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The title King of the Gypsies has been claimed or given over the centuries to many different people. It is both culturally and geographically specific. It may be inherited, acquired by acclamation or action, or simply claimed. The extent of the power associated with the title varied; it might be limited to a small group in a specific place, or many people over large areas. In some cases the claim was clearly a public relations exercise. As the term Gypsy is also used in many different ways the King of the Gypsies may be someone with no connection with the Romani people.

It has also been suggested that in places where they were persecuted by local authorities the "King of the Gypsies" is an individual, usually of low standing, who places himself in the risky position of an ad hoc liaison between the Romani and the gadje (non-Romani). The arrest of such a "King" limited the harm to the Romani people.[1]

Contents

Scotland

George Faw

George Faw spoke as "capitane and forspeikar" for two Gypsies accused on theft at Aberdeen in 1539.

Count Martin

Count Martin was issued with a safe conduct by King James IV in 1530, which described him as being of Little Egypt.

John (Johnnie) Faa

Johnnie Faa of Dunbar was leader of the 'Egyptians', or Gypsies, in Scotland. Faa was granted a letter under the Privy Seal from King James IV in February 1540, which was renewed in 1553. It was addressed to "oure louit Johnne Faw, lord and erle of Litill Egipt" establishing his authority over all Gypsies in Scotland and calling on all sheriffs in the country to assist him "in executione of justice upoun his company and folkis", who were to "conforme to the lawis of Egipt". Johnnie Faa is associated with the tragic tale of "The Countess and the Gypsy". The story runs that Faa, styled King of the Gypsies, ran away with a Countess of Cassillis. Her enraged husband caught up with them at a ford over the Doon, still called the Gypsies’ Steps. He hanged Faa and his followers on a Dule Tree on a mound in front of the Castle Gate at Cassillis while his wife was forced to watch from an upstairs room. He then imprisoned her in Maybole Castle for the rest of her life. The Earl is also supposed to have built an oriel window facing the place of execution and an outside staircase decorated with carvings of the faces of her lover and his gallant band, and then married again while his wife was imprisoned. An alternative version has it that her lover was an aristocrat who was accompanied by Gypsies who "cuist the glaumourye ower her." All of this seems to be entirely mythical; the oriel window and steps pre-date the time of the tale, the Earl was a devout Churchman unlikely to be given to bigamy. On his wife's death Cassillis wrote a touching letter referring to her as "my deir bedfellow". If she did run away with her lover she didn’t get far, as the Gypsy Steps are only a few hundred yards from the castle. The story seems to come from the concatenation of an old ballad "Johnnie Faa" well-known before the date of the tale. There are many regional versions telling a similar story, and one of which mentions Cassillis. It is believed that Johnnie Faa stayed in the district and had a camp near Culroy Cassillis.[2][3] He is resurrected in fiction in His Dark Materials.

Johnne Wanne

Son and successor of Johnnie Faa, Johnne Wanne was granted Royal authority over all "Egyptians" in Scotland in May 1540. Records showed that by 1612 the Faa family had extended as far as Shetland. However, the initial tolerance of Gypsies did not last. In 1623 eight leaders of the Gypsies were hanged on the Burgh Muir, six of whom were of the Faa line. In the 1650s they were amongst those transported to Virginia.[4]

William Faa II

Will Faa, "King of the Gypsies", died in Kirk Yetholm in 1883, aged 96. Gypsies may have lived at Yetholm since before it became a permanent settlement, as the border location between Scotland and England made travel and avoidance of persecution easier. Settlement was encouraged when the laird built houses and a school for the Gypsy community during the 1700s. William Faa was an innkeeper and footballer who lived at "The Gypsy Palace" off the Green, and entertained visitors there. The "Kelso Mail" carried his obituary entitled "Death of a Gypsy King", which said he was "always accounted a more respectable character than any of his tribe, and could boast of never having been in gaol during his life." His house continued to be a tourist attraction, and there was reportedly an "Old Palace" on the other side of Kirk Yetholm Green. A ceremonial Gypsy Coronation was held in 1898 in an attempt to boost tourism.[5][6][7]

Charles Faa Blythe

Died in 1902 King of the Gypsies of Yetholm, claimed descent from the Lord and Earl of Little Egypt, who eloped with the Countess of Cassilies [8]

