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Romanies In Dorset and Hampshire - RomanyJib Article by Sue Cole © Sue Cole.

Romanies in Dorset and Hampshire .
(Note)Since first writing this article in 2006 I have found more information and older records for many of the families mentioned will be updating in due course (Jan 2014)

First a brief short History of the Romany, as much has be written before on the subject I feel it’s not necessary to repeat it, as my main topic is the Gypsies of Hampshire and Dorset who have settled in and around the area and who mainly were from the Nevi Wesh (New Forest). The arrival of Gypsies in Britain (according to known records) was first recorded in 1505 in Scotland and 1514 in England. At Hampshire Record Office the earliest known document they have of Gypsies in the County is an entry in Chawton's parish records for 1638. The people called Gypsies spread into England from the Continent they were probably in Europe much earlier but of course were not recorded or written about so we must base our dates on the evidence which we have. The Gypsies because of their life style of roaming and catching their own food and making their own medicine when needed from natures garden were naturally at home in the forest’s of England of which one of these , was the New Forest or Nevi-Wesh, for many hundreds of years was a much loved home, mainly due to it’s abundance of herbs and other medicinal plants, and of course its wild game and springs of fresh water. By the end of the 19th century they could still be found living in tents and wagons at Shave Green, Godshill, Copythorne, Longdown, Thorney Hill, Millersford Bottom and Crystal Hollow, and other places deep in the Forest. There were also a few places outside the forest which were popular with the Gypsies, Bournemouth and Poole and Fordingbridge on the edge of the Forest and all of the Cranborne Chase area.

A lot has been written about the different customs of the Gypsy tribes when they Rommer (marry) such as 'jumping the broomstick' and the couple mixing their blood and many other customs but these were mainly from way back, but according to Brian Vesey Fitzgerald in his excellent book “Gypsies of Britain” :-At Bentley in 1878 such a marriage took place between David Burton and Emmy White, and in front of witnesses the couple held hands and pledged their love for one another. A loaf of bread was broken and a thorn was used to prick the thumbs of both persons and a drop of blood was dropped on each half of the loaf, this was then eaten by the couple, each one eating the half with the others blood on, the rest was them crumbled over their heads. The day after the couple returned to the camp and took part in feasting and drinking, and participating in the singing and dancing which was a part of Gypsy life that was enjoyed.”

Birth also had its special customs women at this time were classed as mochardi, or unclean, in the ceremonial sense. And a woman that was pregnant was move from the living wagon so that it would not be defiled by the birth.
Records show that in the New Forest, Gypsy women would go alone to a certain holly tree along the Godshill Ridge to give birth, but normally a special tent was set aside and men were not allowed near the scene.
The woman would have her own set of crockery and would not prepare food for weeks before or after the birth. Once the baby was born and quarantine was ended , this could be two weeks or maybe two months, the special tent and everything inside was burnt. Like marriage, the Gypsies would often observe two levels of religious custom.The child would not be touched by its father until it had been christened, normally according to the rites of the Christian Church. These ancient rites have long since gone and Gypsy women have their babies in hospital with the husbands attending, normally in their best suits!

Other rituals were observed in Death and Burial with the Vardo being burnt and all the deceased’s possessions and also sometimes their horse. I personally know of one local Gypsy Queen who died in recent years and instead of the Vardo being burnt, her Trailer on the local run Traveler site was burned and no one has ever taken her pitch to this day !
In Otterbourne in 1911, Alice Barney was buried with all her jewellery, except a heavy gold ring which was handed to a relative and this is still around today worn by one of her descendants.
When a former, King of the Hampshire Gypsies,’ Robert Cooper’ who was a brother of Nehemiah Cooper, was buried the local newspapers carried a report showing that nearly a hundred Gypsies attended.
Some Gypsies however were not buried in consecrated ground and Juliette Bairacli-Levy, who lived for a while in the New Forest found a secret Gypsy burial ground at Woodgreen, and also one at Blackwater near Farnborough may have been one as well. Often a Gypsy killed by accident was buried on the spot and his grave marked by a cross of stones. At Woodgreen there are two crosses pressed flat in the soil that are said to mark the graves of two Gypsies who died during a fight. A rose or thorn bush was often planted on the grave to prevent the ghost from emerging. But normally once the burial had taken place the grave was normally forgotten, though there are instances where an annual pilgrimage has been made to burial grounds, one notable one was or Gerania Lee who was buried at Otterbourne, and here relatives came every year from Nottingham on the anniversary of her death to tie red ribbons on the thorn bush growing on the grave. (info from “Gypsies of Britain Brian Vesey Fitzgerald)
In 1897, Granny Gritt who was a Gypsy pedlar and who appears in John Nortwood's collection of Victorian and Edwardian photographs would be seen peddling tape in exchange for rabbit skins at Fawley.
Granny Gritt Fawley 1897
Granny Gritt the Gypsy pedlar was Mary Sherred, who married William Gritt, who was son of James Gritt and Sarah Harris.She was born about 1842 in either Cranborne or Winterborne, Dorset, depending on what years census returns you read! She was the daughter of Moses Sherred and Harriet?. Emma Gritt widow of Job Gritt continued the business after Job's death in 1907.She was Emma Gregory a widow on her marriage to Job and was originally a Rampton.She was born about 1849. The Gritts, Harris's, Ramptons,all seem to have intermarried along with the Rawlings, Ayres and Sopers, all chimney sweeping families.

