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Bob Lovell's Family by Bob Lovell - RomanyJibBob Lovell's Family - RomanyJibAll text & Pictures are copyright of Bob Lovell.
By Robert (Bob) Lovell, Great G G grandson of Old Slack Lovell-Kamulo , Welsh Romani Gypsy.

Pictured left is Adolphus Ruben Lovell my father .

I was born and brought up in New Zealand .
My first childhood memory stands as clear now as it did then. My Dadus -Father Adolphus Lovell ( born at the Romani stopping place at the Upper Race Pontypool - Wales 1922) took me to a local Black Smiths shop, the Smithy was busy shoeing a beautiful Black Gry-Horse.
My father told me in Romanes - the Romani language what the Smith was doing and said Don't ever forget your a Romani Chavo , Romani boy-son.

I'm as proud now as I was then of my Romani ratt-blood, even though I was who I was my Siblings and I were not encouraged to broadcast the fact we were Romani , rather we like many Romani People world wide we found better to be the Chameleon , which is a common trait within the Romani family.
(Adolphus daughter Bertha and Rhona)
Bob Lovell's Family by Bob Lovell - RomanyJib
There are many People Gorgo-Non Romani and some Romani who believe in the stereo type Gypsy , that one must be wandering and living outside the Gorgo system's , in part it's true , in part it's a falsehood, what follows' is my thoughts on the subject which in no way involves the thought or beliefs of any other people who may be connected to the Romani world.
It is true our people have wandered across the world and many are the reasons put forward by Scholar's , researchers etc over many years . Yes we have traveled partly due to the different trades undertaken by Rom , which require one to be mobile but much wandering is due directly to Prejudice from Gorga in many many countries that Rom entered over a thousand years.
(Rosie Small )
Bob Lovell's Family by Bob Lovell - RomanyJib
It is true the Romani language is Sanskrit based with many different dialects using borrowed words from host countries that Rom have stopped in or passed through.

It's said our origins are North West India alone, I believe the different tribes of Romani were made up of similar itinerant trades people who for what ever reason came away from India and further afield as old Persia.

My interest is in the Arrival of the Kale Romani tribe or families who entered Wales sometime it's believed in the early to mid 1700's. and what has been written on the Kale by Academic's more often known as the Baro Rye's - the great Gentlemen.
Much was written by individual Gypsy researchers plus much written work by the GLS - Gypsy law Society ,
the main Academics I will write of are John Sampson (1862-1931)who collected much of the Kale Romanes- language and produced the Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales - Oxford Clarendon press 1926 (reprint 1968)
plus Sampson wrote and researched earlier items on English Gypsies and Welsh Gypsies.

Francis Hindes Groome (1851-1902), an earlier Scholar and a old friend to Sampson , Groom wrote in Gypsy Tents plus other works on Romani stories and songs.

Another I will mention is Eric Otto Wilstedt , a member of the GLS who also wrote several items for the early volumes of the GLS.
This Rye I have trouble even reading some of his work as it relates directly to my own ancestors in a not very positive manner while at the same time promoting the favorite and supposedly pure Welsh Gypsies the Abraham Woods tribe.
While I agree the Romani Wood Tribe was likely the first Tribe to enter North Wales they certainly were not the 500 hundred ONLY Kale as Descendant of Abraham one Manfri Wood states in his book - In the life of a Romany Gypsy - Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD London 1973.

Since I first became aware in 1996 that there were BOOKS written about my own ancestors and other Romani within the UK I have read what I could get hold of , but I have not owned any of these books .
My delight in finding such books turned to anger when it became clear to me that the Romani Gypsies of Wales & England had and still are to a lesser extent been exploited by in the name of research into the past and the life of the Romani Gypsies, of Wales & England.

My Education was not brilliant but better than my father's, he didn't have any formal schooling but never the less he was a excellent judge of life and people.
When I told my father in 1996 I'd been lend a book By G Borrow on the Romani people and it had things about our puri - old people in it, my father became very upset saying it should not be! why do Gorgo have to do this , it only brings grief for Gypsy Folkie-people.and most of it will be utter Hokni-lie's.

