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Wednesday
Oct102012

Book 2: Boswell, Tabitha (c1704 – 1784) and others. PASSING STRANGERS

Boswell, Tabitha (c1704 – 1784) and others. PASSING STRANGERS

In the high space in the Ringstead church tower where the bellringers stand, a cluster of plaques line the walls. The church nave is almost empty of memorials but here they are, behind a curtain, among the dust and the cobwebs. Most of the plaques are to local churchmen and notables. High in one corner, partly hidden by the vertical ladder to the belfry is a rough-edged rectangle of blue-veined marble. It is impossible to read completely without chancing the climb up the ladder but by enlarging a digital photograph and comparing it with the original hymn lyric by Isaac Watts and the Northamptonshire Family History Society transcription we can see what is written there:

In Memory of

TABITHA BOSWELL

who died

Janry  5th 1784.

Aged 80 Years.

“Death like an overflowing stream,

Sweeps us away. Our life’s a dream,

An empty tale: a Morning flow’r

Cut down and withered in an hour.”

 

 Tabitha Boswell’s memorial plaque is in the corner partly hidden by the ladder

Author’s photograph 15th October 2012

The words of Isaac Watts were more commonly seen and heard in the Nonconformist chapels than an Anglican church but there is a more unusual fact about this memorial that we discover when we look in the Parish Burial Register. There we see:

Tabitha Boswell an old gypsie January 10th 1784

The previous entry, for December 28th 1783 is for’ Esther Boswell, a young Gypsie’. A little later the Registers also record the burial of "Sara Nichols, gypsey,  reputed wife  of J. a Chelsea Pensioner". There is also, on the 26th March 1801, the burial of Mary Bosworth, alias Bozeat, widow who is almost certainly a gypsy.

The gypsies were a regular part of the English roads and byways until after the middle of the Twentieth Century. Their caravans or ‘vardos’, still mainly horse-drawn would be seen along the lanes of Northamptonshire or parked in a lay-by, the washing hung out to dry on the bushes nearby. Hidden away in the quiet corners of the countryside.

The origins of this mysterious race were widely discussed in the early nineteenth century. It had been once thought that these travelling people were from Egypt and this resulted in their name which is a corruption of ‘Egyptians’. By the nineteenth century, the modern view was emerging that the race had started out from north-west India, now Pakistan, possibly driven further west by Tamburlaine in about 1400 although it may be that these tribes had had a semi-nomadic existence for thousands of years.

They spread westward through Europe and the original Hindi dialect gained words from the countries in which they settled and passed through so that a distinct Romani language emerged. They also intermarried with the local peoples and coined new words. Writing in 1838, William Howitt states:

The names by which they have been, or are, known in different countries are various. They call themselves Romi, Manusch and Gadzi, each of these appellatives being connected to a different language – the Copt, the Sanscrit and the Celtic. . . .But the most ancient and generic name is that of the Sinte, or inhabitants of the Sinde or Indus.

As they moved into Western Europe they were treated as exotic celebrities at first but then were often persecuted and driven out. Howitt tells us of this experience in Britain:

At first they were received as princes and kings and excited commiseration by the tale of their injuries. They had royal and parliamentary passes granted them, to go through the country seeking relief, as many of the parish records yet bear testimony. So late as 1647 there appears an entry in the constable’s accounts at Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, of four shillings being given to forty-six Egyptians travelling with a pass from parliament to seek relief by the space of four months. But when this delusion was past, and it was seen that they had no intention of quitting the country they became persecuted by justices of the peace and parish constables as thieves and vagrants; and the rapid enclosure of waste lands during the war tended greatly to break up their haunts and put them in great straits.

We have seen in other life stories that during the nineteenth century England changed with new roads, railways, police forces and communications. Perhaps most important was the move from the commons and open places which were enclosed and fenced.  They had developed circuits to find produce, work and trade throughout the year but now many of the places where they camped or gathered food were denied them and they came into conflict with farmers and the new constabulary. It must be remembered that in 1530 Parliament had passed a law which declared that being a gypsy or associating with a Gypsy was punishable by death and many were hanged and others deported. Although it largely fell into disuse, that law was only repealed in 1783, less than a year before the death of Tabitha Boswell.

