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Gypsy and Traveler Culture in America

Gypsy and Traveler Culture, History and Genealogy in America

Are you a Gypsy, Traveler or Roader, or have some ancestry in any one of such groups? This site is dedicated to you; to help you become more aware of your own rich heritage, to help preserve your traditions, language and knowledge of where you came from and who you are.

The identities of Traveling People are everywhere threatened by the flood of misinformation that is being disseminated on the web and through the popular media. This site pledges to correct such misinformation and to present an accurate and unbiased view of traveling life as it has unfolded since the your ancestors first set foot in the New World.

Preservation of your ethnic heritage and pride in your own ethnic identity are some of the most valuable assets that any parents can leave to their children and grandchildren. To be of Gypsy or Traveler background is something special, something to be treasured along with the language, customs, and cultural values embodied in a unique way of life.

If you want to learn more about your family and your ethnic group, whether you be of Cale, Hungarian-Slovak, Ludar, Rom, Romnichel or Sinti Gypsy or American (Roader), English, German, Irish or Scotch Traveler background we will provide you with an interactive forum for asking questions, finding lost relatives, guidance to accurate sources, exchanging information as well as just keeping in touch with your own kind.

To get started just send a note to ASK MATT specifying what kind of Gypsy you are and in which family background you are interested.

The foundation on which this site is built is a rich storehouse of data of every imaginable kind: documentary sources, oral histories and observations of traveling life collected in over 35 years of unpaid research by Matt and Sheila Salo. The Salos have dedicated their lives to providing a true history of traveling life in America and to dispelling the myths that are currently being spread on the web and other media.

This endeavor is based on the premise that every kind of Gypsy and Traveler has a right to his or her own identity, whatever it might be. Each of you has a unique heritage that your ancestors nurtured over centuries of hardship and persecution. Now those rich and unique identities are in danger of being lost as more and more people lose the sense of who they are; customs, language and traditional life patterns are not being passed on; some people are even becoming ashamed of their Gypsy or Traveler identities.

Again, email any specific inquiries into American Gypsy or Traveler history, culture and genealogy to Matt T. Salo at ASK MATT .

Forthcoming: This history and culture page under preparation will be divided into subject areas that you can access separately depending on your interests. If you seek information sources, have specific questions, or want to broaden your horizons by learning about other groups, we will provide the best, most accurate information available. You will not be fed speculations about Melungeons, hordes of Gypsies in Colonial America, or Gypsies and Travelers as hapless victims or criminal castes - instead all our information will be based on actual verified data that truly represents the experience of your people in America since your ancestors first arrived here.

Culture and language are not easily lost and, unless you are among those few unfortunate individuals whose parents or grandparents misguidedly tried to separate themselves and their families from their roots, you should easily be able to pick up traits of language and culture that indicate your origins. We will begin with a brief overview of the different groups to orient those among you who are not quite sure of where they belong. More detailed descriptions will follow.

Gypsy and Traveler Groups in the United States

Cale: Spanish Gypsies, or Gitanos, are found primarily in the metropolitan centers of the East and West coasts. A small community of only a few families.

English Travelers: Fairly amorphous group, possibly formed along same lines as Roaders (see below), but taking shape already in England before their emigration to the US starting in early 1880s. Associate mainly with Romnichels. Boundaries and numbers uncertain.

Hungarian-Slovak: Mainly sedentary Gypsies found primarily in the industrial cities of northern U.S. Number in few thousands. Noted for playing "Gypsy music" in cafes, night clubs and restaurants.

Irish Travelers: Peripatetic group that is ethnically Irish and does not identify itself as "Gypsy," although sometimes called "Irish Gypsies." Widely scattered, but somewhat concentrated in the southern states. Estimates vary but about 10,000 should be close to the actual numbers.

Ludar: Gypsies from the Banat area, also called Rumanian Gypsies. Arrived after 1880. Have about the same number of families as the Rom, but actual numbers are unknown.

Roaders or Roadies: Native born Americans who have led a traveling life similar to that of the Gypsies and Travelers, but who were not originally descended from those groups. Numbers unknown as not all families studied.

Rom: Gypsies of East European origin who arrived after 1880. Mostly urban, they are scattered across the entire country. One of the larger groups in the US, possibly in the 55-60,000 range.

Romnichels: English Gypsies who arrived beginning in 1850. Scattered across the entire country, but tend to be somewhat more rural than the other Gypsy groups. Many families are now on their way to being assimilated, hence estimation of numbers depends on criteria used.

Scottish Travelers: Ethnically Scottish, but separated for centuries from mainstream society in Scotland where they were known as Tinkers. Some came to Canada after 1850 and to the United States in appreciable numbers after 1880. Over 100 distinct clans have been identified but total numbers not known.

Sinti: Little studied early group of German Gypsies in the United States consisting of few families heavily assimilated with both non-Gypsy and Romnichel populations. No figures are available.

Yenisch: Mostly assimilated group of ethnic Germans, misidentified as Gypsies, who formed an occupational caste of basket makers and founded an entire community in Pennsylvania after their immigration starting 1840. Because of assimilation current numbers are impossible to determine.

This inventory leaves out several Gypsy groups that have immigrated since 1970 due to the unrest and renewed persecution in Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism. They have come from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavian area, and possibly other countries. They number in few thousands by now, but their numbers are likely to increase.

Copyright @ 2002 Matt T. Salo

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Gypsy Roma and Traveller History and Culture

Gypsy Roma and Traveller people belong to minority ethnic groups that have contributed to British society for centuries. Their distinctive way of life and traditions manifest themselves in nomadism, the centrality of their extended family, unique languages and entrepreneurial economy. It is reported that there are around 300,000 Travellers in the UK and they are one of the most disadvantaged groups. The real population may be different as some members of these communities do not participate in the census .

The Traveller Movement works predominantly with ethnic Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Traveller Communities.

Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies

Irish Travellers

Traditionally, Irish Travellers are a nomadic group of people from Ireland but have a separate identity, heritage and culture to the community in general. An Irish Traveller presence can be traced back to 12th century Ireland, with migrations to Great Britain in the early 19th century. The Irish Traveller community is categorised as an ethnic minority group under the Race Relations Act, 1976 (amended 2000); the Human Rights Act 1998; and the Equality Act 2010. Some Travellers of Irish heritage identify as Pavee or Minceir, which are words from the Irish Traveller language, Shelta.

Romany Gypsies

Romany Gypsies have been in Britain since at least 1515 after migrating from continental Europe during the Roma migration from India. The term Gypsy comes from “Egyptian” which is what the settled population perceived them to be because of their dark complexion. In reality, linguistic analysis of the Romani language proves that Romany Gypsies, like the European Roma, originally came from Northern India, probably around the 12th century. French Manush Gypsies have a similar origin and culture to Romany Gypsies.

There are other groups of Travellers who may travel through Britain, such as Scottish Travellers, Welsh Travellers and English Travellers, many of whom can trace a nomadic heritage back for many generations and who may have married into or outside of more traditional Irish Traveller and Romany Gypsy families. There were already indigenous nomadic people in Britain when the Romany Gypsies first arrived hundreds of years ago and the different cultures/ethnicities have to some extent merged.

Number of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain

This year, the 2021 Census included a “Roma” category for the first time, following in the footsteps of the 2011 Census which included a “Gypsy and Irish Traveller” category. The 2021 Census statistics have not yet been released but the 2011 Census put the combined Gypsy and Irish Traveller population in England and Wales as 57,680. This was recognised by many as an underestimate for various reasons. For instance, it varies greatly with data collected locally such as from the Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments, which total the Traveller population at just over 120,000, according to our research.