At first I didn't fully understand my fathers anger, not till I myself had spent much time in 1999 on a journey through Wales & England looking for lost family plus meeting many other Romani families or what is left of them today.
And again in 2007 I journeyed thousands of miles between Wales and England searching for facts.
Today there is probably just as much Racial stereo typing of who is a Gypsy in the UK as there was in the time of my Fathers.

Some is pure ignorant racial hatred shown to the Gypsy by Gorgo's who don't want to or just are too lazy to find out the truth , that there are some old Romani families left in the UK who live a decent honest life , people who pay their taxes' etc but keep their culture to themselves.
that the name Gypsy today in the UK covers anyone who by lifestyle claims to be one?

That all Gypsies by nature are thieves who won't work for a living.

The second group are the Romantics , who are just as damaging to Romani people as the racially motivated one's are.
First they often claim they have known real Romany Gypsies and they are good while the rest are riff raff.
An example- A Woman upon learning I was of Romani lineage , said OH! Bob , when I was young we used to have our very OWN Gypsies stop down OUR lane every year, we would give them old cloths and shoes and the like and in return the Gypsies would always leave our lane very clean when they left and nothing ever got stolen from us??

I said to the woman , did you let them - the Gypsies off their leash ! she said in surprise , Why? do you say that , I answered from where I'm standing it sounds like you are talking about your pets, Gypsies are Human too not untamed wild animals here for your entertainment.

Then thirdly come the pure Romantics , and in this group I include the Rye's such as John Sampson and his merry crew of friends.

The Romantic image of the Gypsy has in the main been brought about by non Romani-Gorgo Scholar's & media.
unlike many minority races of people Romani don't have a country (or own the land) and have NEVER invaded any country with a gun in their hand to take over another Race or culture.
For example the Native people of New Zealand the Maori, when White men decided they wanted the country they took it by invasion , some of it taken at the point of a gun some brought with cheap wares-blankets, beads, & guns.

Today some of the wrongs committed against the Maori people are being righted BUT much of Maori culture has been lost.

So the Romani race had no land-country to take if we did the reasons why we are not still there have long been lost to time.
However Rom did have something Gorgo Folk wanted , abit of the magic & supposed fancy free life of the Gypsy (have you never heard non Romani say oh we went on holiday and camped out like gypsies or we just wandered around through Europe like a tribe of gypsies!!?? )

The Rye's I believe had this same need to get something off the Gypsies they could befriend by offering tobacco, Drink & food of the sort Rom could hardly afford.

One was a means to be popular within certain Gorgo places of learning as in Universities, another was to have an income in the name of cultural research , another was to make certain of a future income with the sale of books written on their research work on Romani Gypsies.
At this point I can hear Folkie saying BUT! the Rye's like J Sampson saved the language.
yes he may have produced a book on Welsh Romani language , BUT have you seen it? have you EVER heard of this book being used in Schools within the UK, NO you havn't.
and likely that will never happen .
That book is a collectors piece now , costing a great deal . E'mmmm? I wonder who own's the copy right today, certainly not Romani Folkie.

Yes the Rye's and GLS members they loved to play the Gypsy and go on holiday in tentsand horse drawn vardo's-caravans so they could be just like their friends the Romani. Some of these Rye's went even further with their fancy notions.

Francis Hinds Groome in his book - In Gypsy Tents , helped by the well know Romani Ismarelda Lock (who had married Hubert Smith another Rye Scholar but then left Smith & married Smiths very good friend Groome) they or Groome with Ismareldas approval used the Romani family name of Lovell - mine! as the main players in the book when in fact they were Woods and others Groome was in truth writing about??

This certainly begs the question-WHY???? and somehow it dosn't seem right?

Of course I can hear Rom saying OH but we are all related anyway so it don't matter.
Well it does , as Groome is very clear in leading up to the end of the story that the Lovell's were still traditional and very simple folk in many ways compared to their relatives the Woods & Roberts families (who were very much settled in houses in Wales & enjoyed a certain standing within the Welsh community around them) thus the term Welsh Gypsies.
But Groome paints this clever picture of the Lovell's being almost simple thinking folkie compared to their settled cousins the Woods etc, he also points out while old Salvanius Lovell & family were still wandering with Donkey & tents they had lost much of their Romani language when compared with the Settled family of Woods etc.