Billy Marshall

Billy Marshall (1672-1792) was born in Ayrshire in 1672 of Romany stock and claimed to be King of the Gypsies in south-east Scotland for most of the 1700s. He was a boxer, and served in the services, allegedly deserting from the Army seven times and from the Navy three times. He was supposed to have married 17 times and he had a huge crowd of illegitimate children (four of whom he is said to have fathered after his 100th birthday). He is also said to have been involved in murder and robbery, running a gang of gypsy tinkers in Galloway. He was the so-called 'King of the Randies', and having served as a soldier he was able to organise the country people who lost land when landowners built stone dykes and walls - his men went round knocking them down. Was a smuggler in Kirkcudbright. He was also reputed to be a gypsy and robber, and Caird (gypsy) of Burullion, the area he controlled. He was alleged to have lived to the age of 120, dying in 1792 and was buried in St Cuthbert's Churchyard where his grave can be visited and a coin left for the next gypsy who passes. [9][10][11][12]

England

Duke Andrew

When the groups claiming to be "wandering Egyptians" arrived in England a "Duke Andrew" led them. This claim and the name are also recorded in Northern Europe slightly earlier. It therefore seems likely to have been a name adopted for the person in each group who dealt with the existing authorities. Nothing reliable is known about the actual organisation of these groups, although the "Egyptians" were noted to travel in groups of 30-40. They were distinctive in physical appearance, clothing and culture, and immediately known as "Egyptians", from which came the common name Gypsies. The groups did seem to have leaders, though not always Kings. At Canterbury, Kent in 1546 "two leaders of the Gypsies" were committed to gaol.

George Portingale

Arrested in Wigan in 1601 with 17 others, George Portingale was described as "Captain of Egyptians".

Robert Hern and Elizabeth Boswell

Married in 1687 in Camberwell and described then as "king and queen of the Gypsies". Hern may be the same Hern who was chosen as king of a group in Warwickshire in 1673.

Leaders identified in Martin Markall

The short book Martin Markall, Beadle of the Bridewell was published in London in 1610. The author is given as "S.R.", who is usually identified as Samuel Rid the author of The Art of Juggling, a later book of rogue literature promised in Martin Markall. The book is of dubious veracity, and large sections are taken from the works of Thomas Dekker. It includes what purports to be a list of the leaders of the "the regiment of rogues", which echoed the genealogies of prominent families. It will be seen that in reality few had anything to do with Gypsies, but they are indicative of the context in which some of the Kings of the Gypsies were identified.

John Mendall

aka Jack Cade, aka John Mortimer, who led a rebellion of men from Kent who camped at Blackheath outside London in 1450. After his rebellion a reward was offered for him, and he was captured and killed in Kent.

Bluebeard and Hugh Roberts

Both soldiers who had served in France. Bluebeard was captured and executed shortly after being made "their captain". Roberts then gathered about 100 "rakehells and vagabonds" in Kent who were joined by 400 "masterless men". Together they joined Jack Cade and entered Southwark. After the end of Cade's rebellion Roberts took to the woods with a small group living by theft, according to set rules of their own. After a year living like this these "Roberdsmen" dispersed throughout England, vowing to meet every three years, and joining other "commotions and rebellions". Roberts also went "roving" and "kept his court" until he was killed in 1461.

Jenkin Cowdiddle

Was chosen by the remaining "Roberdsmen" at "their wonted place of meeting" "by general assent". He was "a wandering rogue", "much given to swearing, drunkenness and lechery . . . stout of stomach, audacious and fierce". He claimed a right of droit de seigneur, and ordained that all beggars spent their weekly earnings in full every Saturday night. Rid says that he fought with "300 tattered knaves" in the rebellion in the South West of England against Edward IV and was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471). Unlike Roberts, who may have been a real character, this Cowdiddle seems to have a complete fiction.

Spising

Not deterred, the remaining "Roberdsmen" "hie them to their rendezvous . . . and there, with the full consent of the whole company, they chose one Spising to be his successor". Spising is given no first name. He is credited with ordering that all begging wanderers be "stalled as a rogue" by "the Chief Commander then being", paying a fee in beer, though this was excused if his father and grandfather had been rogues. Spising joined the larger rebellion by Thomas Neville, the Bastard of Fauconberg. He led a band attacking Aldgate, and was nearly successful, until parts of his group were trapped by the fall of the portcullis. Spising is reputed to have ruled 11 years before being hanged for a murder in Wombourn, Staffordshire, having escaped the same fate earlier by seeking sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. There is a historical record of a Spising as leader of an Essex contingent of Neville's uprising, but he was executed after it, and his head exhibited on Aldgate.