Often fortune telling was an easy way to make money but on some occasions the prediction proved to be accurate.” Granny Cooper who was a New Forest Gypsy was said to have a remarkable gift of foreseeing the future and once read the hands of a Salisbury ploughman and his wife, and predicted that the couple would soon become rich and the man would not have to work again. Some days later while ploughing his field the blade struck something solid. He dug away the soil and found a crock that was filled with gold coins. Granny Cooper was handsomely rewarded and the couple lived the rest of their lives in comfort.”(Wanderers in the New Forest
By Juliette de Baraicli Levy)

The Gypsy would also love entertaining and had a fondness for music and dancing. Often the women danced and sung for money at local fairs and horse races and one old New Forest Gypsy woman remembered when she and her sisters were asked to dance for King Edward VII at Epsom races. To the sound of tambourines the women swirled about in their colourful skirts performing for the king while his friends threw coins for them from the grandstand, and Granny Waters could remember when, about the turn of the century she and her sisters would earn around fifty pounds a day dancing at other race meetings.
The Lamb sisters also used to sing to large crowds at the Forest Inns, their clothes reflecting the Romany love of colour were decorated with pieces of heavy picture chain when they had no other jewellery to wear .

Returning to Dorset and early references to Gypsies:-
In Dorset one of the first recorded is in the 16th century, they were called Egyeptiones because people thought they came from Egypt hence Gypsy became the shortened version . The Churchwardens’ Account for Uplyme in 1650 has 1s. 6d given to ’12 Egyeptiones’ brought in by the local constable. In 1558 ‘Joan the daughter of an Egiptian’ was baptised at Lyme Regis Church, a very early reference . I found these early references in Dorset Parish records and also the Manorial records in Dorset .I know that the Forest Gypsies were travelling back and forth between Wiltshire and Berkshire as well as Somerset and indeed as far as Cornwall, some of the Forest families settled in Dorset and it would appear were settling in villages much earlier than I had first thought here are some examples* 1821 Puddletown Sarah Stanley of Wareham buried age 100 . “Notes and queries” GLS Old Series Vol. 111 p122”Died last week at Paddletown, Mrs Stanley the Dowager Queen of the Counties of Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, in her 101st year.
A numerous crowd attended her funeral”

Written on headstone : born 1732
" In memory of Peter Stanley king of Gypsies who died 23rd Nov 1802 aged 70" he was buried in St Mary's Church Puddletown Dorset .
The Stanley’s who still live in Dorset seem to be well represented as other references I have found include: Mercy,dau of Owen Stanley.Gypsy grinder,baptised at Broadwindsor in 1824. Urgaria to John and Ugaria Burton baptised at Wool 1800 (There was also in later times A Joseph Sherwood married Urania Burton b 1855 Sturminster Newton Dorset the daughter of Henry and Priscilla Burton , Joseph and Urania seem to have settled and raised a family in nearby Kinson Dorset where many descendants still live.) In the 1841 Census there were 146 entries for all spelling variations for the surname Stanley in Dorset ,whilst in Hampshire there were 107 these of course do not reflect the True amount as in 1841 the enumerators were not expected to record Gypsies or people living in tents or vans. By 1851 the figures were surprising in that Dorset had only 37 Stanley’s and Hampshire 113!
I think these figures show how many of the Gypsy people are missing from the early Census. The following Census show only a small increase in all three neighbouring parishes of Hants Wilts and Dorset the highest being Hampshire In 1901 being 359! I must admit these figures surprised me as I thought the numbers would be much higher but maybe many just didn’t answer the enumerators or if they were camped deep inside the Forest maybe the enumerator was too scared to venture in!!.

