Saturday, 24 July 2010

THE ROMANI IN AMERICA

They don't turn up very often and when they do then they are classed as Basque gypsies. Films like the 1959 western 'Thunder In The Sun' and 'Broken Trail'. In books it is the same though in Matthew P. Mayo's western 'Winter's War' there is a very brilliant and accurate description of a vardo - a vardo is a horse drawn wagon and is a word that covers caravan.

It is interesting that three Portugese gypsies were with Columbus when he discovered America.

As far as I can work out is that the first British Romanies set foot on American soil curtesy of the British transportation system. The charges ranged from gry choring to ker poggring (horse stealing to housebreaking).

Before you start thinking that my rokkering the jib (speaking the language) is me showing off it is more to emphasise that the language of the Romany was quite important.

If asked 'Can you chin the cost?' the average person wouldn't be able to answer the question but another Romany could.

Language is all about communication. The Romany language has been described as a 'secret language' whereas it is their language as much as English is to a certain extent of the world or German to the Germans and so on.

And my answer to the question above would be 'No, I don't know how to make clothespegs.'

But it was the language that transported Romany's used to 'discover' others of their own kind.

Over the years many settled in Kentucky,Tennessee and South Carolina.

1850 saw the influx of more Romany families who quickly seized the opportunity to do what they did best - horse trading. After the Civil War many moved westward bringing their skills with them.

But the west was a suspicious place. These mustangers, bronco-busters and horse traders had the looks of Native Americans. Whether Romany or the half breed didikoi in the heat their skin darkened and with their dark hair mistakes were made and their history becomes blurred.

So blurred that today families, even if they suspect the truth, will tell their children that their dark looks come from a distant 'Native American' rather than own up. While there are those who do admit the truth.

The days of the travelling tinkers, the peg makers and other Romany trades have largely disappeared as has the language itself.

To me the language was a few scattered words that I learned as a child and strong denials that our family had gypsy connections. Today I know different - geneology has proved that.

There are people around today called Arnold, Ayres, Bowers, Scamp, Sharp, Williams and one that has famous connections - Eastwood - that may have Romany origins. Certainly, these were the names of many Romany families.
Some familiar names with Romany connections: Yul Brynner, Charlie Chaplin, Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins and The King himself - Elvis Presley. As did Sir Henry Wood the founder of the Promenade Concerts that we still enjoy today.
What is not in doubt is that the Romany Gypsy from across the world should be recognised for the part that they played in the building of America.

12 comments:

Oscar said...

Thanks for enlightening this American about the Romany and their language. It was never brought up in any history class I attended.

Another Opinion said...

When did the Romani first appear in North America? Where there any in the US South during the early 1800's?

Another Opinion said...

When did the Romani first appear in the US? Where there any in the US South during the early 1800's?

Ray said...

English records show Romani Gypsies amongst those transported to the US in the late 1600s.
Although most stuff that I have read is vague an educated guess would put them as deep as Georgia.
Apart from those transported I have since learned that some families came, of their own free will, to the US prior to the 1850s.
Horse and cattle trading would be quite a lure.
The Irish Travellers were a seperate breed.

Another Opinion said...

Ray,

To South Carolina prior to the 1830's as well?

Ray said...

Believe so - Scamp was one family. There was another that went from one of the Carolinas into Georgia during the gold rush at that time.
This is a history that has not been fully documented and a lot of my own information has come from researching something unrelated.
Texas does have a gypsy organisation though.

Another Opinion said...

Ever heard of the name "Nicholson"? They went from South Carolina to Georgia/Alabama and even back and forth to Texas. There's additional information that I would be willing to provide by private email.

Ray said...

I would be very interested. I'm not sure about the Nicholson name but the family I referred to belongs to someone's family tree. Although I contacted him he never replied.
May I suggest you send me your e-mail address via a comment? As I monitor all comments you can be assured that it won't be published.

Anonymous said...

I can help answer some of the questions.
Yes in fact there were Romanichals in the American Colonies as early as the 1670's on through the early 1700's.

Faa also known under the Fall and Faw surnames, Baillie were clearly in the American Colonies between the 1670's - 1690's era, and in Virginia!

But they were not alone!
Lock(e), Ingram, Campbell families were some of the early Romany Colonials as well!
And that isn't speculation, that is genetic proof!