Other academic estimates of the combined Gypsy, Irish Traveller and other Traveller population range from 120,000 to 300,000. Ethnic monitoring data of the Gypsy Traveller population is rarely collected by key service providers in health, employment, planning and criminal justice.

Where Gypsies and Travellers Live

Although most Gypsies and Travellers see travelling as part of their identity, they can choose to live in different ways including:

  • moving regularly around the country from site to site and being ‘on the road’
  • living permanently in caravans or mobile homes, on sites provided by the council, or on private sites
  • living in settled accommodation during winter or school term-time, travelling during the summer months
  • living in ‘bricks and mortar’ housing, settled together, but still retaining a strong commitment to Gypsy/Traveller culture and traditions

Currently, their nomadic life is being threatened by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, that is currently being deliberated in Parliament, To find out more or get involved with opposing this bill, please visit here

Although Travellers speak English in most situations, they often speak to each other in their own language; for Irish Travellers this is called Cant or Gammon* and Gypsies speak Romani, which is the only indigenous language in the UK with Indic roots.

*Sometimes referred to as “Shelta” by linguists and academics

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New Travellers and Show People

There are also Traveller groups which are known as ‘cultural’ rather than ‘ethnic’ Travellers. These include ‘new’ Travellers and Showmen. Most of the information on this page relates to ethnic Travellers but ‘Showmen’ do share many cultural traits with ethnic Travellers.

Show People are a cultural minority that have owned and operated funfairs and circuses for many generations and their identity is connected to their family businesses. They operate rides and attractions that can be seen throughout the summer months at funfairs. They generally have winter quarters where the family settles to repair the machinery that they operate and prepare for the next travelling season. Most Show People belong to the Showmen’s Guild which is an organisation that provides economic and social regulation and advocacy for Show People. The Showman’s Guild works with both central and local governments to protect the economic interests of its members.

The term New Travellers refers to people sometimes referred to as “New Age Travellers”. They are generally people who have taken to life ‘on the road’ in their own lifetime, though some New Traveller families claim to have been on the road for three consecutive generations. The New Traveller culture grew out of the hippie and free-festival movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Barge Travellers are similar to New Travellers but live on the UK’s 2,200 miles of canals. They form a distinct group in the canal network and many are former ‘new’ Travellers who moved onto the canals after changes to the law made the free festival circuit and a life on the road almost untenable. Many New Travellers have also settled into private sites or rural communes although a few groups are still travelling.

If you are a new age Traveller and require support please contact Friends, Families, and Travellers (FFT) .

Differences and Values

Differences Between Gypsies, Travellers, and Roma

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are often categorised together under the “Roma” definition in Europe and under the acronym “GRT” in Britain. These communities and other nomadic groups, such as Scottish and English Travellers, Show People and New Travellers, share a number of characteristics in common: the importance of family and/or community networks; the nomadic way of life, a tendency toward self-employment, experience of disadvantage and having the poorest health outcomes in the United Kingdom.

The Roma communities also originated from India from around the 10th/ 12th centuries and have historically faced persecution, including slavery and genocide. They are still marginalised and ghettoised in many Eastern European countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Romania etc) where they are often the largest and most visible ethnic minority group, sometimes making up 10% of the total population. However, ‘Roma’ is a political term and a self-identification of many Roma activists. In reality, European Roma populations are made up of various subgroups, some with their own form of Romani, who often identify as that group rather than by the all-encompassing Roma identity.

Travellers and Roma each have very different customs, religion, language and heritage. For instance, Gypsies are said to have originated in India and the Romani language (also spoken by Roma) is considered to consist of at least seven varieties, each a language in their own right.

Values and Culture of GRT Communities

Family, extended family bonds and networks are very important to the Gypsy and Traveller way of life, as is a distinct identity from the settled ‘Gorja’ or ‘country’ population. Family anniversaries, births, weddings and funerals are usually marked by extended family or community gatherings with strong religious ceremonial content. Gypsies and Travellers generally marry young and respect their older generation. Contrary to frequent media depiction, Traveller communities value cleanliness and tidiness.

Many Irish Travellers are practising Catholics, while some Gypsies and Travellers are part of a growing Christian Evangelical movement.

Gypsy and Traveller culture has always adapted to survive and continues to do so today. Rapid economic change, recession and the gradual dismantling of the ‘grey’ economy have driven many Gypsy and Traveller families into hard times. The criminalisation of ‘travelling’ and the dire shortage of authorised private or council sites have added to this. Some Travellers describe the effect that this is having as “a crisis in the community” . A study in Ireland put the suicide rate of Irish Traveller men as 3-5 times higher than the wider population. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the same phenomenon is happening amongst Traveller communities in the UK.

Gypsies and Travellers are also adapting to new ways, as they have always done. Most of the younger generation and some of the older generation use social network platforms to stay in touch and there is a growing recognition that reading and writing are useful tools to have. Many Gypsies and Travellers utilise their often remarkable array of skills and trades as part of the formal economy. Some Gypsies and Travellers, many supported by their families, are entering further and higher education and becoming solicitors, teachers, accountants, journalists and other professionals.

There have always been successful Gypsy and Traveller businesses, some of which are household names within their sectors, although the ethnicity of the owners is often concealed. Gypsies and Travellers have always been represented in the fields of sport and entertainment.

How Gypsies and Travellers Are Disadvantaged

The Traveller, Gypsy, and Roma communities are widely considered to be among the most socially excluded communities in the UK. They have a much lower life expectancy than the general population, with Traveller men and women living 10-12 years less than the wider population.

Travellers have higher rates of infant mortality, maternal death and stillbirths than the general population. They experience racist sentiment in the media and elsewhere, which would be socially unacceptable if directed at any other minority community. Ofsted consider young Travellers to be one of the groups most at risk of low attainment in education.

Government services rarely include Traveller views in the planning and delivery of services.

In recent years, there has been increased political networking between the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller activists and campaign organisations.

Watch this video by Travellers Times made for Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month 2021:

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Information and Support

We have a variety of helpful guides to provide you with the support you need

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The Picture Show

Daily picture show, documenting the irish travellers: a nomadic culture of yore.

Lauren Rock

Bill Cassidy and Kathleen Connors, Saggart

Throughout my life I have regularly traveled to my mother's home city of Dublin. During these trips I would regularly see groups of people living in caravans on the sides of the road, and I always wondered who they were and what their lives were like.

I later found out they belonged to a small ethnic minority called "Travellers" — nomads who spend most of their life, literally on the road. While their history has been hard to document — they have no written records — they are thought to have separated from the settled Irish community at least 1,000 years ago.

The Travellers (until recently also called "tinkers" or "gypsies") often live in ad hoc encampments, in direct contrast to "settled" people in Ireland. They are thought to be descended from a group of nomadic craftsman, with the name "tinker" a reference to the sound of a hammer hitting an anvil. (The reference is now considered derogatory.)

In 1965 Dublin-born photographer Alen MacWeeney stumbled across a Travellers' encampment and became fascinated with their way of life. He spent the next six years making photographs and recording their stories and music. Despite shooting the photos in the late '60s, it wasn't until 2007 that he found a publisher for his work.