The Cooper name of course is a different matter as was the Smith and Cole names all being in the four figure number! Barney was another name not high in numbers being 45 in exact spelling in Hampshire and amazingly only three in Dorset in 1901, and I know for a fact there were many more ! which just demonstrates how hard it is to trace your Romany ancestors, and is also why you have to check all material available to you such as Pedlar’s licence’s and Quarter sessions records and also Manorial Papers as often the Local squire would employ casual labour and the workers details and families were often entered into the payment ledgers. Also of equal importance are the Removal and settlement papers and of course the Bastardy bonds where I have found several .
Mathias Cooper
While looking for my sister in law’s family and being that they joined many of the named Romany families I came across the well documented Matthias Cooper b 1811 or as he was known “ Matty Cooper the royal rat catcher” (Pictured on the right thanks to Betty Golding ) called thus because he at one time was the rat catcher for Queen Victoria and it was also his direct family that were mentioned by Queen Victoria in her Diaries as she sent out food to one of the Cooper women who were camped out side Windsor and they forever remained in her memory so she said ! Often referred to in the JGLS as the “Windsor Coopers” and Matty was also Charles Godfrey Lelands “professor” in teaching Leyland the Romany language which featured in Lelands book The English Gypsies and Their Language. The reason I mention him is because the names that run in the Windsor Coopers are repeated in the Forest Coopers And also because I just feel that Jesse the Forest King is akin to Matty sometimes its just an instinct but my instincts have served me well thus far!. Evan now 200 years later the family still have the names Matthias Leonard and Jesse in their Christian names.

“The New Forest, South Wiltshire, and East Dorset is classed as the Cooper country, where most Coopers can claim kinship to Joshua or Jesse Cooper the ‘Gypsy King ‘of the New Forest, who died near Picket Corner, on the fringe of the Vesh, some dozen years ago and was buried at Fordingbridge.”

The above was taken from an article appearing in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society and as there are several Jesse Cooper’s , to pin point which Jesse it could be as the article was wrote in 1912 I deduced approximately 1900,which I have found a death for a Jesse Cooper age 100 April 3rd 1899 occupation Master Cutler Godshill Enclosure, Ashley Walk, this would give a birth date of 1799 so he could possibly the father of another Jesse Cooper b 1825 only trouble being that this Jesse also died 1899 and was aged 100! So it would seem they are one and the same but for some reason the death is registered twice? and the age I think as was common among Gypsy records is incorrect, of course I could be wrong, maybe some one can confirm or correct me on this. If this Jesse Is the same Jesse as the one born 1825 then he married or lived with Susannah Bull:-
Susannah Bull Female *Christening: 15 AUG 1830 Stratfield Turgis, Hampshire, England
Parents: Father: Job Bull Mother: Mrs Charlotte Bull.

Susannah Born according to the census *1826 Stockbridge Hampshire and are the oldest Ancestors I have for the Cooper family that still live in and around the Forest.
The Coopers from the Forest I feel are more than likely related to the Windsor Coopers of Surrey which Includes Matthias Cooper B 1811, who is well documented as he was known as the ‘Royal rat catcher’ owing to the fact he at one point was rat catcher to Queen Victoria as in those days the Upper classes all had rat catchers! Matty as he was also known has been wrote about in more than one Issue of the Romany Routes Family History Society not only by the Editor Janet Keet-Black but also from Jim Beaney a direct descendant who also supplied a photo of Matty. Of course Matty’s most well known entry in a book must be by Charles Godfrey Leland who learned the Romany Language (Romanes) from Matty and called him the “professor”in his book The English Gypsies and Their Language. The name Matthias and Leonard Cooper suggest a link to the Forest Cooper family although not yet found! I just feel that the missing link would take me back to Henry Cooper father of Matthias as the earliest baptism I have for a child of Henry’s is 1806 Leonard so the probably date of birth for Henry being around <1775> which is close enough for the date of Jesse b 1799 were they brothers? Or was Jesse b 1825 a nephew or cousin of Matty? According to notes found in the JGLS Archives, Henry’s wife was either Tienni Lovell or as another note says a Mary Buckland ,Mary hearn being her mother? But was the Tienni mentioned aboved confused with Henry’s brother Elisha or (Lusha) who married Tryphena Lovell ?. Another note mentions a daughter Phylis who married a Shadrack Hearn>? all this needs confirming but as yet I have no concrete evidence. The main problem I have had is that so many of this Cooper family married into the Lee , Lovell and other Romany families more than once and it was often a cousin marriage and on top of this some had more than one partner so it gets very confusing in parts!. A brief outline below of John(Jack)Cooper aka Stumpy! 1. Stumpy Jack (John)1 COOPER, born 1846; died 10 Aug 1923 in The Common, West Moors. He married Martha Hughes, born abt 1845 in Hungerford, Berkshire.

