Monday, 10 February 2014

Considering again the Celtic Traveller or Gypsy connections for Edward Atkins

The possibility of a connection between Edward Atkins and gypsies came up some time ago but has re-surfaced and warrants further research.

I found in gypsy records the names Atkins and Haynes (Haines) which is a link to our family. At the time we did not have the information we now do, with a marriage between Joseph Atkins and Ann  Haines/Haynes, the parents of the convict Henry Edwin Atkins and probably the parents of our Edward Atkins with the two being one and the same man.

We now have more names associated with Joseph and Ann and more names associated with Edward and his two wives, Hannah McLeod and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis and many of those names are included in the list of Celtic Travellers, Gypsies, of Irish origin.

My first thought had been that gypsy meant Romany but of course it does not - the gypsies of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales were as often as not Celtic and known as 'tinkers' or travelling traders.

These are the connections to date where family names are listed on the Celtic Traveller register, starting with Henry Edwin Atkins. There are quite a few names which run through the three 'families' - Henry Edwin Atkins, Edwin Atkins, convict, (who did have HE tattooed on his arm and so is very likely to be the son of Joseph and Ann Haines Atkins) and our ancestor Edward Atkins.

Given the strength of connections between families and even more for those who emigrated to strange and distant lands, it is no stretch to say that these many name connections mean something. One could also argue, at a more esoteric level, that 'like attracts like' and even if there were not conscious connections there were unconscious connections.

While it might seem that there are a great many names on the Celtic Travellers Register, once studied, it is clear how many there are not. To find so many connections for Atkins is, to my mind, meaningful. Not that it means anything in concrete terms and is more curiosity than anything, but, at the same time, it is another linkage between our ancestor and the two men who are very likely to one and the same man.

Photo: Celtic travellers in the 19th century.Name connections for Henry Edwin Atkins, son of Joseph Atkins and Ann Haines.

ATKINS 1728 (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Edward Atkins, our ancestor, Joseph Atkins and his son Henry Edwin Atkins, Edwin Atkins, convict transported to Australia.

BOLTON/BOULTON(EN) 1873(Gypsies Passing Through)
Thomas Atkins and a Grace Boulton, possible parents for Joseph Atkins, were married on 3 June 1778 in Cirencester. Potential grandparents for Edward, Henry Edwin and Edwin Atkins.

HAINES (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Ann Haines/Haynes married Joseph Atkins and is the mother of Henry Edwin Atkins, born January 22, 1812 Cirencester. She is the potential mother of Edwin Atkins, convict and Edward Atkins, ancestor, both born 1812 Gloucestershire.

HAYNES (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Variation of the spelling of Haines.

HOLDER 1744 (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society) (Con)

A David Atkins married a Hannah Holder in Cheltenham, during the September quarter of 1842. David Atkins, born March 31, 1822, Cirencester, son of Joseph Atkins and Ann Haines and brother of Henry Edwin Atkins.

LEWIS 1775 (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Middle name, and therefore likely family name, for third son of Joseph Atkins and Ann Haines, Joseph Lewis Atkins, born January 18, 1814 and brother to Henry Edwin Atkins.

WEBB/WEBSTER 1590-present (Aust, England)

Middle name, and therefore likely family name, of fourth son born to Joseph Atkins and Ann Haines, James Webb Atkins, born Cirencester, August 14, 1816 and brother to Henry Edwin Atkins.

PRESTON (Bedfordshire) (Gypsies Passing Through) (Lodger with Joseph and Ann Atkins)

Surname of a possible lodger living with Joseph and Ann Haines Atkins, 1841 census. Joseph Preston, 30, painter, born 1811.  Joseph is 50, Ann, 50, and their children at home are David, 15, Marian (Mary Ann), 14 and Eliza, 10. NB: Preston may be a neighbour and not a lodger but people often lived close to or alongside those they knew so a tenuous link remains even if he is not a lodger.

PAYNE (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

From the Gloucestershire researcher: In Slater’s Directory of 1850, under Cirencester,  the researcher found one entry that may be of interest – Payne & Atkins, of Castle Street, who were listed as milliners and straw bonnet makers.  This may be a female enterprise, perhaps one of the sisters listed above in partnership with another person?

Name connections for Edwin Atkins, convict.

WALKER (Ref Journal of the Celtic Traveller History Society)

William and Amy Walker were charged with Edwin Atkins for sheep stealing. William was acquitted and Amy and Edwin sentenced to transportation after a death sentence was commuted. One presumes they were friends.

Photo: Gloucestershire in the early 19th century.

There is no Mashford, Cann or Labbett but there is:

MAY 1746 (Gypsies Passing Through),

Elizabeth's brother was George May Mashford although remembering the Mashfords are from Devon.

MCLEOD ( Scotland Census 1871) (Scource Mary McKay Genealogy)

Edward Atkins' first wife was Hannah McLeod.