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Bernie Ward, Cherry Orchard Courtesy of Alen MacWeeney hide caption

Bernie Ward, Cherry Orchard

In his book, Irish Travellers: Tinkers No More — which also comes with a CD of Traveller music recordings — MacWeeny shows us a gritty, intimate portrait of the people he eventually came to call friends. He compares the Travellers to the migrant farmers of the American Depression: "poor, white, and dispossessed."

"Theirs was a bigger way of life than mine, with its daily struggle for survival, compared to my struggle to find images symbolic and representative of that life," he said in his book.

MacWeeney got his start at age 20 as an assistant for Richard Avedon in Paris and has since made a career as a portrait and fashion photographer. But his images of the Travellers reveal a raw and intimate side to his work.

"Traveller families have always been very close-knit, held together in a tight unspoken knot, with lifelong bonds and sometimes varying a lifelong set of troubles," he said.

Today, however, the Traveller lifestyle has changed dramatically from even a few decades ago. Many have embraced modern culture and become "settled," no longer living apart from the mainstream. There is even a reality TV show, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding , which showcases Traveller girls and their theatrical, over-the-top weddings.

But MacWeeney believes that the Travellers are "reluctant as settled and envy the other life of travelling." His book stands as a document of an era, and a way of life that is slowly fading into the past.

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Britain's Gypsy Travellers: A People on the Outside

Despite the popularity of shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding , Britain’s Gypsy Travellers still face longstanding prejudice, warns Becky Taylor.

A Gypsy family camped in the New Forest, Hampshire in the 1890s

Two months later and Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is generating waves on television. While sympathetic and giving a voice to Gypsy Travellers, it nevertheless presents an exoticised image of their lives: the horse-drawn wagons, extravagant dresses and flamboyant wedding arrangements seem to encapsulate how they remain the ‘other’ of British society. As the opening voiceover put it: ‘For hundreds of years the Gypsy way of life was one of ancient traditions and simple tastes. Then their world collided with the 21st century. With unprecedented access to the UK’s most secretive community … this series will take you to the very heart of Gypsy life.’ If contemporary images of Gypsy Travellers seem to be polarised between vilification and the exotic, can the same be said for historical depictions of one of Britain’s oldest minority groups?

While the details remain contested, it is now broadly agreed that Europe’s Roma and Gypsy populations can trace their origins back to an Indian diaspora in the tenth century, with ‘Egyptians’ arriving in Britain by the early 16th century. Despite persecution, Gypsies established themselves, finding niches in both town and countryside, sometimes being protected by landowners who found them useful as a supply of casual labour, for entertainment and sometimes simply by the inconsistent application of the law. Their treatment reflected majority society’s deep ambivalence about the presence of Gypsies and a nomadic way of life. On the one hand it symbolised freedom from the responsibilities and duties associated with settled lifestyles – typified in folk songs such as ‘The Raggle-taggle Gypsy’; on the other it provoked an almost visceral hatred, a suspicion that Gypsies could evade the law and the codes of behaviour that bound settled society to a place and a parish.

Rather than being polar opposites, however, we might understand these stereotypes as two sides of a coin – as the product of a tendency to view Gypsy lives through the lens of the preoccupations and assumptions of mainstream society – rather than being grounded in reality. Whether articulated positively or negatively these stereotypes stem from the assumption that Gypsies were irredeemably separate from the rest of the population.

Yet, contrary to these stereotypes, Gypsies and Travellers traded with, worked and lived alongside the rest of the population: an analysis of the traditional songs sung by Gypsies and Travellers, for example, shows significant overlap with those current in wider society, suggesting a high degree of interaction between the communities, particularly in casual agricultural and seasonal labour. Arthur Harding’s classic account of the East End underworld at the beginning of the 20th century, compiled by the historian Raphael Samuel,  revealed in passing how Gypsy Travellers were part of the everyday fabric of poor urban life. David Mayall’s work on the 19th century, my own on the 20th and that of the Dutch scholars Lucassen, Willems and Cottars for the European context all confirm the ways in which the lives of Gypsy Travellers and settled populations were intimately interconnected and often how the lines between them were in fact blurred. Gypsies lived in peri-urban encampments or even cheap lodging in cities over winter alongside working-class populations, making and selling goods, moving in regular circuits across the countryside in the spring and summer, picking up seasonal work, hawking and attending fairs. Far from being ‘a separate people’, their economic survival in fact depended on close engagement with the wider population.  

The stereotypes became increasingly entrenched over the course of the 19th century as Britain’s population became increasingly urbanised and the countryside became the repository for the working out of anxieties related to the rapidly changing social and physical landscape. Alongside phenomena like the folk song revival, the cult of the ‘outdoors’ and the early caravanning movements there emerged a movement of amateur ‘gentlemen scholars’, self-styled ‘gypsiologists’, who developed an interest in recording the origins, language and customs of Britain’s Gypsy Travellers. Focused around the activities of the Gypsy Lore Society (GLS), established in 1889, they became preoccupied with the foreign ancestry of British Gypsies and with developing theories about their ‘pure bred’ nature, which often tied blood lines to Romany language use and ‘proper’ nomadic living. The Gypsy caravan, which had only made its appearance in the 1830s as a result of the improving road system, became central to settled society’s image of ‘the Gypsy’, in part through paintings, such as those of the prominent GLS member Augustus John. Fed by an outpouring of writings on the subject from the 1880s, popular imagination saw Gypsies as a people who turned up out of the blue, camped on commons or byways in their bow-topped caravan, grazed horses, sold pegs, perhaps ‘tinkering’, ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. Just as the producers of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding promised ‘unprecedented access’, so too did numerous gypsiologists spend a summer living with a group of Gypsy Travellers gaining an insight into ‘the secret people’ before writing a book about their experiences. Crucially, such Gypsies were always portrayed as ‘pure blooded’ or ‘true’ Romanies, largely untouched by modern, industrialised Britain. As one gypsiologist, Arthur Symons, wrote in the early 20th century:

Why ... are we setting ourselves the impossible task of spoiling the Gypsies? ... they stand for the will of freedom, for friendship with nature, for the open air, for change and the sight of many lands; for all of us that are in protest against progress ... The Gypsies represent nature before civilisation ... the last romance left in the world.

Crucially, for these stereotypes to find resonance in modern Britain, gypsiologists constructed a theory around the decline in the racial purity of Gypsies as they increasingly mixed and married with ‘degenerate’ members of the settled population. They developed a racial hierarchy which placed ‘pure-blooded’ Gypsies, who were believed to speak the best Romany, at the top; followed by ‘didikais’, half-breeds, or ‘pikies’ – groups with varying proportions of Gypsy blood depending on which source one reads; and ‘mumpers’, who were vagrants with no Romany ancestry, at the bottom. As David Mayall observed:

To confuse the ‘true’ Gypsy with those of diluted blood was presented as a grave error that led to much injustice being directed towards the clean-living Romany. The latter, declining in numbers as the century progressed, were superior in manners, morals and occupations to their degenerate and impoverished ‘mumply-brothers’. These half-breeds were said to have inherited all the vices of the Romany and the Gaujo [non-Gypsy] but none of their virtues.

For gypsiologists anxious to discover a Golden Age and a pure Gypsy culture this outlook allowed them to pursue their pet theories, with any contradictory findings dismissed as the result of cultural pollution and miscegenation. This enabled gypsiologists to distance themselves from the squalid, urban Traveller encampments that existed around all Britain’s major cities and any other elements that impinged on romantic notions of a rural Gypsy idyll.