This is a assumption and not accurate ,yet Groome's book In Gypsy Tents is today still read & studied as a guide to the REAL Gypsies of Wales and England.

From all I know as a Lovell, my ancestors would not have been party to what is clearly blatant use and abuse of our name as used in the book.

The often fanciful writing of Groome while having some merit as real facts on Romani folkie is still Romantically driven in my thinking.
Plus a reversal is clear of positive comments in the book being turned to negative by the very fact that some of the real characters in the book had their surname replaced by that of us Lovell's.

I wonder what my Puri-Old people grandfather's and grandmother's (who likely never in their lives read a book themselves )would think today if they were here??
I don't believe they would have been over the moon about it.
In 1931 E. O. Winstede long time GLS member and old friend to J Sampson published information for the GLS Journals that the Abraham Wood and John Wood (two Gypsies) were hanged in 1737 Gloucester for the crime of robbing Old Henry Lovell a Gypsy .

Winstede then goes on to point out while this Abraham Wood was Not the Abraham Wood King of the Welsh Gypsies (clearly he wasn't) but that this Abraham and John Wood were possibly Welsh Gorgo as Wood was a common enough name found in Wales at the time.

BUT Winstede then clearly states this Abraham had taken up with a gang of Lovell's and Bozell's-Boswell's who called them selves Egyptians , who lived a STROLLING way of life stealing sheep and committing Robbery!
Now I believe these gangs were Romani Lovell and Boswell's , from what I've been told as oral history of my family , this kind of life certainly took place.
I'm sure my ancestors were no angels as life would have certainly been tough , after all not too many years before in the UK , one could be hung just for being Romani.

So may as well be hung for a sheep than a lamb?

However, Winstedt's clearly shows a personal positive bias toward the Abraham Wood Welsh Romani family . While showing the Lovell's and Bozell's-Boswell's in a very negative light, Why? I ask .
Perhaps and much more likely is the Rye's needed to have an acceptable decent Romani Family the Abraham Wood family to study ,as the academic world back then or those who gave out the study grants would hardly allow the study of in their view,LESS PURE ROMANI FAMILIES to have grants made available to the scholars applying for such grants! plus these other less desirable Romani didn't fit the Exotic or Romantic view of the Proper Gypsy , that many of these Rye's clearly show in their writing was their image or agenda beliefs.

Another important point is the dates given of Romani entering Wales , of these I mean the Kale ? it's reported in the various Rye's writings That Abraham Wood & family entered north Wales sometime in the early 17 to mid 1700's that they had been in Somerset before this.
Census records show Woods and Lovell's , Boswell's and all the old adopted English surnames as used by the Old Romani families as being in many parts of England right back to the 1500's ? were these Kale or did Kale only start upon the Arrival of the Romani Woods family in North Wales, I hardly thing so.

It has been passed on to me by my father that us Lovell’s FIRST landed on the South East coast sometime in the early 1700’s , that our family along with other Romani families had fled from Spain due to the Gypsy clearances going on then.
This belief or oral history is further backed up in the Book of Boswell – Autobiography of a Gypsy by Silvester Boswell , Edited by John Seymour – 1970 , printed by Ebenezer Baylis & Son Ltd London.

Silvester states the information was handed down from his Great Great grandfather Shadrick Boswell that the FIRST families of Boswell’s, Hern’s-Herons and some few Lee’s and Lovell’s landed on the South east coast of England around the 1750’s or thereabouts , that they did not speak any English but only Romanes.

If this oral history is the truth , then how come in North Wales in less than 150 years later other than the Woods Families , the rest of Romani folkie in Wales could no longer speak the pure Romanes language according to the Rye’s when it’s clear they ignored to some large degree these other Romani families such as my own the Lovell.s and other’s ?