Stumpy Jack (John) COOPER:- Source Janet Keet-Black Editor of Romany Routes and Direct Descendant:- “John’s father died when he was 7, and his mother then moved in with another man, stumpy was chucked out and was sent to the gypsy school with his sister in Farnham which was started in 1845. He had at least two brothers and a sister-(Info from Janet Keet Black.” Further information on Jack Stumpy Cooper was found in Anglo-Romani Gleanings Chiefly from Hampshire… “Another representative of the New Forest-South Wiltshire Cooper family originally supplied all the words we have taken from Miss Messengers’s Romani Vocabulary, which was kindly lent to us Miss Olive Branson, to whom it was given by the collector’s mother, mrs Mary Messenger of Bonhams, Holybourne, shortly after her daughters death in 1920. This was old John Cooper, better known as “stumpy” at Bonhams, where on and off he camped on Mrs. Messenger’s land, and did odd jobs on the farm, from 1902 until 1922. An accident in early life had deprived him of his right hand (one brother had lost a leg, another an eye), but with the left hand he managed to cook, sew and write, and earn enough money to bring up his family. Then he dislocated his shoulder, and after that he really was helpless, since then he was too old for it to be set again. His death and burial at the Roman Catholic cemetery near Wimborne in Dorset was reported in 1923. (The age on the death certificate is probably wrong he must have been older.)
Children of Stumpy Jack (John) COOPER and Martha Hughes were as follows:
Sarah2 COOPER, born 1859 in Inkpen, Berkshire. 3Henry2 COOPER, born 1861 in Bulford, Wiltshire. 4Sophia2 COOPER, born 1863 in Inkpen, Berkshire. 5John (Stumpy)2 COOPER, born 1869 in Ruthbridge, Bodmin, Cornwall; died 5 Mar 1904 in Ashleywalk Road, Fordingbridge, Southampton.. He married Georginia Light. Harriet2 COOPER, born 1873 in Winterbourne Stoke, Berkshire; Leonard2 COOPER, born 1876 in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Matthias2 COOPER, born 1880 in Bulford, Wiltshire. Generation 2 5. John (Stumpy)2 COOPER (Stumpy Jack (John)1), born 1869 in Ruthbridge, Bodmin, Cornwall; died 5 Mar 1904 in Ashley Walk Road, Fordingbridge, Fordingbridge was always considered the central point for the Cooper country. He married on 23 Dec 1895 Georginia Light, born 1876 in Corfe Mullen; died 1952 in Hill View House, West Howe; buried St Marks, Talbot Village, daughter of Job Manuel Light and Selina Barnes.