Puffing Dick

was the next elected, an expert at cheating with loaded dice, and excelled in "all manner of vice". He repeated Cowdiddle's requirement for thieves and beggars to spend their ill-gotten gains and not save them. Rid says he ruled for 8 years before dying of "the pox and Neapolitan scurf". Like Cowdiddle Dick seems to have been wholly fictional.

Laurence Crossbiter(aka Long Laurence)

Was the next elected leader, a serving man aged 50–60. His art was "crossbiting"; theft from the customers of whores. He is also reported to have died "his bowels . . . eaten out with the pox while he was yet alive". Rid described him as cowardly and slavish for failing to come to the aid of the rebel Perkin Warbeck.

Richard Skelton

Was one of Warbeck's counsellors, "a noted knave". He was next "led to the wonted place of meeting, and there solemnly stalled a rogue and made their general". He is described as formerly having been a tailor in Taunton, Somerset "of proud and haughty disposition", and have "lived in this new government" until 1501. A Skelton was recorded by Sir Francis Bacon as a counsellor to Warbeck, but he says nothing of his activities after the rebellion.

Cock Lorel

Was elected his successor "by the General Council". Cock Lorel was "the most notorious knave that ever lived" who ruled until 1533. He professed the trade of a tinker to cover his thefts. Rid says that his knaveries are recorded in an old manuscript kept as "Maunders’ Hall", giving the rogue community a similar structure of that of the trade guilds. Cock Lorel was the great mythical leader of Tudor rogues. His name means just that, "cock" being leader, and "lorel" or losel" meaning rascal. He first appears about 1500 in "Cock Lorel's Boat", and is mentioned in Robert Copland's The Highway to the Spitalhouse (1535). He is credited with approving John Awdesley's The Fraternity of Vagabonds, (1561), in which he is given as the creator of the Twenty Five Orders of Knaves, reproduced in Thomas Harman's Warning for Common Cursitors and many other works of rogue literature. There is no record of any real individual on whom he was based. Cock Lorel is credited with having held a meeting with the leader of the Egyptians, at their base at The Devils Arse Apeak in Derbyshire. Rid claims that at this meeting they devised a new and secret language Thieves' Cant, "to the end that their cozenings, knaveries and villainies might not so easily be perceived and known".

Giles Hather

Became head of the regiment or fellowship of Egyptians in the north about 1528. These, Rid says, travelled in groups of more than a hundred men and women, with horses, their faces blacked, and practised legerdemain and fortune telling by palmistry, delighting the common people with their clothes.

Kit Callot

"the Queen of the Egypties" accompanied Giles Hather, according to Rid. These names were traditional; Hather is mentioned by Thomas Awdesley (1561)). "Kit" and "Callot" as names can be traced back to Piers Plowman. Although Tudor government, both local and national, took a close interest in the Egyptians there is no record of the names in their records.

Clause Patch

King of the Beggars, appears as a character in the play Beggars' Bush by John Fletcher, Francis Beaumont and Philip Massinger, first performed in 1622. An extract from the play, featuring Clauses's election and coronation, called ’’The Lame Commonwealth’’ was published as a droll by Francis Kirkman in The Wits, or Sport for Sport(1662). The frontispiece shows Clause at the front of the stage, with Falstaff. "King Clause" took on a life of his own, appearing in later works as a real character. In Isaac Walton's "The Compleat Angler" (1653) a group of beggars, being unable to resolve an argument amongst themselves, decide to refer the dispute for resolution by "old father Clause, whom Ben Jonson [sic] in his Beggars Bush created King of their Corporation". Guy Miege refers to Clause as King of the Beggars, in his "Miscellanea: Or, a Choice Collection of Wise and Ingenious Sayings . . .," (1694).

Margaret Finch

Queen of the encampment at Lambeth in the area now known as Gypsy Hill. It can be traced back to at least 11 August 1668 when Samuel Pepys' wife went there to have her fortune told. So famous were they that a pantomime called 'The Norwood Gypsies' was staged in Covent Garden in 1777. She lived in a conical hut built of branches, at the base of an ancient tree, and it was there that great numbers of people visited her. She died in 1740 allegedly 109 years old. A report published a few years later said "the oddness of her figure and ye fame of her fortune-telling drew a vast concourse of spectators from ye highest rank of quality, even to those of ye lower class of life". The pub ‘’The Gypsy Queen’’ is supposed to have been named after her.

