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The Kale (also Kalá, Valshanange) are a group of Romani people who reside in Wales. Many claim to be descendant of Abram Wood, who was the first Romani to reside permanently and exclusively in Wales in the early 1700s, though Romanies have appeared in Wales since the 1400s.[1] Generally speaking, the Kale have employed a tribal structure in which a group of several family units would be under the authority of a male chieftain.



The Kale spoke Welsh Romani. Originally the variants of Welsh Romani and the Angloromani of the Romanichal constituted a common "British Romani" language.[2] Both Welsh and English Romani share characteristics and are historically closely related to Romani dialects spoken in France, Germany (Sinti), Scandinavia, Spain, Poland, North Russia and the Baltic states. Such dialects are descended from the first wave of Romani immigrants into western, northern and southern Europe in the late Middle Ages.[3] The Welsh Romani language survived in North Wales until the last 60 years or so; in South Wales, a sort of "pidgin" dialect arose in the late 1800s, mostly consisting of Romani and English but with other loan words from various languages (Arabic, Iranian, Greek, Romanian, German, French and Welsh) that indicate the long journey of the Kale.

Integration into Welsh Culture

While preserving their travelling lifestyle the Kale grew to claim several aspects of Welsh culture, including conversion to Christianity, taking on Welsh surnames, and participating in regional and national eisteddfodau. Notably, John Robert Lewis, the husband of Abram Wood's granddaughter, would win prizes for harping in 1842, 1848 and 1850.

Another descendant, John Roberts,[4] earned the sobriquet "Telynor Cymru", and taught his whole family various instruments. His illustrious career culminated in a performance before Queen Victoria at the Palé Hall on 24 August 1889 on the occasion of the Royal Visit to Wales. John Roberts played with his nine sons, all of them on the harp.[5]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sampson. J. (1926) The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  3. ^ Bakker (1997) Review of McGowan, The Winchester Confessions, Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Fifth series 7(1): 49-50.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Roberts, E. Ernest (1978) (in Welsh). John Roberts, Telynor Cymru. Dinbych: Gwasg Gee. OCLC 4957891.  


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