Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

John Faw of Dunbar, her former lov- been the disguised knight, but we er, seizing the opportunity of the earl's know for certain, that the present absence on a foreign embassy, disguis- gypsey family of Faa in Yetholm have ed himself and a number of his retain- been long accustomed to boast of their ers as gypsies, and

carried off the lady, descent from the same stock with a very nothing loth.' The earl having re- respectable family of the name of Faw, turned opportunely at the time of the or Fall, in East Lothian, which we commission of the act, and nowise in- believe is now extinct. clined to participate in his consort's The transformation of Johnnie Faa ideas on the subject, collected his vas- into a knight and gentleman, is not the sals, and pursued the lady and her par- only occasion on which the disguise of amour to the borders of England; a gypsey is supposed to have been aswhere, having overtaken them, a bat- sumed for the purpose of intrigue. tle ensued, in which Faw and his The old song of Clout the Caudron' is followers were all killed, or taken founded upon such a metamorphosis, prisoners, excepting one,

as may be seen from the words in the meanest of them all,

Allan Ramsay's Tea-table Miscellany; Who lives to weep, and sing their fall. but an older copy preserves the name It is by this survivor that the ballad

of the disguised lover :

“ Yestreen I was a gentleman, is supposed to have been written.

This night I am a tinkler ; The earl, on bringing back the fair

Gae tell the lady o' this house, fugitive, banished her a mensa et thoro, Come down to Sir John Sinclair.” and, it is said, confined her for life in

Notwithstanding the severe laws fré. a tower at the village of Maybole, in Ayrshire, built for the purpose ; and lature against this vagrant race, and,

quently enacted by the Scottish legisthat nothing might remain about this tower unappropriated to its original forced, they still continued grievously

as we have seen, often rigorously endestination, eight heads carved in

to molest the country about the end of stone, below one of the turrets, are said to be the effigies of so many

the seventeenth and beginning of the

of the gypsies. The lady herself, as well the whole mountainous districts of

eighteenth century. They traversed as the survivor of Faw's followers, contributed to perpetuate the remem- Selkirkshire, and Tweeddale, and com

the south, particularly Roxburghshire, brance of the transaction ; for if he mitted great and daring depredations. wrote a song about it, she wrought it A gang of them once broke into the in tapestry; and this piece of work,

House of Pennycuick, while thegreater manship is still preserved at Culzean Castle. It remains to be mentioned,

part of the family were at church. Sir that the ford, by which the lady and cadoed himself in his own apartment,

John Clerke, the proprietor, barriher lover crossed the river Doon from

where he sustained a sort of siege a wood near Cassilis House, is still de- firing from the windows upon the nominated the Gypsie steps.

robbers, who fired in return. By Mr Finlay is of opinion that there

an odd accident, one of them, while are no good grounds for identifying they strayed through the house in the hero of this adventure with Johnnie Faa, who was king or captain of ticles, began to ascend the stair of a

quest of plate and other portable arthe gypsies about the year 1590, and

very narrow turret. When he had he supposes that the whole story may have been the invention of some feud got to some height, his foot slipt; and

to save himself, in falling, the gypal or political rival, to injure the character, and hurt the feelings of an op- ominous means of assistance-a rope,

sey caught hold of what was rather an ponent. As Mr F. however, has not namely, which hung conveniently for brought forward any authority to sup- the purpose. It proved to be the bellport this opinion, we are inclined still to adhere to the popular tradition, which, rope, and the fellow's weight, in fallon the present occasion, is very uniform startled the congregation who were as

ing, set the alarm-bell a-ringing, and and consistent. We do not know sembled in the parish church. They any thing about the Sir John Faw of instantly came to rescue the laird, and Dunbar, whom he supposes to have

succeeded, it is said, in apprehending

some of the gypsies, who were execut* Finlay's Scottish Ballads, vol. i. p. 39. ed. There is a written account of this daring assault kept in the records left only one female to look after the of the family. 5