Bampfylde Moore Carew

Claimed to have been elected after the death of Clause. He was a real person but there are doubts as to the veracity of the picaresque stories in The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew(1745).

Boswells

The Boswells were for centuries one of England's largest and most important Gypsy families. The Boswell clan were a large extended family of Travellers, and in old Nottinghamshire dialect the word bos'll was used as a term for Travellers and Roma in general.

James Boswell

Is buried in Rossington, near Doncaster in Yorkshire. Langdale's "Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire" (1822), says:- "In the church yard, was a stone, the two ends of which are now remaining, where was interred the body of James Bosvill the King of the Gypsies, who died January 30, 1708. For a number of years, it was a custom of Gypsies from the south, to visit his tomb annually, and there perform some of their accustomed rites; one of which was to pour a flagon of ale upon the grave." This is similar to the ritual of "stalling the rogue" mentioned by Thomas Harman and in The Beggars Bush and by Bampfylde Moore Carew. A legend says that Boswell lived in Sherwood Forest helping travellers and Gypsies. Also that his grave was opened some months after his burial so that his black cat could be buried with him, and that a ghostly cat still appears on the churchyard wall. A tradition was reported of annual visits to the grave of Charles Boswell near Doncaster for more than 100 years into the 1820s, including a rite of pouring a flagon of hot ale into the tomb. This may be same person.[13][14][15] the grave is situated by the main door leading to the church, shaded by a dark oak tree.It is now covered in moss, but is still readable.The words"King Of The Gypsies"will lie there for ever more,whereas the mystery of the black cat is still unsolved.-nformation on the grave by A.Needham-P.Needham, of St.Micheals church.

Henry Boswell

"King of the Gypsies" died in 1760 at the age of 90 and was buried at Ickleford near Hitchin, Hertfordshire at the church of St. Catherine, as were his wife and grand-daughter. Royal National and Commercial Directory and Topography of Herts, Pigot & Co., London, 1839

Haniel Boswell

Was the son of Francis Boswell. He baptised in London in 1583 and titled "King of the Gypsies". His descendants are reputed to include such colourful characters as "Black Jack Boswell", "The Flaming Tinman" and "Hairy Tom".

Daniel Boswell

Is buried at St. Helen's Church, Selston Dan Boswell lived from 1737 to 1827, dying aged 76. It is reported that the present gravestone was erected in the twentieth century to replace an earlier one that was decayed. Travellers frequently used nearby Selston Common.

Louis Boswell

Was buried in Eastwood church in 1835. In the Burial Register he is described as a "Traveller" aged 42 with a marginal note "This man known as the King of the Gypsies was interred in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators". It is said that Travellers used to travel from far and wide to lay new-born babies on his grave for luck.

Henry Boswell

The "King of the Gypsies" died in 1824 Stamford, Lincolnshire.[16][17]

Jacob Rewbrey

"Alias king of the Gypsies", from the St Margaret's Westminster, was tried at the Old Bailey on 28 August 1700 for theft with violence and highway robbery. It was alleged he had robbed "one Rebecca Sellers, near the High way, . . . taking from her 3 Gold-rings, and 9 s. in Money" in January of that year. The Jury found him Guilty of theft, but not Robbery, as "It appeared that he juggled tricked her out of it." He was sentenced to transportation.

John Nicholl Thom

Considered himself to be Lord Courtenay and "The King of the Gypsies". The House of Commons appointed a Select Committee in 1838 "To inquire into all the circumstances connected with the discharge of John Nicholl Thom, alias Courtenay, from the Kent Lunatic Asylum". The Committee heard evidence over 3 days covering the process of his, his state of mind and character, and the possible political influence on a local election.

Edmund Mashiter

aka "Old Honey", died in Bolton, Lancashire in 1811 aged 90. He was reported to have been "justly entitled the King of Beggars", having been on the road for 70 years. He was reported to have been the son of a schoolmaster, and well educated, but to have taken to the road by choice, and maintained a wandering life until he became bedridden.

  • The Gentleman's Magazine, 1 March 1811.

Buried at Calne

In the churchyard of Mary's Parish Church Calne, Wiltshire is a tomb commemorating an unknown King of the Gypsies is set in the wall.

Harry Burton

Described as "King of the Gypsies", died in the Workhouse in Wincanton, Somerset aged 94 in 1847.