Just as the impetus to romanticise Gypsies gained ground in the later 19th century, so too did negative stereotypes, as a growing body of opinion saw Travellers as being out of step with modern society. Along with longstanding beliefs about the lazy and lawless nature of Gypsies came newer concerns about their unsanitary habits, which were seen as anachronistic in a nation that increasingly set store by its housing and sanitary legislation. Added to this were commonly expressed sentiments that they were escaping from paying taxes and consequently evaded the responsibilities that came with modern living. Such views gained ground particularly in times of social difficulty. During the Second World War Gypsies were a common scapegoat for the press, which depicted them as shirkers and deserters, able to escape conscription through their nomadism and evading rationing through poaching and foraging. As the South Wales Evening Post put it: ‘Many people wonder how Gypsies get off with food rationing. It is understood, however, that hedgehogs are not rationed.’

Lacking a political voice or a representative body Gypsy Travellers responded to this entrenchment of stereotypes not by challenging them but by working within their parameters. Thomas Acton first pointed to the practice of claiming to have ‘pure Gypsy blood’ as a means of asserting an individual’s right to travel, while scapegoating other travelling communities: ‘I’m a real Gypsy/Traveller/Romani, and we don’t do that, only the (ethnic category name with pejorative overtones)’. He observed that the effect of this ‘transference of blame’ was to divert the hostility of the accuser away from that particular individual to an absent outsider group which both parties could agree was fundamentally incapable of maintaining a nomadic lifestyle. While in the short run this was ‘an attractive strategy for the individual Traveller’, it was not without its shortcomings, as it served to confirm racialised definitions of

Travellers, equating a right to travel with spurious definitions of blood purity. It was not until the 1960s and the formation of the Gypsy Council that Gypsy Travellers as a community found a collective voice, one which tried to assert that all had a right to travel and that nomadism did have a place in modern Britain. While it scored some early successes, notably in the 1968 Caravan Sites Act, its influence both within and outside the travelling community has declined over recent years and has failed to dislodge the enduring stereotypes surrounding Gypsies.

Travellers have modernised alongside the rest of society and are not a ‘secret people’ living in the manner of their great grandparents. Crucially this change in their lifestyle has removed what settled society understands as the markers of ‘true’ Gypsies: bow-topped caravans, horses and so on. These images of Gypsies have become the rod with which their back is consistently beaten: failing to conform to romantic expectations, the stereotypes most often deployed in the popular press and by politicians are the negative ones relating to anti-social behaviour and an inability to adapt to the standards of ‘normal’ society.

This leads us back to the people of Dale Farm and the stars of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding . We may wonder at the dresses and tut over wedding venues cancelling bookings when they find they are to host a Traveller wedding, but this translates into neither an understanding of the place of Gypsy Travellers in British society nor positive political action. Living in an ex-scrapyard by the side of a busy dual carriageway, the Dale Farm homes are immaculate trailers from which furniture-selling businesses are run. Vulnerable through their lack of romantic visual appeal and unable to attract political representation, Travellers are facing the active prejudice not just of Basildon Council but of councils across the country, which decide not only that Travellers may not stay on their own land, but are also determined that there is no place for a Traveller community within its district. It is surely time for us to move beyond the stereotypes which have served Gypsy Travellers, settled society and historical analysis so ill for centuries and instead have the strength to embrace the diversity and richness represented by Britain’s nomadic communities. Seeing 80 families being put onto the highway will be Britain’s shame as much as Sarkozy’s expulsion of Roma from France.

Becky Taylor is author of A Minority and the State: Travellers in Britain in the 20th Century (Manchester University Press, 2008).

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9 myths and the truth about Gypsies and Travellers

For starters, only a small number of travellers camp illegally

  • 00:01, 25 OCT 2019
  • Updated 15:20, 25 OCT 2019

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Travellers and Gypsies are one of the most misunderstood minority groups in the UK.

To combat this  the Travellers' Times website has created a guide, which aims to promote positive images of the Traveller and Gypsy community.

It has been written in response to hate crime and racist language directed towards their communities.

Cambridgeshire has seen tensions between the Traveller and settled communities in recent years, with caravans pitching on unauthorised sites across including Fulbourn, Papworth, Cambourne and at Cambridge Business and Research Park.

As well as causing disruption to residential communities, there can often be a hefty clean-up bill as some groups leave behind piles of rubbish.

Cambridge police say they are committed to working with local councils to tackle the problem and has previously used powers under Section 61 of the Crime and Disorder Act to order unlawful encampments to disperse.

But, as the Travellers' Times points out, a only a small number of Travellers camp illegally.

While tensions can run high at times many people hold misconceptions, which Travellers' Times hopes to dispell.

Things you should know about gypsies and travellers according to Travellers' Times

There are nine reoccurring myths and misconceptions about their culture and origins.

1) Who are the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers?

Travellers and Gypsies have a rich and varied history.

Romany Gypsies are the descendants of a migration of peoples from Northern India in the 10-12AD, who spread across Eastern and Western Europe, reaching Great Britain in around the 1600’s.

Irish Travellers – or Pavee – and Scottish Travellers - are the descendants of a nomadic people who have traditionally inhabited Ireland and mainland Britain.

Roma usually refers to the descendants of the migration of various groups of peoples from Northern India in the 10th to 12th century who settled in Eastern and Western Europe.

2) Should we use a capital letter to start ‘gypsy and/or traveller’?

Romany Gypsies, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Travellers are all ethnic minorities, recognised under UK law and the Irish government.

Therefore it is customary to capitalise ‘G’ and ‘T’ for Gypsies and Travellers.

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3) Lifestyle, ethnic group or ‘community’?

Research shows Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT) should be seen as ethnic groups rather than ‘lifestyles’.

All the different GRT groups in the UK have a shared language or dialect, some shared cultural practices, most will identify as an ethnic group, and all individuals from all groups are legally recognised as ethnic minorities under the Equalities Act 2010.

4) How many Travellers live in the UK?

In the 2011 Census, 58,000 people identified themselves as Gypsy or Irish Traveller, accounting for just 0.1 per cent of the resident population of England and Wales. However the figure is likely to be much higher.

5) Traveller politics

There is a cross-party parliamentary group called the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

This is currently led by the charity Friends, Families and Travellers and the co-Chairs are Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, and Baroness Janet Whitaker.

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6) Where do Travellers live?

The number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England and Wales is recorded twice yearly.

The vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans stay on permanent public and private sites which have planning permission, waste collection and are subject to rent (unless of course the site is privately owned by the occupier), council tax and utility bills.

7) A small minority pitch on unauthorised land

A small minority of Gypsies and Traveller caravans are classed as unauthorised and staying on land they do not own, such as roadside camps.

This minority, which will include Gypsies and Travellers with no other place to stay and also Gypsies and Travellers moving off authorised sites to go ‘travelling’ during the summer, receives the vast majority of local news coverage.

7) Criminal Justice System

Far too many Gypsies and Travellers are in prison, as many as five per cent of the population according to Government research.

Meanwhile 0.13 per cent of the general UK population are in prision.

The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain works with Gypsies and Travellers in custody. Some prisons have their own GRT Prisoner Groups. The Travellers’ Times Magazine is delivered free to many UK HMP’s and the editor receives many letters from prisoners.

traveller gypsy

8) Nomadism

Nomadism is a shared heritage of Gypsies and Travellers and not a present reality.

Not all Gypsies and Irish and Scottish Travellers ‘travel’ – or may only ‘travel’ to traditional cultural events like Appleby Horse Fair.