Georgina Cooper seems to of had an eventful past with the law, and on many numerous occasion was charged for various offences, some of these were reported in the local newspapers at the time…
The Wimborne Herald, December 3rd, 1908, reported a charge against John, Job and Georginia Cooper, Eli Hughes and David Wells, Gypsies, for camping on the highway at Lytchet. Cooper, Georgina, Horses in the road at night. Dorset Chronicle. 21 July 1910. Cooper, Georgina. Wimborne. Glasgow Herald. 7 Jan 1913. Cooper, Georgina. Gipsies quarrel. Dorset County Chronicle. 21 August 1913. Georgina Cooper was a well known character in West Howe, and was well remembered for riding her horse and cart while smoking a pipe and wearing her Trilby hat as Jean Mathews nee Hope fondly remembers. Pictured on the right below of Georgina Cooper nee Light and two of her sons thanks to Steven Doe.Georgina Barnes and Sons.
I still hope that I will be able to maybe one day connect John to the main “Windsor Cooper tree”. John Cooper “Stumpy”died in 1923 and is buried at Stapehill Abbey Wimborne Dorset. Returning to the Light ,Barney and Barnes family Job Light married Selina Barnes,and it was their son Job (who used both surnames) who married Mary Leander Barney daughter of Dangerfield Barney and Sophia Light. Dangerfield died young along with his son Isaac in 1886 in the same quarter was their an accident? there is also a entry for the same year for a Sansom Barney . Dangerfield was the son of Henry Barney who was the brother of Vandelow Barney who wed Alice Black , and the family are recorded in the book Gypsies of the Heath by ‘Romany Rawnie’ aka Betty Gillington and published by Elkin Mathews 1916. Pictured below is Leander Barney and daughter Caroline. Picture here is of a young Louisa Barnes/Light and Caroline daughter’s of Leander and Job Light/Barnes. And on the right Louis husband Cyril Martin Another family photo from Silvy granddaughter of Leander and Job. Another family directly related to the Cooper family is the Wells family and one of the most interesting or maybe because she is wrote about in several books and also had her portrait painted by Sven Berlin ! mentioned in the same book . Priscilla or old “prissy” was the daughter of William Wells and Eliza Bland/Jeff .Her son affectionately known as old Benny was according to Benny himself and quoted from Sven Berlins book ‘Dromengro The Man of The Road ‘ “The best bastard My muvva ever had!,” He was by all accounts quite a character and sold Sven Berlin his last tooth for a pound when they were in the pub one night!.Benny was also drawn by Sven Berlin and his line drawing is shown below. Many of the paintings and drawings by Sven Berlin featured in a Exibition at the St. Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymington entitled Paintings from Shave Green 1953-1970 many are still in the hands of private owners as is the above drawing of Benny Wells who died July 1968 . Benny and his mother Priscilla who died in 1957 at Shave Green are buried in St.Mary’s Copythorne Parish Churchyard. Both pictures reproduced here with the kind permission of the private owners. Priscilla Wells ‘Queen of the Gypsies’ By Victorian times many people thought gypsies should settle down, and not travel the country as they had always done. Dorset had a gypsy school, opened in 1847 in Farnham, north Dorset. This was very unusual, and only remained open for eight years. A census for 1851 Farnham Gypsy School list pupils: 1851 Census., RG8-1854-68-7 Farnham, Dorset.
"These results were obtained from "the SDFHS 1851 Dorset Census Index”.
Surname Forename Age Born Occupation
Barney Amberline 10 1841 Pupil (gypsy)
Barney Britannia 11 1840 Pupil (gypsy)
Barney Dangerfill 7 1844 Pupil (gypsy)
Barney Henry 8 1843 Pupil (gypsy)
Barney Rhoda 11 1840 Pupil (gypsy) Bower Mary 9 1842 Pupil (gypsy)
Martin Samuel 6 1845 Pupil (gypsy)
Martin Henry 8 1843 Pupil (gypsy)
Miles Henry 8 (could be Mills) 1843 Pupil (gypsy)
Miles Mary Ann 11 1840 Pupil (gypsy)
Bower Lucy 11 1840 Pupil (gypsy)
Ayres Emily 3 1848 Pupil (gypsy)
It includes some of my Sister in laws family as mentioned previously, descended from Dangerfield Barney and Sophia Light,these two families married into nearly all the New Forest Travelers’ and also into the large Black or Blackman family who originated from Inkpen Berkshire ,the oldest or furthest I have managed to go back to being William Blackman b 1710. I was amazed to find that whoever I was looking for always seemed to link back to the Black family of Inkpen ! But with cousin marriages being the norm this was inevitable as with all Romany families. The Barney family and their descendants still live in and around the Forest and have married into many of the old Romany families including Black as already mentioned above but they also married into the Cooper and Hughes and the Keet and Light Family to name a few . Although I have collected a vast amount of Data on the Hampshire and Dorset Travellers this has in turn led me to amass a great deal of info on all Travellers throughout the whole of England. Many have married into the Romanies from the New Forest and surrounding areas but it never fails to amaze me just how far they travelled back and forth many times in a year on their yearly circuit throughout the Country at a time when they were on foot or horse indeed they seemed to travel greater distances than we do today by Car ! Travellers from Surrey and Kent and Sussex often met up with the Forest Gypsies and vice versa when they all travelled to the various Parishes for the annual Hop Picking/Pea Picking/ Strawberry Picking/Potato picking and so on. So it is easy to see how the different families met and married and how over time all the families seem to have relations across the breath of Britain and the British Isles. Many of the Forest Gypsies were recording in books by Amongst other’s Sven Berlin and Dominic Reeve and earlier Books by the well known Romany Rye’s George Borrow /John Sampson/ and George Hall /R.A Scott Macfie and of course Dora Yates (1879-1974)after whose death the GLS was dissolved. The Gypsy Lore Society founded in 1888 ,to whom these authors belonged and who published many Genealogies of the old Gypsy families is a wealth of information but needs double checking with the newer information we have available to us today, as it is quite often mistaken in some of their information. Having said that, the information it contains is of immense importance to any Romany Historian or Romany genealogist’s. As it records some of the earliest “from the horses mouth” so to speak dialect and family genealogies collected from the Gypsies first hand and gives an insight to how they lived and spoke in those bygone days. The Gypsy Lore Society, North American Chapter was founded in the United States in 1977, and has since 1989 continued as the Gypsy Lore Society. This revived Society has published since 1991 the 5th series of the Journal, which was renamed Romani Studies from 2000. See http://sca.lib.liv.ac.uk/collections/colldescs/gls.html Now and then some old issues are to be found for sale on Ebay but are often well bid on and are expensive but I have managed to buy several for quite a reasonable price, but they are available at several major Reference Libraries’ including of course the University of Liverpool.