house. She was presently alarmed by Tweeddale was very much infested the noise of shouts, oaths, blows, and by these banditti, as appears from Dr all the tumult of a gypsey battle. It Pennycuick's history of that county, seems another clan had arrived, and who mentions the numerous execu. the earlier settlers instantly gave them tions to which their depredations gave battle. The poor woman shut the occasion. He also gives the following door, and remained in the house in account of a bloody skirmish which great apprehension, until the door bewas fought between two clans of gyp- ing suddenly forced open, one of the sies near his own house of Romanno. combatants rushed into the apartment, “ Upon the 1st of October 1677, there and she perceived with horror that his happened at Romanno, in the very spot left hand had been struck off. Withwhere now the dovecoat is built, a out speaking to or looking at her, he memorable polymachy betwixt two thrust the bloody stump, with desperclanns of gipsies, the Fawes and ate resolution, against the glowing bars Shawes, who had come from Hadding- of the grate ; and having staunched toun fair, and were going to Harestains the blood by actual cautery, seized a to meet with two other clanns of those knife, used for killing sheep, which rogues, the Baillies and Browns, with lay on the shelf, and rushed out again a resolution to fight them; they fell to join the combat.-All was over ben out at Romanno amongst themselves, fore the family returned from church, about divideing the spoyl they had got and both gangs had decamped, carryat Haddingtoun, and fought it man- ing probably their dead and wounded fully; of the Fawes were four brethren along with them : for the place where and a brother's son; of the Shawes, they fought was absolutely soaked with the father with three sons, with seve- blood, and exhibited, among other reral women on both sides : Old Sandie liques of the fray, the amputated hand Faw, a bold and proper fellow, with of the wretch whose desperate conduct his wife, then with child, were both the maid-servant had witnessed. kill'd dead upon the place, and his The village of Denholm upon Te. brother George very dangerously viot was, in former times, partly occuwounded. February 1678, old Robin pied by gypsies. The late Dr John Shaw the gipsie, with his three sons, Leyden, who was a native of that parwere hang'd at the Grass-mercat for ish, used to mention à skirmish which the above-mentioned murder commit- he had witnessed there between two ted at Romanno, and John Faw was clans, where the more desperate chamhang'd the Wednesday following for pions fought with clubs, having haranother murder. Sir Archibald Prim- row teeth driven transversely through rose was justice-general at the time, the end of them. and Sir George M‘Kenzie king's ad- About ten years ago, one John vocat.

."* Dr Pennycuick built a dove Young, tinker chief, punished with cote upon the spot where this affray instant death a brother tinker of infetook place, which he adorned with the rior consequence who intruded on his following inscription:

walk. This happened in Aberdeenshire, “ A. D. 1683.

and was remarked at the time chiefly The field of Gipsie blood which here you see,

from the strength and agility with A shelter for the harmless Dove shall be."

which Young, constantly and closely

pursued, and frequently in view, mainSuch skirmishes among the gypsies tained a flight of nearly thirty miles. are still common, and were former. As he was chased by the Highlanders ly still more so. There was a story

on foot, and by the late General Gordon current in Teviotdale,--but we can

of Cairnfield and others on horseback, not give place and date,—that a gang the affair much resembled a fox chase. of them came to a solitary farm- The pursuers were most of them gamehouse, and, as is usual, took possession keepers ; and that active race of men of some waste out-house. The family

were so much exhausted, that they went to church on Sunday, and ex- were lying by the springs lapping'wapecting no harm from their visitors, ter with their tongues like dogs. It

is scarce necessary to add, that the • Pennycuick's Description of Tweed. laws of the country were executed on dale, Edit. Edin. 1715, p. 14.

Young without regard to the consid

[ocr errors]

eration that he was only enforcing the fian pulled him out by the hair, draggypsey subordination.

ged him into the middle of the floor, The crimes that were committed and ran him through the body with among this hapless race were often his dirk. The piper never asked for atrocious. Incest and murder were mercy, but cursed the other as long frequent among them. In our recol. as he had breath. The girl was struck lection, an individual was tried for a motionless with horror, but the murtheft of considerable magnitude, and derer told her never to heed or regard acquitted, owing to the absence of one it, for no ill should happen to her. It witness, a girl belonging to the gang, was this woman's daughter, Isabel who had spoken freely out at the pre- Scott, who told me the story, which cognition. This young woman was she had often heard related with all afterwards found in a well near Corn- the minute particulars. If she had hill, with her head downwards, and been still alive, I think she would have there was little doubt that she had been bordering upon ninety years of been murdered by her companions. age ;-her mother, when this happen

We extract the following anecdotes ed, was a young unmarried womanfrom an interesting communication on fit, it seems to be a kitchen-maid in a this subject, with which we have been farm-house,

,--so that this must have favoured by Mr Hogg, author of "The taken place about 100 years ago.By Queen's Wake.'-' It was in the the time the breath was well out of month of May that a gang of gypsies the unfortunate musician, some more came up Ettrick ;-one party of them of the gang arrived, bringing with lodged at a farm-house called Scob- them a horse, on which they carried Cleugh, and the rest went forward to back the body, and buried it on the Cossarhill

