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Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

p. ix


Distribution of Gypsies.

No race is more widely scattered over the earth's surface than the Gypsies; the very Jews are less ubiquitous. Go where one will in Europe, one comes upon Gypsies everywhere--from Finland to Sicily, from the shores of the Bosporus to the Atlantic seaboard. Something under a million is their probable number in Europe; of these Hungary claims 275,000, Roumania 200,000, Servia 38,000, and Bulgaria 52,000. How many Gypsies there are in Great Britain I have not the vaguest notion, for there are no statistics of the slightest value to go by. 1 But I have never lived for any length of time in any place--and I have stayed in most parts of both England and Scotland--without lighting sooner or later on nomadic or house-dwelling Gypsies. London and all round London, the whole Thames valley as high at least as Oxford, the Black Country, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, and Yarmouth, it is here I should chiefly look for settled Gypsies. Whilst from study of parish registers, local histories, and suchlike, and from my own knowledge, I doubt if there is the parish between Land's End and John o’ Groats where Gypsies have not pitched their camp some time or other in the course of the last four centuries.

Asia has untold thousands of these wanderers, in Anatolia, Syria, Armenia, Persia, Turkestan, and Siberia, perhaps also India and China; so, too, has Africa, in Egypt, Algeria, Darfûr, and Kordofan. We find them in both the Americas, from Pictou in Canada to Rio in Brazil; nor are New Zealand and Australia without at least their isolated bands.

To-day at any rate the sedentary Gypsies must greatly outnumber the nomadic: in Hungary only 9000, or less than one-thirtieth of the entire number, are returned as 'constantly on the move.' Still the race has always been largely a migratory race; its wide distribution is due to bygone migrations. Of these the most important known to us is that of the first half of the fifteenth century, whose movements have been so lovingly and laboriously traced by the late

p. x

[paragraph continues] M. Paul Bataillard in his Dè l’Apparition et de la Dispersion des Bohémiens en Europe (1844), Nouvelles Recherches (1849), and 'Immigration of the Gypsies into Western Europe in the Fifteenth Century' (Gypsy Lore Journal, April 1889 to January 1890, for pages 1).


ix:1 According to the Spectator (24th December 1897) ten thousand Gypsies wintered in Surrey in 1896-97!

x:1 I shall have frequent occasion to refer to the Gypsy Lore Journal (3 vols. 1888-92), which should in time be one of the libri rarissimi, as the issue was limited to 150 copies, many of which are sure to have perished. There are complete sets, however, at the British Museum, the Bodleian, the Edinburgh Advocates' Library, Leyden, Berlin, Munich, Cracow, Rome, Madrid, Harvard, and twelve other public libraries.

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