http://sca.lib.liv.ac.uk/collections/index.html

New Forest Gypsies
Returning to the Forest Travelling families it would seem the Stanley family as well as Being recorded very early in Dorset parishes were also very active in Hampshire many later made there home in Portsmouth,but many stayed in Dorset. The Stanley family or to give them their old name “Beshlie”or Beshaley which is thus described by George Borrow in his book Lavo Lil” “It was adopted by an English Gypsy tribe, at one time very numerous, but at present much diminished. Of this name there are two renderings into Romany; one is Baryor or Baremescre, stone-folks or stonemasons, the other is Beshaley. The first requires no comment,
but the second is well worthy of analysis, as it is an example of the strange blunders which the Gypsies sometimes make in their attempts at translation. When they rendered Stanley by Beshaley or Beshley, they mistook the first syllable stan for 'stand,' but for a very good reason rendered it by besh, which signifies 'to sit, and the secondfor a word in their own language, for ley or aley in Gypsy signifies'down,' so they rendered Stanley by Beshley or Beshaley, which signifies 'sit down.” Allthough George Borrow said in his book that the tribe was much diminished I have found the opposite to be true they were and still are a very large family . The Stanleys that were in the Forest stem from old blind Solomon Stanley who was first at Sholing and although I have as yet not connected all the Dorset families to his direct line I feel almost certain that they are connected as the christian name’s of many leave little doubt in my mind. Solomon b 1820 in either Hampshire or according to one Census Sussex! Was reported in the census as “blind from a child” his wife was Sarah her (surname still alludes me) it seems she was nearly five or seven years his junior depending on what census you look at b1811 in Romsey Hants although Gypsies and census are a nightmare as I have had families with multiple birthplaces and age differences of 20 years and yet I know they are the same person so one has to take the answers they gave the enumerators with a large pinch of salt!.I know that the Portsmouth Stanleys are related as in the 1881 census Sarah Rolph age 13 Granddaughter is staying with them.
There is a lovely account of the Stanley family in the book and I have to say one of my favorite books on Hampshire and Dorset Traveler’s “Gypsies of the Heath” by Betty Gillington, I quote “Far away across the heath lies a bright green caravan with red windows, the traveling house of the younger Stanleys, whose people have camped here for generations”. It goes on to describe the other caravans and the children playing they all dog tired as they have just returned from Sherborne Fair and Candlebrake Hill. This is a must book for anyone with Dorset and Hampshire Romanies in their family ,but can be quite expensive and hard to get hold of but well worth the effort if you can.The Barney family as well as other families are also described in a manner which conveys to the reader just what it was really like as the author uses the words and spells the words as they were pronounced by the people so its like being put in the middle of the camp round the yog (fire) and its easy to get lost in thought at the hard yet simple and carefree live’s they led at that time in History which alas has now vanished. The Romanes Language as well, being interspersed with Dorset brogue is quite unique I think such as Be you a–coming,? lady”(Dorset). And “ Why only the other day I tells her to jal and fetch mi tshokurs out the tent, and she only stands and stares! A reg’lar gawjo, that she be!”.Of course the other Large family well mentioned in many books are of course the “black coopers” who were in the Forest and also very prominent in the Fordingbridge area on the edge of the Forest and are still there today and who are related to my family through marriage.Charlie Cooper who was according to Charlie the last baby born at Shave Green Compound before the Authorities finally closed it down in 1963 . The last two families to resist the eviction were Maurice and Mable Cooper directly related to Charlie, and Nelson and Loui Smith. This is well documented in Len Smith’s excellent book Romany Nevi-Wesh An informal history of the New Forest Gypsies. Which has many facts and dates if you need more detailed information of events and closures of all the main Compounds in and around the Forest, I would recommend it As it is compact and factual and provides all the relevant information in a concise form and also has many pictures. Charlie Cooper who descends through the “Forest king” Joshua or Jesse Cooper is also mention in Sven Berlin’s excellent Dromengro Man of the Road book and also his later book Virgo in Exile both wrote while Sven Berlin was living with the Gypsie’s in the early 1950s. In Virgo in Exile there are a couple of pictures included of Charlie’s grandfather Harry or “Tuvvy” Cooper dancing in a local pub . Later At Epsom when they all went in Harry’s lorries to the Derby (taken from Virgo in Exile) “ A space was cleared by Tuvvy the old man for his little grandson Charlie to dance to the beating of their hands and the lilting of a song. It was a continuous tap dance.Charlie seemed thoroughly to enjoy it.And he smiled and laughed as the money poured in to the old Gypsy’s cap” Later the next day maybe It didn’t go as well ! As Sven says that he was in a bad mood and this upset Amy Harry’s wife who was the daughter of John Barnes and Louisa Willett (Pictured top right) although she also used the surname Sherwood her granny’s maiden name (this is quite common in Romany families). “Harry’s