Matty Cooper

Taught the Romany language in the 1870s to Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903), the American folklorist and founder of the Gypsy Lore Society. Leland claimed he was the King of the Gypsies in England

Henry Jackson

King Of Gypsies

Esau Smith

Was the acknowledged king of Black Patch Park, Birmingham and after his death in 1901 his widow Henty was elected queen. The king and queen's caravan was ritually burned after her death in 1907.

Xavier Petulengro

Was described as the King of the Gypsies, in an account of a Romany wedding at Baildon in Yorkshire in 1937 between his son Leon Petulengro and Illeana Smith both of Colchester Essex. According to the caption of a photograph Xavier Petulengro cut the hands of the couple to mingle their blood during the ceremony. After their wedding the couple went north to Blackpool. During the war Leon was in the RAF and Ileana (Eileen) was a staff car driver for ICI. The marriage was dissolved in 1947 in Nottingham. Baildon was a famous fair and meeting place for Gypsies. Petulengro was well known as a broadcaster on Gypsy subjects. His son Leon wrote for the "Woman's Own" magazine.

Gilderoy Scamp

Born in Orpington, Kent early 20th century. Lived in Folkestone, Kent.

  • Gilderoy Scamp - King of the Gypsies, Linda Hayward, Romany Routes Volume 4 No 7 June 2000

K T B "Tommy" (Tom) Doherty

Campaigned for justice and equal treatment for Travellers in site provision and education Ireland in the 1950s and England in the 1960s. He was born in Dublin, was a founder member of the Gypsy Council and travelled, with five others, to Strasbourg to the European Court of Human Rights in 1968, as part of campaign which led to the Caravan Sites Act 1968. He said that he was called King of the Gypsies after he became well known for his campaigning work. He wrote, "Gypsies and Travellers in their own words" (2000). The Leeds Evening Post (24 September 2003) said that mourners came from across Europe to pay their respects to at his funeral, and that his "tireless efforts for Travelling folk earned him the title of King of the Gypsies"

Bartley Gorman

Bartley Gorman was a well known bare-knuckle fighter in Staffordshire known as King of the Gypsies. He was proud of his heritage: his great-grandfather was Boxing Bartley, King of the Tinkers in Ireland the 19th century, and his grandfather Bulldog Bartley, also a bareknuckle fighter. Gorman did not claim to have inherited the title but to have earned it "in blood, snot, sweat and gore'. He claimed he won the title at a fight in a quarry at Hollington, Staffordshire, in a fight with a Jack Fletcher in 1972. He won the title of Bareknuckle Champion of Great Britain and Ireland, aged 28, and between 1972-1992 dominated the world of illegal gypsy boxing, fighting at hidden places, such as down a mineshaft, in a quarry, at horse fairs, on campsites, in bars and clubs. He became so well-known in Uttoxeter that his name was put on their Millennium Memorial. He once sparred with Muhammed Ali. His funeral in 2002 was attended by hundreds of Gypsies. He also claimed that for Gypsies bareknuckle fighting was a legitimate and acceptable activity. Bartley Gorman wrote an autobiography King of the Gypsies, which was also made into a film. [1]

Joe Joyce

Joe Joyce is the current bare-knuckle champion of Britain and Ireland, and is widely referred to as being "King of the Gypsies." Like his predecessor, Bartley Gorman, Joyce is currently undefeated after a number of fights, including several against his nemesis Aney McGinley. His most famous bout was against McGinley in 2003, when he first claimed to be King of all the traveller people. Joyce won the fight, despite McGinlely's false claims that he "knocked him straight out." Joe remains the title holder to this day, despite speculation that he would relinquish his crown to his eldest son, Joe Joyce Jr. In his latest video, Joe claims to have written the song 'Bad Romance' for Lady GaGa.

Wales

Abram Wood

Was a reputed King of the Gypsies born before the close of the seventeenth century. His descendants include musicians who helped to keep alive many musical traditions that were forced underground during the Methodist Revival. One was chief harpist to Queen Victoria and another taught the famous traditional Welsh harpist, Nansi Richards. He is credited with keeping the Romani language intact "in the fastnesses of Cambria." The Wood family was reputed to be fluent in three mutually unintelligible languages: Romani, English and Welsh. Children in North Wales were warned to beware "teulu Abram Wood", the family of Abram Wood (who would like all Gypsies, steal naughty little children). An untidy house was referred to as being like the "house of Abram Wood", (though Gypsy caravans have a reputation for being immaculately tidy and spotlessly clean).[18]

