


Last night I lay in a good feather bed

My own wedded Lord beside me O,

But this night I must lie in a cauld corn-barn

And the gypsies lyin a' roon me O.


For it's will you give up your houses an your lands

And will you give up your baby O;

And will you give up your own wedded Lord

And keep following the gypsy laddies O?


For it's I'll give up my houses an my lands

An I'll give up my baby O,

And it's I'll give up my own wedded Lord

And keep followin the gypsy laddies O.


For there are seven brothers of us all

We all are wondrous bonnie O,

But this very night we all shall be hanged

For the stealin of the Earl's lady O.


When the gypsies arrived in Northern Europe at the close of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, after their fabulous thousand-year long migration from North-West India, they were at first greeted by the populace and the authorities with awe and even with reverence; then, usually within a year or so, the authorities rumbled them, and they started getting hanged.


 Nowhere is this pattern better illustrated than in Scotland. In a document of 1540 James V recognized John Faw (Faa) as 'Lord and Earl of Little Egypt'; the following year, by an act of the Lords of Council, 'Egyptians (i.e. gypsies) are ordered to quit the realm within thirty days on pain of death. In the 17th century, as McRitchie points out in his Scottish Gypsies under the Stewarts, it was a capital crime in Scotland to be a gypsy; the famous outlaw and fiddler James MacPherson (hero of Macpherson's Rant) was executed under this statute.


The Gypsy Laddies is one of the most widely known and sung classic ballads, in America as well as in the British Isles - Bronson prints no less than 128 items under this heading - but there are good grounds for believing that it does in fact reflect the turbulent history of the gypsies in Scotland. Even if, respecting Child's judgment, one disregards the extremely strong and deeply rooted Ayrshire tradition connecting the ballad with the noble house of Cassilis, the circumstantial evidence suggesting that the ballad originated in Scotland is overwhelming.


Jake Bowers on Gypsy and Travellers






Cinderella the gypsy lived upon the great south shore

where the Blackpool golden mile stretched and was well worth waiting for

they called her Rose lee for she was a seer and true

she told you lots of fortune tales on the beach at old Blackpool


Her booth it was well lit up with pictures by the score

close by the donkeys serenades upon the Blackpool shore

she wore a scarf of gaiety and her lamp it was well lit

her cards spread on the table just across from wheres you sit


Her eyes they looked right into you and real your mind and soul

she was dark and beautiful and her rings she did fare show

her dress was long and dignified like a lady of good taste

her skin was dark and mystical and her beauty in her face


Of all the gypsy ladies her words were true to form

she told you how it was from the day that she was born

her booth no longer sits there on Blackpool's golden mile

where lads and lassies came to call to see her golden smile.


In the mid sixties I had my fortune told at Blackpool sands by this lady


-gypsy roselee. (She was fabulous)




For many many years the gypsy fraternity lived on the sands at Blackpool with their fortune telling booths. 



 Gypsy Roselee carried on the family business of fortune telling from her mother.She regularly was visited by people such as Billy Fury,Eddie Cochran and Diana Dors.


Roselee told my fortune in the mid 1960s when i spent a day there on a trip out whilst I was

  supervising kids play scheme from Redditch.


When reading my palm she told me I would in later life travel to America and marry an american lady.Which has come true.


She also told me I was very clever and had the sign of the rose tattoo.


 New forest days




In the forest of England they tethered their mares

they worked on the land from craft to repairs

they lit of the fires from bracken and log

where the wind it was brisk and the snow it was deep in the bog


They bedded in benders where hogs once did sleep

their gowns they were long and their shawls they were wool

where the chaffinch did sing and the man sang the blues

for years they did roam from boldre to Poole


Where the vardos did roll and the weather was cruel

though summers were warm neath the starry blue skies

where the birch grew so wild and the heathers were ryed

their fathers were blessed with the call of the free

where the forests were rich from village to sea


Their children were many and their old uns were wise

they worked on the land with hope in their eyes

the wheels they did roll and the ponies ran free

where Rufus stone stood and the villagers pleas


The bracken was course and the berries were sweet

with lizards and snakes squirm just neath your feet

they gathered their families and took them to Poole

where the lodge hills of canford were rich in the dew


Where the rabbits and foxes ran free on the downs

where gaffers and landlords were rich by the crown

they settled there freely on wimbornes estate

where guest family resided and the turves's were to waste


They built them their homes neath the warblers nests

where the gravel was rich and clay it was blessed

from Talbot to magna and over the downs

they gathered their families and there bedded down


In kinsons new England and heavenly bottoms abode

they ran with the wind in the summers so warm and winters so cold

all through the war years they traveled this land

from south to the north with their merry bands


They were branded and moved on like thieves in the night

with landlords and mean men who took of their rights

they fought in the wars like true British grit

worked on the land and the factories spit


They built the great walls and the brickyards so mean

then they were herded like cattle and grounded in teams

their stories are rich and their histories are keen

from new forest walks to home of the queen


They talk with a richness and give you the eye

like a true romani trooper with a didykye guise.







APPLEBY HORSE FAIR!/media/set/?set=a.156461667725409.29658.156461144392128


Read about the rights of Gypsies  













Gypsies or Gipsies [from Egypt, because of an inaccurate idea that Gypsies came from a so-called Little Egypt], a traditionally nomadic people with particular folkways folkways, term coined by William Graham Sumner in his treatise Folkways (1906) to denote those group habits that are common to a society or culture and are usually called customs.