Here though I must point out again it’s clear some of the above named families were already in Great Britain perhaps as far back as the 1500’s as records clearly show.
Were they the earlier Relatives of the 1700’s arriving Romani.
Yes I would believe so . Personal Experience here in NZ working with Czech Roma who came to NZ in the mid 1990’s claiming refugee status proves to me that my belief in Earlier arrivals of the same families of Romani in the UK , such as my family, Woods, Boswells, Lee’s, Coopers, Hearns etc etc is the truth , for I found here in NZ .
That the First few families of Czech Roma to arrive had little English and basically no idea how life would be for them (other than it would be safer for them as Roma Gypsies) as there was then & still is much racial hatred directed at Roma in the Czech Republic.

Within a year of these first families arriving more followed , relatives and unrelated Roma families , in nearly every case it was the Roma themselves who sent back information to those at home (Czech Republic) that they should start out for NZ and how to go about it.
Certainly there was no proof of NZ Gorga official help in regard to any future arrivals of more Czech Roma!
Of course these Roma families were aware that under United Nations charters they could claim refugee status here in NZ as it is well known today which countries honour their refugee Quoter's.

So in the Days of my family & other Romani families arriving in the UK over several hundred years, beginning perhaps in the 1500’s as records show , they certainly did not have much or no official help from non Romani to do so. Which clearly indicates there was a Romani grapevine where messages must have been passed back to other relatives in the countries that the earlier arrival’s to the UK had been in.

So What is my point you may ask? If the above is true then there certainly were more Kale Romani in the UK than Manfri Wood writes in his book (In The Life of A Romany Gypsy).
Which proves my point that the great Rye’s or Scholar’s, Gypsyologists or what ever you wish to call them pushed this belief that ONLY 500 Welsh Kale Gypsies existed in Wales more so North Wales and these Kale were all descendants of Abraham Wood.

I’m 100% sure that the Rye’s (not all of them – but those mentioned here) ignored the facts of the case in Question that there were other Kale Romani such as my own & others (who were not considerd Welsh Gypsies enough , only because they did not encase themselves in Welsh culture to any great degree ie: the Welsh language and study of Welsh music ( the Welsh harp) as the Wood & Roberts family had at the time , so what were these other families such as Lovell’s, Hearns, Coopers, Boswell’s , Lee’s etc who were travelling & living a traditional Romani Gypsy life in Wales at this time.
Were they just Border Gypsies passing often between England & Wales (sure they did, my family often travelled as far south as Cornwall where our cousins the Romani Small family have been established for perhaps since the first arrivals of Romani on the south coast of England.

No I don’t believe for one minute these families were any less Kale than the Woods family , these families I’m sure shunned the Rye’s attentions at the time preferring to be left alone to get on with life what was the use of books & studies of Gypsy culture to them, nothing as it was not their world.
Were the Rye’s in question pushing their own agenda’s ? did they as they claimed wish to preserve the Romani life & culture of
the day ?.
Because if they had of really wished to record all families , they would have had to admit that their exotic Romanticized tame Gypsies were their own notion’s, aided and helped by a small number of their Gypsy friends who themselves were schooled enough in Gorgo ways to know they would be known for ever as written into the historical books & journals as written by the BARO Rye’s.

Where does all this leave many descendants of these Romani families today , in reality no where have we been disenfranchised of our culture by a clever group of people who in my mind have carried out a form of genocide against us , unlike Hitler in the 1940’s who murdered thousands of Romani in the death camps . The Rye’s in question did it with their pens , giving the old saying much weight, the pen is mightier than the sword .

Today in the UK there are many Gypsy researchers, Scholars etc, I have met a few of them I’ve found to my relief some of these modern day Rye’s have a much unblinkered view of the Romany, Gypsy, Traveller of the 21 century.

They don’t Romanticise their views as the Rye’s of old did but treat us in the main as normal human beings.
I have a friend in one modern day Rye ( he prefers Bruv to Rye) who I won’t name here,
But this man has given most of his life to writing about the Romani,Traveller, Gypsy in the UK , his work has been more about education for non Rom about who we are , plus he has done much to help our people in getting schooling & understanding, we have a responsibility to try to get along with non Romani folk about us whilst remaining as much as it is possible to be who we are , the Gypsy.

