Gypsies (also called Egyptians as it was originally thought they emanated from Egypt) have been present in England for over 400 years. They have often met with prejudice - in the 16th century for instance, they were expelled from the country or they faced the death penalty; the State claiming Gypsies had ‘devilish and naughty practices and devices’. Other Acts of Parliament such as those dealing with the poor and what were termed ‘rogues and vagabonds’ also discriminated against Gypsies and Travellers.
In Sheffield, the earliest known reference to Gypsies is in 1595. The Town Trustees paid the town’s watchmen 2 shillings ‘when the Gipsees were in the towne’. In 1816 a Sheffield Quaker, John Hoyland, published a survey of Gypsies in the country in the hope their living conditions and acceptance in society could be improved.
The document below lists the main sources available at Sheffield Archives & Local Studies which can be used to investigate Sheffield's Gypsy and Traveller communities.
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