 They have a unique language, found on every continent; they often refer to themselves as Roma. Their language, called Romany Romany , language belonging to the Dardic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian languages). The mother tongue of the Gypsies,


Romany has about 2 million speakers, largely outside India.

They belongs to the Indo-Iranian family and is closely related to the languages of NW India. Their blood groupings have been found to coincide with those of S Himalayan tribes, and genetic mutations they possess are otherwise found only among Indians and Pakistanis.


Gypsies worldwide are estimated to number between 10 and 12 million.


In the course of their wanderings, Gypsies have occasionally mixed with non-Gypsy neighbors and have sometimes settled down, but they have clung tenaciously to their identity and customs. Their physical type has remained largely unaltered; most Gypsies are dark-complexioned, short, and lightly built. Their bands are still ruled by elders.


 Gypsies have usually adopted the religion of their country of residence; probably the greater number are Roman Catholic or Orthodox Eastern Christian. Each year in May they gather in S France from all over the world for a pilgrimage to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Gypsies usually travel in small caravans and make their living as metalworkers, singers, dancers, musicians, horse dealers, and auto mechanics.


 Gypsy women are famous as fortunetellers.


It is believed that they came originally from NW India, which they left for Persia in the 1st millennium A.D. Probably during their sojourn in Persia, they became divided into three main tribal divisions: the Gitanos, the Kalderash, and the Manush. Later they moved northward and westward, and are recorded as first appearing in Western Europe in the 15th cent.


Alternately welcomed and persecuted by civil and religious authorities, they moved from country to country until they had spread to every part of Europe by the beginning of the 16th cent.


In modern times, and especially since the beginning of the 20th cent., various nations have attempted to end their nomadic lifestyle by requiring them to register and to go to school and learn trades. Some 500,000 perished in gas chambers and concentration camps during World War II.


 In 1956 the Soviet Union decreed that the last wandering Gypsy bands in that country be gradually settled in places of their choice. The countries of E Europe, where the great majority of Gypsies live, adopted similar measures under Communist rule, and most Gypsies eventually found economic and social protection, if not full acceptance.


However, following the fall of Communism in the early 1990s, persecution of the Gypsies arose once more in E Europe, and by the early 21st cent. most faced increased discrimination and lived in poverty. In 2005 eight E European countries and the World Bank backed a ten-year program intended to improve the Gypsies' socioeconomic status.






Roma are a particular nation!. They have their customs and traditions!. Many people do not know anything about Roma!. Roma (Gypsies exonym [5]) are the ethnic group with its roots in medieval India. Roma diaspora is the largest in Europe and particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. Less numerous are the Roma population in America and less on other continents. Romany language, which is divided into several dialects, has a total of 2 million speakers. [Source?] However, many Roma as their mother tongue language of the country considered in which they live, or speak a mixed language, which is a combination of the Romani language and zem%u011B.Na its world congress in London in 1971, Roma decided that the sign of the Roma people is ethnonymum ROM (s) (ROM = man, husband; rom%u0148i = woman, wife, Roma people =) and since the dates Roma requirement This fact has been respected by the majority. The problem is the fact that Roma people have many branches and tags Roma in Czech may refer to both its eastern branch (in English, for it uses the term Roma people) as well as a summary indication of groups (English Romani people). The Czech is sometimes used to group together all the signs of Gypsies (that is, but according to some opinions, derogatory tinge) and the Eastern European group at Roma, sometimes with both meanings, cover the word Roma, which in some contexts can be confusing. The current Czech Republic, in early 90 years exclusively used term Gypsies is now but a large portion of the Roma is perceived as a pejorative - and even if it is used in a completely neutral or even a flattering style. [6] In 1990 the then President of the Czechoslovak Television Roma Civic Initiative (ROI) JUDr. Emil Scuka said: "Gypsies are indications declass social groups, Roma are the sign of the nation." (The name Gypsy (a small "c") is also means "wanderer, vagabond, a thief" and could therefore be called as one of Roma origin.) Some However, the Roma themselves prefer to use the term Gypsies. [7], especially in the German-speaking countries, France and Belgium is being called a term for the Roma Gypsies (Sinti - but again this is a sign of Roma branches), or Roma und Sinti (Roma and Sinti).


For a long time, based on the fact that Romani is evolved from Sanskrit (both Indian languages belong to the group of Indo-European languages). Through comparative linguistics today, however, concluded that the language of the Roma from a northwestern dialect of Hindi old. The homeland of the Roma, in any case be considered India. The reason for their departure from India is unknown (it could be a famine, war, invasion or low social status of the so-called untouchables, outside the caste establishment, originally called varnasrama). According to legend, a certain group of Roma received an invitation from the Persian ruler who needed musicians to the amusement of his subjects. Gradually they got to Europe, first in the Balkans (11th century), where he obtained the Gypsies in the Greek Athiganoi (maloasijská sect, engaged in divination).

And much, just the Roma nation as other nationalities around the world!


. Rac, a researcher of Roma culture, e-mail:


 jan.rac @




Great book on gypsy life/photos




The Gypsy Artist









 Romany Womens Union







                        Gypsy life and Gypsy lore