9) Prejudice, oppression and the Holocaust

Many Gypsies, Roma and Travellers face daily prejudice based on negative stereotyping and misunderstanding.

This is because people generalise from the anti-social actions of a few and protect that onto the whole population.

Prejudice against them is longstanding.

In some Eastern and even Western European countries, Roma are segregated and live in camps and slums isolated from the rest of the population.

Alongside the Jewish population Roma were specifically singled out for extermination by Nazi racial policy.

Historians estimate the number murdered by Nazi and axis regimes during the Second World War to be around 500,000, although some historians say it is closer to a million.

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Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month , Heritage

Written by: Guest Blog Fri 23 June 2023

The persecution of Gypsy Travellers in Scotland – a timeline

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is a time to celebrate Gypsy, Roma and Traveller heritage, but it’s also a time to confront uncomfortable truths. Nacken, artist and activist Shamus McPhee takes a look at the history of persecution endured by Gypsy Travellers in Scotland.

A paining of modern caravans in a forest clearing. There is snow on the ground with black tire tracks. The sky is pink.

Scotland’s relationship with its Gypsy Traveller population is a complex one. From romanticised to demonised, it can feel like Scotland is determined to “other” this culture, despite its long history as part of Scotland’s story.

In this blog, Shamus McPhee, an artist, activist and Nacken , takes a look at nearly 500 years of oppression. Please be aware that this blog uses some terminology which some may find offensive.

Renaissance Scotland

Persecution has regularly visited upon Nackens, or Gypsy Travellers, in Scotland. Time and time again, we see it throughout the annals of history. Since the mid-sixteenth century successive purges have been aimed at eradicating the culture.

While records show that Gypsies were initially welcomed into Scotland, the Reformation signalled a downturn in group fortunes. The first anti-Gypsy law was enacted in 1541. Gypsies were to leave Scotland “under the pain of death”.

The year 1571 saw the Act of Stringency heighten the punishment for anyone convicted of being a Gypsy. This became the order of the day for the ensuing 33 years. Hanging, branding, drowning, pinning Gypsies to trees by the ears, lopping off ears and deportation were all legalised.

In 1603, the Privy Council ordered all Gypsies to leave Scotland, never to return, again, on pain of death. The “Act Anent the Egiptians” was ratified in 1609. Many examples of executions carried out under this Act are recounted by Sir Walter Scott in a series of articles in the Edinburgh Magazine of 1817 and by David MacRitchie in his work, Scottish Gypsies under the Stewarts . Scott’s listings include evidence of a total of nineteen hangings in the first month of 1624. It was also under this law that Jamie MacPherson was hanged , along with James Gordon, on 17 November 1700.

From Scotland to Scandinavia

Given the level of reprisal, it is known that some Scottish Nackens, or Gypsy Travellers migrated to Scandinavia. It is perhaps not insignificant that the term Näcken, pronounced ‘Necken’, appears in Scandinavian folklore as the name of an unsavoury water sprite.

Certainly, we know that Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian Romani attribute their origins to migrant Scottish Gypsies. These groups were in turn expelled from Sweden in 1637. this is part of a pattern of purges on Gypsy Travellers that can be found all over Europe. In many of these cases, Gypsies were ordered to leave and could be executed when they failed to comply.

Death and deportation

The last individuals to be executed in Scotland for being Gypsies were Agnes McDonald and Jean Baillie. The two women were sent to their deaths in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh, in 1714.

an engraving showing the Grassmarket, below Edinburgh Castle. It is a lively image with busting crowds. People push wheelbarrows full of good and dogs and chickens roam the streets.

The Grassmarket as it appeared in the 1820s, 100 years after Agnes McDonald and Jean Baillie were executed. The last hanging in the Grassmarket took place in 1784. Zoom in on this image on Canmore .

Death was not the only punishment meted out at this time, however. In 1701, Alexander Stewart, believed to be a Gypsy Traveller, had his death sentence for theft commuted to being a ‘perpetual servant’ in Scotland. A brass collar inscribed with his name and crime, as well as his sentence, is in the National Museums Scotland.

Scottish serf's collar 1701.

The collar worn by Alexander Stewart. Image via Wikimedia Commons .

Gypsy Travellers were also shipped to plantations in British colonies. As early as 1665 there are records of Gypsies in Scotland being deported to plantations in Jamaica and Barbados. Among other examples, around 1714, eight Gypsy Travellers were ‘sentenced to be transported to the Queen’s American plantations for life’.

Culture change

While the eighteenth century was overshadowed by deportations and executions, by the nineteenth century, the authorities switched their focus to a clampdown on nomadism.

The Trespass (Scotland) Act, 1865, made it an offence to encamp or light a fire on a road or cultivated ground, in or near any plantation, without the prior consent of the landowner. It also empowered police forces to arrest, detain and present before a magistrate any perpetrator. Section 3 of the Trespass Act is still most commonly invoked to pursue an eviction to this day.

A painting in bright colours showing a family sitting outside a traditional Gypsy Traveller Caravan.

‘No Common Ground’ © Shamus McPhee.

A roadmap to extinction

Following this, in 1894, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, Secretary for Scotland, commissioned an Inquiry into Habitual Offenders, Vagrants, Beggars, Inebriates, and Juvenile Delinquents. It served as a catalyst in the drive to “extirpate” Gypsy Travellers – the aim was to eradicate the culture completely. It was hoped that they would be “absorbed into the labouring population”.

A gypsy family at an evening encampment: the father, mother and four children sit round a fire with cooking pots, while behind them is their horse and cart.

This photo, taken around 1906 shows a Gypsy family camped in Galloway.

The 1895 Scottish Traveller Report drew up a number of recommendations that would govern policy thereafter. It advocated the creation of ‘reserves’ to contain Gypsy Travellers and that education to be used as a tool to disable the culture. Children were to be taken from their parents and placed in industrial schools or under the care of charities such as Quarriers and Barnardos, or on Mars ships (for correctional training). Others were to be shipped abroad to the colonies, primarily to Canada and Australia.

On a mission

During WWI, the Departmental Committee on Tinkers in Scotland sprang up. Initially this national body was tasked with the rehabilitation of servicemen and their families. It wished to “anchor the tinker” and make him prove useful to society. Soon the government, local authorities and churches were working in partnership. Their goal was to expunge the scourge that they perceived to be a blight on society. Increasingly, churches became involved in home missionary work, striving to reclaim the sinners and banish “the increasing evil”.

Semi-permanent compounds, such as that established by The Free Church in Campbeltown, were being trialled during the winter months. Parents were encouraged to stay long enough for children to be educated out of their nomadic ways. The plan was to “lengthen the time of control gradually” and ultimately to settle these families.

Dorothea Maitland, one of the Church of Scotland’s home missionaries undertook a study visit to Surrey in 1932. There she toured a camp for Gypsies run by the control committee. This led to conversations between the Department of Health for Scotland and the Departmental Committee on Tinkers in Scotland as to whether experiments of this sort could be used in Scotland. The intent here was to find a model to forcibly settle and assimilate the Gypsy Traveller population in Scotland.

Newspaper reports from the 1910s to the 1940s refer to planned experiments to settle and assimilate Gypsy Travellers across Scotland. Councils in Angus, Caithness, Moray and Perthshire all developed plans.

Housing experiments

My research into one such experiment established at Bobbin Mill in Pitlochry has revealed details of these types of plans. I have a personal interest in the site, as I was born there.

traveller gypsy

Hut number one at Bobbin Mill. © Shamus McPhee.