, another farm about a mile spot where they first quarrelled. His farther on. Among the latter was one grave is marked by one stone at the who played on the pipes and violin, head, and another at the foot, which delighting all that heard him; and the the gypsies themselves placed ; and it gang, principally on his account; were is still looked upon by the rustics, as a very civilly treated. Next day the dangerous place for a walking ghost to two parties again joined, and proceed- this day. There was no cognizance ed westward in a body. There were taken of the affair, that any of the old about thirty souls in all, and they had people ever heard of-but God forbid five horses. On a sloping grassy spot, that every amorous minstrel should be which I know very well, on the farm so sharply taken to task in these days ! of Brockhoprig, they halted to rest. “ There is a similar story, of later Here the hapless musician quarrelled date, of a murder committed at Lowwith another of the tribe, about a girl, rie’s-den, on Soutra Hill, by one gypwho, I think, was sister to the latter. sey on another: but I do not rememWeapons were instantly drawni, and ber the particulars farther, than that the piper losing courage, or knowing it was before many witnesses ;-that that he was not a match for his anta- they fought for a considerable time gonist, fled, -the other pursuing close most fiuriously with their fists, till at at his heels. For a full mile and a half last one getting the other down, drew they continued to strain most violent- a knife, and stabbed him to the heart ly,--the one running for life, and the when he pulled the weapon out, the other thirsting for blood,- until they blood sprung to the ceiling, where it came again to Cossarhill, the place they remained as long as that house stood; had left. The family were all gone and that though there were many of out, either to the sheep or the peats, the gang present, none of them offered save one servant girl, who was baking to separate the combatants, or made bread at the kitchen table, when the any observation on the issue, farther piper rushed breathless into the house. than one saying Gude faith, ye She screamed, and asked what was the hae done for him now, Rob!” The matter ? He answered, “ Nae skaith story bears, that the assassin fled, but to you-nae skaith to you—for God'in

was pursued by some travellers who heaven's sake hide me !"-With that came up at the time, and after a hot he essayed to hide himself behind a chace, was taken, and afterwards hangsalt barrel that stood in a corner-but ed.” his ruthless pursuer instantly entering, The travellers here mentioned, we his panting betrayed him. The ruf- happen to know, were the late Mr

[ocr errors]

Walter Scott, writer to the signet, then Ellick Kennedy, feeding six horses on a very young man, and Mr Fairbairn, the Coomb-loan, the best piece of grass long afterwards innkeeper at Black- on the farm, and which he was careshiels, who chanced to pass about the fully haining for winter fodder. A time this murder was committed, and desperate combat ensued—but there being shocked at the indifference with was no man a match for Will-he. which the bystanders seemed to re- threshed the tinkler to his heart's congard what had passed, pursued, and tent, cut the girthing and sunks off with the assistance of a neighbouring the horses, and hunted them out of 1 blacksmith, who joined in the chase, the country. A warfare of five years succeeded in apprehending the mur- duration ensued between Will and the derer, whose name, it is believed, was gypsies. They nearly ruined him ; and Robert Keith. The blacksmith judged at the end of that period he was glad to it prudent, however, to emigrate soon make up matters with his old friends, after to another part of the country, and shelter them as formerly. He in order to escape the threatened ven- said, 'He could maistly hae hauden his geance of the murderer's clan.

ain wi' them, an' it hadna been for “In my parents' early years," con- their warlockry, but the deil-be-licket tinues Mr Hogg, "the Faas and the he could keep fra their kenning--they Bailleys used to traverse the country ance fand out his purse, though he in bodies of from twenty to thirty in had gart Meg dibble't into the kailnumber, among whom were many yaird.'-Lochmaben is now one of stout, handsome, and athletic men. their great resorts—being nearly stockThey generally cleared the waters and ed with them. The redoubted Rachel burns of fish, the farmers' out-houses Bailley, noted for her high honour, is of poultry and eggs, and the lums of all viewed as the queen of the tribe.” superfluous and moveable stuff, such A woman of the name of Rachel Bailas hams, &c. that hung there for ley, (but not the same person, we bethe purpose of reisting. It was like lieve, that our correspondent alludes to) wise well known, that they never a few years ago, in Selkirkshire, afford scrupled killing a lamb or a wether ed a remarkable evidence of the force occasionally; but they always man- of her gypsey habits and propensities. aged matters so dexterously, that no This woman, having been guilty of reone could ever ascertain from whom peated acts of theft, was condemned these were taken. The gypsies were by Mr W. Scott, sheriff of that counotherwise civil, full of humour and ty, to imprisonment in the bridewell merriment, and the country people there, on hard labour, for six months. did not dislike them. They fought She became so excessively wearied of desperately with one another, but were the confinement, to which she had not e seldom the aggressors in any dispute been accustomed, and so impatient of