In the story of the police constables we saw that some wandered the parish in plain clothes in order to discover and move on ‘vagrants’. Certainly there was strong opposition from many people to the gypsies. One writer, writing in the Stamford Mercury on 30th August 1822 stated bitterly:

 I believe the generality of Gipsies to be ignorant and hardened and wicked enough for any crime. Having been brought up on a spot much frequented by them, I know something of their character and manner of living. In the first place, they neither fear God, nor regard man; therefore it is no wonder that they should, as I verily believe they do, snare more hares, rabbits and pheasants; steal more sheep and lambs; rob more hen roosts and orchards; and finally steal more hay than all the villagers in the country besides; to say nothing about burglaries and highway robberies.

John Hoyland however, writing in 1816, asserts that true gypsies preferred meat which had not been killed by the hand of man, perhaps a relic of their Hindu past, so would eat carrion and animals which had been killed by natural causes. This may be why John Clare is his poem, ‘The Gypsy Camp’ describes that:

                There stinking mutton roasts upon the coals,

Hoyland was told that farmers in Northamptonshire found gypsies did not commit any ‘depredations on their property, unless it was in pilfering wood from the fences’.

With their knowledge of herbs it is possibly true that they did hurry some animals to their deaths but their reputation for being thieves and vagabonds was probably exaggerated. It was an easy option to lay the blame on them but, like most stereotypes, it had a grain of truth in it. They had to use their wits to survive and the patter and ruses needed to part people from their money sometimes led to deceit and theft.

The Gypsy Palmist

Late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. Place unknown.

With the kind permission of The Skeptiseum (www.skeptiseum.org)

The gypsy women had long made money by telling fortunes on doorsteps and in fairground booths. They were making use of their differentness. Writing in the middle of the Twentieth Century, Brian Vesey Fitzgerald tells of one such trick: 

Hokano baro is practised all over the world, with modifications to suit the country, and has been described by almost every writer on Gypsies. In its standardized form it consists of three parts. Firstly getting into the house of the dupe, or, if that is not essential into his or her confidence (this is generally achieved by fortune-telling, but it may be done by means of offering cheap goods for sale or even by plain begging.) Second the removal of the property. Thirdly, the binding of the victim by oath, not to say anything about it, for three or four weeks. 

I have not found an example of this in Ringstead but in researching the early life of John Thomas Collett, the wayward Baptist pastor, who was born in Guyhirn, near Wisbech, I found the following article from the Cambridge Chronicle quoted in the Northampton Mercury of 20th January 1849:

GUYHIRN, - EXTRAORDINARY CREDULITY. – Soon after Michaelmas last a gipsy woman called upon the wife of a labouring man, residing near Guyhirn, and offered upon receiving certain considerations, to impart a grand secret, and to disclose a certain spot near her house where numerous bags of gold were deposited. The poor woman’s curiosity was excited; and anxious to get possession of the hidden wealth, she complied with the required conditions, and accordingly placed in the hands of the gipsy first a shilling, then a sovereign, and some article of wearing apparel, and even her wedding ring; but these were not considered sufficient, and a pawnbroker’s ticket for a watch, which had been pledged nearly twelve months since, was offered; but she was informed that the spell could not be accomplished until the dupe had borrowed 27s. upon the ticket. She obtained the money of a neighbouring shopkeeper, promising at the same time that he would receive, in a few days, double the amount of the loan; this money was also handed over to the gipsy, who after many signs and gibberish expressions called for two forks, one of which was stuck in the floor in the corner of the house and the other on the outside of the house; and after carefully covering them with a shawl, departed leaving strict injunctions that no one should touch them until her return, otherwise the charm would be broken. In this state matters remained for nearly three months, the credulous woman having been in daily expectation of again meeting the gipsy, but alas! In vain; and this week her husband sent her to the sergeant of police at Elm, to whom she told the above tale, and requested that he would adopt some means by which they might be enabled to recover the property so foolishly parted with. 

Most families or groups of gypsies would have regular circuits which they travelled following the work, the sources of food and the seasons.  The winter could be a bad time for gipsies and it may be no coincidence that Tabitha and Esther died in late December and early January. An abnormally hot summer in 1784 was followed by a severe winter with heavy snow and almost continual frost from late December to late February 1784. Any burial would also have been very difficult in the open fields. Many Gypsies would overwinter in urban areas, gathering together in larger groups. It must be remembered that for much of the nineteenth century the gypsies did not travel in the richly painted vardos but in tents and often with little protection from the elements.