In 1946 a de-commissioned military prefabricated building was relocated to the site of an old mill for use as accommodation. The Department of Health took on the responsibility of running and maintenance costs on the agreement that these were kept to a minimum. The accommodation was to be deliberately sub-standard. It was feared that anything superior might “prejudice the success of the experiment”. The residents were to be “subject to fairly close supervision”, and monitored over a twenty-year period.

Within a decade of the initiation of the Bobbin Mill experiment, Mr J. Nixon Browne, Joint Under Secretary of State for Scotland, was able to disclose in a Westminster debate, that Gypsy Traveller numbers had been cut dramatically across Scotland, from 4,260 families to 345.

Still with us today

Police powers to prevent camping, coupled with housing experiments meant that Gypsy Travellers began to disappear from habitual roadside camps. Pressure applied to camping through the Trespass Act was further strengthened by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994. It bestowed additional powers on police attending an encampment to decide if an offence had been committed. It became unlawful to stop, even with the landowner’s permission.

Although the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, allows for camping, it includes strict limitations on time and numbers camping. Under this Act, there is still no chance for Gypsy Travellers to meet and camp as extended families at traditional stopping places.

A painting using bright colours. A family stands in a small clearing surrounded by small modern dome tents. They are watching the Northern Lights.

‘Wild Campers Catch the Lights’ © Shamus McPhee.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

The persecution faced by Gypsy Travellers has changed over time. Expulsion, execution, transportation and laws against camping have all played their part. Gypsy Travellers continue to be recognised as one of the most marginalised and discriminated against groups in Scotland today. Ongoing discrimination led to the establishment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (GRTHM) in 2008.

Looking to anti-colonial and anti-racist models of working, GRTHM highlights the history Gypsy, Roma and Travellers (GRT) in the UK. It both celebrates GRT culture and heritage, as well as making visible the more difficult parts of their history. For information on events in Scotland celebrating GRTHM 2023, as well as an archive of films and resources from previous GRTHMs in Scotland, please visit www.GRTHM.scot.

About the author

This blog was written by Shamus McPhee. Shamus is a Nacken, artist and social justice activist. Dr Rhona Ramsay provided some academic input. She is a researcher who recently completed a thesis on the absence and presence of Gypsy/Travellers in Scottish museums.

Banner image: Big Chill at Bobbin Mill by Shamus McPhee.

About Author

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From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of Historic Environment Scotland. View all posts by Guest Blog

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TravelAsker

How do a traveler and a gypsy differ from each other?

Travel Destinations

June 19, 2023

By Kristy Tolley

Traveler vs. Gypsy: A Comparison

When it comes to travelling, two terms that often come up are "traveler" and "gypsy". Although they may seem interchangeable, the two are vastly different in terms of their motivations, lifestyles, and experiences. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between a traveler and a gypsy and the unique ways in which they approach the art of exploration.

Definition: Traveler and Gypsy

A traveler is someone who embarks on a journey to explore new places, cultures, and experiences. They may be motivated by a desire for adventure, personal growth, or a simple love of travel. On the other hand, a gypsy is a member of a nomadic community with a distinct culture and way of life. While they may also travel to different places, their primary motivation is to maintain their traditional lifestyle and uphold their cultural traditions.

Traveler: Motivation & Purpose

A traveler’s motivation for embarking on a journey can vary greatly. Some may seek adventure and new experiences, while others may be looking to escape their daily routine and recharge their batteries. Regardless of their motivation, travelers often have a specific purpose in mind for their journey, whether it’s to visit a particular destination, learn a new skill, or simply relax and unwind.

Gypsy: Nomadic Lifestyle & Culture

For a gypsy, the nomadic lifestyle is not just a means of travel, but a way of life. They have their own unique culture, language, and traditions that they strive to uphold as they travel from place to place. Their lifestyle is rooted in a deep sense of community and family, and they often travel in large groups or caravans to maintain their sense of belonging.

Traveler: Planning & Preparation

Travelers often spend a significant amount of time planning and preparing for their journeys. They may research destinations, book accommodations and transportation, and create detailed itineraries to ensure that they make the most of their time on the road. They may also invest in travel gear and gadgets to make their journey more comfortable and convenient.

Gypsy: Adaptability & Resourcefulness

Gypsies, on the other hand, are known for their adaptability and resourcefulness. They have to be able to thrive in a variety of environments with limited resources, whether they’re camping in the wilderness or living in a crowded urban area. They often rely on their own skills and ingenuity to find food, shelter, and other necessities.

Traveler: Accommodation & Transportation

When it comes to accommodation and transportation, travelers have a wide range of options. They may choose to stay in hotels, hostels, or vacation rentals, or even camp in the great outdoors. They may also use a variety of transportation modes, from planes and trains to buses and rental cars.

Gypsy: Traditional Living & Conveyance

Gypsies, on the other hand, often rely on more traditional forms of accommodation and transportation. They may camp in tents or caravans, or even live in a van or RV. Their primary mode of conveyance is often a horse-drawn wagon or caravan, which allows them to maintain their nomadic lifestyle while also carrying their belongings and goods.

Traveler: Tourist Destinations & Experiences

For many travelers, visiting tourist destinations and experiencing local attractions is a key part of their journey. They may visit famous landmarks, take guided tours, or participate in adventure activities like hiking, skiing, or surfing. They may also seek out local cuisine, attend cultural events, or simply soak up the atmosphere of each place they visit.

Gypsy: Unique Encounters & Traditions

Gypsies, on the other hand, often have unique encounters and experiences as they travel. They may participate in traditional festivals or ceremonies, engage in traditional crafts or trades, or even perform music or dance as a means of earning a living. They often have a deep connection to the places they visit and the people they meet, and view their travels as a way of preserving their cultural heritage.

Challenges: Traveler vs. Gypsy

Both travelers and gypsies face their own set of challenges as they explore new places. Travelers may struggle with language barriers, cultural differences, or unfamiliar customs, while gypsies may face discrimination or prejudice due to their nomadic lifestyle. Both groups may also encounter logistical challenges, such as navigating unfamiliar transportation systems or finding suitable accommodations.

Conclusion: The Distinctive Ways of Life

In conclusion, while travelers and gypsies may share a love of travel and exploration, they are fundamentally different in terms of their motivations, lifestyles, and experiences. Whether you’re a traveler or a gypsy, there is no right or wrong way to explore the world – only unique and distinctive ways of life that offer their own rewards and challenges. By understanding the differences between the two, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich diversity of the human experience.

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Difference Between Gypsies and Travellers

• Categorized under Miscellaneous | Difference Between Gypsies and Travellers

gypsies-and-travellers_s

Gypsies and Travelers are distinct groupings of wandering people. Both groups are generally considered as nomadic societies that travel from one place to another. For most people, Gypsies and Travellers are one and the same. However, the two groups are totally different from one another.

First of all, the origins of Gypsies and Travelers differ from one another. Experts believed that the Gypsies have Hindu origins. Early Europeans thought that the Gypsy people came from Egypt. On the other hand, the Travellers can trace their origins from a sub-society in Ireland. So it is very common to refer to Travellers as Irish Travelers.

The languages of Gypsies and Travelers are also different. The Gypsy people have a unique language which is closely related to the dialects of the Northern Indian subcontinent. Over the centuries, several Gypsy societies arose and also developed their own distinct languages.

