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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

King of the Gypsies

Recorded 26.5.1984 at Suckley, Worcestershire by Eric Payne

Bob recounted that:- “Scarratt was the King of the Gypsies.   When one dies, they pick another. He was one of the richer type of Romany, he was a Romany you see … there’s a difference between a Gypsy and a hedge crawler that’s taken to the road.

They had two great big horses on a pole pulling the van through here and his family were ‘well to do’, with sovereigns on their fingers and in their ears. All their money was more or less carried on their person, although some was, I think, in their milk churns or in their vardos’. They had no bank accounts, no bank books, they couldn’t read anything – that was the idea of that.

Scarratt would lead and go first with his showpiece van and his horses on the pole, nobody else had a van and horses, so they stood out like a sore thumb! If you were working at the roadside when he passed, you’d look up at him and say ‘How are you’ …. you knew it was Scarratt, he hadn’t a name on his van, but you knew it was him with his piebald horses. Word would have gone round that he was on his way, so the other vans started to gather but nobody would proceed until he had gone first. Scarratt administered his own law. He would give offenders up to the police if they’d done anything terrible, but if it was a trivial offence he’d see to it, and if he thought it was bad enough, he’d drum ‘em out, they were no longer in his kingdom .. and he was King!”

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