Thursday, 17 November 2011

Gypsy Blood and my Dissertation

As you may know I'm in my final year of studying for a History degree now which means I have to submit a dissertation based on any historical event, period or person that I wished. Learning History from a child up until university level everything is fairly predictable and routine, there isn't much exploration. After watching programmes like Heir Hunters and Who do you think you are I found it really fun and interesting to trace my family tree back, it really was like being a detective searching through files and learning things about your family you never knew before.

I found that my Great, great grandmother Emily Louder born in a tent on Eltham Common in 1878 was a Romany Gypsy traveller. My Grandad always heard there were gypsies in the family but didn't know where it came from and these records confirmed it which was very exciting!

So with Gypsies rising in the popular media with issues like Dale Farm onto lighter topics such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding I was really intrigued into my ancestors culture and the mysterious gypsy history with these people often remaining separated from the rest of society. I find pictures like the one below of an old gypsy caravan simply amazing.

Interior of an old Gypsy caravan

Then I found out why a place near where I used to live is called Gipsy Hill and it's because throughout the 16th-18th centuries gypsies occupied the area of 'Gipsy Hill' living in a great Oak forest and were even famous enough to get a mention in Samuel Pepys diary. So with all these signals popping up I've decided to look into the persecution of the Gypsy people in Europe and just why there were so many laws created in England prohibiting or limiting their way of life and of course the horrible issue with the Nazi's.

Gypsy children in Kent, England 1919

I hope I can find out why my great, great grandmother would have settled into a normal life and walked away from her gypsy roots, but I'm glad she did otherwise I probably wouldn't be here.
I'll be keeping notes here if you wish to follow the journey


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