These ‘rod’ or ‘bender’ tents made of wooden rods pushed into holes in the ground were held together at the top and covered with some sort of material. Stones were placed around the bottom to stop the wind getting under the covering and sometimes a hole made at the top to let out the smoke from the cooking fire. In really bad weather it could be a miserable, life-threatening existence. In 1816 John Hoyland published A historical survey of the customs, habits, & present state of the Gypsies: designed to develope the origin of this singular people, and to promote the amelioration of their condition. Some of his research was in Northamptonshire and he tells of one visit to a Gypsy camp:

. . . the author visited an encampment of Gypsies. It consisted of five tents, situated near Rushden, within two miles of the pleasant town of Higham Ferrers. He did not reconnoitre the camp till about mid-day, having been informed that by this time it was probable, the able-bodied persons of both sexes would be drawn off to a feast and a fair in different situations, not very distant. It proved so; there were only two women, three children, and an infant remaining in the tents which were the residences of several branches of the numerous families of Smith and Loversedge, names well known in the county of Northampton.

The head of the former, has been for many years a dealer in asses or donkies; and is reputed to be possessed of some property. His wife, more than eighty years of age was seated at the entrance of one of the tents, weaving a cabbage net. The other woman, who was middle-aged, was nursing an infant; and the eldest of the children, about twelve years of age, was making preparation for washing; a pan was suspended from three poles, under which she had kindled a fire to boil water. The very tattered and squalid appearance of this poor girl was truly affecting.

On conversing with the old woman, she said she had forty grand-children; some gone to the feast, others to the fair; and she signified that both men and women were musical performers.

. . .  she said they endured great hardship in winter having no shelter but their tents in the worst of the weather.

Hoyland then recounts:

The last winter but one, a company of these houseless wanderers were dug out of the snow in Ditchford Lane near Irchester, Northamptonshire, when it appeared one woman had been lying-in and that one old man was dying.

There was a tradition of music making among the gypsies both as a way of enjoying themselves but also as a way of making money on their travels. John Clare. in his younger 'tramping' days was a keen song collector and fiddle player. He learnt to play the fiddle from John Grey who was a member of the "Boswell crew" and, when he had become a "decent scraper", played, danced and drank with the "Smiths gang". Mr John Hales, who for 55 years was the sexton of Castor, some twenty miles to the north-east of Ringstead, told of the Castor Feast in the 1840s.

Gipsies used to come with their fiddles and tambourines and provide the music for all the villages of the district. If the feasts were not on they would occasionally play in the streets like a German band. As many as sixty would appear at Castor Feast. They encamped on the heath.

This tradition has continued into the present day with singers like Wiggy Smith, in the Gloucester area, recording a repetoire of traditional songs mixed with Country and Western and pop songs from the past. I seems likely that this would have been the pattern in the nineteenth century with a mixture of ballads and sentimental songs.

Howitt, writing in 1838, describes meeting up with a gang of gypsies. He tells how the men keep to themselves but that the women greet you, hoping to ‘lay hold of your money under pretence of telling your fortune’. He then goes on to describe the look and dress of these young women:

The women, many of them, in their youth, are fine strapping figures, with handsome brown faces and most brilliant and speaking eyes – they have a peculiar poco-curante* air and jaunty gait, and are extremely fond of finery. Their costume is unique, and pretty uniform, - scarlet cloaks, black velvet bonnets with large white pukes trimmed with lace; a handkerchief thrown over the head under the bonnet, and tied beneath the chin; long pendant earrings, black stockings, and ankle boots. So far from shunning any intercourse or inquiries, they approach you with a ready smile and a style of flattery peculiar to them. “A good-day to you, sir; your honour is born to fortune. I see that by the cast of your countenance. It was a right lucky planet that shone on your honour’s birth!” If you know anything of their language, and they are only too glad to talk to you in it. Accost a gipsy with “Shaushan Palla?” “how do you, brother?” – and you will see the effect.

*Nonchalant.

 

From Beauties of the English Landscape. By Birket Foster (1874)

Author’s own copy

As we have said, the gypsies had their usual annual circuits and there are a few pieces of evidence to show that Ringstead was part of at least one of these rounds. We have already told of the trial of William Weekley Ball for the alleged murder of Lydia Attley in 1850. When, in March 1864 further bodies were unearthed at the same spot where Lydia’s supposed body had earlier been found, the Northampton Mercury reported: 

The truth, in fact, has oozed out that Ringstead open-field was greatly frequented by gypsies, who ordinarily buried their dead there. The practice was carried on to such an extent that fifty years ago legal steps were taken to check it. . .