France

Dukes Andrew and Michael of Little Egypt

Is recorded as the leader of a Gypsy group in Mâcon, France, in 1419. The same name, (Andrea or Andreas]] and possibly person, is recorded again the following year in Brussels and Deventer and in 1421 at Mons. Mons was also visited by a Duke Michael of Latingham in Egypt, claiming to his brother, who had already been to Tournai, where they were recorded as having "a king and lords who they obeyed and had privileges, so that none could punish them save themselves". In some of the places they exhibited a letter of authority from Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1422 Andrew and Michael appear in Basle and Bologna claiming to be on their way to Rome to see the Pope. Gypsy leaders appeared later in Paris and Amiens (1427), Douai, Rotterdam and Utrecht (1429), Fermo and Middleburg (1430), and many other places armed with a Papal letter of safe-conduct. These were almost certainly a forgery, of which one example survives.

Count Thomas

Was recorded at Amiens with a Papal safe-conduct in 1427, and probably at Tournai in 1429. He may be the "noble prince messire Thomas, comte de Gipte la Minor" who saught alms at Nevers in 1436, and Troyes in 1442. A Count Thomas also appeared at Millau in 1457 titled "Count of Little Egypt in Bohemia", with a safe conduct from the King, and variants of this title were used by leaders of around Avignon in 1465.

Count Philippe

Arrived at Nevers in 1451, and the name is also recorded at Grenoble.

John & George

Both obtained alms in Arles, as did an unnamed leader before them.

Count Jean-Baptiste Rolland of Little Egypt

Was given protective letters in 1528.

Antoine Moreul

A Captain of Little Egypt was taken under the protection of Francis I in 1554.

Count Palque

Was given similar protection by Henry II in 1553.

de la Grave

"Captains" David, Pierre and Jean de la Grave were recorded at various places in France in the early part of the seventeenth century.

The Low Countries

Count Anton

Was at Nijmegen around 1500.

Count Martin Gnougy and Count Wilhelm and Anthonius

Both claimed to come from Little Egypt and were favoured with safe conducts by the superstitious Charles, Duke of Guelders in 1496, 1506 and 1516. Count Martin claimed to have been ordered to undertake pilgrimages by the Pope.

Germany

Duke Panuel

Died in Lower Saxony in 1445.

Count Michell

Were both given safe conducts at Seefeld in 1442 and Bensberg in 1443.

Count Dederich

Was given safe conducts in 1448 and 1454.

Count Petrus

Dies near Bautna in 1453.

Count Antoni

Had a coat of arms for his tomb at Brotzingen in 1552.

Count Johann

Was buried at Pforzheim in 1498.

Count Bartholomeus of Little Egypt

Was given a safe conduct by the Count Palatine in 1472.

Duke Ernst & Count Ambrosius

Were imprisoned in Hohengeroldseck in 1483.

Count Nicolaus Caspar of Little Egypt

Was granted letters of protection in Saxony in 1488.

Spain

"Don Johan de Egipte Menor"and Count Tomas of Little Egypt

Were both granted passes by Alfonso V "The Magnanamous" of Spain in 1425. Count Tomas could still produce his in 1535 crossing the border at Somport Pass.

Counts Thomas & Martin

Were entertained at Castile in 1462 by the Chancellor. He also entertained Count Jacobo and his wife Loysa, and then Duke Paolo. They are all also recorded in Murcia.

Count Phelippo

Was granted a safe conduct by Ferdinand and Isabella in Castile.

Greece

Johannes Cinganus

Was restored to his positions as drungarius (commander) of a group of soldiers at Nauplion, Greece in 1444. It was then a colony of Venice.

Michael de Hugot

Was given a feifdom of the Gypsies on Curfu in 1470 by the Venetian Counsel. This included the right to feudal dues from Gyspies living on and visiting both Curfu and the mainland at Epirus.

Italy

Count Michele of Egypt

Was killed by another Gyspsy, Philippo, at Fermo in 1457.

Count Michael of Little Egypt and Count Johannes

Were granted safe-conduct at Carpi in the 1470s and 1485 respectively.

Count Martino of Little Egypt

Was given a similar favour by the Duke of Milan in 1480.

