The author George Borrow (1803-1881) had a life-long fascination for the Romany Gypsies of East Anglia. He was particularly closely associated with the Smith family and based the ‘Jasper Petulengro’ character of his novels Lavengro and The Romany Rye on one of their number: Ambrose Smith (c1804-1878).
This site is dedicated to finding out more and sharing information about these so-called “Borrow’s Gypsies”.
As well as Smith – my own line of descent – the family tree of “Borrow’s Gypsies” includes the surnames Draper, Robinson, Lee, Cooper, Chilcott, Whatnell, Boswell, Hope, Young, Heron, Lovell, Mace, Gray, Shaw, Buckley, Taylor, Pinfold, Gaskin, Brown and Franklin.
And while they all originated in the eastern counties of England, they travelled extensively in the 19th century. Different branches of the family eventually settled in southern Scotland, Dublin in Ireland, Blackpool in Lancashire and North America – to name just a few locations.
So if you’re researching the lives of Gypsy ancestors with these surnames who started out in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, East London, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, please take a look – and check back often.
Please note: the letter and number code in brackets after an individual’s name relates to their position in the Borrow’s Gypsies family tree, published in 1910 in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. You can also find the tree posted in two parts on this site under the date reference 9 December 2010.