wife who was sat in the back of the lorry peeling potatoes, and she picked up the entire bathful and emptied it with her strong arms over everyone, shouting in her raven’s voice for us to pack up and go home.’To hell with the bloody Rai’ never bring the Rai again! she shouted angrily. Never again! ’And the outing was over. Sitting with Harry going home in the lorry I asked if Amy had been dukkerin.’No,’ he said. ’She dont dukker, mush she don’t believe in it. She believes a woman that goes Dukkerin has a bad death. Amy’s a good woman. She don’t dukker.Evil, see. that’s what I think too,”. Many of the Travellers from the New Forest settled in Bournemouth and the surrounding areas ,although many were here quite early as well ,so they probably went back and forth between the Forest and Bournemouth for many years John Barnes who I mentioned before was recorded in the census in Hampreston in 1871 and in Holdenhurst in 1901. The Sherwood family were recorded in the Census for Canford and Kinson from as early as 1841 onwards and were in Parish registers long before this ,so it seems that Kinson and Canford held a soft spot for the Forest families and I can only guess why so many of the old Gypsies decided to stay on the heaths that once covered a vast area from Parkstone ( which then came under the parish of Kinson and Canford ), all the way down from Constitution Hill to Bourne Bottom and Heavenly Bottom. Just across the heath, of course, was one of the best well-known camps called New England, where even today many of the descendants of the Romanies who once lived there have settled in houses in the nearby housing estates .
Many, of course, married local village folk and so the communities have combined to form what I think, is quite a unique community. Alderney, which is half-way between Parkstone and Kinson, came into its own when the famous artist Augustus JohnA Young Augustas John made Alderney Manor his home from 1911 to 1927, although he first visited Dorset in 1899. Augustus John 1878- 1961 Alderney Manor was owned by Lady Wimborne, Winston Churchill’s aunt, who was very liberal in her views and was pleased to have an artist as a tenant. The grounds, which contained sixty acres of heathland and had a large lake where they could bathe naked, as well as a walled private garden, was ideal for Augustus’s entourage. The Manor itself, and the guest house, were separated by an abundance of trees, shrubs and rhododendron bushes, amongst which stood several brightly painted Vardos’ and tents. As he had a love of Romany life and Romany people, Augustus at once mingled and became friends with local Gypsy families from a camp at Hooper’s gravel pit, which was then situated by what is now the Wallisdown roundabout. Augustus could often be seen at the local pub ‘The Shoulder of Mutton’ (which is still there today), enjoying a drink with the Gypsies, and was also equally at home around their fires or on the Heath where he painted some of them. It would be nice to know exactly who the local Gypsy lasses were that he painted and from his reputation as a womaniser, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was more than just a friend to some of them! My friend Jean Mathews remembers Augustus and still has letter’s from him as he painted several of her friends when they were very young. Just how early the Gypsies were travelling back and forth from the New Forest to Kinson and other Dorset villages is hard to tell, but my earliest proven record is of a Peter Stanley b.1771, who married Mary Drake in Church Knowle, Dorset in 1792. Many Stanleys’ are still living locally in and around Kinson as well as Hampshire. Other families were also stopping on the heaths and are still well represented in Dorset and Hampshire. Some of them include families such as:-Cooper/Barnes/Doe/Hughes/James/Johnson/Keats-Keet/Lamb/Light/Pidgeley/Matthews/Mitchell/Sheen/TurnerWells and White. There are, of course, more. Some were originally from Kent, Surrey and Sussex, but I have even found some who traveled from as far as Wales and Scotland. It is important to check all counties, as even when they were in vardos’,they sometimes seemed to travel further a field than we do today by car! Many Travellers who made Kinson their home, still returned every year to Alton, Medstead and Binstead for the hopping and strawberry-picking season and went even further afield for pea-picking. Many of the families who were in the New Forest or around Fordingbridge in earlier times, were often photographed and painted and are probably unaware that their old folki have been captured and preserved in history. Dominic Reeve also wrote about the Gypsies he stayed with at the Higher Camp, which was just past the Mountbatten Arms, along the Ringwood road. This, of course, was in quite recent times just before they built a Council estate and made the Travellers move into houses there. Maybe they remember Dominic and his wife Beshlie, who are both still writing and Beshlie is still an artist. Dominic Reeve has a new book released called Beneath the Blue Sky .
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The Lee family once large in Hampshire seem to move away in the latter part of the 1800s , but why ? there was a Jacob Lee that was dispelled from the Romany community as he committed some -thing bad as his own folki dis-owned him I wonder was this partly the reason?
I have a interest as my Sister-In -laws x-times grandmother was Gerania Lee who wed Joseph(Job)Barney
I have some later Gerania's but not an earlier one which would be abt 1770- ish.
the census below has an unusual (probably spelt wrong by the enumerator?) but interestingly looks similar to Gerania?.