Scaramuccia

This "King of the Gypsies" is suggested as a possible model for "A Grotesque Head" of the sketches of human physiognomy by Leonardo da Vinci, dated to (c.1503-07). Giorgio Vasari reported that Leonardo had done a drawing of "the Gypsy Captain Scaramuccia" which Vasari possessed, but it is not known what happened to it.[19]

Romania

Iulian Rădulescu

Was crowned "emperor" of the Gypsies in 1993 which put him in conflict with Ioan Cioabă who claimed to be "king" of the Gypsies. They were reported to be related and came from the same town, Sibiu. Their claims to titles seem to have been prompted by the breakdown of the Democratic Union of the Roma, after which other Romani leaders set up separate organisations, with less grandiose titles. Radulescu went on hunger strike in 1995 in protest of the government labeling all Roma as "Ţigani" to avoid confusion between Romani people and Romanians. In 1997 he declared a symbolic Romani state "Cem Romengo" in the district of Tirgu-Jiu. According to 2002 population census, from the total of 104.596 people : 96,79% are Romanians (93.546 people), 3,01% Roma (Gypsies) (2.916 people) and 0,20% others. Cioabă was from the Kalderash clan, well known for metalwork.

Florin Cioabă

Acquired the title "King of Roma Everywhere" in 1997 from his father Ioan Cioabă who had claimed the title in 1992. Reports in 2003 that Cioabă, a Pentecostal Minister, had married off his own daughter at the age of 12 (or 14) caused uproar in the western media. The UN Economic and Social Council visited him in 1999 when preparing a report on Racism and Intolerance and described him as devoting himself to economic activity to support community projects, and exerting "moral authority" and having "some influence" as a councillor.[20][21][22]

Hungary

Esme Redzepova

Is a Macedonian Romani singer whose CDs include "Queen of the Gypsies" (2002)(Time Square Records CDU # 3630900). She appears in the film "Gypsy Caravan: When The Road Bends" (2007) (Director; Jasmine Dellal) which also includes a brief appearance by Johnny Depp.

Ladislaus

Was named as voivode of the Gypsies in a letter from Sigismund from 1423 giving him and his group safe conduct. It is possible that this person was a local who had adopted some protective role over the Gypsies, rather than being a leader from them.

Tamás Bolgár

Was named as voivode of "Pharaoh's People" in 1496. He seems to have lead a group of metalworkers, as he was supplying the Bishop of Pécs with cannon balls. He was almost certainly the same person granted privileges by the King of Poland and Lithuania in 1501, who also recognised the privileges of Wasili as leader of the "Cyhany"[23]

Lord Emaus of Egypt

Was recorded as the leader of the 120 Roma who arrived at Brassó, Kingdom of Hungary, (in german it called: Kronstadt, now Braşov, Romania) in 1516.

Poland

Although Roma were persecuted and banished in the sixteenth century the government changed policy in 1607. Between 1624 and 1652 the Polish government recognised Kings of the Gypsies to help collect taxes.

Matiasz Korolewicz

Was conferred the title "King of the Gypsies" by the Polish Royal Chancery in 1652, after the death of Janczy who had previously served as the head of the Roma. Later Kings of the Gypsies seem to have been appointed from the aristocracy.[24]

Michael Kwiek II

Succeeded his father Gregory Kwiek as "King of the Gypsies" in Poland 1930, and was also recognised as such by the Polish government. In 1934 as Nazis began to implement policies to sterilise Romanies he announced his aim to create a Romani homeland on the banks of the Ganges in India.

Janusz Kwiek

Was crowned as Janos I, King of the Gypsies, before thousands of people in 1937. He announced his intention to petition Mussolini for land for a Romani settlement between in East Africa.[25]

Bulgaria

Shibilis

The Gypsy King is associated with mythical powers of being able to part water with his sword, a spade, and his head, after it had been cut off, according to tales collected in 1981.[26]

United States of America

Tene Bimbo

Born March 15, 1882, in Newark, New Jersey, as George Tene (pronounced Teeny), he was known as Tene Bimbo. He was king of the Serbian American Tene-Bimbo band of gypsies, and was for many years based in Chicago, then New York City. He and his wife and queen, Mary (c. 1889-May 17, 1951), had 14 children, including Ephram "Carranza" Tene (1917-1980). King Tene Bimbo died October 22, 1969, in New York. He and Queen Mary are both buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Union, New Jersey.

Upon the death of King Tene Bimbo, his grandson, Steve Tene (born April 29, 1949), inherited the title, which caused more trouble between Steve and his father, Carranza. The story is told of in the 1975 book King of the Gypsies by Peter Maas. The 1978 movie, King of the Gypsies, is loosely based on the book.