I have not found these ‘legal steps’ but could it be that these attempts to stop the burying in the open fields had led to the burial of Tabitha and Esher in the churchyard? The Mercury goes on to tell of another traveller who passed that way in 1864. 

. . . There was always a track way across the field from Denford to Keystone – though almost impassable in bad weather up to a very recent period. At the point where Lydia Atley was supposed to have been buried it takes the form of a letter S reversed. Nearly opposite the spot is a large tree, beneath which a gipsy family are not unlikely to have pitched their tent and which may have served them as a land-mark to their last resting place. About a fortnight ago a somewhat strange accident occurred there. A wandering tinker travelling homeward to Oundle having made himself over comfortable with Thrapstone ale, missed his way and found himself in the Denford and Keystone lane. The night was intensely dark, and all things considered it is scarcely surprising that he should not have been able to follow the sinuousities of the lane. In point of fact he tumbled into the grave from which the skeleton had been recently taken, and there he slept the night through.

We see that the area had been a routeway for travelling peoples of all types and it is important to stress that the English Gypsies were just one group who travelled the countryside. The Irish Tinkers, for example, although possibly connected to the Gypsies, and often intermarried with them, were a distinct race with their own language called Shelta. Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald makes clear:               

They follow the same way of life; are smiths, horse-dealers, fortune tellers; have many of their [Gypsy] customs. They are not just Irishmen who have taken to the road. They are a race.

An editorial on gypsies in the Western Gazette on 16th January 1891 gives a partial list of some of the itinerants:               

The people who roam over the country during the summer as proprietors of travelling shows, horse dealers, tinkers, Cheap Jacks, pottery dealers, sellers of skewers and hawkers of baskets, fortune  sellers, and keepers of cock-shies at fairs and races.

The one trade not mentioned here is the selling of clothes pegs, which, although a gypsy stereotype, continued into the second half of the Twentieth Century. Originally the pegs would have been made from split peeled willow bound with hazel bark. By the end of the century, instead of the hazel they used old biscuit tins, the paper labels burnt off, flattened and polished with moss and earth and then cut into thin strips and wrapped round the top of the peg and secured with a single small nail. They were most commonly made by the men, or sometimes the whole family, and it was the women who did the selling, some door-to-door, but mainly to the shops. Some Gypsies also made and sold willow baskets. Did they get the willow and hazel from along the Nene? Was that why Tabitha and Esther were in Ringstead that winter in 1783/4? 

Other wanderers would have included young labourers and others ‘on the tramp’ looking for work, higglers and other travelling sellers, vagabonds and tramps. There was a tendency to lump them all together as Gypsies which is why, for a time the term ‘Gypsy’ was seen as a term of abuse.

I have not found a Romani name for Ringstead but Northampton was called Choko-mengreskey gav (Shoemakers’ Town). Hidden in the censuses we do see evidence of Ringstead as being in these circuits. One travelling family, the Hernes (or Hurns or Hearns) appear in the Censuses in Gloucestershire and Staffordshire but we see from the birth places of the children that they had been in Northamptonshire. We find the family together with the Smiths and sometimes Boswells on Rodborough Common, near Stroud in Gloucestershire in 1861, at Newent in the same county ten years later and at Bloxwich, Walsall in 1881. The names and the places of birth do vary and there are some mistakes, perhaps due to the Census collector but we do see a sort of pattern emerging. The 1871 Census gives the greatest details and it shows:

                Edmund Herne  50           H             Easton Northants (possibly Easton-on-the-Hill near Stamford

                Jemima Herne   55           W            Staughton, Leics.(Little Storton [Staughton], Beds 1881)

                Alice Smith          35           stepd     Thurning, Northants

                Zippereta Herne   21           son         Ringstead, Northants

                Treinte Herne     18           dau        Peterborough, Lincs.

                Urania Herne     16           dau        Market Deeping, Lincs.