1871 *Census, RG10-1199-46-32 Millbrook, Hampshire.
Matilda Lee 50 Kingston, Dorset, Head Hawker
George Lee 33 Woodgreen, HampshireSon Hawker
Zackariah Lee 31 Dibden, Hampshire, Son Hawker
Unera (Poss Urania)Lee 27 Brockenhurst, HampshireDaughter Hawker
Genera Lee (Poss Gerania) 21 Boldre, Hampshire, Daughter Hawker
Noah Lee 19 Poole, Dorset, Son Hawker
Josiah Lee 12Redlynch, Wiltshire Son Hawker
Emily Lee 82 Eling, Hampshire, Aunt Hawker
Caroline Lee 67Kings Somborne, HampshireAunt Hawker
Found Street, Shirley, next to Mary Bellows (Pedlar)."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1881* Census, RG11-1221-130-34 Millbrook, Hampshire.
Matilda Lee 63Sturminster, Dorset, Head Pedlar
Caroline Lee 79 Swinton, Hampshire, Sister in Law Unemployed
George Lee 42 Southampton, Hampshire Son Labourer
Noah Lee 25 South Stoneham, Hampshire Son Labourer
Jouran Lee 23 South Stoneham, Hampshire Daughter Dress Maker
Josiah Lee 21 South Stoneham, HampshireSon Labourer
Gernia Lee 20 South Stoneham, HampshireDaughter Dress Maker
5 Oxford St."
(Wrote and Compiled by Sue ColeCopyright Sue Cole)
((Notes))Since first writing this article in 2006 I have found more information and older records for many of the families mentioned will be updating in due course ))Jan 2013.


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