McLEOD 1891 (London) (See Robert Dawson ARITF)
NEWBERRY/NEWBURY/NEWBY (Gypsies Passing Through)

Surname for a daughter of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

MCKINNON (born Scotland) ( Scotland Census 1841-1851)

Surname for a daughter of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

STACEY (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Surname for a daughter of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

PARKER 1592 (Ref Journal of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society)

Surname of a witness at the marriage of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.
CUNDELL / CUNDY 1788-1851(int) (Yorkshire) (See Robert Dawson ARITF)

Surname of a witness at marriage of Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

This is what the site says about itself:
The (brand new) Celtic Travellers DNA project is primarily for individuals looking for help in identifying the origins of their own direct paternal or maternal line of descent
The project is primarily for the members and descendants of Irish Travellers, Highland Scottish Travellers, Lowland Scottish Travellers, Fairground Travellers and other Non-Romani travelling families. However if you are Roma or mixed Traveller race you are welcome to join.

You may suspect that you have Celtic Traveller ancestry in your family and not yet have a suitable surname project to join due to many reasons which could include distant surname changes, forced adoptions and forced resettlement.

NB: I think this is relevant in terms of consideration given the many names which connect to the Atkins family.

Scottish and Irish nomads (Celtic Travellers) are more commonly and disrespectfully referred to as Tinkers, Pikeys and Gypos. We are probably distantly related the sedentary Celtic folk, but have split from the general population way back in time with our own proud cultures, languages and unique genetic history still waiting to be told.

Here is some of the earlier material I posted in regard to gypsy connections for the Atkins family.

While doing a search on the Atkins's of Gloucestershire I came across a William Atkins listed as a Hawker on the Romany/Gypsy website. He was aged 25 and listed in the 1841 Census as born in Gloucestershire, no address, Lamb Street, Clifton.

He was born 1816, within nine years of the birth of Edward Atkins depending on which age for him is correct, given differences between the age he put when he married Elizabeth and the age of 84 as recorded on his death notice in 1891.

Interestingly, very interestingly in fact I have found the name Ann Haynes on the same Romany site where I spotted William Atkins. She is listed in the 1881 census of Hawkers born in Gloucestershire: Ann Haynes, Bc 1801 St George, Gloucestershire, England Inmate Stapleton, Gloucestershire.  This Ann Haynes is not likely to be the one marrying Joseph Atkins because she is too young, but there is every chance she is a relation.

The Haynes' are listed as gypsy basketmakers and the Stapleton Workhouse, which I believe is close to both Clifton and Cirencester, is likely to be where Ann was an inmate.

In an extract from The National Gazetteer, 1868:
"STAPLETON, a parish in the hundred of Barton Regis, county Gloucester, 2 miles N.E. of Bristol, of which it may be considered a suburb. The Midland and the Bristol and South Wales Union railways have stations here. This parish is situated at the north-western angle of the South Gloucester and Somerset coalfield, and is bounded on the N. by a range of hills 200 feet high, to which elevation the strata of the coal measures has been lifted up by a mass of millstone grit. It is traversed by the river Frome flowing through a glen, and contains the villages of Stapleton and Fishponds. The hat manufacture formerly carried on has declined, but there is a flock manufactory, coal mines, and stone quarries. The palace of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, the diocesan training institution for National schoolmistresses, and the Clifton union workhouse, &c., are in this parish.

In a 1797 report on the poor in England, Stapleton was thus described:

STAPLETON lies about two miles north-east of Bristol, and has 1,377 inhabitants. There are 254 houses; 84 pay tax, 170 exempt so that it appears there is very little more than 5 and two-fifth persons to a house. Day labourers earn from 8s. to 10s. 6d. a week. Provisions are purchased in Bristol market. Farms are small and chiefly pasture. The common was enclosed in 1783, when half an acre was allotted to each cottage. There is now no wasteland, and labourers find great difficulty in getting habitations, and when anxious to set up house have to migrate to other parishes. Land lets at from £2 to £3 an acre. Some of the Poor are maintained at home, some in the Workhouse. Bill of fare in the Workhouse—Breakfast—Sunday—6 oz. of bread, 1oz. butter, and beer; other days—Broth. Dinner—Sunday—Boiled beef, potatoes, bread and small beer; Monday, Wednesday, Saturday—6oz. of bread, ½oz. of cheese, and beer; Tuesday, Thursday—Boiled beef, potatoes or carrots, and beer ; Friday—Milk broth or rice. Supper, every day—Bread and cheese and small beer. The children's allowance of bread at dinner is 4oz. On Christmas Day and Whit Sunday the dinner is baked veal and plum pudding. There are in the house 3 men, 5 women, 5 children. In 1795, 5 men, 7 women, 8 children. The children are employed in spinning flax and hemp, but their earnings are very inconsiderable. 

In the 1841 census of Gloucestershire Hawkers there is:

Charles Haynes aged 50 born circa 1791 Licensed Hawker born in county No address Northleach Northleach & Stow On The Wold
So along with a William Atkins, gypsy hawker of no address, we have a Charles Haynes, gypsy hawker, of no address.