One other modern day writer & Rye if you like is Simon Evans , who I met at Singleton Sussex in 2007.
Evans gave me a copy of his book (I now own at least three books on our people) called Stopping Places by Simon Evans – A Gypsy History of South London and Kent. Published 2004 by the University of Hertfordshire press.
Although my own family are not mentioned in his book many other Romani families are , but Evans in my mind has the strength of his own convictions in writing in the introduction (page 5-6) ,
Having established the Asian origins of the language, the Gypsyologists then assumed that those people who were the darkest and spoke most Romany were the most ‘.authentic’ Gypsies.
They were obviously closest to their ethnic origins, the thoroughbreds with the best pedigree , and therefore top of the Gypsy hierarchy.

Well well , good for Evans , where have we heard or read such racist (yes racist writing) maybe in Mr John Sampsons writings, in Francis Hind Groome’s writing , in E O Wilstedts writings and many others who claimed they were helping to save the Romani culture & history.
Dosta- Enough I needn’t say more about these so called Rye’s.

Today we have the Internet , there are many many Romani web sites you pick and chose , sadly there is much in fighting (in fact in fighting is nothing new within the Romani world Some of these sites are clearly run by folkie who make unproven claims THAT they are Proper Romani? , then there are sites like this ONE where the person who runs it, quietly works away without hand outs in the way of Cultural & Ethnic grants that appear to be the way of those involved in the Gypsy Industry ! Of today.

In my travell’s in the UK I have met Gypsies who say any other Gypsy persons who don’t live on a Gypsy site and don’t travel? are not a Gypsy? Rubbish I say to that , these people need to get their heads out of the sand.
I’ve also met on the roads in the UK and even here in NZ, New Age Travellers , some who claim they are Gypsies , why? Because they think that by living a certain life style it automatically makes then Gypsy.
Once I spoke with a new age Traveller woman on the road side in England (she & her Partner & son were travelling in a Horse drawn Vardo-caravan) Of course I said hello but in Romanes, she at once became hostile toward me saying they were not Romani (I hadn’t asked) but that her son attended a travellers school and was learning the Gypsy language , therefore he was-would be a real Romany?

To that I can only add this kind of thinking by people of non Romani descent has been brought about in part by the misguided & often untrue writings of some Gypsyologists & media over many years aided by official gorgo thinking on the subject of who are Gypsies?
While in the UK I have located some of my direct family , most living now in houses , where in general their neighbours most likely would not know they were Romani Folkie-people
Yet these cousins know who they are even though much cultural history has been lost to them (I’m glad to say many are now saying they wish to relearn their cultural links)
Some of my relatives clearly never chose to lose those cultural links but had it ripped away from them as officials took some from their parents during the war years saying these children could not be looked after properly , similar things have been done to the Aboriginal People of Australia and many other countries under the hand of the Mighty British Empire that was.
An Empire that bred and educated the very people we know of as the Baro Rye’s.

Although there is much sadness (some might say bitterness & I’d hope not) within my writing there is also much hope in many of Romani descent who are becoming known today in the UK & elsewhere as poets, writers , song writer’s etc , I beleive it’s through peacefull means Romani worldwide will gain equal standing as a Race with non Romani .

In England last year I met one Sussex Romani Family , in that family a Romni – Woman is writing original poetry about her family and other Romani , yet this gifted Romni has yet to become as well known as her late 1st cousin Eli Frankham , I can only say may there be many more like her to come along.

While in Cornwall I met cousins who remain Romani yet live alongside Gorga and get on , these cousins are also gifted musicians & singers yet are not know as such.

I heard the original songs recorded to cd of another Younger English Romani Chal-Male, another very gifted singer/songwriter , yet to be known .

There are many other Good Romani Folkie who give their personal time freely to help other Rom find their history out in the way of Census & Parish records etc , one such group is The Romany and Traveller Family history Society. The Folkie that run it don’t claim top dog status but do real work for the sake of all.

I believe I could write many more pages related to what I’ve already covered such is the Romani scene in the UK past and present day but enough.

Bob Lovell , Dec 2008 .

(Books referred to are personal Review and Critique by Bob Lovell)

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