Lock(e), Ingram, Bailey, Campbell, Boswell, Burton, Stanley, Lee male lineages, Romany male lineages in fact of England, Scotland, USA, Australia have all DNA tested for the Romany DNA project, and all were found carrying a rare
Asian Indian Y Haplo Group H1a, and most of those surnames who tested at a high enough marker level, were also found to carry the exact same marker mutation, known as marker 425 = 0, null value.

Interestingly, Carter and Ruffin suranmes who are Virginia plantation slave descendants are also found carrying Haplo H1a and are a gentic match to the Romanichal's! Carter and Ruffin maybe living proof Romany were forced in to slavery and from Virginia plantations!

Lock was in Calvert County Maryland by 1728, likely in the Colonies by 1715, and migrated to old Frederick County Virginia by 1755.

Ingram was in Pittsylvania County Virginia around the 1770's - 1790's era.

There appears to be two branches of Baillie / Bailey. One from Virginia, and one from South Carolinia. Both of whom also carry
Y Haplo H1a.

If anyone would like more information on my Romany research, please feel free to contact me directly at lockeroots@comcast.net
Donald Locke

Donald said...

I can help answer some of the questions.
Yes in fact there were Romanichals in the American Colonies as early as the 1670's on through the early 1700's.

Faa also known under the Fall and Faw surnames, Baillie were clearly in the American Colonies between the 1670's - 1690's era, and in Virginia!

But they were not alone!
Lock(e), Ingram, Campbell families were some of the early Romany Colonials as well!
And that isn't speculation, that is genetic proof!

Lock(e), Ingram, Bailey, Campbell, Boswell, Burton, Stanley, Lee male lineages, Romany male lineages in fact of England, Scotland, USA, Australia have all DNA tested for the Romany DNA project, and all were found carrying a rare
Asian Indian Y Haplo Group H1a, and most of those surnames who tested at a high enough marker level, were also found to carry the exact same marker mutation, known as marker 425 = 0, null value.

Interestingly, Carter and Ruffin suranmes who are Virginia plantation slave descendants are also found carrying Haplo H1a and are a gentic match to the Romanichal's! Carter and Ruffin maybe living proof Romany were forced in to slavery and from Virginia plantations!

Lock was in Calvert County Maryland by 1728, likely in the Colonies by 1715, and migrated to old Frederick County Virginia by 1755.

Ingram was in Pittsylvania County Virginia around the 1770's - 1790's era.

There appears to be two branches of Baillie / Bailey. One from Virginia, and one from South Carolinia. Both of whom also carry
Y Haplo H1a.

If anyone would like more information on my Romany research, please feel free to contact me directly at lockeroots@comcast.net
Donald Locke

DGLocke said...

Multiple branches of the Romanichal Lock family ended up in Texas.
The first to make that migration was George Francis Lock who was in Collin County Texas by 1860 but was in Texas by 1853.

One of George's descendants is named in the Texas Hand Book of famous Texan's, William Wayne "Rusty" Locke. What the historians fail to tell you is, Rusty Locke was a British Romanichal descendant!

Part of the Missouri Lock family who were well known in the horse trade, who raised Race Horses, migrated to Texas as well and one of their horses is known as
Texas Chief owned by William W. Lock a cousin to my ancestor George Francis Lock.

7 Lock(e) male cousins have DNA tested, 6 in the USA one in England, all 7 carry Y Haplo Group H1a with the 425 = 0 marker mutation, proving their Romany origins.

The Locke cousin in England is a direct descendant of Henry Lock, father of Matthew Lock who married Memberance Boswell.

DGLocke said...

You got some of the Romany family surnames correct, but you left out many very important one's.

Lock(e), Smith, Lee, Stanley, Cooper, Burton, Ingram, Bailey, Campbell, Lovell, Loveridge, Bryers, Jones, Harrison, Joles, Whorton / Worton, Broadway, Birch / Burch, Palmer, Wells, Rigley, Faa, Jeffrey / Jeffries, Glover, Welsh, Young, Green, Woods, Shaw, Small, Buckland, Buckley, Ayres, Holmes, Evans, Butler,

Here is my research on the 1850-1900 British Romanichal migration to the USA in case you are interested.

http://home.comcast.net/~lockeroots/GypsyCensusRecords.html