or quarrel with others.--Old Will of the labour of spinning, although she Phaup, a well-known character at the span well, that she attempted suicide, head of Ettrick, was wont to shelter by opening her veins with the point of them for many years;~they asked no- a pair of scissors. In compassion for thing but house-room and grass for her state of mind, she was set at libertheir horses; and though they some ty by the magistrate; but she had not times remained for several days, he travelled farther than Yair Bridge-end, could have left every chest and press being about four miles from Selkirk, about the house open, with the cer- when she thought proper to steal a tainty that nothing would be missing; watch from a cottage, and being taken for he said, ' he aye ken'd fu’ weel that with it in her possession, was restored the tod wad keep his ain hole clean.' to her place of confinement just about But times altered sadly with honest four hours after she had been disWill—which happened as follows :- missed from it. She was afterwards The gypsies (or tinklers, as they then banished the county. began to be called) were lodged at a The unabashed hardihood of the gypplace called Potburn, and the farmer sies in the face of suspicion, or even of either having bad grass about his open conviction, is not less characterhouse, or not choosing to have it eaten istic than the facility with which they up, had made the gypsies turn their commit crimes, or their address in conhorses over the water to Phaup ground. cealing them. A gypsey of note, still One morning about break of day, Will alive (an acquaintance of ours), was, found the stoutest man of the gang, about twenty years ago, tried for a

theft of a considerable sum of money at way; and the proscribed family, heara Dalkeith market. The proof seemed ing of the unanimous resolution to opto the judge fully sufficient, but the ju- pose their passage, went more southerrý being of a different opinion, brought ly by the heads of Tyne, and I never in the verdict Not Proven , on which heard more of them, but have little occasion, the presiding judge, when he doubt they are all hanged. dismissed the prisoner from the bar, “ Will Allan, mentioned by the informed him, in his own characteristic Reedwater Minstrel,* I did not know, language, “That he had rubbit shouth- but was well acquainted with his son, ers wi' the gallows that morning;” and Jamie, a most excellent piper, and at warned him not again to appear there one time in the household of the with a similar body of proof against Northumberland family ; but being him, as it seemed scarce possible he an utterly unprincipled vagabond, he should meet with another jury who wearied the benevolence of all his prowould construe it as favourably. Upon tectors, who were numerous and powerthe same occasion, the prisoner's coun- ful, and saved him from the gallows sel, a gentleman now deceased, thought more than once. Upon one occasion, it proper also to say something to his being closely pursued, when surprised client on the risk he had run, and the in some villany, he dropped from the necessity of future propriety of con- top of a very high wall, not without duct; to which the gypsey replied, to receiving a severe cut upon the fingers the great entertainment of all around, with a hanger from one of his pursus “ That he was proven an innocent man, ers, who came up at the moment he and that naebody had ony right to use hung suspended for descent. Allan siccan language to him.”

exclaimed, with minstrel pride, “Ye We have much satisfaction in being hae spoiled the best pipe hand in Brienabled to relate the following char- tain.' Latterly, he became an absoacteristic anecdotes, in the words of lute mendicant, and I saw him refu. another correspondent of the highest sed quarters at the house of my uncle, respectability :

Mr at (himself a most ex“A garg, of the name of Winters, cellent Border piper.) I begged hard long inhabited the wastes of Northum- to have him let in, but my uncle was berland, and committed many crimes; inexorable, alleging his depredations among others, a murder upon a poor on former occasions. He died, I bewoman, with singular atrocity, for lieve, in jail, at Morpeth. which one of them was hung in chains, “ My father remembered old Jean near Tone-pitt, in Reedsdale. His Gordon of Yetholm, who had great mortal reliques having decayed, the sway among her tribe. She was quite lord of the manor has replaced them a Meg Merrilies, and possessed the by a wooden effigy, and still maintains savage virtue of fidelity in the same the gibbet. The remnant of this gang perfection. Having been often hospicame to Scotland about fifteen years tably received at the farm-house of ago, and assumed the Roxburghshire name of Winterip, as they found their • • A stalwart Tinkler wight was he, own something odious. They settled An' weel could mend a pot or pan, at a cottage within about four miles of An' deftly Wull could thraw a flee, Earlston, and became great plagues to An’ neatly weave the willow wan’; the country, until they were secured, “ An’ sweetly wild were Allan's strains, after a tight battle, tried before the An' mony a jig an' reel he blew, circuit court at Jedburgh, and ba- Wi' merry lilts he charm'd the swains, nished back to their native country of Wi' barbed spear the otter slew," &c. England. The dalesmen of Reed

Lay of the Reedwater Minstrelo water shewed great reluctance to re

Newcastle, 1809. ceive these returned emigrants. After In a note upon a preceding passage of the the Sunday service at a little chapel same poem, the author (whose name was near Otterbourne, one of the squires George Rokesby) says, rose, and, addressing the congregation,

“ Here was the rendezvous of the va. told them they would be accounted no grant train of Faas, tinklers, fc. The celonger Reedsdale men, but Reedsdale

lebrated Wull Allan frequently sojoured women, if they permitted this marked here, in the progress of his fishing and ot

ter-hunting expeditions ; and here often reand atrocious family to enter their dis- sounded the drones of his no less celebrated trict. The people answered, that they son, Jamie Allan, the Northumberland would not permit them to come that piper.”

« PoprzedniaDalej »