- Estimated population of Romanies, Scottish Travelers, and Irish Travelers: 4,000; on the basis of the 2003 census, it appears that some 560 families live year-round in caravans. In 1491 there is a record of "Spaniards" dancing before the Scottish king on the pavement at Edinburgh, although these may not have been Romanies. In 1505 a small party of Gypsies arrived-probably also from Spain - saying they were pilgrims and being given money by James IV. They were then sent to Denmark with a letter of recommendation. A second group of dancers from Spain in 1529 undoubtedly were Romanies. This group danced for James V. There is a record in 1540 of the king granting the Gypsies the right to their own laws and customs under John Faa, Duke of Little Egypt, in 1540. A year later, however, this decree was repealed and all Gypsies were ordered to leave Scotland, allegedly because James V-who had the custom of traveling in disguise around the country-had been in a fight with three Gypsies. He died in the following year, so this law was not carried out. In 1553 John Faa was again confirmed as officially being in charge of the Scottish Gypsies.In 1573, a law was passed that Gypsies should either leave the country or settle down in paid work. If not, they would be imprisoned, publicly scourged, and removed from the realm. A year later, the law was strengthened: Gypsies were to be scourged and branded. Those who remained and did not settle down would be executed. In 1597 forced labor or banishment for life were added as punishments. The 17th century brought in heavy penalties against not only Gypsies but also anyone who aided them. In 1608 two Scots-David Gray and Alexander Aberdere-were fined for selling food and drink to Gypsies. Noblemen who protected Gypsies on their estates were fined as well. In 1611 three Gypsies were brought to trial and hanged. In 1624 eight more Gypsy men were hanged at Burgh Muir. Further executions took place, and then banishment became a regular treatment for Gypsies. In 1665 a Scottish company received permission to send Gypsies to Jamaica and Barbados.The Scottish Parliament was dissolved in 1707, and all future legislation was made in London until devolution late in the 20th century. After 1707 the existing Acts against Gypsies of England (1530, 1554, and 1562) were applied in Scotland. In 1714 two female Gypsies were executed under the provisions of the 1554 Act, and 10 Gypsies were deported in 1715 from Scotland to Virginia in accordance with the English 1598 Act for the Punishment of Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars. The heavy pressure on Romanies in Scotland led to their virtual disappearance until the 20th century. They either moved to England or hid themselves among bands of native Scottish Travelers to escape arrest and punishment.The Trespass (Scotland) Act of 1865 was introduced in the London Parliament to control the indigenous Scottish Travelers and has been used up to the present day to move Travelers and Gypsies on from stopping places. The British Caravan Sites Act of 1968 did not apply to Scotland, although the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act-which further criminalizes trespass - does.An Advisory Committee on Travellers was set up in 1971 and has produced several reports. Scottish local authorities have been encouraged to build caravan sites for the Scottish Travelers and the small numbers of Irish Travelers and Romanies from England who visit the country. A target of 941 plots was set, of which 742 had been provided by 1996. Authorities with insufficient campsites are asked to apply a toleration policy toward illegally parked caravans. The scheme by which the government gives grants was due to end in 1998 but was continued by the autonomous Scottish Parliament.In 2001 the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee made a number of recommendations concerning Travelers, but these have not been put into practice. In October 2005 a committee of members of the Scottish Parliament led by Labour MP Cathy Peattie criticized the slow pace of progress on the earlier recommendations. The Scottish Travelers have, however, been given the status of a "racial group."
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.