Book cover

THE GYPSIES
By John Hoyland (A5, 102 pages)

Originally published in 1816, this book is widely recognised as the first full attempt by a British author to examine and report on the history and lifestyle of the Gypsies of Britain. Hoyland (1750-1831) was an eminent and highly respected Yorkshire Quaker who took a pioneering approach to alleviating the lot of his fellow human beings that might be considered ethno-graphic rather than religious. His method was to broadcast a questionnaire and invite interested parties to answer its questions through observation of the Gypsy families in their locality and by gathering in information at first hand from them. Hoyland himself joined in this process by visiting Gypsy encampments.

The result is a largely sympathetic and factual account of the plight of that section of British society that was even then the most discriminated against. It also includes a summary of the history of the diaspora of the Gypsy people from their Indian origins to their arrival in Britain, gleaned from the few sources that were available at the time.

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