In the 1881 census of Bristol City Workhouse, Stapleton inmates are listed:
Elizabeth ATKINS
Domestic Servant


Harriet HAYNES
Domestic Servant

In the late 19th century imbecile was a term used to describe the uneducated, feeble-minded and mentally ill. If Harriet had worked as a domestic servant then she could not have been too much of an imbecile, but perhaps after the drudgery of probably fifty years of virtual slavery, she had become a tad feeble-minded.

Ann Haynes is not listed here but she may well have been at the Clifton Union Workhouse and with a bit more searching, there she is at Barton Regis Union Workhouse, in the Clifton section:


St George, Gloucester

The Clifton Workhouse was known as Barton Regis from 1877 and has this excerpt regarding it in the 1777 parliamentary report:

The Poor of the out-parishes of St. Philip and Jacob, and of St. George, which contain about 16,000 inhabitants, are partly relieved at home, and partly in a Workhouse in which there are at present 85 persons. The number of out Poor is about 200. It is singular that here it is thought most beneficial to the parishes to maintain the Poor at home, and that the Poor want to get into the house. It is pleasantly situated and appears to be clean and comfortable. There are 2, or 3 beds of flocks and feathers in each room. Bill of fare in the Workhouse: Breakfast—every day, milk pottage. Dinner—Sunday, Thursday, bread and cheese; Monday, rice milk; Tuesday, Friday, pease soup; Wednesday and Saturday, pickled beef and vegetables. Supper—every day, bread and cheese or butter. 3 pints of beer are allowed to each person on meat days, and a quart on other days. One lb. of bread is given out daily and 9oz. of cheese every week. Once a month 12lbs. of butter are distributed, and at particular seasons better fare is provided, more especially for the sick.

And some information on Irish Traveller history.

Irish Travellers sometimes are referred to as ‘Minceir’ or
‘Pavees in their own language known as Cant/Gammon,
the survival of this language is a testament to the
resilience of this minority group in the face of numerous
pressures and threats.

Martin Collins, Irish Traveller and Assistant Director of Pavee Point, has said
"Research demonstrates that we are a people with a unique and turbulent history and
underlines how resilient we have had to be to survive”
(Independent on Sunday, 27/5/2005).

It is difficult to identify the exact origins of Irish Travellers. Some claim they are the
descendants of the dispossessed from the war with Cromwell in the seventeenth
century or the ‘Great Famine’ in Ireland in the mid nineteenth century. However there
are some who contest such claims and propose much earlier origins. O’Riain claims
there is evidence which points to the existence of nomadic groups in Ireland as early
as the fifth century AD and by the twelth century the name Tynkler or Tynker is said
to have been given to a group of nomads who had maintained a separate identity,
social organisation and dialect (O’Riain, Solidarity with Travellers, 2000, 8).
Robbie McVeigh has stated:

Irish Travellers have their roots in a Celtic (and possibly pre Celtic) nomadic
population in Ireland. They are very definitely not Roma (or Gypsies), neither are
Travellers the product of ‘An Gorta Mor’ (the Great Hunger) of 1843 - 50. While the
original Irish nomadic population may have been supplemented at various times in
Irish history by dispossessed labourers and other marginalised people, there was
clearly a distinct Traveller population before the famine” (McVeigh, Third World on
Our Doorstep, 1997)

Like many poor and excluded groups in Ireland Irish Travellers have emigrated in
order to secure better material conditions. One of the first reports of Irish Travellers
in Britain appeared in 1850 (Kenrick and Bakewell, On the Verge: The Gypsies of
England, 1990, 10).
Irish travellers, long derided as anti-social itinerants rather than "true" Gypsies, are an ancient people in their own right, researchers say. Irish travellers, long derided as anti-social itinerants rather than "true" Gypsies, are an ancient people in their own right, researchers say.

Academics claim they could even be the last surviving remnants of a pre-Celtic Ireland, with their own distinctive language called "Cant" or "Gammon". Commonly known as "tinkers" because of their tin-smithing past, Irish travelling families have never enjoyed the romantic associations of Romany Gypsies.

Research by an Irish socio-linguist, Dr Alice Binchy, suggests that more than half the surviving Cant/Gammon lexicon may be derived from a long-lost language spoken in Ireland before the Celts arrived. "A partially pre-Celtic origin would have substantial implications for the way we look not only at traveller history, but at early Irish history as a whole," said Dr Binchy, a delegate at a conference of linguists, historians and anthropologists to be held at the University of Limerick.

Pre-Celtic Ireland started to disappear 3,000 years ago. Irish travellers may first have been recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries. Surnames suggest that many are descended from medieval poets - the Irish bards. Others were metal workers. Significantly, both were separate "castes".

It is probable that numbers greatly increased in the late 16th and early to mid-17th centuries, when English occupation forces dispossessed the Irish aristocracy. At some stage, the newly enlarged community appears to have begun to develop a secret form of verbal communication. Many academics - though not all - believe that words were altered, with syllables inverted and letters transposed, to make it impossible for enemies to understand.

The language remains a source of dispute, with some scholars arguing that any link with the pre-Celtic era is unlikely. But most accept that travellers date back at least to medieval or Tudor times.

The Scottish Celtic Travellers would have originated in Ireland because the Scots are believed to have come from Ireland originally.

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