Western Times

Death and Funeral of a Gipsy

Wednesday, 1st November 1893

Death and Funeral of a Gipsy.

Amidst manifestations of the greatest sorrow and respect among the Gipsy fraternity the remains of the late Robert (better known as 'Bobby') Hughes were yesterday consigned to their last resting place in the old portion Michael's Churchyard, Honiton, where several members of the deceased's family are also interred.

Hughes was probably the oldest gipsy travelling, and was well known, especially throughout Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, but more so in Honiton and the neighbourhood. According to his own statement, Hughes (who was the father of large family) was born nearly 78 years ago about a mile-and-a-half from Honition on small triangular piece of waste ground which adjoins the highway leading from Honiton to Cotleigh, where his parents had for some time been encamped, and shortly after this event, as indicated by the parish records, he was baptized in St. Michael's Church.

Owing, no doubt, to its having been Hughes' birthplace he and his family connections have always spoken of Honiton as their 'home', and when not pursuing their ordinary avocation the Hughes' family were always to be found encamped on some adjacent common, where they occasionally remained for considerable time, when 'Bobby' and his associates regularly visited 'home'.

For some time Hughes had suffered from a combination of disorders and as he gradually grew worse he desired that he should be taken 'home', at the same time giving imperative directions that if he did not recover he should be buried (as he had always wished) in St. Michael's Churchyard.

Hughes and many of his numerous family connections have consequently for several weeks past been encamped on Farway Common, about two miles from the town, where the deceased was visited by his medical men and a great many acquaintances from all parish. Dropsy ultimately set in and after a lingering illness 'Bobby' died early on Friday morning last much to the sorrow of his immediate friends and acquaintances.

The funeral yesterday was witnessed by hundreds of persons of all classes. The remains, which were brought from the deceased's van on Farway Common, were borne on an open hearse, whilst tbe polished elm coffin was covered with wreaths composed chiefly white chrysanthemums. The widow and several of the sons and daughters and their wives and husbands were the chief mourners and about 80 male and female gipsies, many of whom came from long distances, followed the body to the grave, where the scene was an affecting one.

The Rev. E. R. Sill officiated and Mr. T. H. Mutter, of Honiton, supplied the coffin and undertook the funeral arrangements.
The breastplate bore the following inscription:

'Robert Hughes. Died October 27th, 1893, aged 77 years.'

With Thanks To:
The British Newspaper Archives

Original Article/Image Copyright:
Image © The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.

Extracted From:
Western Times - Wednesday, 1st November 1893
Click here to view the original page @ The British Newspaper Archives.



  • Robert Hughes