                Manfield Herne 12           son         Welford, Northants

                Madonna Smith 16           ?              Lutton, Northants

                Caleb Herne        23           son         Leighton, Hunts (probably Leighton Bromswold)

There is some confusion here for when we look in the Ringstead Parish Registers we find that Edward and Jemima Hearne had a daughter baptised Zepporah Hearne on 15th September 1850 (and a Matilda baptised a week later). When we look in the 1861 Census we find the family on Rodborough Common near Stroud and Zepreta, aged ten years is a daughter. By 1881 the 30 year old daughter born in Ringstead is called Cudnet (or similar). Whether these differences are due to the Census Collector's trouble with the Hearne's accent or their deliberate misleading of him is impossible to tell, although much of the information given seems to be correct. She (or he) disappears from the 1891 and 1901 Censuses although it is possibler that she is the May Ann  Hearn at Carmarthen Lunatic Asylum in 1901. It is certainly a possibility that she is the Sippert Hearn a single woman aged 61 and born in Kingsthorpe, Northamptonshire who is in Glamorgan County Asylum in Bridgend in the 1911 Census. We know that some of her siblings moved west into the Glamorgan area and there is enough phonetic similarity in the names and birthplace to make it a possibility.

In the 1881 Census, wheni they are in Bloxwich, John Hurn (who is probably Edmund Herne), Jemima and family are in a tent  as are four of the five families on the site but Samuel Hurn  and his wife are in a ‘Gipsy Waggon’. It is only at about this time that the vardo or wagon began to take over from the bender tent and this change would have put certain areas out of easy reach and made them more visible on the fenced roadsides. We see that the Herne family had wandered the lanes of Northamptonshire and the adjoining counties but had then moved west for some reason. Was it that the more pastoral counties provided better conditions with the increasing move to arable fields in the east?

Certainly we see evidence of them being harried in the Ringstead area. The Northampton Mercury for 11th February 1860 reports: 

Vagrancy. – Tito Smith and Cornelius Smith, gypsies, were charged by William Hebber, sergeant of police, with camping on the public highway, in the parish of Raunds. It appeared that the defendants, with 14 or 15 females and children, were encamped in the road leading from Higham Station to Ringstead, but it being shown that they did so under the impression that they could with the permission of the owner of the adjoining lane (Mr. Harrison), who admitted that he had given it, the magistrates discharged them on payment of 5s.6d. costs, at the same time warning them that no proprietor had a right to give such permission, and that if they offended again they would be severely punished.

Towards the end of the century ‘George Smith of Coalville’ and others began to propose ways to ameliorate the gypsies’ lot, concentrating particularly on the children. In May 1887 he wrote to the Northampton Mercury, proclaiming:

It is time the hand of civilisation opened a crevice into the – with some noble exceptions – many thousands of dark abodes that are being moved to and fro before our eyes to let a ray of light upon the tent and van dwellers and their children to guide them Heavenward. 

Some five years later, on November 12th 1892, he wrote to the Northampton Mercury telling of his Movable Dwellings Bill. He deplored the attitude of the van dwellers who had met at Rotherham and opposed his Bill:

They are to be pitied in their attempts to prevent the nineteenth century civilisation and heavenly light from entering the gipsy and van children’s hearts, heads and homes. I say again for the thousandth time that the sole object of the Movable Dwellings Bill are (1) to open the school doors to all gypsy and van children of every class, kith, kin and colour by a free pass-book on simple, easy workable lines; (2) to give the sanitary and educational officers similar power over van and tent-dwellers, and their abodes to that they now have over house-dwellers, and their homes and no more – less I cannot accept; and (3) by the registration of their vans in a manner analogous to the Canal Boats Act I promoted of 1874 and 1884 – at a cost of 5s. every three years.

This paternalistic interference was strongly objected to by many gypsies who believed that his description of gypsies might apply to other travelling folk with whom he was confusing them. Shooba Eskroe Rye wrote to the Morning Post in October 1882: 

The general impression given by his speeches is that he does not know a gipsy when he sees one. Any travelling tinker, or seller of brushes or wandering tramp seems to pass with him as a gipsy and to form a subject for a screed of abuse. 

In the Western Gazette on 16th January 1891 another, George Smith, who was ‘King of the Gypsies’, answered the ‘George Smith of Coalville’ and ‘his attack on our liberties’.  He states:

I personally know all the gypsies and showmen of England and I am bold to assert that, in health and morality, their lives will bear favourable comparison with either that of ‘GEORGE SMITH of Coalville’ himself or those of his slum-dwellers. Many members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons have been in my tent and those of other Gypsies and can speak to their cleanliness. 

The editorial comment on this letter goes on to comment favourably on the improved behaviour of many of the travellers. It still asserts, however, that the children should be allowed the advantages of an elementary education.

 

Photograph of Gypsy ‘Vardo’ or Wagon in Ditchford Lane. By Vic Childs (mid 20th Century).