On the other hand, the Travellers speak a common language called Shelta. Among different Traveller groupings, two dialects are spoken. These are the Gamin and Cant dialects.

Large concentrations of Gypsies can be found across Eastern Europe and parts of Germany. Gypsy societies abound in Albania and Hungary. Meanwhile Travellers are fairly concentrated in Ireland, United Kingdom, and some parts of Northern America.

In terms of physical profile, the Travellers look like the general population of Ireland. They have fair skin but some groupings look like Caucasians. In contrast, the Gypsies have oriental looks. They have darker skin than the Travellers and they resemble the physical profiles of the peoples of India and Egypt.

Gypsies and Travellers are two distinct societies. While both are nomadic peoples, the two societies have totally different origins, culture, language, and physical profile. The Gypsies are generally found in Eastern Europe while the Travellers usually walk inside the territories of Ireland, UK, and the Americas.

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Cite APA 7 , . (2009, October 25). Difference Between Gypsies and Travellers. Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects. http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-gypsies-and-travellers/. MLA 8 , . "Difference Between Gypsies and Travellers." Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects, 25 October, 2009, http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-gypsies-and-travellers/.

Reminder G*pay is a slur and if you are not Romani, do not say it and Travellers are not Romani

I suspect I am from Irish travellers somewhere in my family ancestry. I have been brought up knowing certain traditions and superstitions and adhering to them. I have now discovered these pass down Irish travelling communities as well as other ways of doing things. How can I confirm this and/or further educate myself. I’ll be very sad if its not the case but these traditions cannot be lost or faded out. They are so special. Any advice or guidance welcome

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Written by : Mabelle. and updated on 2009, October 25 Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

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Gypsy/Travellers

The term 'Gypsy/Travellers' refers to distinct groups – such as Roma, Romany Gypsies, Scottish and Irish Travellers – who consider the travelling lifestyle part of their ethnic identity.

We are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all of Scotland's Gypsy/Travellers, a particularly marginalised group.

  • improving educational outcomes for Gypsy/Traveller children
  • introducing improvements in social care and accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers
  • focussing on the above areas based on findings from the 2011 census relating to the needs of Gypsy/Travellers

The 2011 census was the first to include an option for Gypsy/Travellers in the ethnicity category. This means the census has enabled baseline data for Gypsy/Travellers to be developed across a range of areas including accommodation, health, education and employment.

In the census, 4,200 people identified themselves as 'White: Gypsy/Traveller' (it is likely that some chose not to). Organisations that work with Gypsy/Travellers believe Scotland's community comprises 15,000 to 20,000 people.

We are working to ensure equality for Gypsy/Travellers by integrating their needs into policies such as health, education and social services. We make equality considerations part of our everyday work. Find out more about: mainstreaming equality .

On 11 December 2017, we launched the  Race Equality Action Plan , which includes a specific section on Gypsy/Travellers. We also established  a ministerial working group  to take action to improve the lives of Gypsy/Traveller communities in Scotland.  In October 2019 we published Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers  jointly with COSLA which includes a number of actions to provide more and better accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers. 

Email: [email protected] – Central Enquiry Unit

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

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Welcome listeners to Travellers Talk, a podcast made for and created by the Gypsy Traveller and Roma people. In this exclusive podcast series, we are bringing your voices to life. Hosted by our communities, listeners can hear the wide range of conversations with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists, campaign workers and everyday people on topics that include heritage, arts, fighting discrimination and much more. We are a space where our experiences are talked about, where our stories come together, and where our voices are heard. In each episode, we talk about what matters to us, from everyday issues and pride in who we are, health and education, our histories and much more. Nothing is off limits on Travellers Talk. This podcast is a space for all of our voices to be heard. So get ready to tune in for fun chats, important discussions and stories that celebrate what makes us who we are. This is Travellers Talk. Produced by Travellers' Times & Rural Media.

Travellers' Talk Travellers' Times & Rural Media

  • Society & Culture
  • JUN 12, 2024

Introducing Travellers' Talk

Next week we will be releasing our brand new podcast Travellers' Talk, a podcast made for and created by the Gypsy Traveller and Roma people. In this exclusive podcast series, we are bringing your voices to life. Hosted by our communities, listeners can hear the wide range of conversations with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller artists, campaign workers and everyday people on topics that include heritage, arts, fighting discrimination and much more. Travellers' Talk will be a space for all of our voices to be heard, so get ready to tune in for fun chats, important discussions and stories that celebrate what makes us who we are. 

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Photographer spends two years with traveller families

They are one of Britain’s oldest and, in the view of those who know them, most “misunderstood” minorities.

But a photographer hopes his work will show travellers and Romany people in a more sympathetic light, dispelling the myths and negative connotations that have grown up around the community.

Sam Wright’s ambition may be about to be fulfilled. His work has been shortlisted for the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity prize, one of the country’s most prestigious photographic awards.

Mr Wright, whose selected photograph titled Family at the Fair, Cumbria, UK – showing five young traveller girls posing on the steps and porch of their traditional caravan – told the judges: “Misrepresentation by the media has been damaging to these communities. I sought to counter this with an honest portrayal, challenging misconceptions and showcasing their passion and resilience.

“As mounting challenges threaten the traveller and gypsy communities, I believe it is time for a positive change in attitudes, and I hope this project contributes to that shift.”

Appleby Fair

Mr Wright spent two years with travelling families, attending numerous fairs and traditional gatherings across the country, including the famous Appleby Fair , which dates back to the 1600s.

“My experience was in stark contrast to the stereotype, and from that moment, I knew this was a story that needed to be told, and I wanted to invest the time to do it.”

He says that what began as a fact-finding mission evolved into a cultural exchange with a group pushed to the fringes of society.

When Mr Wright told friends and colleagues of his project he was met with what he said was a barrage of stereotypical responses.

“People would advise me not to go,” he said. “They told me there would be trouble. ‘Don’t take expensive equipment!’ I quickly saw the prejudice facing the traveller community before I even arrived.”

‘Her background isn’t discussed’

The assignment became personal for the Sheffield-born photographer after he discovered his great-grandmother was part of the community.

“I wanted to understand this aspect of my family heritage,” Mr Wright told the writer Gem Fletcher. “My uncle has shared some information, but her background isn’t discussed within the family. She lived on the road until she married a farmer and was forced to denounce her connection to that world. It’s a sensitive subject, but I felt I needed to delve into it to know her better.”

Also shortlisted for the award is a powerful portrait of an Indian woman blinded in an acid attack, taken by Erberto Zani.

Mr Zani said the woman, called Anumukherjee, had undergone 22 operations after being attacked by a female friend jealous of her beauty. The attacker was jailed for 10 years and has since been released.

Another work shortlisted is Shane Coughlan’s portrait of an old man, taken on a street corner in Dublin.

Old-world respect and dignity

In his submission Mr Coughlan said: “I turned the corner onto a row of old cottages to see Patrick returning home from the shops. He has lived on the street with his brother and sister for 80 years. In his suit, shirt and tie, Pioneer and Holy Cross medals, he defines the old-world respect and dignity of a gentleman from Dublin’s north inner city.”

The British Journal of Photography describes its Portrait of Humanity Award as “a call for unity and an urgent reminder of the shared fight against humanity’s biggest challenges: to protect the environment, choice over our own bodies, and the right to be and love whomever we want”.