Emil Mitchell

Was reportedly born about 1857 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and died in a tent at Albertville, Alabama in 1942. He was reported to have become an American Citizen and King of the Gypsies in 1884, "at a great color-drenched ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio". He had been based in Washington, D. C. but to have been acknowledged by families in Chicago, Cleveland. St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati and other large cities. Their origins included Hungarians, Syrians, Brazilian and natives of nearly every country in Southern Europe, some of who had arrived from South America. Emil's descendants at the time of his death included nine sons, five daughters and more than 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was reported that the burial ceremony included the sprinkling of fruit juice "so that the dead would have something to drink on the other side".(see Boswells)

Kelly Michell

Emil's first wife and Queen born about 1868, died in 1915 following premature childbirth, having borne 15 children. Her body was brought from Coatopa, Alabama, to Meridian, Mississippi, for burial. It was estimated that more than 20,000 people viewed her body and 5,000 attended the funeral, with members of the Mitchell family coming here from all parts of the United States and camping at Bonita. Reports also say that she was buried with personal belongings and placed in a steel vault, with a roof cement two to three feet thick with steel reinforcing bars, as was her husband.

Flora Mitchell

Sister of Emil, became Queen following her death. She died in Yazoo City in 1930, at the age of 70, and her body was also returned to Meridian for burial.

M. H. Frank

Who had lived in Meridian, was chosen as King after Emil's death.[27][28][29][30]

Johnny Nilkanov

A Russian American Gypsy. Is described by Joseph Mitchell as King of the Gypsies, in an essay in his collection Up in the Old Hotel (Vintage: Random. 1993. ISBN 0-679-74631-5). This describes his activities as a judge at Gypsy trials (kris) in the community of more than 200 Romanis living on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Further reading

  • Angus Fraser (1995) The Gypsies, 2nd ed., Oxford, ISBN 978-0-631-19605-6

References

  1. ^ Human Rights Brief - Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law - Washington College of Law
  2. ^ Maybole, Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks by James T. Gray, Alloway Publishing, Ayr. 1972.
  3. ^ The Countess and the Gypsy
  4. ^ Gypsy Folk Tales Index
  5. ^ "Undiscovered Scotland". http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/yetholm/yetholm/index.html. 
  6. ^ "Discover the borders". http://www.discovertheborders.co.uk/places/212.html. 
  7. ^ "Scottish Gypsies". http://www.scottishgypsies.co.uk/. 
  8. ^ ‘’Journal Gypsy Lore Soc.’’ 3rd ser.ii 370-1 quoted in ‘’English Genealogy’’ A. R. Wagner
  9. ^ Smuggling on Solway Firth and Galloway coasts, Scotland
  10. ^ "BBC". http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/beyond/factsheets/makhist/makhist10_prog7c.shtml. 
  11. ^ Portail d'informations Ce site est en vente!
  12. ^ Romany Routes Volume 6 No 6 March 2004
  13. ^ Latest News and Features: Bizarre Doncaster: Ghosts and Hauntings, on Donny Online
  14. ^ Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald Gypsies of Britain, The Country Book Club, 1951, quoting Edward Miller History and Antiquities of Doncaster
  15. ^ John Wainwright, History and Antiquities of Doncaster and Consborough, Sheffield, Basil Blackwell., 1829
  16. ^ Rutland & Stamford Mercury 15 October 1824 p3 column 1
  17. ^ Collections - Lincolnshire County Council
  18. ^ Wales on Britannia: Facts About Wales & the Welsh
  19. ^ Christ Church Website - Drawings
  20. ^ http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/mar/chronology.asp?groupId=36003
  21. ^ Development in Action (Formerly Student Action India) - Development education NGO run by young people for young people
  22. ^ Twenty-first-Century Underground World
  23. ^ http://www.amarodrom.hu/archivum/99/10/0.html
  24. ^ Resurse Patrin
  25. ^ layout
  26. ^ Kolev, Deyan; Teodora Krumova (January 14, 2002). "ROMA IN BULGARIA AND THEIR FOLKLORE". Protecting and Popularizing Roma Culture in Central Bulgaria. http://romaculture.cult.bg/DOCLAD.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  27. ^ Meridian Dispatch 7th February1915
  28. ^ Meridian Star 5 August 1960
  29. ^ Emil Mitchel Family
  30. ^ Free Moors and "Turks" in South Carolina







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