With the kind permission of the Eric Fowells Collection

A case at Wellingborough Divisional Petty Sessions in November 1903 gives some idea of the attitude of the authorities and charities to the Gypsies:

Luke Parker, Margaret Parker, and Lemio Parker, gipsies, were charged with exposing and neglecting their children at Great Harrowden. – Mr. James Jackson prosecuted on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C.C... – The case against the last-named defendant was first taken. It was stated and supported in evidence by Inspector Rushton of Northampton, that the defendant, with his wife and two children, who were travelling about the country, were in the neighbourhood of Hardwick on Friday last, when a babe was born and the family pitched a camp in Green-lane Harrowden. Their only shelter was some rough sacking over some hedge stakes, the whole enclosure being about four feet square. There on some loose hay, the mother and newly-born child had to lie, and the whole surroundings were as damp and miserable as could be imagined. The other two children were in a shockingly dirty and neglected state, and the whole family appeared numbed with cold, the weather being very bad. There was only a little bread and condensed milk in the way of food to be found. The family remained in that place till Sunday when Inspector Rushton had the mother and child removed to the Workhouse. – The Bench in sentencing the accused to six months’ hard labour, said that on a previous occasion his wife had a child born on a common, the child being found dead. At that time he was told that if such a thing occurred again he would be severely dealt with. The Bench regarded the case as very serious. – The evidence against the other defendants was much similar. In this case the defendants had a nine months old child and another four years old. They were all in a separate enclosure but the conditions were the same. – The male defendant was sent to gaol for two months with hard labour, and the female was discharged. 

It seems evident that something needed to be done but one can only wonder, if it had happened some six weeks later, if the bitter irony of the situation would have been recognized by the court. 

The history of the gypsies and other travelling people is complex. What we see in the nineteenth century is the same ambivalent attitude that we have today. Alongside the persecution we see in the village halls and churches  and fields the children singing a ‘Gypsy Roundel’(Ringstead), or a brass band playing the ‘Gipsy Bride’, of the Wesleyan Chapel having a meat teas ‘served on the grass, 'gipsy fashion’ (Higham Ferrers). William Howitt writing in 1838 had been accosted by young upper-class women pretending to be gypsies as a ‘frolic’.

Ringstead would have likewise been split between those who were glad to see the back of the gypsies' begging, and petty thieving and others would have seen them as a romantic reminder of the times when men and women were free to roam the countryside. I have often wondered if the Book of Genesis recalls a folk memory of the change from hunter gatherers to settled farmers and Eden was that lost world before Eve discovered the knowledge of seed-sowing and people were tied to the drudgery of survival. Writing in 1838, William Howitt summed up this dual standard:

The picture of the Rural Life of England must be woefully defective which should omit those singular and most picturesque squatters on heaths and in lanes, the Gipsies. They make part and parcel of the landscape scenery of England. They are an essential portion of our poetry and literature. They are moulded into our memories and all our associations of the country but the surprise of our first seeing them, by the stories of their cunning, their petty larcenies, their fortune telling and by the writings of almost all our best poets and essayists.

John Clare called them, ‘A quiet, pilfering, unprotected race’.

Many of the old ways have now disappeared but the difficult moral problems we gorgios still have to confront in our dealings with the travelling folk still remain.

 

References

Ringstead Parish Registers (Northampton Record Office and www.ringsteadheritage.com).

Censuses (www.ancestry.co.uk).

Gypsies of Britain. Brian Vesy-Fitzgerald (Country Book Club 1951).

Memorial Inscriptions at the The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Shared Church Ringstead (Northamptonshire Family History Society 2005) Northampton Mercury; various: Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 26 July 1816; Western Gazette 16th January 1891:(www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

The Rural Life of England. Volume 1.William Howitt (Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans 1838).

Gipsy Ancestry? Alastair Campbell. (Family Tree Magazine July 1989).

A historical survey of the customs, habits, & present state of the Gypsies; designed to develope the origin of this singular people and to promote the amelioration of their condition. (John Hoyland. 1816). (www.googlebooks.com).

John Clare's Autobiographical Writings. Ed. Eric Robinson. (O. U. P. 1983)

1783/4 Weather (http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1750_1799.htm).

Beauties of the English Landscape. Birket Foster (George Routledge & Sons 1874).

Gypsy Names of Counties and Towns on www.globusz.com.

My thanks also to Kay Collins and the Rushdenheritage website for help with the Gypsy wagon photograph.