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Family at the Fair, Cumbria, UK by Sam Wright

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils showcase their culture in groundbreaking exhibition

  • Photography
  • Friday 14 June 2024 at 4:56pm

Mike Griffiths

Reporter, ITV Wales

The lives and traditions of children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in South Wales are being celebrated in a new project.

Pupils from West Monmouth School in Pontypool have created and curated the Wanderlust exhibition, which runs at Torfaen Museum until the middle of July.

The scheme, launched to tie in with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month, offers a candid insight into the lives of the families taking part.

Torfaen Traveller Education Service works with local families to build relationships and support young people in schools.

Savannah Miller says she's found the support invaluable, and now works with the unit herself to help other families in the area.

"We're not just a label. We're not just a stereotype" she says.

"We are human beings and our culture is our way of life. Family, religion, and traditional values are general is really important for the traveling community."

"It's been nice to be able to share [the project] with my family because my dad is a Traveller and I don't think he would have ever thought that he'd be able to do something like this to involve his community"

"It's been nice to be able to see the impact it's had on them. Even just taking a few photos or having a few photos taken and talking about their way of life".

Photographer Jon Pountney and poet and playwright Patrick Jones have worked with the children to develop their skills.

"It was just a really fulfilling project from the start" he says.

"It was a very informal, calm environment [with] a little space at the table. So it wasn't pressurised!"

"As you can see with some of the poems, they're really moving. People wrote about their family, about what they believe in in life and about how they view the world."

"It's really important for our Gypsy and Traveller families to feel part of a mainstream community" says Lynne Robinson, who leads the Torfaen Traveller Education Service.

"We've got outstanding partnerships with our local primary schools, and we really encourage all the families to engage really well.

"Gypsy & Traveller History Month gives us the opportunity to actually showcase how wonderful our community is that I'm honoured to serve and also the young people and how talented they are".

Her colleague Bronwyn Parker has helped the children realise their ideas.

"I think at the start the pupils were possibly nervous about how they were going to create some art or some poetry, and they've actually smashed it" she says.

"We've looked at things like their inspirations, their traditions, things that were important to them"

"They've really embraced it and been really passionate about taking photos and sharing their stories and showing the community. We're really proud!"

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How to watch ‘gypsy rose: life after lock up’ online.

The 32-year-old gives a glimpse into how she's navigating relationships, her public and private identity and more in a new unscripted series for Lifetime.

By Danielle Directo-Meston

Danielle Directo-Meston

E-Commerce Writer

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How to Watch 'Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up' Online

Gypsy Rose Blanchard is in her “ reality TV era .” After sharing a glimpse into her life in prison in a six-episode docuseries , the 32-year-old opens up about how she’s navigating her newfound freedom and establishing her identity in a new unscripted series for Lifetime.

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At a Glance: How to Watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lockup Online

  • Premiere date Monday, June 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
  • Channel Lifetime
  • No. of episodes 8
  • Stream online DirecTV , Frndly , Fubo , Hulu + Live TV , Philo , Sling

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter , Blanchard explained that she didn’t want to be defined by her life in prison.

“I’m about to head into a new chapter in my life, a new look, a new me, new style, new everything,” she says. “You get little bits and pieces of what my life has been like in the last five months from articles online, TikTok videos, social media, little bits here and there. But no one gets to actually be in the room with me except for my family. … And for me that was important to show, no,  this  is who I am.”

Below, watch the trailer and keep reading for more on how to watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up online with and without cable.

How to Watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up : Premiere Date, Episode Release Schedule

Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up premieres on Lifetime on Monday, June 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The first season spans eight episodes, which will be released weekly on Mondays. The season finale airs on July 22.

How to Stream Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up Online

All eight episodes of Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up will be available to watch online the day after they air on Mylifetime.com or the Lifetime app. It’s likely that the series will also be available to buy or rent online through Apple TV, Prime Video and other video-on-demand platforms after the season finale on July 22.

Subscribers of traditional and streaming cable services can watch the series on Lifetime’s website or app by login in with their TV provider credentials including DirecTV , Frndly , Fubo , Hulu + Live TV , Philo , Sling , Verizon , Xfinity and others.

Those who prefer to watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up online live when it airs on Lifetime can stream it on cable TV streaming services that carry the network, such as DirecTV , Frndly , Fubo , Hulu + Live TV , Philo , Sling and others.

Read on for all of the ways to stream Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up with and without cable, including for free.

DirecTV Stream

Watch the first episode of Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up online for free on Lifetime when you sign up for a seven-day trial of DirecTV Stream . The cable provider’s streaming plan starts at $69.99 and includes live TV, on-demand content and more than 75 other channels, including CNN, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, AMC and others. Other plans offer over 105-150 channels, and DirecTV is offering a limited-time deal for eligible subscribers that saves $10 off per month for the first 24 months, plus a $100 Visa gift card.  Learn more here .

One of the most affordable cable streaming services includes Frndly , which offers a seven-day free trial and carries Lifetime and other family-friendly channels starting at $6.99 per month. The streamer’s lineup also includes Hallmark Channel, A&E and over 40 lifestyle channels; l earn more about Frndly here .

Stream Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up for free with a five-day trial of Fubo , which carries Lifetime plus more than 170 other news, entertainment and sports channels starting at $74.99 per month. Other plans include the Elite package (254 channels for $84.99 monthly) and the Ultimate tier that comes with 298 channels, NFL RedZone, Showtime and 4K quality for $100 monthly.

Hulu + Live TV

New subscribers of Hulu + Live TV can watch the first episode of Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up for free with the streaming service’s three-day trial. The live TV streamer is bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ and includes NBC and 75 other major cable news, entertainment and sports channels from $76.99 per month with ads or $89.99 without ads. You’ll also get access to live streaming and events on ESPN+, like UFC Fight Night , PGA golf, soccer and baseball. Hulu subscribers also get access to the streamer’s limited original series, The Act , which starred Joey King and Patricia Arquette.

Affordable cable TV streamer Philo offers a seven-day free trial, and new subscribers can watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up ‘s first episode during that period. The online streamer carries over 50 classic TV, lifestyle and news channels for $25 per month.

You can watch Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up on Lifetime with a subscription to Sling , which is on sale starting at $15 per month for new subscribers. Lifetime is available on Sling’s individual Orange and Blue and combined Orange & Blue packages; learn more about the latest deals here .

Who is Gypsy Rose Blanchard?: Murder Trial, Where She Is Now

Blanchard now lives in Louisiana with her ex-fiancé, Ken Urker (whom she met while in prison), after filing for divorce from husband Ryan Anderson (whom she also met and wed while incarcerated).

Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up TV Series Synopsis, Where to Watch Other Documentaries and Shows

Per Lifetime, Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up “is an authentic, raw and revealing look at Gypsy’s new life on the outside. From the joyful moments as she is free to make her own decisions for the first time, to the challenges of navigating life and relationships while facing her past, including the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, and Gypsy’s own notoriety and fame. In this delayed-coming-of-age story, Gypsy must reconcile the pop-culture, celebrity version of herself while trying to forge her brand-new identity in a ‘normal’ world as wife, sister, daughter and most of all – a free woman.”

Blanchard first shared her story in Lifetime’s six-episode docuseries, The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose , which is available to buy or rent on Apple TV , Prime Video and other video-on-demand platforms, or to stream online at Lifetime’s website or app by logging in with a traditional or streaming cable TV account (such as DirecTV , Frndly , Fubo , Hulu + Live TV , Philo and Sling ).

Her story also inspired a Hulu limited original series, The Act , starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette; as well as countless other unofficial documentaries.

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